Highway 431 Blog

Monday, December 31, 2007

Near Death On New Years Eve ::

I had to run to the store early this morning and the fog was pretty bad. I was turning onto Hwy. 431 at New Hope as the light turned green and a silver van came right through the red light in his direction at a high rate of speed barely missing me!

Not a good way to end one year and start another, but we're wishing each and every one of you a Happy New Year as well as a safe one! I will celebrate by watching Clemson trounce Auburn this evening. (Actually I'm touting Clemson by 6 although the official line is, I believe, Clemson by 2 1/2.)

See you in the new year!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Heat Applied To The Gov?

I first came across this story on Raw Story earlier this afternoon:

Alabama's Republican Governor Bob Riley may have attempted to conceal illegal corporate donations to his 2002 and 2006 campaigns by representing them in campaign finance reports as having come from individuals, according to an an investigation carried out by the Montgomery Independent.

I'll be watching the local paper closely to see if they pick up on the allegations, but I have few doubts that the Huntsville Times is anything more than a corporate shill and will either not report the story at all or will bury it as deep in the newspaper as possible! Let's look at what the Montgomery Independent has to say:

Riley's campaign finance reports for the 2006 campaign list in-kind contributions for transportation totaling $7,929.47 from John Saint of Mobile. Saint is listed on the Secretary of State Web site as president of a number of Alabama corporations. When asked about the in-kind contributions Saint said he did not recall when Riley may have used his company's plane. He said: "Our plane gets used every day. A lot of charities use our plane for Angel Flights."

When asked if he had reimbursed his company for the Riley campaign's use of the plane, he said: "I don't recall." He said he would have to go back and look, but it would be after the first of the year. When asked who owned the plane he said JDC Support Services, Inc. and added: "I own the company."

Federal Aviation Administration records show that JDC Support Services, Inc. owns a Bombardier Challenger CL-600-2B16, a twin engine jet airplane. There are no aircraft registered to John Saint individually

All bold emphasis added here is mine!

But, there is more!

Neither Saint nor Wellborn, through his spokesman, are able to affirm that they reimbursed their corporations for the Riley campaign's use of their corporate airplanes. It appears that the Riley campaign may have improperly reported in-kind contributions from corporations, by listing the presidents of the corporations individually, rather than the corporations themselves, as contributors. If that is the case, it would appear to be a violation of the Fair Campaign Practices Act.

Also, under Alabama law, there is no limit on campaign contributions from individuals, but corporate contributions, whether cash or in-kind, are limited to $500 per election cycle. Riley's name was on the ballot in only two election cycles in 2006, the Republican primary and the General Election. That means any corporate contribution more than $1,000 would appear to be unlawful.

Seems as though Riley has some questions to answer! Go read the entire article from the Montgomery Independent. I see some interaction with with my state legislative representative in my future!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Christmas Message From Don Siegelman

As posted over at The Legal Schnauzer via Pam Miles:

Merry Christmas to all of you, with heartfelt gratitude for your support.

Please enjoy this meaningful holiday season and appreciate your freedom, your homes, and your loved ones. I look forward to cherishing these precious gifts, more than ever, in the coming year.

With your continued hard work, I believe this Christmas will be my only one within these walls. Despite the grim conditions here, I will celebrate this special day by keeping my faith, and by maintaining the hope that, with your help, we can move Congress to expand their investigation and restore American justice --our once bright beacon in the free world.

I cannot thank you enough, or ask more emphatically that you continue and intensify your extremely important efforts. May the many blessings of this season bring joy to each of you.

Don Siegelman
Oakdale, LA

Don Siegelman # 24775-001
Satellite Prison Camp
Post Office Box 5010
Oakdale, LA 71463-5019

Monday, December 24, 2007


We're wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and the safest of holidays!

Friday, December 21, 2007


This story has lasted about as long as I thought it would before the powers that be who benefit from cheap labor in Huntsville succeeded in killing it. I had some responses from current and former employees of Cinram testifying to the terrible working conditions, but our local political and business leaders continue to support the exploitation of the north Alabama work force, not to mention the terrible treatment of the foreign workers they coerced into coming here for what should have been a positive economic experience for them rather than for the recruiting firm!

Why can't we keep Cinram's feet to the fire on this! Not to mention our elected politicians--they should be held accountable for this human resource debacle also!

A Firearm Shooting Range For Columbia High In Huntsville?

This item was buried on one of the back pages of today's (Friday) Huntsville Times:

The Huntsville city school board Thursday approved nearly $285,000 for construction of an indoor firing range at Columbia High School.

John Brown, director of operations for Huntsville City Schools, said the 1,400 square-foot facility could be ready in late spring or early summer. It will be used by the school's Junior ROTC program.

This is the entirety of the report in the paper and I find this proposal disturbing on many levels, as should any parent who has a student at Columbia High School. I have never, ever, heard of any high school in this country with its own shooting range and, given the problems throughout the country with school shootings, why are we building a shooting range in a high school. The story says that this range is for use by the Junior ROTC program, but this is just beyond the pale.

I attended a land grant college where ROTC was mandatory for freshmen and sophmores and our experience at firing a weapon was one time in a year on a local range off the university site. As it turns out I had classes when this was scheduled and missed firing the M14. The participation was voluntary instead of mandatory.

I think that some serious questions should be asked about this. Not only why someone felt that a shooting range should be built in a high school environment, but how did this proposal get approved apparently without much, if any, public notice.

I find this to be truly frightening and makes me wonder about the reasoning ability of the Huntsville city school board!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Thom Hartmann Follows The Siegelman Saga

I normally listen to the web feed of Air America while at work and Hartmann has really begun to follow and push the injustice brought on Siegelman by the Bush administration and the Republicans in Alabama. The story is beginning to really gain national traction and we hope that questions will soon be asked and answered!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Siegelman Saga Grows Legs ::

I've been working on putting another web site together for the past few days and it has been time intensive, but the story of Don Siegelman's legal woes due to the Republican dirty tricks is beginning to gain well deserved national traction. Thom Hartmann on Air America has picked up on the story and has prominently featured it at least once this past week expanding on the time he had previously given it. It's gratifying to see Siegelman characterized as what he is: a political prisoner of the Bush crime administration!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Vivian Davis Figures-"I Believe"

Whew, her campaign has finally put up a web site with which offers information about her campaign and her policies as well as opportunities for donating and volunteering.
I am going to be tossing some dollars her way and I will volunteer in any way that I can!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

More Cinram Madness

I don't watch much television of any sort although I right now I'm watching Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home DVD about Bob Dylan so I seldom get to see any of the newscasts from the local stations. Mooncat has a link to a WAAY story up on Left In Alabama which I found pretty interesting so I'm going to excerpt a bit of it:

After just three months on the job, Angela DeLaveleye decided she'd had enough with Cinram. DeLaveleye and her former co-worker Alison Glaze both quit the Huntsville plant earlier this month, and they now say what's going on inside is not only appalling, but illegal.

"At Cinram you don't go and make a big stink if you want to keep your job," said DeLaveleye. "I've seen 14-year-olds, i've asked them, they've said they're 14 years old. You have 14-year-old Hispanic people working here."


Both women said many workers at the plant are too afraid to do anything because of their legal status. And there are other allegations as well.

"The conditions are filthy, it's dirty," DeLaveleye said. "The bathrooms are dirty, they're not cleaned, they smell. You walk into the bathrooms, someone has spit in them, left hair in the sink."

"When a friend of mine left, she was told by a security guard that there is TB at Cinram right now, and you need to go get checked," Glaze said. "(This happened) about four weeks ago."

I've had friends who worked at Cinram, and one that I see infrequently still works there, I think. I'll have to look Gordie up, but all characterize the company as little more than a sweatshop. I'm interested in seeing just how long this story will last until the local powers-that-be kill it!


Mooncat has an expanded post which expands on the entire situation regarding Cinram. Here's another excerpt:

The H-2B workers at Cinram are living in multi-person apartments and paying an exorbitant amount for a rent/transportation package. The apartments are no better than expected. A local reporter found some female Cinram workers from Jamaica living in a place with a non-working heater, a tub that won't drain, closet doors on the floor and drafty windows. One of the women said, "I have a pet goat and I would never let her stay here." They were paying a total of $1280 per month for that, a ride to work and twice a week rides to Wal-Mart.

The same reporter quizzed the women on earnings and expenses and calculated that if they only spend $10/day for food and necessities, they can save about $2000 each during their 8 month stay. Good, huh? Not really, because they had to pay $1400 in fees to an agency to get the job, $500 for airfare to get here and $100 for a visa application and background checks. So they spent $2000 to get the job and they will have $2000 left after working 8 months. Even, Steven. So much for "helping poor people get ahead."

This is the part of the story which really concerns me. The only term sticking in my mindright now is "economic peonage"!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Contacting Your Local Representative

I have been ranting for sometime about our state and national representation, but today I e-mailed my local county commissioner with a concern about a bridge. Within a couple of hours he had returned my call with a full explanation of how the matter was being handled and I firmly complimented him on his response.

Being involved starts at the ground up!

I listen to the webcast of Air America radio and I am a big fan of Thom Hartmann:

"Tag You're It!"

Cinram And Imported Labor

This story gets more and more bizarre and Mooncat is covering it nicely over at Left In Alabama. Just af few minutes ago I was in a local convenience store picking up something when the news piece of today's meeting between community leaders and the Cinram management was reported so I stopped in the aisle and watched it since I had seen the teaser earlier at home but knew I would miss the story.

Upon seeing the local newscast my first thought was that Cinram has spent a lot of money on PR spin given how big this story has grown in the past few weeks.

When I got to the cash register the cashier asked me what I thought of the story and I told her that I thought the entire episode has been despicable and that we should be expecting more of not only local companies, but also we should expect more from our local government. She proceeded to tell me that she had worked at Cinram until just before this story broke, she had been there several years and she was just about to be slated for upgraded benefits when she was laid off. The bitterness sort of dripped from her voice and we both agreed that there were more than enough local workers, given the wages to be paid, to fill the jobs which Cinram had open.

What also concerns me is the treatment of the foreign workers which I think will be documented even more in the coming days. From Mooncat:

The Jamaican women interviewed are not making as much money as they were promised, and the living conditions are, shall we say, piss poor.
"They told us they're nice people, and the housing will be comfortable," Erin said. "I have a pet goat and I would never let her stay here."

However, a call to the apartment manager reveals that the unit normally rents for $395 a month. Together these women pay $1280 a month to a man who drives them to work.

If I understand that correctly, that means someone is renting the apartment for $395, driving the women to work and back daily and charging them $1280 for room and transportation. That's $785 for transportation. There has to be a big profit in that deal.

In fact, it sounds like everybody is profiting, except the foreign workers. Stephens looked at pay stubs and figures that, if they can limit expenses for food and necessities to $10 per day, they can save $2000 over the 8 month stint in Huntsville. Sounds good, you say? Wrong! They had to pay $2000 in fees and transportation to get the job here.

So, they quit jobs in their home countries, come to Huntsville, work long hours at a dead end job, pay three prices to live in bad conditions and go home no richer. I'm sure they will leave with a wonderful impression of what a friendly, caring, Christian nation America is.

I have long believed that Huntsville is a large hearted city and I don't see why we can't arrange some sort of community transportation to get these people to work and back home. What would interest me would be who would be crying the loudest about the loss of the transportation fee! Doesn't the city offer public transportation? I have yet to see this being overused and I see no reason why bus schedules could not be rearranged to get these people to work and back in a cost effective manner.

I see more phone calls to the Huntsville City and Madison County representatives in my future!

Get involved!

Saturday, December 1, 2007


I got the OS reloaded on the desktop computer, but it will take me some time to get everything reloaded and back up to speed. Luckily I have just recently backed-up most of my desktop stuff to my flash drive. Losing those items would have negated several days of work! I began noticing a problem a few days ago printing out of Photoshop to my Epson 2200 printer. I now wonder if this was a precursor to my OS problem?

Computer Problems

My desktop seems to have crashed so I'm posting here from the old PII 233 laptop. Actually the problems seem to be happening across web sites so we're going through all recovery ideas including re-installing the desktop OS! My thoughts at the moment include damnations for Microsoft!

I'll post later tonight or tomorrow morning with an update!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Republican Debate

I thought that was pretty interesting and my feeling is that Guiliani and Romney both got hammered and Mike Huckabee came out far ahead. Ron Paul didn't hurt himself, but I still think that he has to be seen as a fringe candidate.

Romney certainly did not help himself and Guiliani was probably booed almost as much as he was applauded.

Fred Thompson is irrelevent.

McCain didn't hurt himself and had some great responses to the question of torture.


Ron Paul didn't hurt himself, but he is not going anywhere.

I'm tired and this has been a pretty draining experience. I'll have some more to say about this tomorrow

The Republican You Tube Debate!

I watched the Democratic You Tube debate and I enjoyed it immensely so I have been looking forward to this one for some time. I was surprised at just how tepid the crowd response was to the introduction of each candidate.

Guiliani and Romney start out with immigration fireworks and it's looking like immigration may be the hot topic of the evening!

I wonder who did the lighting for this set because it's certainly not flattering to any of the candidates.

Duncan Hunter loves fences!

Mike Huckabee looks like Gomer Pyle, but Romney thinks he's a "liberal". Everyone loves piling on Mitt! They're fighting over educational benefits for immigrants while I would much prefer to hear what they propose for universal affordable education for everyone!

Ah, on to the economy. McCain loves him some veto power over wasteful spending, but he seems to have been silent for the past few years when the Republicans were spending! Guiliani wants to cut the federal work force (He obviously has not thought this position through).

Ron Paul is a master at playing to his base and he wants all troops brought home from all over the world. Huckabee wants to do away with the IRS totally.

McCain wants to change the tax code, but he draws boos when attacking Ron Paul's proposal to bring the troops home! This is getting really interesting now!

A question from Grover Norquist about the positions on increasing taxes? WTF is that all about?

Mitt Romney loves him some farm subsidies, but I don't think he has much of a grasp of American subsidies as opposed to subsidies throughout the rest of the world!

Anderson gets to the root of the question of Guiliani's expensing of visits to his then (now wife)on consecutive weekends! Guiliani sloughs the answer off to his security detail!

Duncan Hunter wants everyone to buy American-just how clueless is he on just what manufacturing capability is left in this country!

Huckabee is pretty good with those souther witticisms we have come to love:

"when your getting kicked in the rear it means you're still out front" (or at least something like that.

[commercial time=guess which room I'm about to visit]

Duncan Hunter says all usns need guns for protection!

Guiliani is shooting himself in the head with the gun loving 2nd amendment crowd and drawing boos! This is perfect television theater!

Thompson also wants everyone to own a gun.

Some bozo asks about the candidate's gun collections?

The question is black on black crime. Romney wants every kid to have a mother and a father and he wants to change the values of the black community. Romney wants to put criminals in jail as if they're not terribly overcrowded now.

Guiliani seems to be at good butt-pulling of statistics. I was in interested in his statistic of crime in Harlem since by all accounts he was never a visitor to Harlem due to his irrational fear of black neighborhoods!


Ron Paul thinks it should be up to the states, but Thompson wants Roe overturned toute-suite! He wants Doctors jailed for providing the service.

Curiously all of the questions to this point about abortion have been asked by young adults.

Romney would not hesitate to sign a federal bill outlawing abortion.

What would Jesus do in regards to the death penalty. This has to be the best question of the night and it's directed to Huckabee. Huckabee dances around the question to a great degree. Jesus was too smart to run for public office? What does this tell us about the morons we ultimately elect?

Do the candidates believe every word of the bible?

Guiliani is killing himself with the evangelicals!

Romney believes that the Bible is the word of God? Please, someone ask him about the Book Of Mormon!

Huckabee, as a Baptist minister, is fairly transparent to the evangelicals and I think that he probably has that vote firmly in hand.

[another commercial break and another visit to that little square room where the square paper resides]

Guiliani: noun+verb+9/11

McCain loves him some surge! I think he wants some more rugs! He hates Democrats for their defeatist strategy!


Romney opposes torture, but will not say that waterboarding is torture. He doesn't care as long as he is not waterboarded and he wants to keep the prisoners in Guantanomo there with no rights.

McCain jumps right on Romney and increases tremendously in my estimation of his morality!

Romney dances around his response to McCain regarding torture. I hope that the American people are watching Romney on this and McCain is hammering him on the immorality of using torture.

Long term commitment to staying in Iraq?

Thompson wants to stay as long as it takes, whatever that means! He is scared crapless of the Muslim infidels!

Ron Paul draws some boos by advocating an immediate pull-out from Iraq.

Mc(Cain wants to stay--he too is scared crapless!

Tancredo--he be scared crapless of Muslims also!

Guiliani is asked about his record--He hates himself some immigrants? Single-handedly
destroyed the Mafia and was lionized by George Will!


Presidential and Vice-Presidential power.

Thompson loves him some Dick (shooter) Cheney.

McCain loves him some Dick (shooter)Cheney.

[last break]

An openly gay retired Brigadier General asks a question!

Duncan Hunter would not share a foxhole with a gay man!

Mike Huckabee loves himself some UCMJ, but he would not share a foxhole with a gay man!

Mitt Romney thinks hates him some gays!

This retired gay general officer served 43 years and is very articulate in stating his position.

McCain dances around the question of gays in the military, he loves himself some "don't ask, don't tell".

Log Cabin Republicans:

Mick Huckabee loves him some gay republicans as long as they vote for him.

Fred Thompson (actor, lawyer, former senator) wants to change social security.

Mitt Romney loves himself some Ronald Reagan on the economy.


Huckabee in favor of expanding the space program but he ends with a personal attack on Hillary by offering to send her to Mars.

Tancredo doesn't want to go to Mars.

Guiliani hates himself some public schooling as well as welfare! His crime busting in New York brought opportunities to African-Americans.

Huckabee sees race as a medical problem?

Confederate flag:

Romney has nothing to say. "Reach out to all Americans" and attacks John Edwards.

Thompson just doesn't care a whole lot as long as the display is private.


Which candidate will commit to repairs?

Guiliani say the solution is multi-generational!

Ron Paul turns the question around to rebuilding Iraq as opposed to rebuilding American infrastructure.

McCain will veto all pork (while brandishing a Sharpie)

Ron Paul to run as an independent?

Ron Paul says he will not run as an independent! This disappoints me as I have been counting on him being a divisive force in the Republican party.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me !!!!!

I turned 60 years old today! My thoughts on aging have naturally changed quite a bit in the last few years and I find it interesting to think about just how I look on life now versus how I viewed it even 20 years ago. I'll have some more to say about this later!

The wonderful co-workers surprised me with a birthday cake today. They're great people and we care a lot for each other!

The Sock Industry In Fort Payne

Just before I got home this evening NPR was running a story highlighting the decline of the sock production industry in Fort Payne, Alabama and how it has impacted the region. I didn't get to hear it all, but the story as well as the podcast is up on NPR web site.

There were several interesting aspects to this story of how a major portion of the sock production was exported to Honduras (and other Central American countries). I had never realized just how mechanized the sock industry is, but I was amazed to find that the major labor involved, manually closing the toe, has been outsourced to 3rd world countries based on as little as 1¢ cost differential per sock! Some excerpts:

There were more than 150 sock factories, churning out a big chunk of the socks worn in the U.S. But lately, there has been a flood of cheaper socks coming in from China, Pakistan and Honduras. It has devastated Fort Payne. Two-thirds of the town's sock mills have closed.


Sock workers are paid per sock, rather than an hourly wage. They generally make 22 to 30 cents for every dozen pairs of socks they sew. In Honduras or China, it's a penny per sock cheaper to sew a toe closed than in the U.S.]

Here's where it gets interesting. The bill to pass CAFTA was deadlocked with Robert Aderholt, Fort Payne's representative, being the swing vote.

Bush met with Fort Payne's congressman, Robert Aderholt, to talk about tariffs and the sock business.

That meeting was, most likely, the moment Aderholt had more power than at any other time in his life. The House was voting on CAFTA, the Central America Free Trade Agreement. The vote was an exact tie. Aderholt was the holdout. And President Bush very much wanted CAFTA to pass. So, Aderholt offered the president a deal: He could get his big free-trade deal only if he rolled back free trade on one industry, the sock industry.

"I told him this was what I needed," Aderholt said. "This was the one thing I had great concerns about."

That night, President Bush agreed to Aderholt's deal. CAFTA passed. And the White House gave itself a self-imposed deadline of Dec.19, 2007, to put back tariffs on sock exports from Honduras.

What do you suppose happened? According to the NPR piece Fort Payne is not doing badly and new industries have taken up where the sock factories left off when they closed. Color me skeptical that the workers who lost their jobs are doing better, but the bright side to the story is that the citizens of Fort Payne have learned the value of education and seem to be aggressive in its pursuit!

I was struck this morning by a story in the N.Y. Times about outsourcing the purchase of manhole covers to India. I have a difficult time understanding the concept of worldwide prosperity predicated on cheap labor! There seem to be only a few winners and billions of losers based on this concept!

I hope that Aderholt's constituents will hold his feet to the fire on the sock tariff agreed to between he and George Bush, but I shall not hold my breath!

Raw Story On The Siegelman Saga

Part 2 of the Raw Story piece is up here.

I'm fairly well pressed for time with some projects right now, but I will try to post the PDFs to the server for download in a couple of days.

[update] I see at the bottom of part 2 of the story that there will be a part 3. Let's bring on as much heat as we can!

Raw Story On The Don Siegelman Case

Part 1 is up here.
I'm running late this morning and I will try to post some excerpts and comments later this evening.

Snapping Noises

I just heard a mouse trap being triggered. If someone lives in the country then one of the problems that must be dealt with happens to be mice in cold weather, but mine seem to be especially bold these days. I have kicked around the idea of getting a cat, but I don't think my dog would appreciate that and I have no desire to get between a dog and cat fight. I have enough scars from previous fights between dogs!

Oh, yeah-birthday today! I turn 60! Maybe there will be more on the Trent Lott retirement story. That would be a great birthday present.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Trent Lott To Resign?

This morning's news seemed to catch everyone, including me, off-guard and there was much speculation that the timing was in order to get around new regulations regarding the time wait required for retired legislators to become lobbyists. I was reading some of the comments to Greg Sargent's article over at Talking Points Memo when I came across this link to a Perez Hilton piece (so to speak) alluding to the coming news break of Trent Lott in a gay escort relationship!

The Republicans keep falling!!!!

Trent Lott oddly and abruptly announced his resignation from the U.S. Senate on Monday.

And now we know why!

The Mississippi Senator reportedly has had a relationship with one high-rent male escort!!!!!

Click here for all the juicy details!!!
Posted: November 26, 2007 at 6:54 pm

I just love stories about hypocritical Repubs being outed! The next couple of days could be very interesting in Mississippi politics!
Make no mistake that all I abhor here is the hypocrisy of the situation. I don't seem to remember Trent Lott championing the causes of the gay community!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Cold, Grey, Slow Weekend

All news seems to be relatively slow this weekend with many of my favorite bloggers, with a few exceptions, in holiday mode. I doubt of the muck will take the holidays off, so hopefully everything will be back to normal soon and my blood pressure can go back up.

I took another 4 day weekend, counting Thanksgiving Day, but the weather turned off damp and cloudy. I'm not complaining since we really need the moisture, but I seem to be more sensitive to the weather as I get older. Even in the house this weekend I had a difficult time staying warm and I stayed relatively active.

We put up lights outside this year and I'll have a photograph of the country mansion all lit up (kinda) in a few days. I'm not much of a fan of decorating, but J. wanted to do some this year so I went along. We even lit up the boulders in front of the house!

Speaking of photographs, most of my plants have been moved into the garage although I have quite a collection at work. Here is what the garage looks like:

Mmmm, this is the first photo I have uploaded to blogger, but I guess it works ok. I would prefer it be centered, but I don't have time to play with it right now. Actually, I like blogger. I had played around with a blogger site years ago when I first got started with all of this, but I never did anything with that site and, indeed, I don't even remember the name-it still might be orphaned somewhere in cyberspace even now!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Thanksgiving Story ::

All too often we lose sight of those who are less fortunate, especially at this time of year so I found this story from The Huntsville Times to be heart warming. Here are some excerpts highlighting the large heart of Cathy Briggs who owns a small burger restaurant in Huntsville.

Robert Kincannon lives in a shed. It's not often that Kincannon, 59, feels like someone out there is doing something nice, just for him. But Wednesday, as he sat on the curb outside Soul Burger and ate a heaping plate of turkey and sweet potatoes, Kincannon said he felt, for a moment, just a little bit special.

"Besides my mom's, that's the best dressing I ever had," he said about the free Thanksgiving meal cooked up by Soul Burger owner Cathy Briggs. "It's real nice of her to do this for us. It's nice to be remembered.


The need to do this struck her one holiday when several homeless people came by her restaurant, asking for food, "and it hit me, I needed to be feeding the hungry."

And this year, she solicited the help of her young grandsons to set up tables and fetch things, "so they can see up close how important it is to help those people who aren't as fortunate as us.


As a small business owner, Briggs said her budget doesn't actually have room for such benevolence, "but God always finds a way."

I found this to be a truly heartwarming story and Cathy Brigg's little place is fairly near where I work, but I don't get to that area very often and I have never noticed it, but I will definitely make a point of eating there whenever I can! The name of the restaurant is Soul Burger and it is located at the intersection of Bob Wallace and Wall Triana in Huntsville. This is just down the street from the Botanical Garden.

Football Saturday

Everyone here in Alabama is anticipating the outcome of the Iron Bowl game between Auburn and Alabama. I'll probably be switching back and forth some, but my prime game today is Clemson versus South Carolina. All of my South Carolina relatives are huge Gamecock fans, but I went to Clemson so I always pull for them.

Last year I was watching the game and the Clemson Tigers were kicking some serious butt in the first quarter. I started to call my brother to gloat a bit, but I luckily decided that gloating would be premature and it was a good call on my part. The South Carolina Gamecocks came back to defeat Clemson.

The sports bars will done a fine business today but I hope everyone is safe on their drive home!

[update] I had to run out for a bit and got back sometime in the middle of the 1st quarter of the Clemson-Carolina game and Clemson was up 10 to nil, but I found the station just in time to see the Gamecocks score a touchdown so the score right now is 10-7 Clemson's favor. Both teams look pretty fired up so we'll see what happens. The game is being played in Columbia so the Gamecocks have home field advantage. That's not good.

[last update]

Clemson tried to give it away, but they pulled the win from defeat with a field goal on the last play of the game so the final is Clemson 21 and South Carolina 20. I'll wait until tomorrow for my gloating phone call to my brother, or, better yet, I think I'll express my glee in an e-mail.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Pumpkin Pie For Breakfast

But it is sugar free so that's ok! Life is good.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A 14¢ Noodle Lunch!

Well, that will not be the Thanksgiving dinner around the country mansion, but it will only be the two of us enjoying the meal, as far as I know. We have invited a couple of other friends, but I haven't heard from them. If they show up that will be great and, if not, then we'll freeze lots of food and enjoy it for the next week or so.

I have the turkey marinating in juices and spices ready for the fryer. J. will be cooking the other dishes in the morning and I'm sure I will be helping.

Actually I like this time of year very much and I love to cook. We have a Christmas dinner at work each year and I am noted for by contribution of unusual dishes. Last year it was a Crawfish Casserole. We will be doing it again in just 3 or 4 weeks so I have to find something different as my dish o' the year!

We're wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving and a safe holiday season!

Monday, November 19, 2007

John Ehinger and Tone Deafness From The Huntsville Times On Cinram Importing Foreign Workers ::

Ehinger wrote a piece in Sunday's paper and some points bear refuting;

Immigration - in whatever form, legal or otherwise, temporary or permanent - is a hot-button topic. The present situation pleases no one. Still, even a modicum of intellectual honesty should force Americans to recognize that valid concerns are one thing and irrational xenophobia is another.

Huntsville is home to a packaging plant of Canada's Cinram International Inc. The firm, which packages DVDs and CDs for consumers to purchase, also operates two other plants in the United States.

I would wonder just how the local builders who primarily employ foreign labor would feel about Ehringer's statement about the "present situation pleases no one". They certainly benefit from the cheap labor and they have no incentive to check the legal status of those employees. I also wonder just how many of these employees are classified as "contract labor", but let's progress a bit more into Ehinger's op-ed:

So Cinram has looked abroad. Its current plans are to bring in about 800 temporary workers from Jamaica and 550 from other countries. Some are already here. They'll work at Cinram's northeast Huntsville plant in 12-hour shifts for $8 an hour. The company has made living arrangements for the workers. Their jobs will last through the season of the highest demand and then they'll go home.

But a chorus of critics has rushed forth. They say Cinram should not bring in foreign workers. They say the pay is too low. They say the community will have to bear the cost of health care and education. They say Cinram should have built a plant in, say, Jamaica, if that's where the labor pool is.

First, Cinram was unable to find local workers. That comes as no surprise. Huntsville's unemployment rate has fallen to 2.3 percent. It's hard to find people to fill any low-end jobs.

True, $8 an hour is not much, but it's still higher than the minimum wage. If Cinram's critics are serious on that point, they'll join groups asking the Alabama Leghislature to increase the minimum wage in this state.

Ehinger's points here do nothing more than to serve to infuriate me more regarding his position and I have added some bolded emphasis on some of my key points. Madison county's unemployment rate is stated at 2.3%. I think it's probably a bit higher than that, but let's not quibble. Given the population that would indicate somewhere between 5 and 6 thousand unemployed locally. I have a hard time believing that Cinram could not fill these jobs locally.

Will these imported workers be leaches on the health care system? I don't care! If they need medical care while they work here then they should have access to it. Nothing in any of the articles I have read have mentioned benefits other than that the company will be providing housing and, on this matter, I wonder who is footing the bill for housing.

This entire thing stinks to high heaven and I'm ashamed of our local politicians for allowing it to happen and I reserve my highest disdain for The Huntsville Times which I have long felt is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the local establishment!

I'll have more to say about this later!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cool Nights

I love the evening temperatures we have now, but the skunks also love it. One passed through my yard just a short while ago leaving us with his distinctive aroma! Let me say up front that I don't consider the smell of skunk musk to be particularly offensive, but it is distinctive!

A Local Company Importing Labor

Cinram, a company which produces CDs and has a plant in Huntsville, has been importing low paid workers from other countries and has begun to provide them housing. Here are some bits and pieces from yesterday's Huntsville Times:

Lyne Beauregard Fisher, a company spokeswoman in Toronto, confirmed Wednesday that the Canadian company's Huntsville plant plans to recruit about 800 workers from Jamaica and another 550 from the Dominican Republic, Nepal, Bolivia and Ukraine.


Still, Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison said he's sure Cinram could find workers here, because many people come to his office in north Huntsville looking for work. He said companies have an obligation to shareholders, but also to provide jobs to the community.

"I would hope there is not an intent on their part to ignore that responsibility," Harrison said. "If this is a widespread company practice, it has a lot of potential problems."

The new Cinram employees will be housed in old apartment complexes, homes and hotels across western Huntsville. They are bused to the plant on Moores Mill Road.


The new Cinram employees will be housed in old apartment complexes, homes and hotels across western Huntsville. They are bused to the plant on Moores Mill Road.

I thought I had seen the last of the "mill villages", but it looks as if there might be more in our future. Huntsville has several remnants of mill villages and I grew up around the duplexes that constituted mill worker living conditions in South Carolina.
I can hardly wait for the community comments!

Ah, wait-the fall-out begins:

"If this is the way Cinram plans on operating, I'd just as soon they left our community," said Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks, who worried about local taxpayers subsidizing health care and education for the workers. "They are not being a good neighbor or responsible citizen. If they want Jamaican workers, open a plant in Jamaica. The Jamaicans would be most appreciative."


"We have enough people in our community that would do the work for decent pay," said City Councilman Glenn Watson. "Eight dollars an hour won't cover lunch."

He said instead of looking overseas for cheap labor, Cinram ought to pay $10 or $12 per hour for the same work. "I think what Cinram is doing is detrimental to the city of Huntsville and the nation." He said Cinram's practice ought to be illegal.


"Companies are going overseas while we've got people here," said Rev. Dante Moss, who runs a county program that helps ex-convicts find jobs.

Moss said he has 193 candidates looking for work, and that he has found employers in construction and other fields. But he said Cinram and five other area manufacturers declined an invitation to talk about potential workers.

This could really become interesting in the days to come given the closings of the textile plants in North Alabama over the past few years. Huntsville may be experiencing low employment, but I'm not convinced that is true for many of the smaller communities around the area.

As a personal aside let me say that I am always suspicious of anyone who has "Beauregard" as part of their name as does the Cinram spokesperson! OK, that's enough snark for one post!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Little Time

I'm afraid that I go through periods where my outrages become too much to bear and I have to go silent to recharge my batteries. This is one of those times plus I'm working on updating another site which is taking quite a bit of time. In the meantime let me suggest that you read Left In Alabama each day. This is a great community blog and I highly recommend it. I have also daily been following the legal tales of The Legal Schnauzer which I find to be more and more interesting. I also religiously follow Glynn Wilson's Locust Fork Journal, as you should!

Hopefully by this weekend there will be more to say!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Joy Of Living In A Well Insulated House

Last month my electric bill was $84. I got my latest today and it went down to $71, but I know that is about to end. We have been making a concerted effort to conserve and it seems to be paying off.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Turnip Greens!

A co-worker knows someone who sell turnip greens out of the back of his truck and he brought me back a huge bunch after lunch today so I guess that will be what I eat for the next couple of days. Good thing i like them since that is what I had for supper last night and lunch today! I also made some vegetable soup to kinda break up the turnip green monotony.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Huntsville Times And The Siegelman Case

David Prather tossed in his 2¢ worth on yesterday's Huntsville Times' editorial page:

From Time magazine to the Harper's blogger, it's the analysis that won't go away. On Monday, there was an Associated Press story that added another bit to the brouhaha, this time questioning whether there were disagreements among state and federal prosecutors over whether U.S. Justice Department attorneys were reluctant to call a special grand jury in the Siegelman case.

What can that possibly matter?

It's just more smoke in the eyes, distracting vision from the fact that Siegelman used his powers of appointment to get a huge chunk of change from HealthSouth guru Richard Scrushy for the ill-fated education lottery vote. It was sleazy, illegal governance and Siegelman and Scrushy deserved to go to jail for it.

The link to the entire editorial piece is here,
but I found the editorial to be more than a bit glib and lacking substance. I can't help wondering if this is nothing more than a reaction to recent changes at the newspaper!

The Siegelman case was certainly not handled as a normal criminal matter and his handling after conviction was assuredly ham-fisted.

I guess I'll have to compose something expressing my disdain for the Huntsville Times and it's kow-towing to the corporate interests in Madison County!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

First Pot O' Chili Of The Season

I have been salivating for some chili since the weather has turned cooler so yesterday I picked up the ingredients and set about creating a pot of chili which will last for at least several days. I don't eat much red meat and, given the E. Coli scares of the recent past, I was a bit nervous about the hamburger, but I went ahead and bought it, but I made sure that I browned it extremely well. Then I wake up this morning to this headline from CNN :

Million pounds of beef recalled

Of course I ate the chili about 12 hours before I read this so I'm hoping I'm ok (said tongue in cheek!), but I wonder when we will aggressively confront this problem with the contamination of our food supply, not only ground beef, but also including some vegetables. If everything goes according to plan I will have a large garden planted next spring and I hope to need very little reliance on the local supermarkets!

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Red Clay Survey Exhibition At The Huntsville Museum Of Art Ends November 4th

Today, Friday, was a free day at the museum and I took some time from work to go visit. The Red Clay Survey items were interesting, but I was disappointed that there was so little photography. Lucinda Bunnen had a couple of her photographs in the show, but, unless she has changed her shooting style, I don't think they were indicative of her best work. There were some very interesting artworks shown, especially the sculptuure, but the museum also has a show of portraits of jazz performers. Now that was interesting! The portraits were great, but, technically, the prints ran the gamut from platinum, to silver gelatin, to inkjet. This was much more interesting than the current Red Clay Survey show.

Blogger Weirdness!

Maybe it's just me tonight. There is some chance that in the next few days for some period of time this will become my primary blog. I'll let you know.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Shrinking Water Supplies From Lake Lanier

Heads are beginning to pop out of the sand now that the lives and jobs of millions of people from North Georgia through Alabama and on into Florida are being affected by the shrinking water level in Lake Lanier. This is a problem which has been lurking for decades, but, with the unbridled growth of all three states, not to mention the explosion of growth around Atlanta, government officials on all levels are finally being forced to confront the problems associated with a profound drought!

I once lived in Cumming, Ga. very near Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochie river and, before that, I lived in Marietta near the The Hooch so I have spent many hours on the lake along with trout fishing the river from Helen down to Atlanta (most people don't realize that good trout fishing can be enjoyed inside the city limits of Atlanta). Right now I live in Alabama withing walking distance of the Paint Rock River and just 3 or 4 miles from Lake Guntersville and the Tennessee River. I love the water and being round bodies of water and find that most people have little understanding of a river eco-system.

The Chattahoochie river essentially begins just above Helen as a small water flow from the ground and the river picks up water from the watershed as it meanders down through Helen where it is only several yards wide. The water flows into Lake Lanier which is dammed just outside of Cumming. The dam releases water from the bottom of the lake which is much colder year round that water which would be released from the top of the lake thus sustaining a vibrant trout population all the way down into Atlanta.

I know little of The Hooch as it leaves Atlanta and wanders down through Alabama and on into Florida, but water is pulled for many uses: municipalities draw water for drinking and for industry; Alabama draws water for cooling the Farley Nuclear Power Plant, and Florida depends on the fresh water to support the shellfish industries around the Apalachicola Bay.

The water needs of Atlanta will not be magically dissolving and I fear that without concerted conservation efforts the problems faced by Atlanta could become devastating! Here where I live we have no shortages in the water supply, but I see them coming. I see the same unbridled growth with little thought to providing infrastructure to support this growth including the development of a logical road system.

Infighting will not solve the problem and it's up the the governors of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida to reach some sort of compromise on their water usage!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Revisiting SCHIP

With some changes the bill to expand SCHIP coverage was overwhelmingly passed in the house, but without a veto proof margin. As usual the entire republican house delegation from Alabama voted against this most important bill so I will be e-mailing and calling over the weekend hoping to change at least a couple of minds. I'm pessimistic that any of the neanderthals will change their vote, but at least I will have tried.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

World Series

I haven't watched a World Series in a long time since the Braves proved to be so disappointing, but I think I'm going to like the match up between Colorado and Boston. I don't really have any favorite here, but I think I'll pull for the Rockies since this is their first visit to the Big Show since then entered the league.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Woofstock in Guntersville!

I meant to post this a few days ago, but I guess late is better than never. Woofstock will be happening in Guntersville today at the Civitan Park. There will be plenty of good music including Microwave Dave and his Nukes. Here is where you can find all of the information.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ear Ache Update!

I love alliteration! I called my ENT specialist yesterday morning and his person said that he could see me on the 24th. Didn't matter that the pain was excrutiating so I made an appointment with my family Dr. which I guess I should have done in the beginning. Turns out I have fungal ear infection and I was prescribed some drops. I didn't get much sleep last night, but the pain is pretty much gone today although my ear is still stopped up, I can't hear out of it, and there is some degree of ringing. I'm hoping that I'll be back up to snuff by this weekend.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ear ache ::

My enthusiasm level has been low for the past few days. I thought I had gotten some water behind my eardrum a few days ago, but I seem to have developed an ear infection which got much worse this morning. I haven't had a chance to make an appointment with my ENT specialist, but I guess I'll have to do that tomorrow. We're getting toward the end of the month and I'm sure that his Mercedes payment is due soon! Actually, I'm just kidding. He is a great guy and I have a lot of confidence in him, but I want the pain, the ringing, and the loss of hearing to go away.

S-Chip Veto Override Vote ::

I believe this comes up Thursday and I urge everyone in Alabama who even pretends to care about health care for children to e-mail and call their representatives urging them to support the vote to override the Bush veto of this most important health care proposal for our children! Do we really care more about killing Iraqis than we do about taking care of our own children? This should absolutely be a losing proposal for Republicans in their drive to privatize all things meaningful!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Cool Weather

Things are comfortably cool around the country mansion these days and sitting out here on the back porch is most pleasurable!

My blogging energy has been low in the past few days, but, over the weekend, I will be offering some comments and links to the ongoing saga of former Alabama Don Siegelman as well as the testimony of Dana Jill Simpson before staff memebers of congress.

We are also getting into the time of year when I really enjoy cooking and I will be adding some recipes here from time to time! Let's do a quick recipe right now with Acorn Squash, one of my favorites this time of year.

For 2 people:
Buy a good sized Acorn Squash and cut it in half.
Scoop out the center and rub the center with a bit of Olive Oil.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and whatever else spices you like.
Brown a bit of hamburger along with some sauteed onions and mushrooms and fill the center of the Acorn Squash.
Top with some spaghetti sauce and cheese.
Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

You will notice that I'm not big on specific amounts of ingredients. Cooking should be an adventure and should be enjoyable for everyone involved!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Vivian Davis Figures Campaigning?

Sadly not! Her campaign for the Senate seat held by Jeff Sessions is becoming nothing less than an embarrassment! Her campaign web site is nothing more than a sign-up sheet for e-mail notifications. I signed up over a month ago and I have yet to receive anything from anyone associated with her campaign. Please, someone jump into this race-Elmer Fudd would present a more cogent campaign that Vivian Figures has put together!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Loretta Spencer To Run Again?

From Sunday's Huntsville Times:

Several rumored mayoral hopefuls discounted their possible candidacy as just that - rumor. The list of potentials include city school board President Doug Martinson; retired Lt. Gen. Jim Link; city Councilwoman Sandra Moon; state Sen. Parker Griffith, D-Huntsville, who ran for mayor in 2004; and state school board member Mary Jane Caylor, who also lost a bid for mayor in 2004. All told The Times they have no plans to run for mayor in 2008.

Griffith, who lost to Spencer in the 2004 mayoral runoff, said she proved a tough candidate to beat.


But Spencer's tenure is not without its vulnerabilities. The bungled jail project - now $40 million over budget, two years behind schedule, and mired in lawsuits with contractors - is one setback an opponent could hit her with, Brown acknowledged.

"If you're going to run and (are) looking for something, that may be the best thing you have," he said.

Challengers could also hammer her over her appointment of former Fire Chief Dusty Underwood, who quit after a stormy relationship with the firefighters' union and allegations of sexual harassment of a City Council secretary. The secretary, Carol Jones, is suing the city for $1 million over the incident.


Brown repeated the difficulty of toppling a mayor who has presided over a city during some of its most prosperous times.

"You'd be facing some powerful economic forces: the Chamber of Commerce, developers, bankers, the leadership at Redstone Arsenal, the Marshall Space Flight Center and (Cummings) Research Park," he said. "As best I can tell, Mayor Spencer has very good relationships with all of those. I just don't sense the mayor is in trouble with the deep pockets in town that would fund the other campaigns."

Mayor Spencer seems to be planning on business as usual with the support of the local business and development community. Huntsville has some extremely serious growth problems which are not being addressed including increased traffic on our roads as well as the strain on our school system, but, unfortunately given the influence of the business and development community, I see no change in our offerings.

We, as citizens, have little, if any, control of our community and this is also true of the county.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Saturday Night On The Back Porch Of The Country Mansion

I'm enjoying my normal Saturday night routine out here on the porch with the radio tuned to "The Folk Sampler" on WLRH, the local NPR radio station. In a few minutes Microwave Dave will be on "Talking The Blues". The temps are just right this time of year although I do have more than my share of mosquitoes buzzing around. I can live with them though.

My Columbus Day weekend began badly. Thursday evening I developed a toothache which haunted me most of the day Friday at work, but it was nothing more than a dull ache so I was not terribly concerned. Last night I had to take a couple of extra strength Tylenol to dull the pain, but the ache is better today although I must be careful with what I eat. Anyone have any spare baby food out there? My dentist is not open on Friday and I have not yet felt this to be an emergency so I'll see how things are tomorrow and Monday morning.

Here's hoping everyone has a safe and wonderful Columbus Day weekend and holiday!


The Withering Azalea seems to be going out his way to spin his veto of the State Childrens Health Insurance Program. We should have votes in the senate to override the veto, but the house is much more problematic. We need to switch some republicans from con to pro. Bud Cramer, my representative, is a safe vote, but others in Alabama need some impetus to change their vote to yea! I don't follow other districts very closely, but Mooncat at Left In Alabama should be providing some good information in the coming days.

I have no compunctions about letting representatives outside my district know just how I feel, so I will be e-mailing the entire Alabama house delegation urging each representative to support the expansion of SCHIP. Too bad our senators are such neanderthals, although Sessions may be getting a bit nervous these days given the scrutiny he is beginning to get from the national press! Too bad his opposition, Vivian Davis Figures, remains silent!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Jeff Sessions On The Hot Seat ::

So, the Wall Street Journal has a story about Sessions proposing sweetheart legislation affecting banks he and his wife have interests in. I hope the smarmy little bastard is squirming tonight!

In late July, Sen. Jeff Sessions began promoting legislation that would aid some of the nation's biggest banks -- among them, two institutions in which he and his wife hold shares.
Working closely with allies in the industry, the Alabama Republican championed an amendment that would allow banks to avoid paying what an industry executive says could amount to billions of dollars a year in royalties. The royalties, on a technology that converts paper checks into electronic images, are being claimed by DataTreasury Corp. of Plano, Texas, which holds a handful of patents related to the process.

Skipping to the chase, here are the closing paragraphs of the WSJ article:

A former Alabama attorney general, Mr. Sessions is a longtime proponent of imposing limits on civil liability claims, supporting legislation that would shield doctors and handgun manufacturers, among other things. "I believe in America's litigation system, but we have a lot of abuses," Mr. Sessions says.

Mr. Sessions says his office worked closely with the financial-services industry on the amendment, citing discussions with the Financial Services Roundtable, a trade group representing an array of financial-services firms. Mr. Sessions says his office also had discussions with an Alabama-based bank, which he declined to name, except to say it wasn't Compass Bancshares.

I will be watching this closely and I recommend that you also follow the comment threads at Left in Alabama.

Jeff Sessions is up for re-election in 2008 and, sadly, has some extremely pitiful opposition in the race by Vivian Davis Figures. The figures campaign has a web site which offers registration for an e-mail newsletter. I registered at least one month ago and I have yet to get any information from the Figures campaign leading me to the conclusion that she has absolutely no intention of making this anything more than a token campaign for Session's senate seat!

I am unable to express my disappoint adequately! At one time in the recent past I felt that Sessions was vulnerable, but am losing hope.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Road Construction In Alabama ::

I almost titled this "Road Construction In Huntsville" 'til I thought about some of my other experiences when I lived at Honeycomb and dealt with the widening of Highway 431. The reason I think of this is that there is a road construction project, of sorts, going on in South Huntsville to build overpasses on South Memorial Parkway. I am struck at how road construction projects here in Alabama are a start-stop-go-stop roller coaster. Preliminary work was done a couple of years ago, but there has been no work in months. When Highway 431 was being widened I remember when almost the entire road had been widened to 4 lanes, but the needed bridge construction over Honeycomb Creek had not even begun. I still don't understand why the entire widening project, other than this bridge, was completed before the bridge construction was done.

A few days ago I posted about the little known Metropolitan Planning Organization and I began to wonder if this collection of civic leaders is also involved in the road planning or is that simply a function of the state government.

When I lived in North Georgia and Atlanta road construction projects seemed to logically go from concept to completion without long months of inactivity. Seems to me that this would be a logical progression around here, but I guess I would be wrong!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Big Spring Jam

Co-worker M. and her boyfriend N. went Friday night and had a great time. From all reports the crowd was slim Friday night, but picked up tremendously Saturday and Sunday. M. had the great opportunity to see Joan Jett and color me jealous. I have long been a Joan Jett fan. According to today's newspaper account the Dr. John performance was relatively lightly attended. I'm not quite sure what that means, but a lot of people missed a treat if the passed up the Doctor. I had forgotten that KoKo Taylor was here this past weekend and this would have been a most worthy show. I will not even bring up the worthiness of watching George Clinton.

M. enjoyed her Friday night and she and N. were not able to get back on Saturday and Sunday due to Alabama and Auburn football coupled with massive quantities of Tequila! (I'm kidding her about the tequila), but M. commented on the high price of drinks, eats, and souvenirs at the venue. I realize that this is an important way of defraying event costs, but a lot of people are locked out just because of the high cost of attendance. I understand that the performers must be paid and their transportation cost must be tremendous not to mention the local set-up costs. There was much more reliance this year on paid attendants whereas, in past years, volunteers performed much of the grunt work in exchange for free passes. I'm interested in seeing just how this plays out given that charitable organizations are supposed to be the ultimate recipients of the excess monies.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Music ::

One of my great pleasures each week is sitting on the back porch of the country mansion listening to Mike Flynn's Folk Sampler on the local NPR radio station, WLRH. As an added bonus The Folk Sampler is followed by Microwave Dave's Talking The Blues. I really enjoy listening to good music and one of my greatest regrets in life is that I have virtually no musical talent. You certainly don't want to hear me try to sing and I probably have a hard time humming.

Lo those many years ago when I was in junior high school (I guess we would call this middle school now) anyone who was interested in being in joining the band was given a test of some sort to gauge their musical ability. My remembrance is that whoever judged the results of this test got a hearty laugh from my score. That's ok because I can listen with the best of them and I will occasionally make a recommendation and I have one for tonight.

If you have never heard of Iris Dement then I highly recommend that you listen to her music. Here is a YouTube teaser:

I have never had the good opportunity to see Iris Dement live even though she lives near Nashville. She also does shows with John Prine. Do yourself a favor and go to YouTube and search for Iris Dement and you will find some nice clips of her alone, Iris with John Prine, and Iris with EmmyLou Harris.

Unfortunately Huntsville generally has a pretty lousy music scene. Iris often appears in Asheville, North Carolina and I'm hoping to catch her up there at some point. Asheville happens to be one of my favorite places in the world.

Making A Change Or Three ::

I don't know if anyone ever reads this since I have yet to put up any sort of stat counter, but I'm going to muck around with the stylesheet in the next couple of days hoping to get away from this Blogger cookie cutter look. I don't really mind it, but, to my mind, it just looks like too many other Blogger blogs so there will be changes in the future and I'll try not to screw the site up too badly and hopefully there will be some more new and interesting content!

Big Spring Jam ::

This year's edition began last night with a fairly solid slate of acts. I would like to go, but J. would never be able to physically navigate the venue given the size of the crowd, but I would like to see Joan Jett, Dr. John, and George Clinton.

Clinton has heart and loves what he does! He played here last year and was the closing act on, I believe, Saturday night. He refused to quit playing and the event organizers eventually had to physically kill the power in order to get him and his band off the stage. This year the organizers have given him 2 different time slots, something which I don't recall them ever having done before.

The weather should be good for this year's event and I wish everyone a wonderful time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Metropolitan Planning Organization

Here is some more information regarding the MPO courtesy of the City of Huntsville web site:

The transportation planning process for state and local governments, specified in the United States Code Section 134, Title 23, requires that a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) be designated in urban areas with a population exceeding 50,000 individuals. The local MPO and its requirements set forth by federal legislation, seeks to insure that all transportation plans and programs are continuous, cooperative, and comprehensive and, therefore; coordinated with the planned development of the Huntsville urban area.


The MPO is a coordinated organization comprised of local elected officials representing the areas defined in the Huntsville Area Transportation Study, as well as a representative from the Alabama Department of Transportation. As such, they are legally empowered to implement transportation plans. They consider transportation planning goals and objectives along with financial and social consequences when adopting transportation plans. A Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC) provides the technical and professional guidance for the planning process and is composed of experienced professional people who can determine if developed plans will be feasible for the local area. Public involvement in the transportation planning process is provided through a Citizens' Advisory Committee (CAC).

This is pretty interesting, but I wonder just how high the profile of this municipal organization is. I think I'll keep an eye on this for a while. As it turns out there is a meeting tonight. I wish I had had time to plan to attend. If you're curious about who is on the Metropolitan Planning
Organization here is a listing:

Following is a list of Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) members by the the committees they serve:

MPO Executive Committee

Mayor Loretta Spencer - City of Huntsville, Chairman
Mayor Sandy Kirkindall - City of Madison
Bill Kling - Huntsville City Council
Mike Gillespie - Madison County Commission
Mayor Curtis Craig - Owens Cross Roads
Mayor Marvelene Freeman - Town of Triana
Johnny Harris - Alabama Department of Transportation
Joe D. Wilkerson - Federal Highway Administration (non-voting)
Bob Jilla - ALDOT Bureau of Transportation Planning & Modal Programs (non-voting)
Bob Culver - Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments (non-voting)

MPO Technical Coordinating Committee

Dallas W. Fanning - Transportation Planning Coordinator
Bob Atallo - City of Madison
David Pope - Madison County Engineer
Emmanuel Oranika - Alabama Department of Transportation
Dave Harris - Federal Highway Administration
Tom Cunningham - City of Huntsville Engineer
Dennis Thompson - City of Huntsville Engineering Department
Peter Joffrion - City of Huntsville Legal Department
Jerry Galloway - City of Huntsville Community Development
Daniel Shea - City of Huntsville Natural Resources and Environmental Management
Anne Burkett - Madison County Planning and Economic Development
Dan Sanders - City of Huntsville Engineering Division
Ricky Ennis - Huntsville Housing Authority
Ed Mitchell - Huntsville Marina and Port Authority
Crawford Howard - Huntsville Planning Commission
Rick Tucker - Huntsville/Madison Airort Authority
Curtis Vincent - Alabama Department of Transportation
Bob Culver - Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments
Bobby Noles - Redstone Arsenal
Tommy Brown - City of Huntsville Parking and Public Transit
Gary Chynoweth - City of Madison Engineer
Ron McElroy - Huntsville Utilities
Ralph Allen - Marshall Space Flight Center
Diana Standrindge - US Space and Rocket Center
Connie Graham - City of Huntsville Planning Division

MPO Citizen's Advisory Committee

Michael Holderer - Huntsville, Chairman
Dave Nicolas - Huntsville
John Howell - Huntsville
Tom McCarty - Huntsville
Shirley McCrary - Huntsville
Marcia Elkins - Huntsville
Jamie Miernik - Huntsville
Denver Anderson - Madison County
Mike Potter - Madison
Bill Weaver - Madison
Madge Griffin - Triana
George Malone - Triana
Bill Glover - Owens Cross Roads
Lynn Knott - Owens Cross Roads

I wonder why New Hope is not included?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pushing Toll Roads For Alabama.

Governor Bob Riley is becoming more aggressive about pushing the idea of toll roads as a possible solution to finding funding for new road construction pojects starting with the proposed bypass which would cross Redstone Arsenal connecting I565 with South Memorial Parkway near Hobbs Island Road. Apparently $1 million has been allocated for a study of to determine the feasibility of this proposed project as a toll road. My first thought was that the cost of this study is pretty high, but the company doing the study is expected to propose a projected toll which will cover construction costs.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization last week amended the area's transportation improvement plan to add $1 million to the high-priority and congressional section.

The MPO is a group of area officials who set priorities for transportation projects. Any transportation project that receives federal money must be in the MPO's plans.


Steve Dinges, an assistant director of the Huntsville Planning Department, told the MPO Wednesday that the state DOT has selected URS Corp. to do the study but doesn't have a finished contract that sets a cost for the study.

Dinges said the state would provide $800,000 of federal highway money and $200,000 of state highway money for the study.

I've only recently begun to follow local city and county politics, but I've never heard of the "Metropolitan Planning Organization" until I read this article. So, who are the forward thinkers proposing to charge us for the use of the "Patriot Parkway"? After reading the article I'm still not sure who the members of the MPO are, but here may be a clue, again from Sunday's Huntsville Times:

Madison Mayor Sandy Kirkindall, an MPO member, asked about such a large amount of money for a study.

"It's a real sophisticated study," Dinges said.

MPO member Johnny Harris, the DOT Division 1 engineer, said, "They usually come up with what the toll would have to be to pay for the project."

Harris, Huntsville Mayor Loretta Spencer, Huntsville City Councilman Bill Kling and Owens Cross Roads Mayor Curtis Craig voted to amend the plan to include the $1 million. Kirkindall abstained.

I'm going to do some checking and see if I can't find out the composition of the MPO. There has been some talk of toll roads for some time, but I just now see this really getting some press play. My first thought is that our community leaders will be sorely disappointed if they have to rely on local residents to support such a drastic move as a toll road to move people across Redstone Arsenal. I guess the cost of the toll will become the telling fact, but I have found this area to be notoriously cheap and I will be very surprised at widespread support for this project!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Vivian Davis Figures For Senate?

I keep wondering when she will make some sort of run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Jeff Sessions. Ms. Figures has a web site, of sorts, but all you can do is register for e-mail newsletters. There is absolutely nothing of substance and I'm beginning to think that "nothing of substance" would be the best description of her candidacy. I can not adequately relate my disappointment that Ron Sparks did not run for the Senate. At least he would have made it a race and would have attempted to win!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Alabama Attorney General Troy King: Alabama's Answer To Dracula!

Troy King seem to be much in the mold on CNN's Nancy Grace: he finds no one unworthy of execution and he has no compulsion about removing a county district attorney who proposes a rational solution to a conundrum: what do do with a case where the killer's death sentence has been commuted, but an accomplice who was driving the car still faces the death penalty. The local DA wants the sentence commuted to life, but Troy The Impaler insists on executing someone who, while complicit, was not intimately involved with the murder. Links, we need links to the story:

Huntsville DA says that the move is political

Prosecutors demand apology from Troy King for being incompetent! (that last part was mine!)
Mmmmmm The Mobile Press-Register seems to be strangely silent, but a lot of digital ink is being spilled wondering just how Bob Riley could have been so incompetent as to appoint an Alabama Attorney General with virtually no experience. Rumors are that Riley is also not happy with Troy Dracula whose cheer is Kill, Kill, Kill!

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Siegelman Conviction and Dana Jill Simpson

Jill Simpson was questioned by house staff members today in Washington and I'm interested in seeing just what the outcome of her testimony might be. I had hoped that she would be testifying before the House Judiciary committee today, but apparently that possibility depends on how her sworn testimony is reported back to the actual house members of the judiciary committee. I have not followed the Siegelman case until recently, but it does seem to be nothing less than a travesty of justice.

I have long felt that our justice system has nothing to do with justice, but rather it is a money making venture for the city, county and the state (and I include the federal government as a state institution). I have come to the conclusion that the district attorneys and the attorneys general care only about statistical wins regardless of whether or not the defendant is actually guilty of any crime. They have no desire to determine the actual truth! This is the prime reason why I advocate against the death penalty. I have no doubt that there are probably some people who are deserving this brutal punishment, but far too many people have been exonerated based on DNA evidence in the near past for me to have any confidence that any capital punishment is justified.

I got off on a tangent here, but I am beginning to follow the Siegelman saga more closely and I'm still hoping that it will gain some additional national traction. I really want to know what Karl Rove's involvement might be in this!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

National Versus Local Politics

I consider statewide to be local and I have to admit that it's only in the past few months that I have really begun to follow Alabama state politics and I am suitably appalled at what we have elected. I have recently been following the partisan political exploits of our Repuglicanattorney general, Troy King, and his propensity to try to dredge up anything to use against a political opponent (read Democrat). He also seems to share with Nancy Grace the desire for all persons accused of a crime, not convicted, but accused, to face the death penalty.

We're pretty new here in this corner of cyberspace and I will be adding much more in the next few weeks and months regarding local politics along with links to those who are much more knowledgeable than I.

In closing let me say this about Nancy Grace: I understand that she was devastated by the murder of her fiance lo those many years ago, but I am sorry that she became such a bitter hag at such a young age. I also understand that she is now pregnant with twins. I truly hate to see babies brought into such a world of bitterness and hatred and I would hope that Nancy Grace would find some enlightenment, not to mention some compassion for her fellow man!

I think Blogger lost a couple of posts!

I'm sure I posted at least a couple of things this past weekend, but they're not showing up and I, in my dotage, do not remember what it was I had to say, but I'm sure that it was witty and insightful!

I'll watch more closely from now on!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Huntsville Has A Really Lousy Sign Ordinance

As I do every morning I picked up my copy of the Huntsville Times on my way into work and there, on the front page below the fold, was the news that several local businesses have been in violation of a Huntsville sign ordinance which dates back to 1972. Here is a bit from al.com (truly one of the crappiest newspaper web sites in existence):

Only those aspects that advertise what the business sells or the name of the company have to go from the exterior brick, wood or concrete block walls.

"We had to spray paint over our apples and pumpkins," said Garden Cove health food store Manager Pam Breece. "But the painting of the man can stay. We don't sell men."

..."You can't paint your name or product on your structure," Dodson said. "Plain and simple. It's in the code."

I frequent almost all of the businesses cited and have long taken great pleasure in the paintings on the sides of the businesses. Tim's Cajun Kitchen has been one of my favorites and Don Howard's wall murals were especially nice, but they're gone now, the victim to this inane city ordinance. I would have much preferred the ordinance be changed or at least put to a vote by the city electorate. I would bet anything that the Huntsville public would have overwhelmingly voted to keep these works of art visible to all who patronize these businesses. I still may make my call to city hall tomorrow and register my indignation at this travesty!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Vivian Figures For Senate?

OK, she has tossed her hat into the ring against Jeff Sessions, but I'm still waiting for some sign of life from her campaign. Maybe she has something happening south of Montgomery since she is from Mobile, but this race will be run and won or lost statewide. Is there anyone in north Alabama co-ordinating her race? The silence up here has been deafening!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Shelby and Cramer dodging RPG's over Iraq

The news broke a couple of days ago that as a C130 was leaving Iraq with a cargo of congress critters the plane was fired upon. Bud Cramer and Richard Shelby happened to be in this festive party and, luckily, escaped unscathed (which cannot be said for thousands of our troops over the couse of this occupation). I just e-mailed Cramer asking if his assertion that "the surge" has improved conditions in Baghdad remains the same. This entire fiasco in Iraq is more about pork and corporate pay-offs than it is about spreading democracy!

Read this article from Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi.

Now that that rant is out of the way I'm curious about some details of the story of the rpg fire on the Hercules C130. This plane was supposedly 30 minutes out of Baghdad and flying at 6000 feet at night. This plane could not have been very visible and I have been around C130s a lot having lived very near the Lockheed plant in Marietta, Ga. some years ago and they they are not especially loud. I'm also curious to know just what the vertical range of a rpg would be. I just can't believe that a plane flying at 6000 feet would be vulnerable to such a weapon!

There must be more to this story than what we're being told!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Shorter Mo Brooks On Immigration!

"We don't want any more brown people in Madison County and let's get rid of those that are here!"

Well, that's not quite what he said, but the gist is pretty accurate after he rammed through local legislation requiring that employers with county contracts must certify that they do not hire undocumented immigrants. I'm sure the local businesses really appreciated his meddling since so few of them actually hire undocumented workers !

I am not sure exactly where I stand on the issue of illegals entering the country other than I feel that the numbers usually cited are probably far too low. One only has to drive around the county for a day to get a feel for just how many illegals are ain Madison county alone. Actually, you don't have to drive around the county; just stop at a couple of convenience stores early in the morning.

I don't see anyone proposing a solution to our open borders and, indeed, I feel that the problem has been ignored for so long that there is no real solution other than some plan for amnesty. We certainly do not have the resources to forcibly deport upwards of 20 million people!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


We moved to the country mansion back in April and I have lamented the opportunities for recycling newspapers and plastic bottles. I was on the way to work Monday and saw some recycle containers by the road (not nearly as many as I should have seen if there is a robust recycling program near me) so I found a number for the county's recycling program and they were going to check about the availability of this service where I live and call me back. Guess what? They never called back and were gone when I called them this afternoon, but I did go on line and found that there is a local drop-off point where I can take my recyclables. That's fine with me, but I would prefer a pick-up.

One good thing about the area where we live is that most of the trash which is not recyled is incinerated and converted into energy thus bypassing an ever expanding landfill.

Aluminum cans are saved and after a few months, usually between bleak paydays, I take them into town to be recycled. More than once this spare money has come in handy. This has more than a little to do with the state of the Bush Economy! All those who purport that we have a good and robust economy are delusional!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Weekend's Over

And it will be time to go back to the grindstone of work. I didn't do much this weekend other than print a few photographs and cut a lot of grass. I debated on the mowing part given the drought but we had some rain in the past few days so I decided to go ahead and run the Snapper over the yard. I guess this afternoon will be set aside for the weed-eating.
I guess the highlight of the weekend was putting a Boston Butt on the smoker yesterday. I haven't done much cooking in a while and it was really good. Actually I'm sure that it will be my lunch all this week.

Friday, August 17, 2007

International Space Station Viewing

You can find the latest information on viewing the ISS pass over in your area on the Human Spaceflight web site. An added bonus right now comes with the Space Shuttle Endeavour being docked so the brightness will be enhanced. I have watched Atlantis fly over while attached to MIR, last month I watched the ISS fly by after Atlantis had detached itself and flew by on the same orbit, but several hundred miles (I'm guessing at the distance) behind, and I have often been privileged to watch the ISS fly by itself.

There is nothing to see other than a very bright light moving quickly through the night sky, but I still like to see it go by knowing that we have people living out there in such a hostile environment.

Take a couple of minutes and watch it when you can.

Space Shuttle Endeavour

NASA has made the decision not to make repairs to Endeavour's heat shield tiles before returning to Earth. I sincerely hope they made the correct decision and I am nervous about the return. Many of us are ecstatic that Barbara Morgan finally became the first teacher in space and we remember the tragedy of the loss of Chrysta McAuliffe with the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

I feel that if NASA had made the decision to effect a repair in space the results would have overwhelmingly been positive and popular. Just the fact that the astronauts were able to make the repair would have a tremendous boost to the PR effort which NASA so often fails in.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

It's A Heat Wave!

I hopped in my car to leave work yesterday and my trusty car thermometer reported that it was 107 degrees outside. That's hot, and there is no relief in sight for the next few days from either the heat or the drought. There are 2 small ponds nearby where I fish every couple of weeks, but the water is getting dangerously low. Well, dangerous for the fish.

Perhaps Bob Riley can pray us up some more rain clouds.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Expressing myself to my elected representatives

I often express my views to Bud Cramer, Richard Shelby, and Jeff Sessions. Bud always responds even though his response is not always to my liking. Shelby responds by spouting his republican talking points and dismissing my view. Until recently Sessions would never reply, but I think that he might be feeling some heat, given his upcoming re-eledtion campaign, and he has responded. although incoherently as only Sessions can be, to my last 2 e-mail concerns.

I have spent a major portion of my life being concerned about electoral issues and I have always voted, but only in the past 7 or 8 years have I really become something of a moderate activist given our sad state of national politics. There is just an incredibly long list of things that are wrong with our country now and I fear that the world my children and grandchildren live in will never be what our founding fathers envisioned for us.

I have never been much of a critic of local politics, but I see that in my future given the direction and the control exercised over local decisions by an extremely small group of individuals. I'll have more to say about that later.

Still supporting John Edwards, but Hillary is showing some spine. I like Obama, but I am still more than a little concerned that he is a product of the Chicago political machine.

Whatever your political predelictions, please register and vote your conscience.

Rove Out!

Will there be a return to some sanity in the Bush administration? Not a chance-there is just far too much corruption deeply ingrained in our current government and the only salvation for us is achange of government.

Vote for John Edwards!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

First Post

OK, I think I'll play around with this blog for a while and see where it takes us. Look here for political news from North Alabama, and remember to push for the impeachment of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. After the impeachment process the next step will be an international trial for war crimes as well as crimes against humanity!