Sunday, August 31, 2008

Full Gustav Freakout

Weather Channel map
Originally uploaded by Darrell
Hurricane Gustav is coming and it looks likes it will affect the whole state. When Shreveport starts to show up on maps prepared by national media, you know it's a big storm. Typically, we get refreshing rains and a cool breeze from hurricane remnants.
We are being told to anticipate devastating flooding here, which is a little frightening. People are out today buying supplies: drinking water, nonperishable foods, that kind of thing.
Already thousands of evacuees are in local shelters. People in south Louisiana are being advised to "go north." We just hope this is far enough north.

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Sarah Sportscaster

I KNEW I liked Sarah Palin. The Republican Vice Presidential nominee and I have soething significant in common. We both are former local sportscasters.
Here she is, from YouTube, anchoring a sportscast in Anchorage in 1988.

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Game Day Experience in Ruston

Game day crowd
Originally uploaded by Darrell
Your eyes are not deceiving you. That crush of people is outside Joe Aillet Stadium at Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs opened their 2008 season against Mississippi State. It's the first time a Southeastern Conference team has come to Ruston, and Tech actually won.
It was a big night for the program. The game was nationally televised and there was good energy in Tech's little stadium.
The air was filled with traditional Louisiana game day smells: barbecue, chicken, beer (beer in Ruston!) and all the rest. There was a legitimate tailgate experience.
LSU moved its opening kickoff to 10am and won. So, there was a festive atmosphere across the state even as Hurricane Gustav draws a bead on us. At least we have football....winning distract us for a time.
Final score

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Smile a While for Me

Over the last couple of days, I've become fascinated with the McCain - Palin ticket. I'm not prepared to reveal my political tendencies, but I have to admit Senator McCain showed a flair for the dramatic with the selection of Alaska's governor as his running mate. I'm grateful for her, because at least now people around here are talking about something besides Haynesville Shale.
I cannot wait for Saturday Night Live to premier. They must do whatever it takes to get Tina Fey back in the fold to play Sarah Palin. The first time I saw a photo of "the next Vice President of the United States," the first thing I thought was "Tina Fey." I'm not the only one. Jon Stewart put up side-by-side photos Friday night on The Daily Show.
The first campaign graphic I saw looks like something SNL would have generated. This is going to be a wild ride. President Palin? It could happen sooner than you think. BattleStar Galactica fans are already prepared for it. If you don't watch the show, you don't get that, so sorry.
I don't know if Governor Palin will help the Republicans retain the White House, but I do know this: The presidential campaign is now significantly more interesting, and it was already pretty doggone compelling. And, It's a great time to be a late night comedian.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

She Misses Guitar Man

Sad Cat
Originally uploaded by Darrell
By all accounts, the transition to college life is going well....except for the departed student's former roommate.
Our cat, who slept in the bed with him every night, is obviously depressed. She's been hanging around his left-behind guitar a lot.
Historically a kind of quiet cat, she has taken to meowing and even yowling a little.
At first, I thought she was just hungry. I think he fed her a lot, which is why she has gotten so fat.
Now, I realizes she just misses her buddy.
The cat moved in as my daughter's pet. Maybe she should invite her little friend back into her room.
That might not be such a good idea, though. She's only a couple of years away from leaving herself.

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Good Hands? You Be the Judge

One of my best friends is an insurance agent, so I have a rudimentary grasp of how those guys think. I've looked deep within myself on many occasions and attempted to be fair with insurance companies. I firmly believe that ridiculous lawsuits and unreasonable demands lead to higher premiums for all of us.
I want to be fair and I hope they will be fair back.
I have an example: My wife had a new car and about three weeks after she got it, the bumper was damaged. We filed a claim and took it to the dealership for replacement or repair. State Farm paid. We got a call back from the dealership saying that they would be replacing the bumper at their expense. They had attempted to repair it before we bought it and had done a poor job.
We returned the check to State Farm. They fell all over themselves thanking us. I only bring this up now to illustrate how we typically approach things.
Now, almost three weeks after a man insured by Allstate made an illegal left turn in front of my son causing a collision, I feel strongly that we are not being treated properly by Allstate. It took them five days to send an adjuster to examine our devastated vehicle the first time. The process, not all of it their responsibility, dragged out for 17 days before they decided the car is a total loss.
They are offering me $7,000 less than we paid for the car, which is a 2008 model. I had no expectation that we would get what we paid for the car. I mean, it's been driven for months and My Man put a lot of miles on it going back and forth from his girlfriend's house and delivering pizza. Still, I expected at least a couple of thousand more.
I surrender. I just want to get this behind me and move on with my life. The Allstate guy appears to be making an effort to be patient with me. Trust me, he got an earful along the way. Allstate wins. I lose. Now we have to go buy another car. Money down the stinkin' drain.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thank You, Sir. May I Have Another?

We still do not have a resolution on the repair or replacement of my son’s car following his accident almost three weeks ago. He’s still is a rent car.
He called me yesterday because the passenger side door on his rental wouldn’t latch.
I tried to talk him through a quick fix, but he couldn’t get it. The car was driven to a nearby service station, but they couldn’t figure it out. The car was taken to the rental place for a once-over. They couldn’t fix it, either.

They had no replacement vehicles and it would be several hours before they would get any, so a suggestion was made that the car be taken to a dealership just a couple of doors down to see if there was anything they could do. It seemed like a good idea, and away went the rent car people on a mission to have the latch repaired.

Less than a half hour later, the rent car people returned with an unrepaired latch and a stunning announcement: this car has been involved in a collision. Damage to the right front bumper caused the right front quarter-panel to buckle, which caused the door to be damaged which led to the broken latch. That was the assessment of the automotive genius at the dealership. The rent car company asked me to pay the deductible on my car insurance’s collision provision. This is, by the way, One Thousand Dollars.

To say this tale concocted by some nameless Wizard of Auto Repair strains credibility is a bit of an understatement. The rent car lady generated a report which was quite simply inaccurate. I immediately called State Farm to put my objection on the record. I contacted the rent car company’s “loss” department and explained that their people were off the mark.

Excellent Jeff in the “loss” department listened carefully, actually laughed when I made my “Wizard” reference and said he would double check things. Less than an hour later, excellent Jeff called me back to say there was no damage to the door or the quarter-panel and that the latch is under warranty. He said my One Thousand Dollars would be refunded and thanked me for using his company for my rental car needs.

So, all’s well that ends well? Not so fast. We still have an incompetent, possibly crooked dealership to discuss. Okay, maybe just one incompetent possibly crooked person in the dealership. It can’t be institutional, can it? We still have a rental car company that apparently does not allow its front line people to use common sense and judgment. I mean, why promote that when a rule will do, right?

As I said to my wife, my daughter and The Happy Couple when all of this had unfolded, “If I didn’t have my personality, we just would have been out a thousand bucks and that would have been the end of it.”

My favorite moment of the whole day came after the Rent Car Lady had returned from her visit with the Wizard and made the pronouncement of the Great Chain Reaction Latch Malfunction. She was on the phone with my Top Notch State Farm Agent, who was asking her about the damage. She said, “Based on my experience, there will be more than a thousand dollars’ worth of damage to this vehicle.” Keep in mind, as I pointed out several times during the course of the day, when she took possession of the vehicle to drive it to the dealership, she did not mention any damage whatsoever. Now, in her experienced estimation, the invisible damage will exceed the amount of my deductible.

Just remember this: the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits. Right now, I’m not feeling so smart. God is testing me. I know it. I hope I pass and once I do, I hope I am smart enough to figure out what it all means.

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My Future Son-in-Law

My daughter went all "Beatles on Sullivan" tonight during the American Idols Live! show. She got close enough to David Archuletta to touch him. "My pictures are terrible because I was shaking so much," she said, trembling. Truly, I have never seen her this excited. It's really out of character for her, but she has been charged up about Archuletta since he first rose to prominence on the show. She has been referring to him as "my future husband" for months. It's plausible, I guess. He's just a year older than she is. On the way home from the show, I asked her if he would be allowed to sing at their wedding. She said, "Of course. We'll sing a duet. It will be so sweet!" I'm glad she enjoyed the show.
I went with her, my wife and mother-in-law. The show was nice in a bubble gum kind of way, a perfectly pleasant way to spend a Tuesday evening. My favorite Idol contestant, Brooke White, performed exactly as you would expect, right down to coming onstage in bare feet. My wife got her fix of Michael Johns and my mother-in-law just enjoyed the music. My wife, daughter and I agreed that we actually knew every song that was performed in the show, and that made it easy to enjoy.
The headliner was the 2008 winner, David Cook, who finished off the evening with a rock vibe.
The biggest surprise of the night for me was Kristi Lee Cook. I had noticed her on the show, but in person she is just stunning. With her amazing looks and a little more work on her vocals, she has the potential to be a real star, I think.
My daughter may be up all night. She was just babbling. My favorite line came moments after she returned from her close encounter with her "fiance." She said, "I had to elbow my way past a bunch of ten-year-olds."
Now, I guess we have a wedding to plan.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Setting Yourself Up

Originally uploaded by Darrell
You know somebody at this downtown Shreveport hotel was charged with touting their breakfast offering.
You also know it never crossed that person's mind how easy it would be to dramatically change the message with the removal one Just One Letter.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Another Sure Sign of Aging

You know you're getting old when you start making dated references and you get blank stares. It happened to Johnny Carson. Even Jay Leno still makes O.J. Simpson and Menendez Brothers jokes. You have to fight against getting stuck in a certain era. You gotta stay current.
I failed miserably last week. I was working with a young woman on a television programming project. She asked me what times of day I would like this event to run. I said, "I don't know. I don't think it matters. Just do Dr. Pepper: 10, 2 and 4."
Blank Stare.
"Dr. Pepper? What do you mean?"
Then, I explained to her about the numbers on a Dr. Pepper bottle. Then, she Googled it. It turns out Dr. Pepper hasn't manufactured the 10-2-4 bottle since 1971. She said, "I wasn't even born in 1971." Of course she wasn't. Do you think she knows who Johnny Carson was?
The 10-2-4 reference endured for a while after that, but I have to acknowledge it has been almost 40 years since they had 10-2-4 on the bottles.
I demand a comeback. I need a nap.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Ongoing Investigation

We are intensely frustrated by the glacier-like pace Regions Bank has set in the process of making things right with our bank account. We realize that the theft of our debit card information is not their fault, but they should at least have a sense of urgency about things.
When Kareen Couch, Kamala Couch, Frank Taylor and Tomekia Scott flew from Chicago on United Airlines and U.S. Airways, our checking account was cleaned out. So was the overdraft protection. We thought we had things squared away with Regions Bank. In fact, we were specifically assured that all checks and debits would be honored. why did a check we wrote to our son get sent back to us? Hard to say. So, then my wife went to Regions Bank to make a deposit to cover the lost funds. She was told by the teller that our account had been flagged for excessive overdrafts and they couldn't accept the deposit.
Do what, now? We are here to deal with the overdrafts that we had been assured would not be an issue.
Fortunately, the teller responded well when she was advised to call our bank officer directly. After that call was made, they accepted our money. Imagine that.
Ironically, we received a letter from Regions Bank today telling us communication with clients is essential and they will be calling us in the days ahead to discuss our overdrafts. I am very much looking forward to that phone call.
Detective Dave of the Chicago Police Department sent me an e-mail yesterday saying the investigation into the financial crimes of the Four Felonious Fliers continues. CPD has made contact with one of them. We do not want to compromise the process, so I will be discreet with the information. Suffice it to say, there is an uncomfortable criminal in the Windy City who will hear from Daddy D.
I'm looking forward to my trip. Can anybody help with Cubs or Bears tickets?

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They Grow Up Fast

They are in college now
Originally uploaded by Darrell
The children pictured here are now college freshmen. In fact, quite by coincidence the little guy in the striped clown overalls and the guy in the blue and white striped shirt are suitemates. They were pals when they were two but barely know one another now. I suspect they will know one another much better rather quickly. Whether or not they will be buddies again remains to be seen.
Even though our College Man is living on a nearby campus, he has not been hanging around the house and that's encouraging.
I thought he would come back home for the weekend, but there's no harbinger of that. We made it clear that he is not banished to the dorm, but I guess he likes it over there. He dropped by for a moment but announced, "See you later. I'm going home." That meant he was going back to the dorm. So, I guess we have to translate when we refer to "home" now.
At least his mother stopped crying.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

And Then Mama Cried

Home Sweet Dorm
Originally uploaded by Darrell
Within these red brick walls resides our son, a freshman in college.
He has moved out of the house, and that's a big, big thing.
He is the first-born, so we have no experience with this. The family gathered 'round him for the move.
I'm proud of him, because even though this is scary, he seems determined to gut it out.
We helped him set up his half of the room and he seemed ready to settle in (sort of). It was the culmination of a lot of activity: organizing, buying stuff, packing, moving, unpacking, all that.
He seemed much better than a couple of guys I saw, one crying while hugging his dad and another sitting alone in a courtyard with his head in his hands, heaving big sighs and unsuccessfully attempting to hold back tears.
My son and his roommate chose one another. They were in high school together, but weren't running buddies. We'll see how that works out.
His mother was very businesslike about all this until we got home. Then it hit her hard. He's not coming home tonight. Or tomorrow.
And she cried. Then she cried some more. And a little more.
She actually said, "It feels empty in here." Ouch.
I feel helpless. Everybody will be okay.
With one less person in the house, can we expect a reduction in the water bill and the electric bill? I know there's an extra spot in the garage now, and that's a good thing.
Now I will brace myself for the time all of this sneaks up on me and Mama will say "I told you so."

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Adventures of Detective Dave

I'm not sure why Detective Dave of the Chicago PD has taken such an interest in my little case of unauthorized credit card use, but I have a theory. During our first conversation, he was politely taking basic information from me. He read back the spelling of my name and missed the mark a little. "R-E-D....." I said, "Wait. Stop."
I continued, "That's R-E-B. If it's R-E-D, that would make my name 'Redouche,' which would set me up for ridiculous ridicule."
He laughed a good long time and I think it was the start of a beautiful friendship.
As he pursues his investigation of the alleged crimes of Kareen Couch, Kamala Couch, Frank Taylor and Tomekia Scott, Detective Dave has called security for American Airlines, Shreveport Police, Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office and who knows what other agencies.
We talked on the phone at least three times today and exchanged several e-mails. At one point he called me and asked, "This is important. If we track down these perps would you be willing to come to Chicago to tesitify against them?"
I said, "Yes, I will. I will happily spend more money than they stole from me to come to Chicago. I want to look them in the eye and say 'This is the person you stole from. I am not some random number on the internet or a credit card receipt. You stole from me and my family and now you will pay for that'"
He said, "Great. That's the first question the district attorney will ask me and I'm glad you are emphatic about it."
I said, " I'll go to a Cubs or a Bears or a Bulls game. I want to stand up with the Chief of Detectives in a news conference announcing that I was the catalyst to breaking up this internet crime ring. I want to do a live shot on WMAQ."
Okay, I admit I got a little carried away. I will happily go to Chicago, though. I mean that sincerely. I have enough vacation time and certainly enough motivation.
I want to meet Tomekia Scott, Frank Taylor, Kamala Couch and Kareen Couch. I want them to admit to their thievery and apologize. If they don't I want them to go to jail and I want to personally slam the door behind them.

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The Ridiculous and the Amusing

Christmas decorations in August
Originally uploaded by Darrell
My wife and I were poking around a Giant Crafts Store and I wandered off on my own. I discovered, much to my astonishment, that rows and rows of Christmas supplies are already on sale. I actually heard "The First Noel" on the overhead music. For the record, this photo was taken during the third week of August! As a few people in my circle have become fond of saying, "some things speak for themselves."
My wife was shopping for photo frames. She had several of my little snapshots enlarged and plans to use them to adorn the walls of her new office. That's a nice compliment.
It's time to admit I made a liar out of myself. I have watched a lot more of The Olympics than I thought I would. Like everybody else, I got caught up in the Michael Phelps drama and hung around for the Controversial Gymnastics. Other than that, though, it's been just background noise. I did notice the female pole vault gold medalist. From a distance, she appeared to be more attractive than you might expect a pole vaulter to be.
My new friend, Detective Dave of the Chicago PD, has captured my imagination. He really does sound just like those guys George Wendt and Dan Aykroyd used to play on Saturday Night know, the characters who immortalized Mike Ditka and "Da Bears."
He actually used the word "perps" and the phrase "dropped a dime" in the same breath. He was talking to me and said my credit card fraud case was worth pursuing, especially since I had "dropped a dime on the perps." I felt like I had parachuted into a TV drama or something.
I asked him for the origin of the phrase "dropped a dime." He said it goes back to the days when it cost ten cents to make a call from a pay phone. If you phoned in a tip to the police, you had "dropped a dime." Ah! I told him he has enhanced my life. "Perps," of course, is an abbreviation for "perpetrators."
Now, I just hope he get the collar!

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The Investigation Continues

Tomekia Scott and Frank Taylor, whoever they are, had better lay low. They flew to Charlotte from Chicago last Wednesday on tickets bought with our debit card. Kareen and Kamara Couch flew from Chicago to Atlanta on the same day under similar circumstances.
Now, the Chicago PD is on their trails and hopefully their tails.
Using an empty checking account and a depleted overdraft protection line of credit as motivation, I have been bulldogging federal and local law enforcement. Everyone has been nice. I've heard more than once, "after all, you're a victim." No one wanted to claim jurisdiction for chasing this down, though, until somehow I got routed to the Superintendent's office at Chicago PD.
A detective named Dave has become fascinated with this, and that pleases me. He liked the idea that I have the names of the "perps." I was even able, thanks to the determined amateur detective work of my friend Dave in Nashville, to track down the place where one of the phantom fliers works and goes to Chicago.
A cage will soon be rattled, thanks to the united efforts of the two Daves.
Our account is still empty. The bank people assure us we will be "made whole," but it might take up to ten days. That process is ongoing. I've spoken with several people in the bank's bureaucracy who offered challengingly inconsistent advice. Ultimately, I said to someone on the phone, "May I please talk with someone in the organization who can speak about this with confidence and authority?" For the record, that hasn't actually happened yet.
Acting on the tenuous advice of one of the bank people, we filed a local police report. I got a prompt call from the White Collar Crimes Task Force, but was told this doesn't fall into local jurisdiction. They directed me to Chicago PD, where I captured Detective Dave's imagination, so SPD and the CPSO did some good. The FBI wasn't the slighest bit interested.
I would think the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would like to hear about this. If Tomekia Scott, Frank Taylor, Kareen and Kamala Couch are not the thieves' actual names, then fake ID"s were used to board domestic airliners. If that happened, we have real issues. If those are real names, then Detective Dave of the Chicago PD will find them. He has already called me once today and said, "You will hear from me again."
I hope it's some time after Frank Taylor, Tomekia Scott, Kareen Couch and Kamala Couch hear from him. I also hope their little plane trips to Charlotte and Atlanta were worth it. See you in prison, you criminal pieces of crap.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's About Time

Blue Sentry
Originally uploaded by darebouche
My street is lined with silent blue sentries, and this is a wonderful thing. Welcome to the 21st century, Shreveport! Curbside recycling is here.
For years, we have been painstakingly peeling labels off steel cans, rinsing out plastic bottles, piling newspapers in a box, breaking down cereal boxes, collecting aluminum cans and accumulating empty milk jugs. Then, once a month or so we would pile it all into the SUV and drop it off at the recycling center. (Hey, is there irony there?)
Now, as of this week, we just dump it all into the blue can and roll it out to the curb. It's nice to see the neighbors are on board, too. Next thing you know, I'll be buying a hybrid vehicle. Get blue to go green.

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Ripped Off, Big-Time

Our checking account has been emptied thanks to the purchase of four airline tickets on Wednesday in Chicago. We haven't been there and we haven't bought any tickets. Tomekia Scott and Frank Taylor, whoever they are, flew to Charlotte on same-day tickets bought with our debit card. Kareen and Kamara Couch flew from Chicago to Atlanta courtesy my checking account balance. We also don't know them. Even if we did, we certainly would not buy plane tickets for them.
I feel like we're in that identity theft comerical for MasterCard. The good news, if there is any, is that some criminal piece of crap got a debit card number and not a credit card number. That means the amount of money that can be stolen is finite.
The bad news is: all of our debit cards are cancelled. It doesn't matter, because there's no money in the account, anyway. The worse news is that our overdraft protection kicked in, meaning Tomekia Scott, Frank Taylor, Kareen Couch and Kamala Couch caused us to go into debt to support their travels, not to mention their thievery.
We called the bank, but there's no customer service person available on a Sunday, so we wait. We called the FBI, who told us to let the bank handle the initiation of an investigation and prosecution. We called the airlines, one of which was terrific, the other of which sadly employs the Society of Cluelessness on Sundays.
For the record, United Airlines handled my call and my questions with great efficiency. The man who answered the phone obviously understood the seriousness of what was happening and offered solid information along with valuable advice. U.S. Air hung up on me three times as I was transferred around to Who Knows Where before I finally, on my fourth phone call and all the commensurate "telephone menu hell" spoke to someone who has English as his primary language and seemed to grasp my plight.
Here's a lesson: check your account activity often. My wife went on-line and discovered the posts to our account from the airlines, as well as the overdraft protection deposits. She understandably went into a little freakout. I spent most of the morning and part of the afternoon chasing down information. If it had involved United exclusively, I might have spent significantly less time fretting about all this. Maddeningly, the call center for U.S. Air found itself enshrouded in a cloud of Idiot Gas and I was forced to choke on it.
So we sit in suspense until we can track down someone from the bank on Monday morning. In the meantime, if you know Kareen Couch, Kamala Couch, Tomekia Scott or Frank Taylor who flew out of Chicago on Wednesday, let them know the Feds are coming after them.

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Adventures on the Road

Free from weekend football obligations but still filled with the need to roam the countryside, I dragged my bride to the Big City for dinner and a show. Having thoroughly enjoyed a matinee of "Jersey Boys," we were hurrying to our dinner destination when the proceedings came to an abrupt and maddening halt. There was an indescribable idiot at the toll booth.
Our reservation time having passed, we were mere moments away from the Fancy Steakhouse when our misguided fellow motorist plunked into our lives.

Toll booth idiocy
Originally uploaded by Darrell
There we sat, boxed in by barriers and other cars while the line came to a dead stop. Cars were stacking up behind us, horns were honking, people were puzzled and no one really knew what was going on except that we were not moving. Meanwhile, the other lanes were zipping crisply along as they should have been.
Then, the lady drivng the car that was holding up the line GOT OUT and stepped onto the road. She was waving something around: a dollar bill! She was holding up the rest of society because she found herself in a "coins only" lane and couldn't pay the toll. She appeared dazed and helpless over the plight life presented her.
I think we all realize that most reasonable humans, faced with this dilemma, would simply move on. Not her, no sir. She inched forward, drove across two lanes and tried to back up into the lane where there was a toll booth attendant. This, of course, nearly caused at least three serious accidents.
When last we saw her, she was in her car just beyond the toll booths, stopped on the road: a sitting duck and a serious highway obstacle, not to mention a hazard to herself, her passengers and unwitting drivers who were simply trying to go about their business.
Can she live in such fear of authority that she thinks that the police will descend upon her for running the toll booth? Maybe she's illegal and doesn't want to call attention to herself. Who knows? At that point, it didn't matter because even though she was just a few yards beyond the tool booth, she had already run it. To be more precise, inched through it agonizingly.
We were late for dinner, of course. But we told them our story and they let us stay. The irony here is that our tardiness backed up reservations behind us. When we left, we heard a hostess say, "Oh good, they're finished." Now she knows how we felt.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Have You Seen This Woman?

My wife recently got a new position at work, a promotion really. There's a lofty title, an increase in responsibility and some of the things that come along with all that. That's wonderful, but here's the thing: The person selected to fill her old position hasn't started yet, so my wife is doing both jobs. She is doing more than that, actually, because being the considerate person she is, she is mega-organizing things for her replacement.
This means I don't see much of her. When she is physically present, she is miles away mentally. Her nose is pointed directly at her SmartPhone or her laptop at almost every waking moment. You know what this means, right? Her nose is NOT pointed at me, and this is a bad thing.
The females in my life have basically deserted me. My daughter is having one last beach hurrah before school starts next week, one dog died and the other one is still upset with me because I paid so much attention to the other one over the last several weeks. Thank God for my son's girlfriend. At least she brought me some fresh tomatoes. Someone's paying attention to me.
Here's how it's been going: My wife was on a business trip for a few days last week. The night before she left, my daughter was bemoaning her imminent departure. Was she going to miss her Mommy? No, I'm told. She was dreading being left alone with me. "Mom, he's so needy when you're not around. I don't do needy."
Great. Let's see what happens if I stop needing them. Like that's going to happen.
When I wrote about my wife's new job a few weeks ago, I said I'd let you know if she gets cranky. Well, I'm afraid I can't deliver on that promise. I have absolutely no idea. I can tell you about my mood, if you want me to....but I don't need to.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Good-Bye, Old Friend

Originally uploaded by Darrell
Our old dog Penny died today. She was a rogue. She was trouble. She lived much of her life in exile, but we loved her. She passed away on a bed on our back porch and will have a place in the yard next to her old running buddy Harry, who was her behavioral opposite. He was a good boy who preceeded her in death by five and a half years.
Harry had a tendency to wander off. Penny would lead him astray at times. She was a digger and rare was the fence that could contain her in her outlaw prime. One day she came home from one of her misadventures without her dimwitted companion. For two days, we waited for Harry to come home. When he did not appear, my wife tried a desperation move. She let Penny out and said "go find him."
Less than an hour later, the two of them trotted up the driveway together.
When her misdeeds got ber banned from the neighborhood, she went to live with my father and was a worthy companion. He loved her spirit and her energy. Fittingly, he is the one who discovered that she was gone. He knew that she had stopped eating and went to visit with some of her favorite foods in a effort to get her to just take a bite of something. Sadly, in the two hours after we left the house and before he arrived, she breathed her last.
She was a "bad dog" in many ways, but a family is grieving today. In her final weeks, she was a sweet old dog who seemed grateful for the care and attention. She died at home and I guess that's the best result we could have hoped for.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Media Memories

Louisiana Tech had its football media day and I attended. A few people were confused when I showed up because I kinda sorta don't really work in the media anymore.
The other side of the coin is that I kinda sorta do. As a freelance broadcaster, I pick up work here and there.
I ran into several media types I have known for many years, including the Sports Director from KNOE television. We used to work at the same TV station. He was assigned to a news bureau away from the main facility and always wanted to work full-time in sports. So I'm happy that he has made a name for himself in north Louisiana. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who works harder.
Our old station was the only Shreveport TV outlet to show up for media day, so we are proud.

Derek Dooley Meets the media
Originally uploaded by Darrell
Second-year head coach Derek Dooley is steely-eyed in his determination to build a legitimate winner in Ruston, and openly admitted he needs to upgrade his talent to do that. He essentially said he needs better players. His candor is refreshing.
I've met with him a couple of times in another context and I'm impressed. I'm pulling for him to achieve his goals. If Louisiana Tech's football program is elevated, we all win.

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The World is Watching

I overheard this conversation last week: "You gonna watch that sports thing?"
"What sports thing?"
"You know, that USA whatever."
"What? Do you mean The Olympics?"
"Yeah, that's it."
"Yeah, I think I probably will."
These were adults. How do you get to a place where you're not exactly sure what to call "that sports thing?"
And I used to make fun of my mother, who was from the country, for calling the games "Them Lympics."
I have been trying to watch Them Lympics on the teevee this weekend and I'm having a hard time paying attention. I was sick of them before they even started thanks to The Today Show's shameless shilling in the days leading up to NBC's coverage. I'm a Matt and Meredith devotee, but I've been tuning in to Mike & Mike in the morning on ESPN2 lately. At least they're talking about sports I care about.
I'll be glad when the games are over. I hope Michael Phelps wins all the medals he wants. I'll read about it on line. I need to get my money's worth from Netflix, anyway. This seems like a good time.
Okay, Okay. I watched the 4x100 relay final and the USA men won, beating the bragodocious French team. I was cheering. So maybe Them Lympics ain't so bad, after all.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

It's All About the Haircuts

John Burke on TV
Originally uploaded by Darrell
Some buddies from church leaned on me hard until I agreed to spend a couple of days squeezing work in around a Christian-based "Leadership Summit." We didn't go to the actual event (it's in Chicago), but watched presenters like John Burke here on a big-screen TV.
(I figured it was okay to go to this thing since a senior vice president at work offered it up as a good idea).
The messages are valuable on many levels and I'm convinced that I will be glad I participated, but I am slightly annoyed by several distractions.
First: we are in a church watching this on TV. It's a big TV, but it's still...well, you know, a TV! So these guys get all preachy and motivaty (motivaty?) and then make a big point and finish with a flourish...and then the people around me START APPLAUDING! Um, Dude? Do you clap at movies? THEY'RE ON TV! THEY CANNOT HEAR YOU!
It's making me insane.
Then, there are the haircuts. All these speakers have these perfect heads of hair, a couple of the do's apparently just caked with product. And my man Burke here has this little soul patch thing going on. They're just too cool and perfect and good lookin' for me.
Honestly, I know it's me, but I'm having a hard time taking Mr. Soul Patch seriously.
The last thing that's bugging me: every one of these guys is selling a CD or a DVD or a series of books. Their messages are valuable, but they lose credibility with me every time they say something like, "I don't have time to go into that in depth here, but there's more about it in the book." Really? How convenient for me. It's nice that you made those materials available at your cost. Wait? What? That's not.....oh, sorry.
Call me a cynic (because I am), but I promise to go back and listen with an open mind, an open heart and a closed wallet. Can I get an amen?

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Late Career Change

Harvey on the trail
Originally uploaded by Darrell
My father always has been a ladies' man. At 82, he can charm the socks off women half his age. Despite the aches and pains that come along with Just Being 82, he gets around really well.
Those things in combination led to his selection as the front man in a series of images touting a local retirement community.
The fact that he doesn't actually live there doesn't really mean anything. Maybe one day he will.
He was an easy hire. When he was told he would get to hold hands with a pretty lady, that's all he really needed. His living arrangements may be misrepresented by inference, but the smile is real. And see? She's not wearing any socks!

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Accidental Broadcast Porn

Originally uploaded by Darrell
I've been on the air a lot in the past 72 hours. Today, I hosted "Sports Talk" on KEEL radio, and of course I called the Arena Football playoff game Saturday night. I'm here to self-report an incident.
As the game was going down to the wire, I felt it was important to give the dozens of listeners a real sense of what was going on. The clock became a factor. At one point I said, "The BattleWings will have to run a play here. The game clock is at 25 seconds, but the play cock is at fifteen."
My broadcast partner did not notice. Hopefully, neither did anyone else, particularly the FCC. See you in prison.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Sickening Sound of Crashing Cars

It was a happy day. The whole family gathered for a fancy lunch to celebrate my father's 82nd birthday. Immediately following that, four of us headed for the shopping center to buy "off to college" supplies. My wife and I were innocently wandering the aisles when I was paged overhead. That is never good. It's not like we won free dorm room accessories or something. Here's what all the paging was about: The one day I choose to go cell-phone free, my son gets into a car wreck. Fortunately, he and his girlfriend are unhurt. He is angry because his car may be totaled.
There's comforting news. The other driver essentially admitted he was at fault. The policeman who worked the accident said it was pretty clear what happened. The other driver turned left into oncoming traffic on a five-lane highway. Sadly, my son was oncoming when it happened.
The experience was affirming in a way because people were so nice. Two people came to my son and offered business cards or other contact information, saying they witnessed the accident and that he did nothing wrong. Corporal Scott of the SPD was outgoingly friendly and helpful. When we called the insurance company, the lady from State Farm was friendly and efficient in starting the claims process. The people at AAA worked quickly to get a tow truck to us. The tow truck driver, when he arrived, said "Sir, I'll take care of this. You get out of the heat."
It was scorching out there on the pavement. While we were waiting for the tow truck to arrive, the manager of a nearby Krispy Kreme came to see us. He invited us into his store, gave us free drinks and a dozen donuts. Truly, it was inspiring to have complete strangers go out of their way to act with such courtesy. We must have looked pitiful or something. Oh, and when we got back to Bed Bath and Beyond, they had held our shopping cart for us. Now, that's optimistic customer service.
As for my son, he's still significantly angry and frustrated that his car is devastated even though he was doing everything right, minding his own business on his way to buy stuff for school. He wasn't speeding or using his cell phone or changing lanes. He was just moving straight ahead through a green light. This can be a lesson. Things can change in the blink of an eye.
Now, we get to go car shopping.

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My Weekends Are Still Tied Up

Well, whaddaya know? I get to do at least one more Arena Football game on the radio. The BattleWings beat The Lubbock Renegades in the first round of the playoffs, 77-61.
The star player, Chavis McCollister, was off the chain. He returned three kickoffs for touchdowns, ran for another and caught two touchdown passes. He was so dominant on special teams that the offense ran exactly one play in the first quarter. They never got the ball because defense and the kick return team were doing all the scoring.
My mother-in-law was there again, and delightedly so because early on she identified McCollister as her favorite player. I dare say there's no way she could have anticipated becoming a fan of an Arena Football team, but she has.
Even better news, we get to stay home next weekend because the reigning league champions were upset. So, instead of going back to Tulsa next week, we get to stay at the house.
This is a dramatic improvement over one year ago, when I traveled five consecutive weekends in July and August. This year, my wife has taken several trips with me, so it's been kind of like a few mini-vacations.
At this point, though, we prefer hanging around home for a little while. We get to do just that for at least one more weekend.
Thanks to Douglas Colier of The Shreveport Times for the photos. He has posted fifty images in a photo gallery at

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