Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Under Attack

I just read in my local paper that kids in Montgomery Public Schools won’t be celebrating Halloween today at school. Apparently, even sending cupcakes to school is forbidden. The district has a new “Student Wellness Policy” which encourages parents to bring or provide healthy foods at school parties. I’m not going to argue that we don’t need to watch what we feed our kids, but it’s probably the Kraft Mac 'n Cheese more than a stray cupcake that’s making kids fat.

When Jeff and Scott were in elementary school, the kids dressed up and paraded around the neighborhood and capped off the day’s festivities with parties. As a room mother for some of those parties, I saw the delighted faces of kids given a day off from mindless busy work filling out worksheets. And the way I look at it, it was also an opportunity to socialize and learn how to get along with each other.

Now, Halloween has become a religious or political liability and school districts are turning away from a tradition that’s well worth continuing in my opinion. And I’ve found something fundamentalist Christians and Muslims can agree on. Hakim ibn Abdullah over at the blog Wa Salaam says, “Halloween is the most indulgent and frivolous event in American culture.” He’s a Muslim, born in the U.S. trying to raise his children in accordance with his faith. I can respect that just as I can respect Christians and others who likewise want to raise their children in a certain way.

What I have a problem with, however, is the need to take away traditions, festivities and celebrations just to please one group or another. For example, I happen to think that fireworks on the Fourth of July are a big waste of money. Let’s do away with the displays and spend the money on helping feed some hungry people or use the money to build community centers to keep the kids off the streets.

We Americans do lots of frivolous and indulgent things. So do other cultures. But I prefer that we not sanitize and standardize ourselves into a bland, politically correct and boring world that doesn’t offend or challenge anyone’s sensibilities.

Happy Halloween.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Countdown to Borat

Four days to U.S. premiere of the moviefilm “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit of Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”

And I want to thank the person who bought one of my “Jagshemash” dog t-shirts from my CafePress shop, Say It In Kazakh. I’d love to see a photo with your dog wearing it instead of this dog model.

Lessons Learned at Gallaudet University

In a specially called meeting, the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees yesterday “terminated” the appointment of president-elect Jane K. Fernandes.

University and college boards and administrations all over the U.S. are today analyzing what happened over the past few months at Gallaudet, but I want to point out a few valuable lessons I hope these caretakers of higher education will take into consideration when faced with issues of governance.

Pre-ordained candidates still need to win over core stakeholders like the faculty and students. The wisdom of community is to be ignored at your own peril. Pricey, high-powered public relations cannot cure a bad or ill-thought-out decision. The Internet is a wild card factor that can no longer be dismissed. Bloggers can connect, report, sway and influence decisions. Students with passion are still relevant. The “big stick” doesn’t win hearts and minds. Boards of trustees must move beyond rubber-stamping to independent investigation.

Faculty and students are still what it’s all about. They are the hearts, minds and soul of Gallaudet and for that matter, every college and university. Please don’t forget that. My good wishes for healing in the Gally community.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Blatant Self-Promotion

I've been depressed for the last few days, and that's the reason, dear gentle readers, I turned to my ever so witty husband to post his experiences with a political surveyor. But rest assured, I'm not so down that I can't hawk a few designs. And I did warn everyone I'd do this from time to time. Sales over on my CafePress shop Bama Democrat are picking up with the favorite design so far being the Yellow Dog Democrat.

I'll be updating the shop today, changing out the Lucy designs. I have more political designs at my other CafePress shop, Sheila For Kids too.

And thanks to all for visiting. I appreciate it.
Kindest regards to all (even the Republicans),

Alabama Politics: Puttin on the Spikes

BY GUEST BLOGGER: My Witty Husband

Photo to the left: Jim Folsom, Jr. is running as a Democrat for Lt. Governor. The NRA rates him A, and I still like him.

It’s election season in Alabama, circa 2006, a little over a week before the Christian conservatives elect their pulpit-praying, “right-wing” candidates.

The ads tell the full story. Lucy Baxley, according to Bob Riley’s ads, is “Too Liberal” for Alabama. It seems that she made the dire mistake of sending money to support the Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry of Swift boat-ad fame, even though she’s a Democrat. In the ads against Baxley, she’s also tied to the former governor Don Siegelman, a Democrat convicted of corruption.

Luther Strange, the Lieutenant Governor candidate, slings mud as well. He’s running as a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor against Jim Folsom, a former Alabama governor who’s the son of another, now-deceased governor. In Alabama, politics are complicated.

In his TV ads, Strange (and he is strange) charges Jim Folsom with being on the take while he was Alabama governor. The ads also charge Jim Folsom with the deadly sin of running with “too liberal” Democrat Lucy Baxley. The icing on the cake: the ads attempt to tie Folsom to corrupt politician Siegelman.

In his ads, Folsom comes on with a big smile and laughs at the charges.

This is the back-story to a phone call I received surveying my opinions about these candidates.

The caller, sounding like he’s in some conservative hell, his voice echoing into my phone, begins to ask me questions about who I’m for, what I stand for, and why in the sam hill I’m not voting for Luther Strange. But that’s the end of the conversation.

Let’s go to the beginning. First, he asked me if I was going to vote. I told him that even if I was shot in a 7-11 I’d have the ambulance drop me off at the voting booth before I went to the hospital. He then asked me if I knew who the candidates—Bob Riley, Lucy Baxley, Luther Strange, Jim Folsom—were. I thought: “If I’m going to vote, wouldn’t I know who these people are, you numbskull?”

Then he asked me who I’d vote for governor: Riley or Baxley. “Baxley,” I emphasized.

“What’s your opinion of Riley?” he asked. He gave me several vague choices, and I said I had no opinion. In other words, the guy’s bland.

“What’s your opinion of Baxley?”
Again, several vague choices. I think I said: “She would make the best governor for Alabama.”

The guy then moved to Strange vs. Folsom. “What do you know about Strange?” he asked. “I know he’s a liar,” I replied.

He then asked me who I planned to vote for: Strange or Folsom. I said: “Folsom.”

Next question: “Why won’t you vote for Strange?”
“Because he’s a lying bastard,” I said. “His ads are full of lies against Jim Folsom, and I’d rot in hell before I vote for someone like that. His charges against Jim have been proven wrong. If Jim did half the things this bastard said he’d done he’d be in jail.”

Then the dumb-ass asked me if I was a Republican or Democrat? “It’s obvious I’m a Democrat,” I said.

He then asked me if I considered myself liberal, somewhat liberal, conservative, somewhat conservative. If I called myself liberal, I knew he’d list me with the pedophiles so I said: “Somewhat conservative.”

Last question: Do you attend church every week, regularly, rarely, never?
“Regularly,” I said.

It was obvious that this guy was a shill for Strange so I passed myself off as a Christian conservative who happens to be smart and wise enough to vote Democrat for the good of my state and my country.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Emotions Running High at Gallaudet

As so often is the case in an emotional issue, the best decisions seem to escape those most closely involved. Yesterday, the Gallaudet administration decided it was time to clear away the protesters from one of the school’s gates. However, I’m not so sure sending a front-end loader to scoop up the tents and other belongings of the students was the smartest move. Maybe, just waiting until Sunday’s scheduled Board of Trustees’ meeting would have been better. At least, it would not have exasperated the situation.

From the Washington Post’s story this morning,
Gallaudet Protesters’ Camp Demolished, Injuring Some by Susan Kinzie and Michael E. Ruane:
“As protests continued, more complaints were raised about Fernandes’s performance as provost: The school was recently rated “ineffective” in an Office of Management and Budget report, in part because of chronically low graduation rates. There were objections to a perceived clampdown of freedom of expression on campus and what was described as a dismissive attitude from the board.”

As I have said before, I am not deaf and am only an interested outsider to all that is happening. However, if both students and faculty were surveyed prior to the selection and a majority indicated that Fernandes was “unacceptable,” how can one think anything other than the Board has chosen to ignore their opinions? Since Fernandes had been provost, there was certainly time to see her management and decision-making style. The questions pointed out in the Post story are troubling, and the low graduation rates are a sure sign of a failure on some level.

Now, supporters of the administration have aptly pointed out that the university is not a democracy. But how can they think that when a candidate who is so troublesome to so many students and faculty members is selected over their objections, that they have not been dismissed? If nothing else, the administration and board have seriously underestimated the extent of the discontent.

Are Americans Gullible?

I reckon most Americans including me have a kind of smugness that makes the world smile a little when we get taken down a notch or two. I have to hand it to Sacha Baron Cohen. He rubbed our noses in our naiveté. Whether it was a Birmingham, Alabama manners maven or a couple of New York feminists, Baron Cohen’s bumbling and crude Kazakh journalist character, Borat, confirmed his standing as a great con man.

When the BBC called one victim for the story How Borat Hoaxed America, he reluctantly admitted that he was the same person who had been duped. Now, wouldn’t you refuse to talk to any reporter or anyone for that matter?

P.S. Visit The Life of 2Me for a look at the real Kazakhstan from a New Yorker in Astana on business.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Happy 18th Birthday Scott

Today, I’m stepping down off my usual soapbox to wish my younger son a “Happy Birthday.” He’s officially a “man” according to the Selective Service System. Later this afternoon he’ll register to vote in the upcoming elections. He has a weekend job as well as an internship at the Alabama Supreme Court. We love him for the outspoken, passionate young man he is. His favorite teacher described him as a “breath of fresh air.” That’s Scott to a T. You regular readers have seen his photography and know all about his awards from the fair. Next year he’ll be off to college. I’ll miss him then, but today we celebrate a young man on the cusp of all that life offers.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Gallaudet: The Story that Just Won’t Quit

A reader pointed out that my blog was listed on deafread.com. In case you weren’t aware, this is a list of blogs that cover issues in the deaf community. I’m not deaf but have been following the events at Galluadet. Yesterday, I posted my usual entry and went off to spend the rest of Sunday working out at the Y, shopping and having a glass of wine outside with my husband.

My reader’s e-mail said that I’d probably get a lot of “hits” or visits to you non-bloggers. And I have received nearly 400 unique visits since yesterday. Why I’m writing about this is that it confirms my earlier post on Thursday wherein I asked, “Are Blogs the New Power of the Press?” I remember what Ricky D. Taylor of ridorlive.com had written to me in response to that post. It bears repeating for I think it lets us hearing folks know a little bit about what it is like to be deaf if that is really possible.

Here’s the comment he made to AKS:
Another thing, Joe Shapiro of National Public Radio interviewed me yesterday about the impact of blogging in the Deaf Communities across the world. Joe asked me if it was something that we need in our communities. For a second, I was bit offended by that so I said, “Wait a minute, Joe, can YOU be honest with me on this -- have you ever met a journalist, cameraman, editor, anchorman who is completely Deaf and uses ASL all the time in CNN, MSNBC, WSJ, NY Times, NPR and all that? The truth is that you do not because you prevent Deaf people from having an opportunity to work in the media. We were denied of our perspectives and when they attempted to explain OUR perspectives, they always got it wrong.” Joe said, “One needs to have experience to work in that field.” Joe is right but the problem is that we were denied of an opportunity to work in the media field in order to gain experience. So what do Deaf people do? We create our media, we have to rely on ourselves to defend ourselves against the misconceptions, false information and all that ...

And now I believe I can approach this issue with a little more understanding than I had before thanks to Ricky’s words. He and others have found a powerful way to communicate. While other media sources such as the Washington Post may have the clout and name recognition, I think that the power of the blogger has reached a new milestone.

I will follow the mainstream media like Susan Kinzie in the WP when she writes stories like this morning’s
“Source of Gallaudet Debate is Up for Debate.”
But I will also visit the bloggers like those found on deafread.com to see another side. By the way Jane K. Fernandes will discuss the events at Gallaudet this afternoon on-line with the Washington Post at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Gallaudet University: Management by Intimidation

While I’m not deaf, I have been following with interest the situation at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. I believe by now the world is aware of the student protests, faculty vote of no-confidence, alumni uproar and board of trustees split as to the fate of president-select Jane K. Fernandes.

The Washington Post has been covering the story with excellent reporting on the part of Susan Kinzie. However, the WP has sided editorially with the administration. I was glad to see this morning the WP op-ed piece by Noah Beckman, president of the student government and Bobbie Beth Scoggins, president of the National Association of the Deaf. In particular, I was struck with their mention of what I (as an admittedly less informed reader than some) view as a large part in the dissatisfaction with Fernandes, the board of trustees and the current President I. King Jordan.

One of the issues surrounding Fernandes has to do with charges of management by intimidation. According to the authors of the op-ed piece, “Gallaudet staff members are terrified to express opinions critical of the administration, so there is little incentive among university employees to make suggestions for improvement.” They say that this dissatisfaction goes back to 2000 when Fernandes was named provost and she received a vote of no-confidence from the faculty.

A university is more than a business. It must be managed in a business-like manner, but administrators and boards of trustees must be keenly aware of the differences between a typical business and a university. A university is a collegial environment with committees and a sense of community that is not conducive to your typical management by the “big stick” that some businesses embrace. A university has a heart and a soul and that is its students, faculty and alumni. The smart administrations recognize this distinction.

Sixteen Candles & The Truth of War

I knew Ava Lowery was having a Sweet 16 birthday party. No, she’s not a friend of my 17-year-old son, but I think he might like her. She’s cute and outspoken. Whether you like her politics and position on the War in Iraq or not, I think you have to agree she puts her views into action.

Yesterday on the steps of the Capitol in Montgomery, Ava and her new friends came together for a rally called “Sixteen Candles for Soldiers” to protest President Bush and the War in Iraq. Ava compared her party to those wild and lavish affairs you see on MTV’s “My Super Sweet Sixteen” where spoiled little rich girls and their parents see how extreme they can get when marking this special birthday. I like Ava’s way better.

Ava has a Web site and a forum where the nastiest of things have been said to this young home-schooled girl from a little town in Alabama. She’s been covered in the national media and has even received death threats. I heard a bit of an interview by Sean Hannity’s Fox News partner Alan Colmes where Ava in her soft Southern drawl told about her work. She creates “animations” as she calls them. To me, they are more like fancy slide shows. In “WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?)” image after image of hurt and dead Iraqi children dissolves into each other to the tune of “Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World.”

According to a Montgomery Advertiser story in this morning’s paper, a retired master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force who came out to support Ava said, “violence is the truth of war.” He said he had served 6 months in Iraq.

Tuesday my Scottie will turn 18 years old. We have the special present and Uncle Sam sends his remembrance too. The Selective Service System sent him a card this week, only it didn’t say, “Happy Birthday Scott.” It said, “Men 18 through 25 years old are required to register if they have not already done so.” I worry.

I worry for all of our loved ones in harm’s way.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Jagshemash! Borat & Kazakh News Digest

I meant to busy myself today with household chores and a design project, but I couldn’t resist writing first a little about some stories I came across about my current obsession, the movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

It took a while, but now the Gypsies want Borat banned. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a German group has filed suit to stop the movie from being shown in Germany. "We are accusing him of defamation and inciting violence against [Gypsies]," said Marko Knudsen, head of the European Centre of Antiziganism Research. I’ll write later about my experiences with Gyspies.

From Almaty (Kazakh capital) Reuters is reporting the Kazakhstan central bank has misspelled the word “bank” on its new notes. “The bank plans to put the misprinted notes into circulation in November and then gradually withdraw them to correct the spelling,” according to Reuters. “The mistake … is not just a spelling problem — it has political undertones,” a letter from members of parliament to President Nursultan Nazarbayev said. “We urge you to tell the National Bank not to put out the notes with a mistake in the Kazakh language.” Reuters reports, “Language is a contentious issue in Kazakhstan.”

And finally, Kazakhstan Today Interviews First Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Rakhat Aliyev

Kazakhstan Today: the Ambassador of Kazakhstan in Great Britain Yerlan Idrisov has publicly named popular showman Sasha Baron Cohen a pig. Do his words reflect the official position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

Rahat Aliev: I cannot make comments on the situation as an official since the work of Sasha Baron Cohen is not included into the sphere of responsibility and interests of Kazakhstan government. The state bodies should be engaged in state affairs and British TV and American cinema are not Kazakh government concern. As far as I know, the Ambassador Idrisov stated his personal point of view which, as well as any another, is reputable.

Kazakhstan journalist Borat--only one of Cohen's characters among whom there are also other scandalous characters: for example, the Austrian journalist of non-traditional orientation. Cohen's program was on in Austria and did not cause any protest.

Kazakhstan in Borat's depiction appears as an unattractive country, however it is the comic character of satire and it is hard to believe that a spectator could seriously believe the pictures drawn by him.

Cohen has never been to Kazakhstan and I would like to invite him to our country. Here he would be able to make many discoveries for himself: that women here do not only travel by buses, but also drive cars, that we do wine out of grapes, Jews can freely go to a synagogue and so on.

I can understand that many are upset by Cohen's program, but we should have sense of humor and respect other people freedom of creativity. It is especially senseless to offend the actor and to threaten him by judicial claims. Such actions only damage the reputation of the country, but make Borat even more popular that is, actually, what he wants to achieve, which is pure PR.

From Kazakhstan Today

What Does It Mean To Be Patriotic?

I was nearly startled to death while working out yesterday at the Y when I looked up at the television set. There on Fox News was a picture of President Bush and underneath it a headline to the effect, “Bush Compares War in Iraq to Vietnam.” ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos had interviewed the president and asked him to comment on a column by Tom Friedman in the New York Times that compared the Tet Offensive in 1968 to what’s happening in Iraq right now. The president said the comparison “could be right.”

From the New York Times story, Bush Faces a Battery of Ugly Choices on War, “The Iraq situation is not winnable in any real sense of the word ‘winnable,’ ” Richard N. Haass, the former chief of the policy planning operations in the State Department during Mr. Bush’s first term, told reporters on Thursday.

As he has in the past, Bush is hoping an old family friend might be able to help him get out of this mess in Iraq just like that friend helped Bush become president.

The Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel co-chaired by former secretary of state James A. Baker III, a Republican, and former Indiana congressman Lee H. Hamilton, a Democrat could ride in to the rescue like the Lone Ranger. According to the Washington Post in the story ‘Major Change Expected in Strategy for Iraq,’ “Both Baker and Hamilton have made it clear that they do not see the administration's current Iraq policy as working.”

I don’t suppose any real changes will happen at least not until after the mid-term elections. But I got to thinking, and I feel a real turning of the tide despite the protestations of talk radio toadies like Rush Limbaugh and his little lapdog Sean Hannity. It’s not fueled by propaganda or stepped up violence. It’s fueled by a realization that everything our government leadership tells us ain’t necessarily so.

Call me unpatriotic if you will. I happen to think that if we do not ask questions, we are unpatriotic. I’ve been asking questions for some time now. Why, Mr. President, did you think this war was necessary? Why, Mr. President, did you trump up evidence to gain popular support for your efforts? Why, Mr. President, didn’t you send in enough troops to do the job? Mr. President, have we made Iraq a better country? Mr. President, how do you get us out of this mess?

And I thought back to WWII and how even in that war our government under the leadership of President Franklin D. Roosevelt made decisions we now question. Thousands of Japanese Americans, most of them U.S. citizens, were rounded up and placed in internment camps. Milton S. Eisenhower (President Eisenhower’s brother), the War Relocation Authority’s first director said, “I feel most deeply that when the war is over... we as Americans are going to regret the avoidable injustices that may have been done.” With the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, President Ronald Reagan’s signature to the act formally acknowledged America’s injustice—46 years later.

My final question for today: will we have the courage to ask as did Milton Eisenhower did the tough questions. Are we going to have avoidable injustices to regret?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Are Blogs the New Power of the Press?

Gallaudet University trustees are turning. I read in this morning’s Washington Post story by Susan Kinzie that Jane K. Fernandes had been asked to resign by some trustees. Fernandes had been trying to rally support, and in an e-mail obtained by the WP, she wrote, "What we are dealing with on campus is anarchy and terrorism."

One thing that’s contributing to the erosion of her support is the influence of new media. Over at PBS, Mark Glaser wrote about the impact of deaf bloggers and other new media. Glaser writes: While students work to make their voices heard on campus, protest bloggers have launched a media war on a much larger scale by harnessing online tools to organize their troops, broadcast their message, and analyze the latest developments.

While Glaser mentions several blogs, he failed to site one I ran across after one of my readers told me about it. Its called RidorLive.com and is written by a deaf blogger named Ricky D. Taylor. He has quite a following judging from the number of comments.

To counter the pro-protestor sites, there have been some recently launched blogs such as The Gallaudet Protest: What you don’t know, but quite frankly, this blog has so few comments that it pales in comparison to the passion shown by the other side.

A few weeks ago the Chronicle of Higher Education covered the topic of blogs in a feature entitled “Attack of the Blog.” “By the time they knew the extent of the less-than-flattering Web commentary, Gallaudet officials say, it was too late for them to stem the tide,” according to the story.

So, stay tuned. This story has legs.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Me and Arbitron

Last week our family completed an Arbitron ratings survey for local radio. It was quite a little process. First, came a letter of interest along with a crisp new dollar bill promising a future monetary token of appreciation should we agree to participate. Then came a phone call wherein I agreed to do it. I asked the caller how much would we receive, and she said “about the cost of a cup of coffee.” Not that I’m that desperate for money. I’m just interested in marketing. A few days later, we received packets with the surveys for each family member. And there was again a crisp dollar for each of us. Another phone call to make sure we got them. Another letter reminding us of the date to begin our diary entries. Phone call to remind us to start. Letter to remind us to mail them back. And I think another phone call, but I could have lost count.

Now, I only listen to the radio in the car. Same with husband as he makes the short commute to work. High school senior son doesn’t listen to the radio at all. And in fact, he decries the awful music selections we have in Montgomery. He has a 10 CD player and listens to his own favorite music. According to a story in the New York Times, “The Youngsters Aren’t Listening as Much,” Larry Rosin, the president of Edison Media Research, credits the trend with competition from all sorts of other media and that radio is largely ignoring the 12-24 demographic group of which my son is a member. He’s almost 18.

One last thing Arbiton, you know that dollar doesn’t buy a cup of coffee in my neighborhood. Not even at McDonald’s.

Give the Kid an Apple

According to CNET News, it looks like Apple Computer is going to get some good news after the stock market closes. When fourth-quarter earnings come out later today, Apple is expected to report higher-than-expected sales. The good news is fueled by sales of MacBooks which were helped along by back-to-school shopping this quarter. Apple recently transitioned to Intel processors and this will certainly help future sales. Also, listen up for rumors about the new iPhone.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Peoples of World Want Learn Kazakh Speak

A NOTE FROM SHEILA: My friend from Kazakhstan, Oxana, is trying to capitalize on Sacha Baron Cohen's new movie. Since the Kazakhs are still learning about capitalism, Oxana asked me if I minded posting this for her. Of course, I was happy to help a formerly Communist fellow entrepreneur out in any way. Please give her shop a visit and learn about her country. She tells me Borat has a few things wrong but some things right. She says they don’t say “Jagshemash,” but I told her everyone here in the U.S. loves to say it. So, she took my advice and put that on a t-shirt. “Bugun aurayie tamasha” means “It is a beautiful day.” Oxana says her people like that better than America’s “Have a nice day.”

Oxana: Peoples, in honor of attention to glorious nation of Kazakhstan receiving by new movie-film, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” which opens in the U.S. November 3, I make opens a new CafePress shop name with Say It In Kazakh. Here is way to seez what is there. CLICK HERE WITH COMPUTER MACHINES.

Many peoples of world want learn Kazakh speak. Here you find many words peoples speak in glorious nation of Kazakhstan. Pleasz visit Kazakhstan. We no like that crazi guy says. We culture, beauty of womans, strong mans and out of world landscrape. We not “bleak” like that Brit guidebooks says. We do eats horse and sheeps but no wolf. Come. You seez.

Gallaudet Faculty Vote No Confidence in Leadership

According to a story at Inside Higher Ed, 138 out of 168 eligible Gallaudet faculty members called for President-elect Jane Fernandes to resign or be removed. 131 members wanted to see the board of trustees back on campus to deal with this issue. 80 cast a vote of no-confidence in current President I. King Jordan (love that name). According to Inside Higher Ed, Mark Weinberg, chair of the Faculty Senate, said “This sends a strong message to the administration.”

Let me get this straight. You have the students, a strong majority of faculty and alumni unhappy with the selection process of Fernandes. Yet, the board is continuing to support Fernandes. Is this any way to begin a new administration? Are not the students, faculty and alumni the heart and soul of the university?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Joy of Cooking

It’s was a pleasant surprise to see the New York Times article today about one of the classics when it comes to cookbooks, Joy of Cooking. I often pull out my battered (sorry for the pun) copy when the mood to cook strikes. These days that’s a rare occasion and usually involves something simple like Joy’s panna cotta.

The new edition (available Oct. 31) will inevitably introduce a new generation to basics like biscuits and more elaborate fare as well.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Borat Visits Amsterdam

Borat, aka Sacha Baron Cohen, visited Amsterdam yesterday to defend his portrayal of Kazakhstan. Maybe you’ve seen the ads on CNN or the four-page New York Times advertising insert placed by the government of Kazakhstan in order to persuade audiences that the real Kazakhstan is not like Borat’s version.

Borat says agents working for rival nation Uzbekistan placed the ads and said that Kazakhstan will “commence bombardment of their cities with our catapults if they do not stop,” according to an AP story.

You may recall that Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with President Bush recently. Borat says that the real reason Nazarbayev came calling was to publicize the new movie, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” which opens in the U.S. November 3.

Gallaudet University President-Elect in Trouble

Gallaudet University students are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. So mad that they shut down the nation’s only liberal arts college for the deaf again yesterday. Students and others are unhappy with Gallaudet’s new president-elect, Jane K. Fernandes, and want her to resign.

“Students pitched tents, took over a major classroom building and, before dawn Wednesday, blocked all access to the private university,” according to the Washington Post article by Susan Kinzie entitled “Gallaudet Closed for a Second Day.”

The Post details the trouble that has been brewing since Fernandes was selected in May. Some in the community think the search process was too quick and overlooked the strongest candidate. Kinzie writes, “Their anger has grown over what they say is the board’s dismissive attitude. Some say Fernandes has divided them more since May rather than bringing them together on a campus that has enormous cultural resonance for the deaf community.” “They have no idea who we are,” a student said to ABC News of the board of trustees.

Fernandes, who has strong board support, is set to take over in January. She says the debate is about deaf identity politics.

“I feel that this institution cannot move forward under Dr. Fernandes’ leadership because there are too many disagreements about her as a leader,” Mark Weinberger, a professor of foreign languages and chair of the faculty senate, said to ABC News.

Fernandes vows to stick it out.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

South Beach Diet Update

Well, I’m still on this plan and doing okay. I haven’t lost a lot of weight, but ten pounds sounds good to me. Eating out’s a challenge, but a recent meal at Romano’s Macaroni Grill wasn’t too bad: garden salad, grilled salmon with asparagus and no bread. My will power is better than I would have thought possible, and I not hungry for sweets like I thought I’d be. Plus, I’m still working out at the YMCA. I’m starting to cut time off of my two-mile walk on the treadmill, but I haven’t lifted weights in a week. Check back next month.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Urgent Appeal: Don’t Let Friday Night Lights Go Unwatched

Please don’t let this quality show die on the vine. I’ve already written about it once. It’s struggling in the ratings. Last night’s show continues the story that began with the pilot. It’s really more than a show about Texas football. It’s about every kid who stood in the shadow only to be thrust into a challenge that he or she may or may not be ready for. It’s about expectations—realistic and not. Hopes, dreams and dreams sidetracked. Love and how strong can it be. Friendship and leadership. Jack Myers Media Village says of the show: “Indeed, one need not be even remotely interested in football to appreciate Friday Night Lights, because its stories about the people of Dillon, Texas, and their beloved football team, the Dillon Panthers, are stories of simple hopes and dreams. They speak to anyone who ever wanted more out of life, as well as those who are content with an existence some might define as ‘humble’.”

I know many viewers were touched by the closing words spoken at the end of the pilot as I was. I posted them in my first blog entry and many curious viewers found their way to the Alabama Kitchen Sink. The writing is so strong that I am repeating them today:

“Give all of us who are gathered here tonight the strength to remember that life is so very fragile. We are all vulnerable. And we will all at some point in our lives fall. We will all fall. We must carry this in our hearts: That what we have is special and that it can be taken from us and when it is taken from us, we will be tested to our very souls. We will now all be tested. It is these times, it is this pain that allows us to look inside ourselves.”

Tuesday on NBC at 7 p.m. Central time.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Testing is Tested

The Rise of the Testing Culture As Exam-Takers Get Younger, Some Say Value is Overblown By Valerie Strauss

I’m glad to see the Washington Post tackle the subject of testing: a subject that’s pretty big in our household right now. You see I have a high school senior who’s taking the ACT (college entrance exam for you international readers) on Oct. 28 with the hopes that he’ll improve his score. This will be the third time. The first time he took the exam with no preparations or even a practice exam under his belt. Next time it was after a weeklong test prep course at a local university. And now, we hope to see his score improve by a couple of points at least. Believe it not, that makes a difference and increases the number of colleges that would consider him.

Strauss writes, “Proponents say standardized tests are the best objective tool to hold teachers and schools accountable; opponents argue that the tests prove nothing more than that some kids are better at taking tests than others.”

Strauss continues, “Ask students what they think about standardized tests and many agree with Leah Zipperstein, a junior at Colorado College. She said she remembers her teachers in Cincinnati spending weeks in middle and high school helping kids practice to pass the tests rather than teaching something more substantive.”

Here in Alabama, my own little millennial or gen next, if you will, had to pass the Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE). Brilliant offspring that he is, he did. Of course, the schools spend an incredible amount of time preparing the students for the exams which are given at various times as the students progress through high school. Many chances to pass are given. Little else is done during exam weeks which I believe are in the fall and spring semesters.

Scott thought he was finished with the AHSGE since he’s passed all parts. But last week he came home with the news that the seniors were going to have to take the science test again. This time, it seems, the administrators want to use their performance to gauge whether the test is too easy or too hard. Scott says the students consider this a joke. I don’t think they plan to be helpful subjects. Why bother? Ah, my little rebel.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert 2008

I told you I was not going to write about anything serious today. But I lied. I'd rather have these two fellows running the country than the bunch of comedians we have in there now.

Jon Stewart was quoted today as saying he couldn't believe people when they say they get their news from him. Well, believe me, Jon, I get some of my news from you. I'd rather watch you interview someone rather than the polite and proper Katie Courics of "journalism." I know you'll ask the tough questions.

So I wasn't surprised to see mention of the bumper stickers and t-shirts touting Stewart/Colbert 2008. Cafepress designers have been at it for quite awhile. I, myself, haven't jumped in yet, but go to cafepress.com to see some of my fellow shopkeepers' handiwork.

And Jon and Stephen, keep up the great work. America needs you now more than ever.

Stephen Colbert Museum Opens in Colbert County Alabama

Stephen Colbert is at it again. This time there’s an Alabama connection. This small county in Alabama was most noted for being home to Helen Keller (y’all remember who she was don’t you?). Well, move over HK just a little bit to make room for Stephen Colbert. I don’t how or who started it all, but Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert Show got the county to rename itself. Last week the show’s film crew was in Tuscumbia to film the opening of the Stephen Colbert Museum and the locals turned out in force with a good old-fashioned welcome. Cheerleaders, the band, the mayor—the whole ball of wax.

Okay, I’m just kidding. The county has been called Colbert County for as long as I and everyone else can remember. And the museum, well, it’s a joke too. Colbert County, you guys are smart folks. Do you realize how much attention and publicity you are going to get? Oh, I forgot, I think you do.

The show is expected to air several segments in the upcoming month featuring Colbert County and the museum. Now, this made my day when I read about it.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Can Pink Ribbons Cure Breast Cancer? The Marketing of A Disease

As I’m sure you U.S. readers are aware, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. How in the devil could you miss it? Everyone who sells anything that can be remotely tied to the “cause,” is hawking his or her products on the Internet, television, magazines and other media. Want a pink Kitchenaid food processor or a Smith & Hawken pink watering can?
You got it. Hungry? How about a Pink Ribbon Bagel from Panera Bread?

Which organizations benefit from this mass consumption of pinkness? Well, for one, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation benefits in many cases and has been dubbed “the 800-pound gorilla of cause marketing” in a 2004 Seattle Weekly column. And lest you forget dear gentle readers, this is as much about marketing as it is about breast cancer.

My favorite non-profit breast cancer charity, www.breastcancer.org, is dedicated to giving those of us affected by breast cancer the best and most up-to-date information and support. It pulled me through many a late night/early morning anxiety attack. So, I can honestly recommend it without reservations.

As a CafePress shop owner, I created a pink ribbon design that is featured in this month’s Breast Cancer Donation Shop (click here to see products featuring my design). I don’t get a dime but CafePress.com will donate 40% of the retail price of all products sold through the Breast Cancer Donation Shop through October 31, 2006 to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation or another non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with a core purpose of raising awareness and funding breast cancer research and education.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Maine’s Senator Olympia Snowe is Steaming About Impostor Lobsters

That lobster you think you’re getting may be a langostino cloaked in a lobster appellation. Senator Snowe is fighting to keep langostino from being passed off as lobster. It’s costing Maine lobstermen $44 million in lost sales according to the Maine Lobster Promotion Council. A restaurant chain in California was sued last year by customers for serving a lobster burrito with langostino in it instead of lobster. So, ask, "Are those lobster bites, really lobster?"

Thursday, October 05, 2006

You Think Your Job Is Secure?

Jeffrey Johnson, publisher of the L.A. Times, had a bad week. According to the Washington Post, his Tribune Company bosses ousted him after Johnson learned earlier in the week that his wife had cancer. Johnson and his bosses didn’t see eye to eye and he had refused to make deeper cuts to the paper’s staff. “The staff has no confidence in Tribune management to do what’s right for journalism or the newspaper -- none whatsoever,” said William Rempel, the Times deputy sports editor. “They do not have any friends in this newsroom. They’d be booed out of the building.”

At what price do companies and institutions succeed when they start down this path? Is the bottom line the only thing that matters? Morale, loyalty, competency and motivation seem to be irrelevant. How far will carrying a big stick get you? How many lives will be turned upside down with the loss of a job? Will a family be able to afford to pay the COBRA to continue health insurance? What about the high school senior’s dream of attending college? Will there be money to pay the mortgage? How long will the savings last? How many sleepless, fitful nights will be filled with anxiety wondering when the axe will fall?

My questions for the powers that be. Is it just business? Is there another way? Do you care?

I’m Taking a Mini-Vacation to Italy: Part 1

I’ve been so serious lately. Serious and angry about a lot of things. About the state of the world—why have we forgotten Africa and her suffering peoples? About the state of American politics—must the politicians pass the buck instead of accept personal responsibility? About the evil men and women who destroy lives without giving it another thought—look around you; they are not all easy to pick out of the crowd.

What do I do when I get angry, when I see people I love get hurt, when I tire of injustice and poverty? Sometimes I just escape to a happier place and time. For me that’s Italy. So for today, excuse my venting and come along with me on my mini-vacation to Italy. The photos are some of my favorites. And I do remain optimistic that I’ll return. I’m renewing my passport.

About the photos all ©2005 by Sheila Noblitt. All of the part 1 photos were taken on the Amalfi Coast in May/June 2005 during a trip Bill, Scott and I took. We were based in Sorrento and took three daytrips to Capri, Ravello and Pompei. Top left: When I aimed the camera the nun wasn't in the frame--where she came from I don't know. Top right: Villa Cimbrone in Ravello with its much photographed view which I call "sea into sky." Middle left: Bill and I shared an insalata caprese where it originated. Middle right: Capri has so many doorways that I could hardly contain myself.

More photos: Above left: Capt. Bill rented a boat for us to take a "three hour tour" of Capri. Above right: Who needs the famous Blue Grotto where you wait in line like a Six Flags ride. Here's the Green Grotto. Pretty cool. Below: Two daytime photos of our lovely old Sorrento hotel. The bottom two photos were taken from the rooftop outside of our room with a view. The lower right view is of the small port from which ferries leave. The lower left is Mt. Vesuvius across the Bay of Naples--a lovely site to be long remembered. You can check out TripAdvisor for my review of Sorrento's Lorelei et Londres Hotel. We had the triple which was really two rooms at the top with the most wonderful rooftop view. Caution: I don't think all of the rooms are of this standard. Read the reviews but ignore the people who get bent out of shape by a lack of soap holders in the shower. Common on. Just stay home if you are that picky.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

All Creatures Great and Small: Do Squirrels Matter?

Scott was upstairs talking to me after school while I worked at the computer, when he looked out of our office window and noticed something floating in the pool. “Is that a frog?” he asked. Then, answering his own question, he said, “No, it’s a squirrel!” Before I knew it, he rushed downstairs and out the back, quickly grabbing the skimmer. He scooped up the tiny animal from the vastness of the pool, and I helped him free the baby squirrel from the netting. We weren’t in time. The little creature had drowned. I could tell it bothered him. I wondered what mama and daddy squirrel would think. “Ah,” you say, “squirrels probably don’t.” I’m a sap. I like to think life matters. Even a squirrel’s.

Bad Guys, Prayer and the Power of PR

Yes, bad guys are out there. Before I’m accused of being a sexist or a male-basher, let me say women can be bad too. However, in general, they don’t seem to have the propensity for violence that men do. How many husband-beaters do you hear of?

The killer of Montgomery Police Officer Houts who was slain by a bullet to his head last week was male. The killer of the Amish children was a revenge-seeking man armed to the teeth. The Wisconsin teen who attacked and killed a principal. Male. On the same day that Montgomery Police were looking for the shooter of Officer Houts, Lakeland, Florida Deputy Sheriff Vernon Williams was slain by eight bullets after making a traffic stop, his police dog killed and another deputy wounded. The SWAT officers tracked down the suspect and shot him 68 times.

This kind of bad guy is easy to see. The kind who wraps himself in the cloak of goodness or progress is likewise dangerous on a different level. Lives are wrecked. Psyches are warped. Financially secure retirements lost. The most recent member of this class, former Representative Foley, has holed himself up in a treatment center to deal with alcoholism apparently. Foley might want to check in with Richard Scrushy to get some pointers from Scrushy’s playbook on redemption. Scrushy, former chairman and CEO of Alabama’s HealthSouth, is on a crusade to repair his reputation with his chief defense partner being no less than God.

Michael Kinsley wrote in the Washington Post story, The Lord and Richard Scrushy, “God works in mysterious ways, but his or her decision to acquit Richard Scrushy, former CEO of HealthSouth Corp., on all charges of financial fraud is especially inscrutable. Five consecutive HealthSouth chief financial officers admitted to cooking the books and copped a plea. They all fingered Scrushy. But jurors chose to believe that the man on top knew nothing about what was going on directly below him.”

“Not long after he was indicted in November, 2003, Scrushy and his wife launched an evangelical Christian talk show on a local cable station,” according to BusinessWeek. I happened upon this show the other morning on WCOV’s (FOX 20) Montgomery station, but it had been on the air here longer according to the Birmingham News. Seems the show “Viewpoint” began airing shortly before the Montgomery bribery trial of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman and Richard Scrushy. The jury in this more recent trial ended up convicting both defendants, and just recently Siegelman and Scrushy filed a joint motion asking for a new trial based on their Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial before an impartial jury. The legal team has apparently been busy filing other motions too, one of which the federal judge who presided over the trial refused on Monday, ruling that there was substantial evidence to support the convictions.

Whether it's Enron, HealthSouth or other corporate shenanigans, bad guys don’t always look like bad guys.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sheila's Review of Friday Night Lights

"Give all of us who are gathered here tonight the strength to remember that life is so very fragile. We are all vulnerable. And we will all at some point in our lives fall. We will all fall. We must carry this in our hearts: That what we have is special and that it can be taken from us and when it is taken from us, we will be tested to our very souls. We will now all be tested. It is these times, it is this pain that allows us to look inside ourselves."

Those are the words that end this amazingly good television show on NBC. Did you see the movie by the same title? Prepare for a slight variation in this version. Missed the show? NBC is having an encore tomorrow night. Stop complaining about the lack of good television and watch this. I'll bet you'll be touched.

Peter Berg, who directed the movie FNL, is the executive producer. The show is shot 100% in Texas, near Austin, with a mostly Texan cast. Berg says he won't have a football game every week but maybe one every four or five weeks. He says some people have complained about the camera work. The announcers for tonight's show are USC Trojan announcers, and in the following weeks, Berg plans to find real Texas announcers.

Quick Heads-Up for Friday Night Lights

“Lord, is Friday Night Lights good,” writes Virginia Heffernan in today’s New York Times review of this new television show. 8 Eastern, 7 Central tonight on NBC. And please, WSFA don’t pre-empt this for something like a Billy Graham program that the ABC affiliate did when Bill and I wanted to watch the pilot of “Men in Trees.” Oh, the show’s about football. Duh.

Washington Times: Resign, Mr. Speaker

Why is a good Democrat like me reading the Washington Times you might ask dear gentle readers? Well, I wanted to read the reliably conservative paper’s editorial calling on House Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign.

From the Washington Times:
“The evidence was strong enough long enough ago that the speaker should have relieved Mr. Foley of his committee responsibilities contingent on a full investigation to learn what had taken place.”

“Late yesterday afternoon, Mr. Hastert insisted that he learned of the most flagrant instant-message exchange from 2003 only last Friday, when it was reported by ABC News. This is irrelevant. The original e-mail messages were warning enough that a predator -- and, incredibly, the co-chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children -- could be prowling the halls of Congress. The matter wasn’t pursued aggressively. It was barely pursued at all. Moreover, all available evidence suggests that the Republican leadership did not share anything related to this matter with any Democrat.”

The editorial rightly points out that the Democrats have had their share of sexual skeletons in the closet. So, don’t get too high on your horse, fellow Democrats. The higher you are; the harder you fall.

“House Speaker Dennis Hastert must do the only right thing, and resign his speakership at once. Either he was grossly negligent for not taking the red flags fully into account and ordering a swift investigation, for not even remembering the order of events leading up to last week’s revelations -- or he deliberately looked the other way in hopes that a brewing scandal would simply blow away.”

The editorial calls for a one-day session to elect a new speaker and suggests Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois. Surely, you jest. I lived in Illinois for over 10 years and seem to remember some hanky-panky in his background too. Much has been written most notably in salon.com about Hyde’s extra-marital affair that must be no big deal to some, but I for one certainly don’t think this makes this Roman Catholic a beacon of righteousness.

Other than that one little "boop," the Washington Times editorial is excellent.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Slapout, Alabama

Well, since Bill went to Eclectic, Alabama Saturday night to judge that beauty pageant, I got to thinking a bit about Elmore County. As you might remember, I grew up around here, and I’m in the process of rediscovering the area since I was away for so long (30+ years). As a kid, we’d drive through Slapout, Alabama on the way to Lake Jordan (Jerden). Anyway, I'd rather write about Slapout today and let others write about Congressman Foley and his fondness for boys or Bob Woodward's new book or YouTube (I'm fascinated with it) or Sacha Boran Cohen's cleverness (nother obsession). Come back when I'm in a more serious and self-righteous mood.

Slapout, Alabama, not to be confused with Slapout, Oklahoma, is a “town” with an identity issue. The volunteer fire department can’t decide if it’s better to be called Holtville or Slapout so they just call themselves Holtville/Slapout. They have a Web site and there is a cafepress.com site too where you can get t-shirts, bumper stickers, hats and gear with their logo on them. I’d just stick with Slapout if it were me. Checking the site this morning, I saw that Chief Gregg has a fire truck for sale. I hope that he doesn’t mind me posting a picture of it. Anyone out there in need of a firetruck? Engine 603 is a 1975 American LaFrance Pioneer Series 1500 gpm pumper with a 500-gal supply tank. And I hope they don’t mind me posting a picture of one of the cafepress.com items from their shop. Hey, I have a cafepress.com shop too, and I love any attention I get. Shameless self-promotion, I know.

How, gentle readers, you might ask, “Did Slapout come by its name?” According to the Holtville/Slapout FD site, it originated back in the 50’s and early 60’s with a general store in town that had all sorts of things you might need in rural Alabama. “As people would come in and try to buy things, if he (the owner) didn’t have what they were looking for he would say ‘I am slapout of it’ and it kinda stuck.” Coincidentally, that’s the way the Okkie town got its name.

Anyway, here’s more about Slapout. Mose T, internationally known Alabama folk artist, has a children’s book with poems and his colorful paintings called Mose T’s Slapout Family Album. I suppose he’s referring to the Slapout I know.

Ruth from Ruth’s House of Poetry wrote a poem called “Slapout Boogie.” Some guys named Roy Boney and Larry Burditt have a comic called “Slapout,” but I think it’s about the other Slapout; you know, the Oklahoma one so I’m not giving the link to it. Go find it yourself if you are curious.

If you have the chance, check out Elmore County. It’s Alabama’s third fastest growing county, the movie “Big Fish” was filmed in these parts, and then, of course, there’s Slapout.

About the top photo: That neat photo of the fire truck is by Cecil Bridges. I asked him if I could use it and he said okay. Cecil has a Web site with some wonderful photos of Alabama. Check out his work to see why I love this area so much.

Stephen King on Writing

I came across this story from Sunday’s Washington Post written by one of my favorite writers, Stephen King. You know--The Stand, Carrie, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption and more that my morning coffee deprived brain forgets.

King writes of his muse Scruffy, a flea-bitten mutt who gives him the words. He writes of his environment—what music he’s listening to, what his grandson’s doing downstairs, what smells he smells, what sounds he hears. But mostly, he writes about writing.

From the King himself: “But there’s no shortcut to getting there. You can build yourself the world’s most wonderful writer’s studio, load it up with state-of-the-art computer equipment, and nothing will happen unless you’ve put in your time in that clearing, waiting for Scruffy to come and sit by your leg. Or bite it and run away.

I’m often asked if writing classes are any help, and my immediate and enthusiastic answer is always, Yes! Writing classes are wonderful for the writers who teach them and can’t make ends meet without that supplementary income. They are also good places for unattached people to meet, talk about books and movies, have a few drinks and possibly hook up. But teach you to write? No. A writing class will not teach you to write. The only things that can teach writing are reading, writing and the semi-domestication of one’s muse. These are all activities one must pursue alone.”

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Officer Houts Didn’t Make It

Officer Houts of the Montgomery Police Department was shot in the face last Thursday during a routine by-the-books traffic stop. It didn’t look good for him since his spinal cord had been severed. Sadly, he died last night. I didn’t know the family; yet, this seems so personal to me. I don’t know what we can do. There are some really evil people out there. I pray they stay away from my family and yours.

Shannon Paulk Killer Still on the Loose

It’s been a little over five years since little 11-year-old Shannon Paulk disappeared from her Prattville home. Weeks later, her body was found in a wooded area. The Fox show America's Most Wanted had already aired one segment on the case earlier this month that generated over 100 tips and was hopeful last night's show might produce similar results. It looks like two other cases in the South may be connected, an anniversary killer if you will. Eleven year old girls living in trailer parks near construction sites and wildlife refuges—that’s what all three cases have in common.

They are looking for a man with a hairy mole on his face. Someone must know something. Turn in this scumbag before he can hurt another child.

Beauty Queens and Disappointment

I was finishing up watching the Alabama Crimson Tide get taken to the woodshed yesterday, when husband had to leave for a last-minute engagement. An Auburn University Montgomery (AUM) math professor had called him Friday night to see if he knew of anyone who could be a judge for a high school beauty pageant on Saturday. As public relations director, he sometimes gets after-hours calls about all sorts of things. Being the sort of person who loves to help, he volunteered to do it himself without thinking that he’d miss part of the Alabama game that was, unfortunately, on CBS. He listened to the second half on the radio on the way to Eclectic, Alabama, a little community northeast of Montgomery. Afterwards, I wanted to talk to him about the game, but he refused, saying, go write about it. So, I am.

Husband said it was fun to see the girls all dressed up, and he enjoyed the evening. There were also three guys in one category, two brothers and another kid. When asked what his most embarrassing moment was, one of the brothers said, “This.” Boy, can I identify with him. When I was on the yearbook staff in high school a hundred years ago, our adviser finagled me into becoming one of our pageant contestants. On hindsight I appreciate her faith in me, but I am about as far away from your typical contestant as you can get. Back then I had long hair, fancied myself a free-thinker and was painfully introverted.

Anyway, forgive the trip down memory lane. After the judges for the Eclectic pageant had decided whose daughter would be crowned the winner and whose daughters would be going home with tears but before the announcement of that, the organizers told the judges, “You need to leave now. We had an ‘incident’ last year.” As one of last year’s judges left, rocks were thrown at his car as he pulled away.

You have to know. This is Alabama. We take football seriously. And beauty pageants.