Monday, November 19, 2007

You get there by.....

I've noticed a consistent way of giving directions here in the South. It's not so easy to follow if you haven't been born and never left. Directions commonly sound something like this. "Oh, it's easy, you take a left where Hawkin's grocery used to be and then a left where the old Chevrolet dealership used to be and it is right behind what used to be Picken's butcher shop." Now how would I know any of this? It's always amusing and I guess that I already know where some businesses used to be.....although I never have had any experience with them.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Looking at the horizon

I've been thinking about the impression that Alabama has around the's not usually a positive one. I think about that impression rather often.

I want to say that like several other states that are normally denigrated (usually due to social conditions), most notably West Virginia, Alabama is incredibly beautiful. I've only seen a small portion of the state and not through every season, but there are so many things that are pleasing to the eye. Alabama has a wide variety of environments including mountains, beaches, plateaus, and many valley and ridge settings. I'm happy to be back to somewhere that has a fall. The change in colors is something, that if you grow up with it, it always means something special.

That got the scenery, now here are some thoughts on the inner workings.....Alabama (and possibly other parts of the South) really are lagging behind much of the rest of the country. In some ways it feels that things that have come and gone as what was "in" are just rounding the corner and finding a home in Alabama. It has become very clear that the North did what it set out to do with the vast destruction of the South at the end of the Civil War. Many towns and cities were sacked and agriculture and industry was stunted. There is a saying-The South shall rise again.....Well, the North kept that from happening because they knew that they didn't want to fight another Civil War and they may not have had the resources to win it. The South hasn't risen again and I don't know if the feeling of the South being behind can go all the way back to the Civil War. I think a lot of it is social attitudes. Things are done a certain way....that hasn't changed as much in the South as other parts of the country and I see it in, among many other things, politics, customer service, and trying out something new. These are gross over generalizations but it has happened enough that I clearly notice it. One aspect of daily life that I think about a lot has only begun taking hold here and that is the idea of eating a more healthy diet. It seems to me that the Southern diet has two food groups, meat and fried items. The Southern states have done very well in the competition to see who can stay in the top 5 or 10 most obese states. Alabama is definitely coming around as fresh vegetables and organic foods are very much on the rise. Many more restaurants are offering a wider array of items. I'm certainly not saying I want to rid the area of Southern food (the ribs here are spectacular) but it's also great to be able to be able to choose different types of restaurants, not just choose between 5 BBQ places.

This isn't only about food (maybe I'll elaborate on some other things later) but sometimes change tastes so good.

Monday, August 13, 2007


I'm glad this is getting some national press. Real estate in Tuscaloosa is already kind of weird and there is a condo craze going on right now, but when I first heard about Tuscaloosa County getting hardship funding from Hurricane Katrina I was pretty shocked. There was not comparable damage this far north and the word is that the reason Tuscaloosa got funding was because one of Alabama's senators (Richard Shelby) is a University of Alabama alumnus and it was a chance to get some money for one of his pet projects. I know that this money could have been better used by many people who are still without housing, money, or are still waiting for insurance claims to go through down on the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi, and certainly Louisiana. The guilt of taking this money would be too much for me.....

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A positive to being an Orioles fan.

I listened to Cal Ripken give his "send off" speech at Camden Yards the other night before he headed off to Cooperstown to be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. I started to feel that twinge (in a good way) that comes when thinking about something rather meaningful from my childhood. Cal was the O's when I was growing up. His name was in every box score from the time that I started following baseball. Funny thing though, I kind of thought he was a bit boring when I was younger but now there isn't really a better person for kids to idolize....especially considering the current news coming out of sports today (dog fighting and violent crime in the NFL, steroids in baseball, doping ruining the Tour de France, etc). Cal Ripken was not just an amazing ballplayer but also someone who cares about community and education of children. Those are some very impressive qualities. I no longer think Cal Ripken is boring, in fact, he's a model citizen and a great representative for Baltimore, the O's, and Maryland.

So for this time anyway, it doesn't get any better than being an O's fan.....however, you may want to wait a bit before checking that current box score.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

out the door with cup in hand

It's been awhile since I've written about something that was the impetus for starting this blog-my adjustment and education of the South, more specifically, here is a tidbit.

It is common practice when at a restaurant, to take the cup along home with you. For this reason, many restaurants use Styrofoam cups. I've heard several utterances of "Can I get a to-go cup". In this case the restaurant is using plastic or glass cups and people ask for a paper/Styrofoam cup to be on their way.

The other funny thing about cups at restaurants is that some of them are so large (think 64oz) that make more than a few adults consider using two hands to lift them to their mouths. I guess this is done so they don't have to worry about refills but some servers have come by and asked if I need a refill. Are you kidding me, if anything I may need an empty cup so that I don't pee myself.

I'll try to keep with the idiosyncrasies of the South......till then, could I get a to-go cup?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Boy Colors

A few days ago I was stuck in a training course and I was speaking with the girl next to me and she was trying to describe the instructor who we had seen earlier at a different location. She said "you remember she was the one wearing the "Coral" dress. "Coral?....what the hell is that?" I responded. She said "Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot to speak in boy colors. She was wearing the orange dress." Of course, this entire exchange could have been avoided by using "orange" to describe the dress. I mean....coral??? Who describes things in those terms, besides Gap, Banana Republic, and the Home Depot paint department?

It is a confusing world in which we live.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Something in the Air??

A truck just drove by the house, making a loud noise, so I looked out the window. It was a pickup truck with a device on the back that was spewing out some kind of mist. The conspiracy theorist in me immediately came up with several possibilities.....1. it is a sedative based spray to keep the population from getting too out of hand, it has been getting hot here and I think statistics show (or at least movies say) that more crimes are committed when people are strained by heat. 2. There has been a toxic spill in the area and they are just spraying an anecdote that will heal all of us and then "they" don't have to say anything to the public. 3. it is a slow killer because "they" know that social security is going to run out.

Actually, it was suggested that it might be a mosquito spray. I guess it could be something helpful, but even if it is for the mosquitoes I don't really trust a random truck driving around spraying crap into the air in front of the house.