Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Snow Doubt About It...

Yuck yuck yuck! Sorry about the terrible pun! It's been a good day! (I'll reveal more about that at a later date)

And, to cap it all off, here's what's going on outside right now:

Saturday, February 23, 2008

My Drink-o Needs A Name-o...

I was bartending tonight, and someone came to me with a problem. We don't have wine coolers, and the girl's mother wanted something that tasted like Smirnoff Raspberry Ice. I thought about it a moment, and came up with this:

1 oz. Smirnoff Raspberry Vodka (regular vodka works, too)
5 oz. Sprite
1 oz. Sweet & Sour Mix
Splash of Grenadine
(Blend in large glass with ice)

I'm told it was quite tasty. Now, all it needs is a name.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Baby Talk...

This weekend I traveled to Atlanta for the first of Val's baby showers. We had a great time hanging out with Val and catching up.

Here's us at a very nice restaurant, where Niki treated us to lunch. Below, from left, is Niki, Val, Cherie Beth (my cousin), and Cherie (my great aunt).

My job was to provide the cake, which was supposed to have an "Under the Sea" theme to match Val and Mark's nusery. If this is "Under the Sea," can anyone tell me what thoes white and gray things are?

Here's the only picture I have that really shows off Val's belly. She's six months along now, but she's only gained 11 pounds!

I actually took on the task of designing and making a quilt, which I have never had an interest in and have never done before.

I think it came out pretty cute, if I do say so myself. Val's favorite color is green, and originally I thought they were going with an animal theme, hence the lions and zebras!

And, for those of you who know me well, here's photographic proof I actually did this quilt mostly by myself. Mom supervised and sewed the back on, Julianne helped us design it and ironed all the pieces, and I did everything else.

Here's mom watching carefully, reserving comment about how slow I'm moving!

And, of course, her fixing one of my many mistakes!

We had a good time bonding, and I really enjoyed designing it, but, as I told Val, I won't be doing another one until she has her next child!!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Let's All Go To The Lobby...

Time for my latest movie!

I decided to have fun with this one, since this class tends to wear me down a bit. So, without further adieu, here's my video about the history of Alabama's oldest saloon.

(And for those of you curious, yes, I did help myself to one those tequila shots being poured!)

Jaeger Bombs and Broken Bones

I began a new job as a bartender last weekend at a bar/restaurant near our apartment, The 19th Hole. I'll be working a couple of days every other weekend or so, just making some extra cash, getting some exercise, and meeting people.

My first full night, Friday, was INSANE! A young, local band, Around 21, played, and it was a mad house. I lost track of how many Jaeger bombs I made after about 20. It seems to be the local drink around here.

The night was riddled with injuries -- I slipped and landed full force on my bad knee. My fellow bartender, Anne, broke the tip of her finger and chipped a tooth (on a piece of ice). My hands were raw and bleeding by the end of the night from opening hundreds of beer bottles.

I had a good time, though. (Except for one obnoxious waitress who kept snapping her fingers at us. Thankfully, she's given her 2 weeks notice!) It was exhausting, but I loved the energy and the promise of taking home tip money kept me going.

Unfortunately, I was still technically "training," (even though I worked the bar without help all night) so I only got a small cut of the tips. But the ridiculous and discouraging thing I discovered was, unlike every other bar I've worked in, the servers don't share tips with the bartenders. So, basically, we do all the work, and they make money for carrying a drink (there were no food orders Friday night).


At the end of the night, I chalked it up as a 9-hour workout with a small cash bonus. But, the moral of the story is: Be sure to tip your bartenders!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Totally Tubular...

Jeremy and I got invited to an 80s party tonight for a couple in our apartment complex, and we had a blast preparing for it.

Jeremy was the man in Miami Vice aparral, complete with Don Johnson 5 o'clock shadow!

Meanwhile, here's my "how to" guide to dressing like an 80s Guns N' Roses groupie:

Step 1: Cut in some cleavage!

2) Blue eye shadow -- lots of it!!

3) Tease those bangs, baby!

4) Add goomies, half-glove, bandana, and hoop earrings, and start kickin' it 80s style!

We met Ted Theodore Logan & Bill S. Preston Esquire! Bill (Steve, on the right) was the party host.

Spicolli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High even made an appearance.

Ashton, the party hostess, was the quitessential 80s chick!

And Jeremy (aka, Don) found a friend!

Friday, February 08, 2008

More From The Ivory Tower...

Here's my second crack at editorial writing, if you're interested. If you're not, I don't blame you!

Representation – it’s what Colonial Americans fought and died for more than 200 years ago. Now, Oxford resident Jerry Sparks and his supporters are pushing papers in hopes of winning the same.

Sparks placed an advertisement in The Star last week urging fellow Oxford residents to sign a petition to divide the city into districts for municipal elections. Since October, he has been adamant city officials should live in all areas of the city so they can better represent all constituents.

The Oxford City Council was quick to write Sparks off as nothing more than a citizen disgruntled, because his June 2007 rezoning request was denied. (Sparks sought to rezone his 45-acre residential property to commercial, and he launched a lawsuit against the city when his request was denied, the result of which is still pending.)

Whether Sparks is munching on sour grapes is inconsequential. His argument to separate the city into districts is valid, and should be given the consideration it deserves.

Three of the city’s five council members – Steven Waits, Mike Henderson and Greg Thrower – live in the Friendship neighborhood, near the county line in southeast Oxford. Although their proximity to one another has not presented a problem yet – the council recently voted to divert funding from Friendship Road to a U.S. 78 road project – there is no telling when it might.

Separating the council members may do little more than quash the appearance of bias, but peace of mind is a valuable commodity the council should strive to provide. The at-large system Oxford employs has its advantages. Councilwoman June Land Reaves said her biggest motivation to keep the system is residents feel like they have five representatives they can call on instead of one.

But, as Anniston City Councilman Ben Little said in a recent article in The Star, the districting system has helped Anniston establish a clear chain of command, from resident to councilman to mayor, that residents find useful. Little also said residents feel comfortable with one councilman on their side fighting for issues that effect them equally.

The best argument used by supporters of the at-large system is quality. Voting by district does not always guarantee the best candidates will be elected. It is very possible two opponents in one district may have more to offer than the leading candidate in another district.

It’s a risk worth taking.

Election by ward eliminates competition between council members during the election process. Instead of fighting among each other and spending precious meeting time after the election repairing rifts, council candidates only compete against an opponent with whom they will not have to spar in the council chambers.

Imagine council members actually being productive and cordial during an election season. What a concept.

But the best reason to divide Oxford into wards is this: accountability. Wards are much easier to manage and simpler for citizens to digest.

A citizen is more likely to monitor one candidate’s voting record than five. Lessening residents’ burdens would lead to heightened accountability, eliminating an incumbent’s natural advantage during an election.

Simply put, council members would have to keep their promises or pack their bags.

Sparks’ vendetta against city officials has been well documented in The Star, and it is clear he has a poor relationship with council members. But his involvement in this movement should not taint the overall message.

If it garners enough citizen support, the council should seriously consider Sparks’ petition. The implementation of a ward system could mean the ousting of at least two of the three councilmen from Friendship.

Let’s let their records do the talking in November, and may the best representative win.

I know... Riveting stuff, huh?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Ah, To Be Young Again...

Here's an election day video I produced for The Anniston Star today. Enjoy!

What You Should Think...

Below is my first crack at an editorial. I should tell you, editorial writing is my least favorite form of writing.

While I certainly see the value of persuasive editorials, and I believe they should have a home in newspapers, I, personally, do not care for them. I believe in reading well-reported articles and making up my own mind about an issue, rather than have one person at a newspaper (who in a lot of cases does not represent the views of the majority of the newroom, as in Naples) tell me how to think.

Nonetheless, editorial writing is a necessary evil when you're taking an editorial leadership class. Here's what I came up with:

With the sun setting on his time in office, Gov. Bob Riley is pushing to leave his mark on Alabama through the creation of a statewide Pre-K program.

And really, who is going to say “no” to a bunch of 4-year-olds?

The governor’s plan would provide funding to daycares and community centers throughout the state over the course of several years, so more children could have access to early-education programs. Riley said the program will help more children, because it does not specifically target at-risk, low-income families.

A 2005 study of children in Head Start Pre-K programs throughout the nation, conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found children who attended Pre-K programs consistently outscored their peers on scholastic aptitude tests. The study also showed Head Start students displayed better behavioral patterns and were healthier than classmates who did not participate in the Head Start program.

It sounds great. Perfect, in fact.

No one can argue the benefits of a Pre-K education. But the Alabama Education Association, representing most of the state’s teachers and school staff, and several Calhoun County educators have a lot of questions about the governor’s plan that deserve to be answered before this initiative goes any further.

Jacksonville City Schools Superintendent Eric Mackey called Riley’s plan “scary,” saying there are just too many unanswered funding questions, and many Calhoun County educators share his doubts. With cuts amounting to $500 million needed from the statewide education budget this year, nobody seems to know where the money will come from for the Pre-K program, and, no news is the worst news of all.

The lack of information has educators across the state entering panic mode. No one is sure whose beloved programs will be sacrificed in order to implement the governor’s.

Before stumping around the state, hailing the Pre-K program as a top priority, the governor needs to quell some fears. This could be done easily by asking for feedback from, or even explaining his full proposal to, educators, such as Pre-K teachers, school principals and local legislators.

But Riley appears to be content keeping his plan for funding the Pre-K program a secret from those who need to know, allowing the paranoia to continue and communication to breakdown.

The benefits of a Pre-K education are plentiful enough that the governor’s plan should be taken seriously. Riley needs to lay all his cards out on the table and collaborate with educators to give this program a fighting chance.

There’s no good reason why he shouldn’t.

Now is not the time for debate. It is time for cooperation and sharing information, so when a solid plan does reach legislators, they will be able to do what is right for our children.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

72 -- We Love You!!!...

Break out the bubbly! The '72 Dolphins are still the ONLY undefeated team in National Football League history!!


History Talks...

Before getting in to tales from our history conference this weekend, I have to tell you all about our night the other night. As part of our newsroom management class we were required to go on a circulation run delivering newspapers around town on Wednesday night (Thursday morning).

I was assigned to an area that covered both mansions and really dilapidated trailer parks. It was... interesting.

Our run began at 3 a.m. I rode with a young guy named Zach Maddox (great name!). I was fortunate, because he usually finishes his run in under 2 hours. The rest of the class ended up being out for 2.5-3 hours. Yuck! The bad news -- the reason he does his run so quickly is he drives really fast.

Now, I NEVER get car sick, but I was seriously turning green. I totally do not envy what these people do. They get paid next to nothing, and they work 365 days a year without any kind of benefits or insurance from the newspaper.

Here's what the end of my paper run looked like:

So, Jeremy and I journeyed to Panama City this weekend, because we were both chosen to present our papers at the American Journalism Historians' Association's Southeast Symposium.

Here's Jeremy with our professor, Dr. Julie Williams, who we really enjoy. She is so funny and wild; a really great teacher.

The symposium began Saturday morning, with Jeremy the first to present. His paper on a famous baseball play from the 1908 World Series race, known as "Merkle's Boner," impressed everyone -- especially the male professors.

After a lunch break, all of Dr. Williams' students took a picture with her. Sandra, on the left, can from Anniston to support us. The blonde in the front and guy in the back were undergraduates from Samford University, who have Dr. Williams for media history there. And to the right, Anne, from our class, also presented her paper at the conference.

After lunch, it was my turn to present my paper contrasting the deaths of two famous Hollywood actresses, Thelma Todd (1935) and Anna Nicole Smith (2007) and how they were portrayed in the media. One of the professors there suggested I submit my paper to the national AJHA conference, being held in Seattle in October. Wish me luck! I've never been to Seattle!

And this was the view we did not get to enjoy while we were in the conference all day. No matter, though. It was about 50 degrees out!

All in all, it was a great experience -- one I hope to replicate many more times in the future.