Highway 431 Blog

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.