Archive for August, 2007

>Western Tribune Column

August 31, 2007

>I am on the road this weekend. And have a great Labor Day Weekend, and be safe!!!

Here’s the Western Tribune column from earlier this week. One can never be too prepared.

The first advisory from the National Hurricane Center was released on Monday six days before Hurricane Dean was to pound Jamaica with category 4 winds. We followed the progress of the storm each day and by Friday we knew for sure that we could not get off the island and would have to endure the rain and high winds that one U. S. news outlet predicted no building in Kingston could withstand.

But we did not feel threatened by the storm. Sure, we were disappointed that Dean was interfering with the fun part of our trip: a day at Ocho Rios and Dunston Falls. The public health portion of our course had been completed and we were scheduled to enjoy the beach but that was not to be.

To some degree, we are all trained in emergency preparedness, and some of the staff from this country and our host country were professionals who deal with these issues on a routine basis.

A few months ago I promoted emergency preparedness on my blog, and practicing what I preach, collected enough non-perishable food items and bottled water to last each family member 3 days, along with flashlights, battery operated radio, extra batteries and more in a waterproof container that I keep on hand in case a tornado, hurricane or other disaster cuts off our community’s power and our roads are blocked by fallen trees.

Emergency water supplies for personal use came in handy last summer when numerous water mains broke in Bessemer and we were without city water for a couple of days.

So in Jamaica, we knew precisely what we needed to buy to prepare and quickly took care of that. We could not have been more prepared or felt more secure than we did in the campus apartments we were housed in.

The winds began on Sunday afternoon and peaked about 5 hours later, and the rain was relentless. The noise was unsettling, and wind gusts of 120 miles per hour, though weakened considerably by metal shutters, still found their way into our rooms and blew things around and slammed doors. We could see trees blowing and coconuts flying and quite a bit of water found its way into several of the buildings, but we all fared well and do not feel that we were cheated out of anything by the storm.

In contrast, this experience put our training to the test and reinforced the value of preparation, both at home and when traveling.

To be sure you are prepared in the event of any emergency, visit the Alabama Department of Public Health site at www.adph.org/CEP/ to find the information you need. We are not always forewarned as I was in Jamaica. I was not a Boy Scout, but their motto “Be Prepared” is good advice for us all.

Western Tribune Column

August 31, 2007

I am on the road this weekend. And have a great Labor Day Weekend, and be safe!!!

Here’s the Western Tribune column from earlier this week. One can never be too prepared.

The first advisory from the National Hurricane Center was released on Monday six days before Hurricane Dean was to pound Jamaica with category 4 winds. We followed the progress of the storm each day and by Friday we knew for sure that we could not get off the island and would have to endure the rain and high winds that one U. S. news outlet predicted no building in Kingston could withstand.

But we did not feel threatened by the storm. Sure, we were disappointed that Dean was interfering with the fun part of our trip: a day at Ocho Rios and Dunston Falls. The public health portion of our course had been completed and we were scheduled to enjoy the beach but that was not to be.

To some degree, we are all trained in emergency preparedness, and some of the staff from this country and our host country were professionals who deal with these issues on a routine basis.

A few months ago I promoted emergency preparedness on my blog, and practicing what I preach, collected enough non-perishable food items and bottled water to last each family member 3 days, along with flashlights, battery operated radio, extra batteries and more in a waterproof container that I keep on hand in case a tornado, hurricane or other disaster cuts off our community’s power and our roads are blocked by fallen trees.

Emergency water supplies for personal use came in handy last summer when numerous water mains broke in Bessemer and we were without city water for a couple of days.

So in Jamaica, we knew precisely what we needed to buy to prepare and quickly took care of that. We could not have been more prepared or felt more secure than we did in the campus apartments we were housed in.

The winds began on Sunday afternoon and peaked about 5 hours later, and the rain was relentless. The noise was unsettling, and wind gusts of 120 miles per hour, though weakened considerably by metal shutters, still found their way into our rooms and blew things around and slammed doors. We could see trees blowing and coconuts flying and quite a bit of water found its way into several of the buildings, but we all fared well and do not feel that we were cheated out of anything by the storm.

In contrast, this experience put our training to the test and reinforced the value of preparation, both at home and when traveling.

To be sure you are prepared in the event of any emergency, visit the Alabama Department of Public Health site at www.adph.org/CEP/ to find the information you need. We are not always forewarned as I was in Jamaica. I was not a Boy Scout, but their motto “Be Prepared” is good advice for us all.

>Random topics and Jamaican Flowers

August 30, 2007

>This should be posted under “Things I should have posted earlier in the week.”

On August 30, 2007 at 6:30 P.M., the Bessemer Downtown Redevelopment Authority in cooperation with the Auburn University School of Architecture’s Urban Studio will sponsor a public forum at the city hall auditorium to solicit public input for a revitalization plan for downtown Bessemer.

I hope this effort is more successful than the TVA Strategic Initiative meetings that were held a few years ago, which produced wonderful, doable recommendations for downtown, and were then immediately ignored by the leaders of the city. Then there was B3, which had a few meetings and brought in highly respected consultants to help plan and implement improvements in several areas including downtown, but their offers were completely ignored by the leaders of the city.

At any rate, there are those of us who still believe that Bessemer’s downtown can be revived. But people have to realize that it can not be what it was 40 years ago. And it probably can’t be like downtown Hartselle, with its numerous antique shops and Willieburgers. But it can be something special and inviting, with a few antique and trendy shops, an art gallery and studio or two, and some little restaurants and a coffee shop.

****************************************************

Birmingham City Council member Joel Montgomery’s pubic intoxication charges have been reinstated because he failed to show proof he sought counseling, part of the deal that resulted in the charges being dropped. In fact, Montgomery’s statement that he has “never been to alcohol rehabilitation and have no reason to enroll in any alcohol rehabilitation” was what led prosecutors to reopen the case.

Imagine tripping and falling off a curb. You instinctively extend your arms to break your fall and/or use your hands to protect your face. Now imagine falling like that when drunk, and if you did, your reflexes would be slowed and maybe you wouldn’t break your fall or protect your face. Now look at this picture. Drunk or sober?

The Western Tribune reported last week that a suit has been filed against the pastor of Broken Vessel Full Gospel Church regarding breach of contract from a business deal in Homewood in 2006. I would not report this had it not already been published, but you remember how pleased I was that the church was being restored and I am certainly glad to see the historic building being put to use. In fact we use the church for our Bessemer Neighborhood Association meetings and several of their members and staff are active in that group.

So here is the message that appeared on the church sign after the story was published. Hmmm.

Here are a few pictures from Jamaica.

This last picture was taken after the hurricane.

Random topics and Jamaican Flowers

August 30, 2007

This should be posted under “Things I should have posted earlier in the week.”

On August 30, 2007 at 6:30 P.M., the Bessemer Downtown Redevelopment Authority in cooperation with the Auburn University School of Architecture’s Urban Studio will sponsor a public forum at the city hall auditorium to solicit public input for a revitalization plan for downtown Bessemer.

I hope this effort is more successful than the TVA Strategic Initiative meetings that were held a few years ago, which produced wonderful, doable recommendations for downtown, and were then immediately ignored by the leaders of the city. Then there was B3, which had a few meetings and brought in highly respected consultants to help plan and implement improvements in several areas including downtown, but their offers were completely ignored by the leaders of the city.

At any rate, there are those of us who still believe that Bessemer’s downtown can be revived. But people have to realize that it can not be what it was 40 years ago. And it probably can’t be like downtown Hartselle, with its numerous antique shops and Willieburgers. But it can be something special and inviting, with a few antique and trendy shops, an art gallery and studio or two, and some little restaurants and a coffee shop.

****************************************************

Birmingham City Council member Joel Montgomery’s pubic intoxication charges have been reinstated because he failed to show proof he sought counseling, part of the deal that resulted in the charges being dropped. In fact, Montgomery’s statement that he has “never been to alcohol rehabilitation and have no reason to enroll in any alcohol rehabilitation” was what led prosecutors to reopen the case.

Imagine tripping and falling off a curb. You instinctively extend your arms to break your fall and/or use your hands to protect your face. Now imagine falling like that when drunk, and if you did, your reflexes would be slowed and maybe you wouldn’t break your fall or protect your face. Now look at this picture. Drunk or sober?

The Western Tribune reported last week that a suit has been filed against the pastor of Broken Vessel Full Gospel Church regarding breach of contract from a business deal in Homewood in 2006. I would not report this had it not already been published, but you remember how pleased I was that the church was being restored and I am certainly glad to see the historic building being put to use. In fact we use the church for our Bessemer Neighborhood Association meetings and several of their members and staff are active in that group.

So here is the message that appeared on the church sign after the story was published. Hmmm.

Here are a few pictures from Jamaica.

This last picture was taken after the hurricane.

>Carol Duncan and Larry Craig

August 29, 2007

>The both have the honor of Quote of the Day.

Quote of the day…local:

Birmingham City Council person Carol Duncan and Mayor Bernard Kincaid got into it yesterday at the council meeting. She had planted one of his campaign signs in the chimney of a burned out house to bring attention to the lack of action in clearing the lot. She called the mayor a liar. But the quote worth repeating is “I could have had a rat gnaw it (the abandoned house) apart by now.”

Carol we feel your pain. Although we recently celebrated the demolition of the building on 19th street (Video ),it took years to get it done. And we look forward to the Jones Carpet building in Jonesboro suffering the same fate. Soon. But, during the time we waited, chunks of the 19th Street building did fall in. Rats? Maybe they were working on it.

Quote of the day…national:

has to go to Senator Larry Craig (Republican – Idaho) who entered a guilty plea (usually indicating guilt) regarding his attempted hook up in the men’s room of a Minnesota airport. “I am not gay and never have been gay.” What is worth remembering, however is the most likely quote from his thoughts following that statement. “I am not gay and have never been gay. I just like d**k.

I mean really Senator. Here is what I think happened. When the incident occured, he had a flash of brilliance and integrity, and decided to be honest with himself and those around him, admit to what he did and come out of the closet. Thus the guilty plea. Then republicanism took over, and he realized that out republicans don’t stand a chance (notwithstanding Jim Kolbe) and that the republican way of lying and deceitfulness was more honorable (in his mind) than being honest about himself.

Just my take on the whole thing.

There is lots to read in the Idaho Statesman. Of course, this is not the first time for him.

Here is what I want to know. As far as I know, it is perfectly legal to go into a bar or club, and cruise for sex, whether gay or straight, and approach someone and strike up a conversation and leave together and do it. You can do the same thing at Books-A-Million (I only know about this from hearsay) or Brunos (at Wildwood) or at your church covered dish supper. Or on Planet Out, myspace, facebook, aol, yahoo, etc. But if you are in a rest room or at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge you get arrested. I mean, I understand arrest if you are actually publicly engaged in the act, but Craig wasn’t actually exposing himself or anything(yet)…what is wrong with indicating that you want to have sex with someone…for all we know he would have asked the man to go to a room or something. Granted, indicating that in a men’s room might get you knocked in the head or something, but I still don’t see what should be illegal about it.

Carol Duncan and Larry Craig

August 29, 2007

The both have the honor of Quote of the Day.

Quote of the day…local:

Birmingham City Council person Carol Duncan and Mayor Bernard Kincaid got into it yesterday at the council meeting. She had planted one of his campaign signs in the chimney of a burned out house to bring attention to the lack of action in clearing the lot. She called the mayor a liar. But the quote worth repeating is “I could have had a rat gnaw it (the abandoned house) apart by now.”

Carol we feel your pain. Although we recently celebrated the demolition of the building on 19th street (Video ),it took years to get it done. And we look forward to the Jones Carpet building in Jonesboro suffering the same fate. Soon. But, during the time we waited, chunks of the 19th Street building did fall in. Rats? Maybe they were working on it.

Quote of the day…national:

has to go to Senator Larry Craig (Republican – Idaho) who entered a guilty plea (usually indicating guilt) regarding his attempted hook up in the men’s room of a Minnesota airport. “I am not gay and never have been gay.” What is worth remembering, however is the most likely quote from his thoughts following that statement. “I am not gay and have never been gay. I just like d**k.

I mean really Senator. Here is what I think happened. When the incident occured, he had a flash of brilliance and integrity, and decided to be honest with himself and those around him, admit to what he did and come out of the closet. Thus the guilty plea. Then republicanism took over, and he realized that out republicans don’t stand a chance (notwithstanding Jim Kolbe) and that the republican way of lying and deceitfulness was more honorable (in his mind) than being honest about himself.

Just my take on the whole thing.

There is lots to read in the Idaho Statesman. Of course, this is not the first time for him.

Here is what I want to know. As far as I know, it is perfectly legal to go into a bar or club, and cruise for sex, whether gay or straight, and approach someone and strike up a conversation and leave together and do it. You can do the same thing at Books-A-Million (I only know about this from hearsay) or Brunos (at Wildwood) or at your church covered dish supper. Or on Planet Out, myspace, facebook, aol, yahoo, etc. But if you are in a rest room or at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge you get arrested. I mean, I understand arrest if you are actually publicly engaged in the act, but Craig wasn’t actually exposing himself or anything(yet)…what is wrong with indicating that you want to have sex with someone…for all we know he would have asked the man to go to a room or something. Granted, indicating that in a men’s room might get you knocked in the head or something, but I still don’t see what should be illegal about it.

>Stuff From All Over the Place

August 28, 2007

>If you are here looking for Jamaica info…you will have to scroll way down, because below this post I have posted the last two Western Trib columns. And yesterday, if the cold/allergies/whatever didn’t have me down, the Dayquil/other meds I was taking for relief really messed me up. Feeling better today, but I will still use “medication” as an excuse for any weird thoughts that end up in this post.

You all must think I have lost it…Karl Rove resigns and I don’t comment…

Alberto Gonzales resigns and I don’t comment… Circumstances prevented me from doing that, but believe me, when Dick Cheney resigns I will make a beeline to a computer to comment .

Maria sent me this info I want to share. If you go to google and do a search on your phone number with area code and dashes (555-555-1212), you might be surprised at what comes up. In most cases, unless you have an unlisted number, or it’s a cell phone number, your name, and address and even a map will come up.

Now what if somebody gets the phone number from your kid. Then they have an address and a map to the house.

You can block your number from this service by clicking on the number and choosing to have your number removed from the service.

The Birmingham News reports that Michael Vick “found Jesus” during his recent ordeal. (Sorry, no link because al.com is so hard to navigate and I’m not going to spend 30 minutes trying to find a story that has a headline on the print edition sports page but does not garner a mention on the online sports page). He expects redemption in part because of that, and I can just hear Saturday Night Live’s church lady now, “How convenient.” I personally think he is getting off easy. Now if dog fighters in Bessemer suffer the same fate, I will be pleased. Bessemer has been deemed the worst city in the state for dogs while the mayor says we don’t have a dog problem. Hmmm.

Ok here’s one. This guy in LA claims he was fired from an AIDS fundraising job for being straight. Article .

I have long wished that I had the money to open a business, like a restaurant, that catered to gays and then I could refuse to serve straight people, or even people who “appeared to be straight,” and maybe even a fire a straight waiter (is there such a thing?) or two. Like at IHOP, if a straight couple kissed, I could ask them to leave, saying we don’t want “their kind of people” in there. Just to show how ridiculous discrimination based on sexual orientation is. Straight people would then learn that like gay people, they have no recourse from this type of discrimination.

To those who might be concerned about my investments…don’t worry, I’m not really gonna do that. But it would be an interesting experiment.

Word is that this site is being blocked by UAB. If anyone accesses it from a UAB server, please let me know.

Stuff From All Over the Place

August 28, 2007

If you are here looking for Jamaica info…you will have to scroll way down, because below this post I have posted the last two Western Trib columns. And yesterday, if the cold/allergies/whatever didn’t have me down, the Dayquil/other meds I was taking for relief really messed me up. Feeling better today, but I will still use “medication” as an excuse for any weird thoughts that end up in this post.

You all must think I have lost it…Karl Rove resigns and I don’t comment…

Alberto Gonzales resigns and I don’t comment… Circumstances prevented me from doing that, but believe me, when Dick Cheney resigns I will make a beeline to a computer to comment .

Maria sent me this info I want to share. If you go to google and do a search on your phone number with area code and dashes (555-555-1212), you might be surprised at what comes up. In most cases, unless you have an unlisted number, or it’s a cell phone number, your name, and address and even a map will come up.

Now what if somebody gets the phone number from your kid. Then they have an address and a map to the house.

You can block your number from this service by clicking on the number and choosing to have your number removed from the service.

The Birmingham News reports that Michael Vick “found Jesus” during his recent ordeal. (Sorry, no link because al.com is so hard to navigate and I’m not going to spend 30 minutes trying to find a story that has a headline on the print edition sports page but does not garner a mention on the online sports page). He expects redemption in part because of that, and I can just hear Saturday Night Live’s church lady now, “How convenient.” I personally think he is getting off easy. Now if dog fighters in Bessemer suffer the same fate, I will be pleased. Bessemer has been deemed the worst city in the state for dogs while the mayor says we don’t have a dog problem. Hmmm.

Ok here’s one. This guy in LA claims he was fired from an AIDS fundraising job for being straight. Article .

I have long wished that I had the money to open a business, like a restaurant, that catered to gays and then I could refuse to serve straight people, or even people who “appeared to be straight,” and maybe even a fire a straight waiter (is there such a thing?) or two. Like at IHOP, if a straight couple kissed, I could ask them to leave, saying we don’t want “their kind of people” in there. Just to show how ridiculous discrimination based on sexual orientation is. Straight people would then learn that like gay people, they have no recourse from this type of discrimination.

To those who might be concerned about my investments…don’t worry, I’m not really gonna do that. But it would be an interesting experiment.

Word is that this site is being blocked by UAB. If anyone accesses it from a UAB server, please let me know.

>Jamaican Elections – Western Tribune column

August 28, 2007

>Here is the column from The Western Tribune for August 22. The elections I wrote about have been delayed due to Hurricane Dean.

The presidential election will be here before we know it. In fact, the way state political parties are jostling their primaries around, people in some states might be voting in their primaries before the year is out. In Jamaica, the elections are this month, and the locals here say this is the first really divisive election they can recall. The University of the West Indies has a partnership with UAB’s Sparkman Center for Global Health that allows me to be down here participating in public health work.

In our country, the political process is spirited, to say the least. Candidates make accusations about their opponents, staff members resign amid allegations of improprieties and the media blows up every little story in an effort to create controversy between the red and the blue.

But our red and blue colors are nothing like the green and the orange colors that represent the two parties in Jamaica. In fact, things are so tense here that we were told not to wear shirts of either color when we are in the communities. And just the mention of the upcoming elections can start a fight. A question about mosquito control on a survey I was conducting led one respondent to blame the mosquito problem (and by association, the threat of vector borne diseases) on the current party in power and he let me know in no uncertain terms that a change was needed.

While my brief analysis of the two parties (and the opinion of a local newspaper) suggests that there is not much more than a sliver of difference between the two in their philosophies, one would think that they are as different as night and day.

But the main difference between their political process and ours is the violence and threat of violence associated with the upcoming elections in Jamaica. So much so that leaders are suggesting that the elections might be delayed if something is not done to make the process more peaceful.

In addition gangs are very influential here, and their influence spills over in to the political arena. Young people especially are growing weary of living in garrisoned communities and not having control over their own lives and votes. They must submit to the will of the leaders and vote as they are told. To do otherwise, is a mortal sin and one young man described his portion of Jamaica as “talibanised.” He said if someone asks to see his ballot before he turns it in and he refuses, he is dead.

That kind of intimidation would not be tolerated in our country. Barring a delay the Jamaican elections will be over in a few days. Let’s hope they pass peacefully.

Jamaican Elections – Western Tribune column

August 28, 2007

Here is the column from The Western Tribune for August 22. The elections I wrote about have been delayed due to Hurricane Dean.

The presidential election will be here before we know it. In fact, the way state political parties are jostling their primaries around, people in some states might be voting in their primaries before the year is out. In Jamaica, the elections are this month, and the locals here say this is the first really divisive election they can recall. The University of the West Indies has a partnership with UAB’s Sparkman Center for Global Health that allows me to be down here participating in public health work.

In our country, the political process is spirited, to say the least. Candidates make accusations about their opponents, staff members resign amid allegations of improprieties and the media blows up every little story in an effort to create controversy between the red and the blue.

But our red and blue colors are nothing like the green and the orange colors that represent the two parties in Jamaica. In fact, things are so tense here that we were told not to wear shirts of either color when we are in the communities. And just the mention of the upcoming elections can start a fight. A question about mosquito control on a survey I was conducting led one respondent to blame the mosquito problem (and by association, the threat of vector borne diseases) on the current party in power and he let me know in no uncertain terms that a change was needed.

While my brief analysis of the two parties (and the opinion of a local newspaper) suggests that there is not much more than a sliver of difference between the two in their philosophies, one would think that they are as different as night and day.

But the main difference between their political process and ours is the violence and threat of violence associated with the upcoming elections in Jamaica. So much so that leaders are suggesting that the elections might be delayed if something is not done to make the process more peaceful.

In addition gangs are very influential here, and their influence spills over in to the political arena. Young people especially are growing weary of living in garrisoned communities and not having control over their own lives and votes. They must submit to the will of the leaders and vote as they are told. To do otherwise, is a mortal sin and one young man described his portion of Jamaica as “talibanised.” He said if someone asks to see his ballot before he turns it in and he refuses, he is dead.

That kind of intimidation would not be tolerated in our country. Barring a delay the Jamaican elections will be over in a few days. Let’s hope they pass peacefully.