Saturday, July 28, 2007

Nick Saban's Schedule

So I got this from my friend Ericka... seems she has a connection to the sports department at the U of A, and was able to get her hands on a great piece of information... Nick Saban's daily schedule. I will warn you, this is PG-13, and I had to clean it up, but who am I to censor the workings of a genius?

So, here it is from about two weeks ago... and you wonder why they say its the year 2000 & Saban.

4:00 AM - Wake up.

4:01 AM - Fire secretary for mispelling 'ITINERARY.' Get security to go to her house, step in her garden, wake her fat butt up, get her to fix them breakfast. .... Then fire her.

4:02 AM - Watch the movie 'Gladiator' in 16X fast forward.

4:20 AM - Think about how much of a pansy Maximus is and how I could dominate him.

4:21 AM - Call Major. Tell him if he isn't at my house in 5 minutes I will hire Chris Simms to do his f*$&%ng job.

4:25 AM - Tell Major who he is recruiting today. Send him on the road with a cooler and a case of Red Bull. Tell him not to come back until he has a commitment. From a 5-star.

4:26 AM - Call Kevin Steele. Ask him where the f#$% are my 5-star D-line commits? Call him names. Hang up.

4:27 AM - Power nap.

4:28 AM - 3-mile jog.

4:29 AM - Play game of NCAA 07. Beat LSU 63-0.

With Valdosta State .

5:00 AM - Think about how even EA sports makes Les Miles looks like a walking bobblehead doll.

5:01 AM - Call Mal. Ask him where the f#$% is my bagel.

5:02 AM - Get bagel from Mal. Complain that it isn't toasted enough. Slam door.

5:03 AM - Toast bagel with laser eyes, then eat it.

5:05 AM - Do whatever the f#$% I want for two-and-a-half hours.

7:36 AM - Wake up the daughter, tell her how much I love her, fix her breakfast, ask her how her school is going, pat her on the head, buy her a pony, kiss her on the forehead, telepathically threaten her boyfriend, and give her a ride to school.

7:39 AM: Wake up the wife.

7:39 - 10:39 AM - None of your business.

10:40 AM - Take 15-minute hot shower.

10:45 AM - Head to office.

10:50 AM - Prank-call Don Shula. Tell him that Nick Saban is looking to hire a new secretary and that if he's interested to email his resume to . Do not disguise voice.

11:00 AM - Go to Mobile . Recruit my butt off.

11:50 AM - Go to Daphne. Recruit my butt off.

12:25 PM - Go to Louisiana . Take huge slam…... inside the LSU Football Complex. Use the bathroom in Miles' office. Do not close door.

12:26 P.M. - Use bottled skunk scent to create the illusion that my crap actually stinks.

12:27 P.M. – Leave toilet un-flushed. Not to be rude. Just to remind everyone at LSU that it's Nick Saban's job to get crap done, and Les Miles' job to take care of whatever Nick Saban leaves behind.

12:29 P.M. – Enter Auburn city limits. Inhale, then hold breath.

12:30 P.M. – Meet Tommy Tuberville for lunch. When waiter takes order, say "I'll have what he's having." Wait for Tuberville to order something healthy. Then call him a pansy and order a double cheeseburger. With onion rings.

12:31 P.M. – Think of a better way to screw with Tuberville. Adjust time.

12:30 P.M. – Meet Tommy Tuberville for lunch. When waitress takes order, say 'I'll have what he's having.' Wait for Tuberville to order. When the waitress brings out my food, send it back. When the waitress brings out Tuberville's food, eat it. All of it. Silently, and without using silverware. Stare Tuberville in the face the whole time. Do not talk. If waitress tries to approach table again, stare at her until she cries.

1:00 P.M. – Get up from table. Ask valet for Tuberville's car keys. Do not tip.

1:01 P.M. – Get in car. Scroll trough Tuberville's iPod. Laugh at all the pansy music he has on it.

1:02 P.M. – Morph iPod into 1987 cassette tape of "Appetite for Destruction." Blare it. Then hit the pedal.

1:03 – 1:29 P.M. – Hit as many Auburn fans' mailboxes as possible. Swerve if necessary.

Screw swerving. Mailboxes come to Nick Saban, waiting to be hit.

1:30 P.M. – Arrive at Auburn City Sheriff's Office.

1:31 P.M. – Beat the crap out of Auburn City Sheriff.Do not tell him there is a new sheriff in town. That would be too expected.Instead, merely imply it by punching him repeatedly in the face and kidney.

1:32 – 1:54 P.M. – Hit as many Auburn fans' pets as possible. Swerve if necessary.

Screw swerving. Auburn fans should come to Nick Saban, holding their mailboxes, waiting the honor of being hit.

1:55 P.M. – Drive to Bobby Lowder's house. Park Tuberville's car right next to Lowder's wife's car. Leave it there all night. But not before taking pictures.

1:56 P.M. – Slash both front tires. With index finger.

1:57 P.M. – Swallow keys. Hail cab.

1:58 P.M. – Exit Auburn city limits. Wait five minutes, THEN exhale.

1:59 P.M. – Arrive at gas station. Put on Armani suit. Smile. Ask attendant for bag of Redman chew. Do not pay for it.

2:00 P.M. – Go to SEC baseball tourney.

2:01 P.M. – Walk into batter's box. Grab crotch. Hit pinch-hit HR. But not for Alabama. For whoever's playing LSU.

2:02 P.M. – Point to scorekeeper. Tell him to just add the run, because Nick Saban doesn't have time to run the f%^$ing bases.

2:03 P.M. – On way out of ballpark, spit chew in LSU batboy's face. Make sure his eyes are open first.

2:04 P.M. - Get out cell phone. Make recruiting call to Julio Jones. Tell him that Nick Saban just hit a pinch-hit HR. In an Armani suit. Without rounding the bases. Hang up.

2:05 P.M. – Purchase phone-voice disguiser from the movie 'Scream.'

2:06 P.M. – Call Major. Ask him how he is doing.Then ask him if Alabama recruited a 5-star QB this week.Then ask him if Alabama got a commitment from a 5-star QB this week. Then ask him if he enjoys the use of his thumbs.

2:07 P.M. – Fax letter to Dan Le Batard and the Miami-Herald Sports department.

(Coach's correction)
Screw that. Nick Saban does not fax.

2:07 P.M. – Have Secretary Shula fax letter to Dan Le Batard and the Miami-Herald Sports Dept.

Letter to read as follows:

"ATTN: Staff,Guys, I don't know how else I can say this. I am going to beat the ever-living crap out of Dan Le Batard and the entire Miami-Herald Sports Department.-


2:08 P.M. – Catch the 3:15 flight to Miami .

3:00 P.M. – Beat the ever-living crap out of Dan Le Batard and the entire Miami Herald Sports Department.

Not to show them that Nick Saban only gets violent when he feels like it. To show them that Nick Saban only keeps his word when he feels like it.

4:00 P.M. – Arrive back in Alabama . Call Real Estate Agent.

4:01 P.M. – 5:00 P.M. – Work with Real Estate agent. Buy every single movie theater, restaurant, shopping mall, outdoor park, fishing lake, and entertainment venue in the entire city of Auburn .

Close them all down immediately. If real estate agent advises against the move, threaten his life. Then tell him it is not about making money. It is about making sure people in Auburn have nothing to take their minds off the fact that Nick Saban was just hired as the Head Coach of Alabama .

5:01 P.M. – 9:01 P.M. – Go into office. Work. Recruit. Dominate. Make up for otherwise slow day.

9:02 P.M. – Go home. Hug the wife. Wink. Smile. Spit mad game.

9:03 P.M. – 12:02 A.M. – None of your business.

12:03 A.M. – Call Mal. Ask him where the is my cigarette.

12:04 A.M. – Get cigarette from Mal. Complain that it isn't lit. Slam door.

12:05 A.M. – Light cigarette with laser eyes. Then smoke it. Without filter.

12:06 A.M. – 1,000 sit-ups.

12:07 A.M. – 1,000 push-ups.

12:08 A.M. – 1,000 crunches.

12:09 A.M. – End warm-up period and begin hour-long evening workout.

12:39 A.M. – Complete hour-long evening workout.

12:40 A.M. – 1:00 A.M. – Watch 4 consecutive new episodes of '24' using the DVR I stole from Lowder's house.

1:01 A.M. – Think about how lucky Jack Bauer is for being fictional. Because if he weren't, I would beat the crap out of him for copy-catting my personality.

1:02 A.M. – 1:12 A.M. – Watch entire replay of "De La Hoya-Mayweather" fight.

1:13 A.M. – Think about how much more one-sided the fight would have been if it were called "De La Hoya-Saban."

1:14 A.M. – Put cell phone on silent. Not to go to sleep. To dodge repeated late-night desperation booty calls from Jessica Alba and Eva Longoria.

3:14 A.M. – After booty calls cease, send text message to both reminding them that Nick Saban only cheats at Monopoly.

3:15 A.M. – 3:29 A.M. – Practice future National Championship Game post-game speeches. All three of them.

3:30 A.M. – 4:00 A.M. – Catch good night's sleep. Replace the counting of sheep with the kicking of puppies

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Potterblog Revolutions

The Potterblog is finally released, giving you the scoop on how the Harry Potter party went on Friday, July 20th. If you need to see the afternoon's events, scroll down to the first Potterblog, or just click here.

635pm... I finally roll up to
Barnes & Noble, park in a great spot, and walk over to the nearby Panera Bread, awaiting Nikki Brown and my Little Sister.

Of course, Ashley isn't really my little sister, but we are both really charming, and good looking, so we could be related, plus she lived with The Lovely Steph Leann and I for a few months, so that's kinda how I see her. So, Little Sister she is.

650pm... I call Ashley, who isn't there, and both Nikki and I are starving. Ashley had just woken up from a nap, so we eat a little later. And not only do they have Boston Clam Chowder, which they never do, they also have bread bowls left, which they never do. This is indeed going to be a good night.

720pm... Dinner done, we head over to Barnes & Noble. She already has a blue wrist band, which means when people with yellow bands (like myself) have gotten their books, those with the blue bands will have a chance to get theirs. The place is brimming with activity already, as they have everything from face painting to wand making to character pictures to a "potions demonstration" later to Harry Potter trivia.  Its all silly, its all a little too much really, but hey, we're here to have fun, and if you can't have fun making a wand at Harry Potter night, then when can you have fun making a wand?

745pm... I have gotten out Nikki's laptop and am trying to get it up and running. We determine that I have to purchase a stupid 2-hour pass from AT&T, because the B&N is a AT&T HotSpot. This is why real Starbucks are better... at least with Starbucks, we have T-Mobile HotSpot passes, and for one price, you can get 24 hour access. So if I get this up and running here at this fake Starbucks Cafe in Barnes & Noble, I'll have to fork over another $4.99 at 9:45 or so. Stuuu-piiid.

746pm... While I struggle with the laptop, Nikki and Ashley are going to get their faces painted. Though I am in a mood to be silly and child-like tonight, I've see the facepainting that has gone on... its not the artistry one would hope, so I am letting the girls do this part.

8pm... I'm giving up on the laptop (which I later
document here). No use. So, that's why five days later you're reading about the evening, not in real time. The girls come back with the Harry Potter scar, which is really nothing more than a big zig-zagged line square in the middle of their foreheads. Harry's scar is smaller, on the right side. Maybe this is Dali Potter or something.

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Nikki gets her face and arm painted by one of Barnes & Nobles accomplished Potter Painters

810pm... We decide to go make some wands over in the children's section. The set-up is really a big table with a bucket of chopsticks broken into two pieces, two plastic containers full of pipe cleaners of all different colors, another bucket full of feathers, and glitter glue sitting all over. At first, I elected not to do this one, as I'm not sure I wanted a frilly wand with a gay feather and glitter all over... but finally, I gave in, choosing to make this as manly as possible. Not sure I succeeded, but on my wand there is no glitter, nor is their a feather, so I'm okay with the end result.

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Ashley and Nikki and their crooked foreheads and ghetto wands.

817pm... Some woman is dressed in a Mad Eye Moody costume, with the roving eye and everything. Priceless.

830pm... This is the kind of night when I want a digital camera of my very own. Nikki has one, but the battery just zonked out on it (we end up using Ashley's), so we didn't have a chance to get pictures of the great costumes... various Harry and Hermoine get-ups, I've seen one Luna, and tons of "Generic Hogwarts Student" costumes. There is also a clever Patronus costume (I think she was a ferret), and someone was wearing Luna's Lionhead. If you're saying to yourself "What the *$&@ is a Patronus?!" then this blog might not be the one for you.

845pm... Actually do a scan for Attractive Sorority Girl, Great Hair Girl, Girl 3 and Girl 4, but don't see them. I did see Stewart, however, and wonder if he made it to work on time. Then I find myself just not caring.

846pm... We get pictures with the Death Eater. Some guy has dressed up in a Death Eater costume, and actually looks pretty good. They are using a Polaroid camera (seriously... who actually uses those anymore besides my mom, and the workers at events such as this? seriously...) and the shots are free. One girl takes a Polaroid, while another uses Ashley's camera, to get a few shots. The Polaroid camera messes up a couple of times, but she gets it.

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Here is all of us with the Death Eater, and our wands. Stupify!

9pm... Three hours and counting. There is a "Potions Demonstration" in the kids area, so we venture over there to watch. We sit towards the back to let the kiddies be closer, while some rather larger lady in a witch outfit tells the kids we'll be making "Homeworkus Avoidacus". I'm not making this up.

905pm... I'm sure science is involved in what she's doing... you know, on second thought, I'm not so sure. She's got a pile of ingredients, giving each of them wizard sounding names like "Eye of Bat Tongue", "Leg O'Rotting Aardvark" and "Teat of Borehound" (I made that last one up, but man, that would have been funny... is there a funnier word to guys than "teat"?). And she used a few Harry Potter words, like "Boomslang", which is actually an ingredient in one of Snape's classes.

910pm... There is a large vase of greenish gooey liquid, and its starting to foam, though I'll bet she was expecting much more of an overflow. Frankly, so were we.

915pm... Okay, I'll admit, that potions demonstration sucked. Really. I mean, if I were seven I'd be a little hacked at the wasting of my youthful time when I could be getting more face painted, or making a manlier wand.

920pm... Two things have been going on all night, Harry Potter Trivia, and giveaways. They started at 7ish, giving out ten questions dealing with the first movie (which we missed--the trivia, not the movie), and every 45 minutes or so, the questions deal with the next movie. Nikki and I both have been flying through the questions, save for one or two here or there that caused us to really think... and we've turned them in. We've yet to win jack.

930pm... We recieved raffle tickets when we got here. We fill our info on one, turn it in, and keep the other. At the beginning, a familiar voice would come over the loudspeaker telling us it was time to give out prizes. Bowling passes, movie tickets, bowling passes, Barnes & Noble gift cards, bowling passes, gift cards to various local Patton Creek Shopping Center businesses, bowling passes, Harry Potter memorabilia and bowling passes. Oh, and Brunswick lanes had provided free passes for a few games of bowling.

940pm... Dumbledore and Madame Hooch are over at the character area, so we file over there to get some pictures. The line is a little longer, but we get there and the Polaroid messes up... again. And again... and again... and again. We were there, no joke, about ten minutes trying to get one Polaroid snapshot, which we finally did, after the poor girl changed film about three times.

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The official Harry Potter Polaroid in the Official Harry Potter Frame.

950pm... The Lovely Steph Leann has joined us, as we're in the music section now. Nikki has run off to buy the latest
Entertainment Weekly with Daniel Radcliffe on the front, leaving me holding her soon to be purchased Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix Original Movie Soundtrack. A little over two hours to go, now.

10pm... We figure its a good time to camp out in the cafe. We shoot through the line really quickly, everyone buying a drink or so, and Nikki and Ashley sit absorbed in the EW magazine, while I chat with the lovely Steph Leann. The guy doing the annoucing of prizes, which they are giving away quite frequently now, is Nathan, who was "Nate Dogg" on the old Beaner & Ken show when they were on 107.7 the X. It's really sad
how that station bit it, undeservedly so.

1015pm... Harry Potter Trivia 6 has us stumped. What is Neville Longbottom's Gran's name? Ey... we don't know. Nikki runs off to grab a copy of "Half-Blood Prince"

1020pm... Look, its Fleur!

1025pm... The prizes are coming fast and furious now... and it seems like Brunswick Lanes decided to give a Free Bowling 4-Pack for every word in the entire Harry Potter series. And all these stupid prizes, and I'm not winning a thing. My number is 690028, and I've heard 082, 802 and 208.

1040pm... Nikki's still searching for Neville's Gran's real name.

1050pm... Fed up, she calls Drew. He Googles it, and we find out the answer... Augusta. I quickly turn the papers in. We don't win. Again.

11pm... Who know why I didn't win anything, but found out why Nikki doesn't... she holds up both halves of her ticket. "Is one of these supposed to go in the bucket?"

1105pm... The next prizes are places 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 in line to get the book tonight. Nikki races to the back to toss her ticket in, and I win nothing. Nothing.

1107pm... Its pandamonium and chaos as people with yellow wristbands number 1 thru 50 are instructed to head toward a certain part of the store. The chick dressed up as Professor Sprout was the chick who dressed up as Professor Sprout during the Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince party in 2005.

1110pm... I'm standing in the crowd, awaiting entry into the Potter Queue. I spot Attractive Sorority Girl and Girl 4 close by, but no Girl 3, nor Great Hair Girl.

Someone asked me "Why do the first two girls have nicknames but the others are 3 and 4?" Well, because Attractive Sorority Girl was the first one I saw this afternoon, and the other three came later, but because My Daughter is So Great Mom was right behind me telling me her daughter was Mensa Material, I didn't really notice the other girls, except for the one with really great hair. It was all wavy and such.

1113pm... The leader of this crazy crowd is standing atop the customer service desk, telling us the zoo passes, and spots 1 and 3 have not been claimed, so they give them away again. I'm moving for spots 1 or 3, but I'm not giving up my position for zoo passes... its just not worth it.

115pm... The leader, atop the customer service desk, asks everyone to step back a little, out the aisles. No one moves, except for a dad with his son, who take a step or two back. A minute later, I hear the small voice of the son say "Daddy, no one moved", and the father, disheartened, reply, "I know, son... I know"

1120pm... And the gates open. With numbered bracelet, you'd think they would line you up according to numbers. As in, my wrist band says 30, so I'm 30th in line... nope. Numbers 1 thru 50 all hustle in at the same time. I step in right behind Attractive Sorority Girl and Girl 4, and end up about... 25th or 30th or so in line, so no big deal. Rumor has it that the people who had Nos 1, 2 and 3, the ones who arrived at noon or so to get the wristbands given out at 4pm this afternoon, were in the back of the 1 thru 50 line. I mean, its 1120... we got 40 minutes. Surely, we can line this line up 1, 2, 3, 4, all the way to 50 in half an hour.

1130pm... Kelli and Deborah. Attractive Sorority Girl is Kelli, though I have no idea if she's in a sorority. She goes to UAB. Girl 4 is Deborah, and though I have no idea if she's in a sorority either, she goes to Union University. She seems impressed that I knew someone who went to Union, though Beth Sentall and Cherry Johnston are probably long gone by now.

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Deborah and Kelli, wearing shirts that do indeed say "Too Crazy For Harry". Back in the cafe ae Great Hair Girl and Girl 3 who, I found out through the wonders of Facebook, are Zara Lee and Melissa. I'm Chris Hanson, we'll be back with "To Catch a Predator" in just a moment.

1135pm... The Lovely Steph Leann joins the party, having slipped around the line. Wristbandless, she's just here for me. Nikki, with her blue band, and Ashley, also wristbandless and here for the party, Gretchen Wilson style, are back in the cafe.

1140pm... Deborah and Kelli are nice folk. We chit-chat back and forth, making predictions on who lives and who dies, discussing favorite parts and favorite characters. We engage in lively conversation and debate with a few people behind us as well, discussing plot points in previous books. I already called Snape's death, and the feeling that Harry will live.

1142pm... It makes me feel good that both girls back me up on Annoying Mom who was behind me in the wristband line, telling me how her daughter is an embryo reading Stephen Hawking's books.

1150pm... Ten minutes and counting. You know, in retrospect, winning spots 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 really wouldn't have made a difference, as there are like, 9 cashiers. This is more than Wal-Mart has at this time of the night (though the line is similar).

1159pm... Deborah and Kelli are like my surrogate Nikki in the line, as they are both jittery and ready to jump. The leader, atop the customer service desk, starts counting down from 20, though 10 thru 8 took about four seconds... 10... 9... 87...65... 4321....

1200am... Its on.

1202am... I'm almost there. Deborah and Kelli have just raced to their respective cashiers.

1203am... I have the book in hand, its paid for and I'm headed back to the cafe to join Nikki & Ashley. Only there are about 200 people crammed in a fat line from the front door to the middle of the store. I asked one of the managers if I can get to the other side, he said "Go to the cafe door... if its locked, they'll let you in".

1204am... Steph Leann and I knock on the locked cafe door. A B&N guy comes to the door, points me to the front door from whence we came, and I replied "He told us we could get back in the cafe through this door, that you'd let us in". He, and another guy, begrudgingly opened the door. As we walked back through, I heard one guy say to the other "Why did he tell us to keep it locked if he was gonna keep sending people over here....?"

1204am... I sit down with "Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows". Nikki is shaking, she's so excited, while Ashley looks on bemused and Stephanie is beginning to let on that she's exhausted.

1206am... Though I've done it with almost every fiction book I've ever read (and some nonfiction) I resist the temptation to scan the last chapter. I'm determined not to do this. And I begin to read about Voldemort's and Snape's meeting.

1215am...Perhaps on purpose, perhaps involuntarily, perhaps a wee bit of both, I let my facial expressions alter slightly as I read, driving Nikki bonkers, making the Lovely Steph Leann smack me a few times to quit, and still leaving Ashley bemused.1240am... Nikki goes to get ready for the blueband line.

1245am... We join her. They open the line for the bluebands, and Nikki goes through. At first, the guy stopped me, but I held up my book, indicating I already had one, so he waved me in. The fact that it was so late was probably why he didn't care that Steph Leann and Ashley followed me in.

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What? You made out with Ginny Weasley? High five, Harry! Rock on!

1255am... We all walk out of the Barnes & Noble, four of us, two books in hand. We say our goodbyes, and head toward our vehicles... its been a long night, but I've got lots of reading to do.

19 Hours Later...

Epilogue. I read the book. Two hours when I got home, then another 7 or so the next day, finishing around 10pm Saturday night--this was after waking up at 1030am, lunch, then later, dinner with friends. What did I think? I think the epilogue wasn't long enough. So, I'll give everyone a few more days to read it, then I'll post my own review of the book, then give my own addition to the epilogue.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dave's Virtual Bike Tour: Week Two

As reported last week, I set out my virtual bike tour... since its Monday, its time for an update.

Unfortunately, I missed a few days of biking, so I didn't get nearly as far as I would have hoped...

When last we met, I was headed to Oxford. Well, I finally made it to Oxford. Stopped off at the Starbucks, had some iced coffee. Some hot chick named Heidi tried to hit on me, even though I was all hot and sweaty. I bought her a latte, then spent the next twenty minutes telling her how awesome the Lovely Steph Leann is. Finally, Heidi got the hint and left me alone. I mean, its what I face daily. Scott Latta you know what I'm talking about.

So, I hop on the bike, and head back down Highway 78, towards some podunk town called DeArmanville. Its on the map, I swear. It is only 5.5 miles away, so in less than an hour, I'm entering the DeArmanville city limits. There really isn't much to see. I stopped for some water, and had some old guy tell me how pretty my mouth was. I got on the bike quickly and left.

Heflin is another city on Highway 78, and its about 11 and a half miles down the road. I decided to not stop this time, because Edwardsville is only 5 more miles. I did have to stop 3 miles outside of Edwardsville and use the bathroom, though. I thought I saw Heidi pass by in a 73 Camaro. She gave me the finger and threw her empty latte cup out the window.

I stopped in Edwardsville for dinner, only with a town of 186 people, there really wasn't anything to eat. I should've eaten in Heflin. So, here I am, digging in my pack for a crushed sandwich, headed towards Fruithurst, then the Georgia Line. I've got about 99 miles down, about about 60 to Atlanta.

I'm hoping to make it to Atlanta by next week...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Potterblog Reloaded

The laptop didn't work. Well, the laptop worked, and we signed onto WiFi, but I couldn't get the page to work. I tried and tried for at least 20 minutes. Then, I finally gave up.

I have the book in my possession, and have even read two chapters while waiting for Nikki to get hers.

So, I will release the updated Potterblog, just telling the story of the night, including actually meeting Attractive Sorority Girl and Girl 4 (Great Hair Girl and Girl 3 were missing), and some other fun things of the night.

Look for that hopefully this weekend... after I finish the book.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Potterblog

It's time... 9 hours or so, "Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows" will be released to the masses, and by this time tomorrow I should be at least 3/4ths through the final Potter book.

I'll be checking in tonight online, letting you know the scene at Barnes & Noble, whats going on, the people around us, the fervor and so forth... unless we can't connect, in which case, you'll be seeing this same post over and over and over all night long...

So, let's begin... the Potterblog

320pm... Just got home. Every time I wear a white shirt to work, I get it stained... this time, I have a splash of espresso on the chest. It looks like I'm lactating coffee, actually. I'm about to change clothes, gather the two boxes the lovely Steph Leann asked me to mail and then go to the bank... but first, I need to stop at the B&N at Patton Creek to see what the set-up is for tonight. I'll need to call my Little Sister, and also Nikki Brown, my companions for the evening.

340pm... When I pulled up, I saw about two dozen people already there, in a line in front. I knew that wristbands would be given out at 430, and it was about 340p, so I hustled into the line, right behind this attractive sorority type, and a few minutes later, right ahead of this mid-40s lady who was picking up 2 books (one for her daughter and for a friend) and was gushing about how her kid was 11, but reading on a 12th grade reading level and so on. Nice lady, though.

350pm... Attractive Sorority Girl is joined by two others, Great Hair Girl and Girl 3. Behind me, in the line, this guy in an outfit that looks like he's from Target joins an Asian chick in the line.

Various people are walking up the line in their "Mischief Managed" shirts, or their "Knight Bus" shirts, but my favorite is seeing the guy--big guy... fat guy--wearing the Hogwarts dress robes. You know this guy only slightly altered his Jedi costume for tonight's purposes.

357pm... Stewart is the guy dressed in the Target outfit... and for just reason--he works at SuperTarget. I hear him on the phone, dialing directory assistance to get the number for Hoover SuperTarget, then call and talk to who could only be his supervisor... and he says "Listen, I'm going to be late. I'm supposed to be in at 5pm but I should be there by 530. Oh, its my dad, he's having all sorts of car issues and stuff."

I really wanted to yell out, "Hey, the Harry Potter line is moving!", but I refrained. Stewart remained sort of annoying for the rest of the line wait.

405pm... Someone in the line mentions the NYTimes review of the new book, and where he might have goten a copy. I say out loud, "He said in the review he bought it from an unnamed book store in the city." Girl 3, now sitting next to me, says "What did the review say?" I started, "Well, the review said that..." and someone from ahead of me hollered out "No one wants to know it!", so I finished with " was a good book." Girl 3 took the hint that I was being silenced.

405pm... The line is standing up. Attractive Sorority Girl, Great Hair Girl and Girl 3 are joined by Girl 4, who apparently went on a Coke run, as ten seconds later, they were all opening bottles of various Cokinated products.

415pm... The line is moving closer to the door now. I can see just inside the Barnes & Noble, and there is a table there where they are handing out bracelets and raffle tickets. I watched amused as an older lady slowly walks up the line, seeing everyone waiting, and walks right in to the table. I couldn't hear her, but I know what she asked... "Where do you get the Harry Potter book?". I saw the girl at the table speak, then point out the door and around the corner. The older lady looked up slowly, as if it just dawned on her what was going on (because...well, it just did).

She walked slowly out, still looking at the line, with a "you young people are taking up all these books and all this line? Why, in my day..." look on her face. I smiled to the mid-40s lady behind me, "She just figured out what this line is for" and she responed "Sorry." COLD!

419pm... I am wearing a yellow band that says "RESERVED JULY 21, 2007" with the number "30" hand-written on it." I am instructed to fill out my raffle ticket and tak it back to the music department. On my way, a man stood next to a "Barnes & Noble Mastercard" table, and then asked me about saving an extra 20% tonight on my purchases. A million retorts came to mind, from "Do you know what your Mastercard did to my 20s?" t0 "Get a real job, you biscuithead", but I kindly said "No thanks" and kept walking.

425pm... I ran into Attractive Sorority Girl, Girl 3 and Girl 4... Great Hair Girl was not around. I smiled, stopped in front of Girl 3, and said "The NYTimes review said..." They listened with great interest as I let on what I knew, and they were all excited. I turned to leave and Girl 3 said "See you tonight!" Maybe I'll get their names on the blog.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eleven Potter Moments

This Friday night, at midnight--okay, Saturday morning at 12am, but you get the drift--it's all over. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows hits bookstores, and I will be there, blogging live, step by step. I'll tell you about the night, the party, the people, the wisecracks and more...

By the way, did you know in Harry Potter's world, its only 1997? Book 7 takes place in 1997. I'm assuming its because when JK Rowling was writing the story, starting with Harry's 11th birthday, it was the early 90s, so she kept the years from there.

For now, I'd like to start this Harry Potter Week with a Potter Primer... 11 of My Favorite Moments from Books 1 thru 6. They aren't ranked (except for the bottom one), just 11 moments I love in these books, out of the dozens and dozens I loved in these books. You might agree, you might have more to add, but here ya go...

Harry throws the Patronus on Draco and the Slytherins (Prisoner of Azkaban)
During a game of Quidditch, taking on the Ravenclaws in not only a rain drenched match, but a rain drenched match that matched Harry up with his crush, Cho, he saw the Dementors. Immediately, instinctively, he tossed a Patronus their way... turns out, it was just Malfoy and his gang, and the Patronus not only scared them out of their minds, the trick caused Slytherin 50 points.

The Parting of the Ways (The Goblet of Fire)
At the end of Book 4, Harry lay in the hospital bed, his first real confrontation with Voldemort behind him, Cedrid dead and Cornelius Fudge not believing a word of Harry's story. Books 1, 2 and 3 all had happy endings, even if you had a feeling something else was coming... but this one, this was different. Voldemort had returned. And Dumbledore began to take command. "Fudge's attitude, though not unexpected, changed everything." To Sirius, he commanded the alerting of Lupin, Fletcher and Figg, the old crowd, and to Snape he merely said "You know what I must ask you to do... if you are ready, if you are prepared..." What? What does this mean? Does this mean something when, two books later, Snape kills Dumbledore? What?

Harry & Ginny hook up (Half-Blood Prince)
You knew it had to happen eventually. Harry, suspended from Quidditch matches, sat in detention with Snape, only to find out that Ginny had captured the Snitch and won the House Cup. How did Harry greet Ginny? "Without thinking, without planning it, without worrying about the fact that fifty people were watching, Harry kissed her... Harry looked over Ginny's head to see Dean Thomas holding a shattered glass, Hermione beaming, and then Ron gave a tiny jerk of the head that meant 'Well... if you must'". Made me smile, possibly my second favorite Potter moment.

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I think Bonnie Wright is adorable, for, you know, a 12 year old. I sure hope she looks older when she starts making out with Daniel Radcliffe in the next movie. Here's an artist rendering of how I'd like to picture Ginny to look.

The Weasley Twins give Harry the Marauder's Map (The Prisoner of Azkaban)
Another clue that Rowling had this whole thing planned out from the beginning, Fred and George give Harry a map they found in Filch's confiscated items drawer. Up until now, Fred and George had been bit players, throwing in jokes and lines here and there, but in Book 3, they take on importance, starting with the magical Marauder's Map, one that allows Harry to travel in secret up and down the hallways and through corridors, one that turns out to be invaluable in future books, and one that Ron was outraged for not getting "I'm their brother!"

Harry & Ron save Hermoine from the troll (The Sorcerer's Stone)
No one much liked Hermione Granger to begin with. She was snotty, overly-smart, and abrasive... yet when a troll gets loose in Hogwarts, it finds Hermione, in the bathroom crying over the fact that, well, no one likes her. Enter Ron Weasley and Harry Potter, taking down the troll, and gaining a friend in Hermione. After all, "there are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them"

Ginny Weasley gets a role (The Chamber of Secrets)
We saw a small glimpse of her when the Weasley family met Harry Potter for the first time, and we get an idea that Ginny might kinda like ol' Harry. And the following summer, when Harry visits the Burrow for the first time, we see Ginny again... "At that moment, there was a diversion in the form of a small, redheaded figure in a long nightdress, who appeared in the kitchen, gave a small squeal, and ran out again". Turns out she plays a key role in the entire book, and becomes my favorite character in the entire series from that moment on. What's great about Ginny Weasley is that Rowling writes her in a way that she's never front and center for the next several books, but she's never far from your mind. You know she's there, but she's not that important right now--and when she becomes important, its like you wished she'd been more important all along.

Salutes at Dumbledore's funeral (Half-Blood Prince)
Albus Dumbledore was dead. And Harry never understood the breadth of Dumbledore's impact until the funeral, when not only the Mermish people broke the surface of the lagoon to pay their respects, but the Centaurs, who hate humans, showed at the edge of the forbidden forest with an arrow salute. The whole scene was beautifully written by Rowling, not only the loss everyone felt with Dumbledore gone, but also what Harry was facing without him. Of course, this led to the Spiderman ending, so I wasn't happy about that, but still...

Dumbledore's Army training (Order of the Phoenix)
Umbridge had just issued Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four, banning any and all student organizations. Hermione, Harry and Ron knew that if the current Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher wasn't going to teach them anything, they had to learn on their own... so in a "private, small" meeting in the Hog's Head, where two dozen students showed up, Dumbledore's Army was born. Harry became teacher, showing them everything from disarming charms to conjuring Patronuse.

The Battle of Hogwarts (Half-Blood Prince)
With Dumbledore gone, the Death Eaters storm the Hogwart's School. After seeing Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna and Neville in action, we see McGonagall open up a can, Flitwick make some noise, and all and all, more we haven't seen--including a chance for Snape to destroy Potter, yet doesn't do it... and runs with Malfoy. Why?

The Transformation of Neville Longbottom (The Order of the Phoenix)
When we met Neville, he was a fumbling, bumbling, talented, fat little kid who had a pet frog, couldn't remember anything, couldn't ride a broom and met the ire of Snape usually reserved for Harry and Ron. He's more of a footnote in Books 2 and 3, helping Harry a little in Goblet of Fire, but in Book 5, Neville becomes a playa. In the D.A., Neville starts mastering spells at an alarming rate, gaining confidence, puts up a heckuva fight in the ministry of magic (a fight he's drawn into because he was standing up for Ginny Weasley, after Malfoy was dragging her to Umbridge's office), and becomes more key to Harry's past, and possibly future.

The Death of Cedric Diggory (Goblet of Fire)
In a name that sounds like it was from Boogie Nights, we finally see a main character, a main good guy at least, bite it. Not just dead, but from one of the three forbidden curses, Avada Kedavra. Though his actual death isn't a favorite part, the whole scene is gruesome and creepy, as the Harry Potter series makes good on a promise that had been given through the entire fourth book--things were about to get really dark and mature in a hurry.

Other moments worth mentioning: Harry kissing Cho... Scabber's first appearance... Harry interviewing with the Quibbler... The Weasley kids throwing a fit (and mashed parsnip) at Percy's reappearance over Christmas... Gilderoy Lockhart getting his in Chamber of Secrets... Harry telling Rufus Scrimgeour he's Dumbledore's man through and through... George & Fred's triumphant exit from Hogwarts...

And my favorite Harry Potter moment, ever...

The Battle in the Ministry of Magic (Order of the Phoenix)
It is 64 of the most exciting, most riveting pages of any book I've ever read. Believing that Sirius was in trouble, Harry is going to the Ministry of Magic to find him and save his godfather. But his friends, friends that had proven themselves over the entire book, wouldn't let him go, as Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and the absolutely fantastic Luna Lovegood insist on going with him. And there, they go full on, head to head with the Death Eaters, throwing spell after spell, curse after curse, in total wizardry battle. There are injuries, there are deaths, and in a Anakin vs Obi Wan confrontation, Voldemort and Dumbledore go toe to toe.

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Great portrait of the Ministry battle. Wish I could draw

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dave's Virtual Bike Tour

After mentioning about a month ago that I really need to lose some weight, I really wasn't sure what to do. I mean, I have a membership to the Hoover Rec and all it's workout facilities, but beyond the cardio room, I have no direction. By that, I mean I could go and lift weights randomly, work out on the nautilus machines and whatever, but I really just needed someone knowledgeable to say "Okay, on Monday, you do this and this... on Tuesday, work on this by doing these things..." I even tried to get one of those $35 an hour personal training sessions, but I never found anyone at the desk nor would they ever answer the phone.

So, the weight stayed. Sure, I could have just run around our big parking lot a few dozen times a night, but honestly... who's going to do that? Not me.

Then, I began to think, what if I just did something. I mean, anything. Perhaps not the treadmill--the treadmill leaves me exhausted and discouraged. I feel really weak and crappy after I get so winded so quickly, and it takes me 15 minutes to run a mile... when I was in 7th grade, I busted out a 7 minute and 3 second mile, no joke. I had to be fast when running from Drew Snell and Shane Gillis, 'cause they chased me on the their bikes.

Anyway, the stairmaster thing also leaves me wiped out after a few minutes... but what about the bikes? The stationary bikes? I love bike riding, always have. If we lived in an area that's more conducive to bike riding, I think Steph Leann and I would both have them, but since we live about a half mile from Alabama's biggest mall, and all the traffic and surrounding major highways that go with it, bike riding here is about as safe as Cindy Sheehan in a VFW meeting. Again, we could ride big circles around our parking lot... but no.

However, the stationary bikes are cool. Sit, pedal fast, watch the miles go by, work up a sweat, and actually keep going for a good 30 or 40 minutes, not just 10 or 15. But, should I just ride? For how long? I need a goal. I always need a goal.

I'm a goal/checklist kind of person. Even when I'm closing at the store, I make a checklist of stuff that has to be done. I enjoy marking off accomplished things. Sitting around the desk, even right now, I've found random scratch sheets of paper that have crudely drawn squares with words like "fold laundry" or "return movie" or "finish blog", sometimes with a big X in the square, sometimes the square is empty... but a checklist, nonetheless.

I've always wanted to bike across the country. How neat would it be to toss on a backpack, climb on a 10 speed, and just go? Travel from city to city, try local fare, sleeping in run down motels or in open fields, meeting random people, making random friends along the way.

I went to Barnes & Noble and found the Harley Davidson Ride Atlas, and began to decide where I wanted to "travel". Should I go west? Perhaps the length of I-10, the interstate that runs cross country, the interstate that is 30 minutes from where I grew up, and I always looked at it in awe and wonder (before I ended up living a minute from an interstate, that is). Maybe go to the beach, and just navigate the whole of the coastline of Florida?

No, I want to go east and then north. New York City, at least. Then New England. Maybe back across Pennsylvania, Ohio, and head south again, through Kentucky and Tennessee. NYCJenni lives in... well, NYC. Maybe stop and meet her for lunch. My buddy Jess is in Kentucky, maybe we can meet up for ice cream. Tons of people in Tennessee I know.

Thus was born "Dave's Virtual Bike Tour".

Using Google Maps, the Harley atlas and a road map from Steph Leann's car, I've officially mapped out a route to Washington DC (1016.7 miles). I've drawn out a way to Allentown, PA, but don't have the mileage for that just yet.

Essentially, each day, I hope on board the bike and ride. As the miles add up, that's a little farther down the road I've gone. And here's the "details" of my first week...

Week One of Dave's Virtual Bike Tour...

23 miles to Leeds, AL. Almost got run over by a big Yellow Freight truck that weaved out of his lane. Not that I really have a lane. Alabama highways aren't known for their "bike-friendly" highways and byways. Was pretty tired, met up with Ken & Kerry Brasher who live out that way. We had a quick lunch, and I was on my way.

Cook Spring was 11 miles down Highway 78. Ah, the memories of Cook Springs... retreats and conferences. Actually, I don't remember Cook Springs at all, it was Shocco Springs I've stayed at a dozen times or more, but I'm not in Shocco, I'm in Cook. So, ah, the memories of Cook Springs.

Nine more miles later, its Pell City. Stopped at the gas station where Steph Leann broke down years ago. Ate some really bad, stale chicken fingers. This won't help my weight loss program.

Riverside is 7 miles down the road. The beauty of a bike tour... never even heard of Riverside until I passed through it on my 13-speed. Seems like a nice town. Don't stop.

Eastaboga. Yes, there is a town called Eastaboga. The first time I heard the name, it sounds like one of those fictional town names you make up when describing a place that's way out in the middle of nowhere. "Yeah, I had to park my car in freakin' Eastaboga!" Its probably not too far from EBF.

Sign says Oxford, 11.2 miles. Looks like I'll get there by tomorrow.

How soon will Dave be in Atlanta? And who will he get to see? Tune in Monday on the next episode of "Dave's Virtual Bike Tour"

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Americans Who Risked Everything

Because I love this country so much, I thought this would be a good read if you're willing to commit the 15 minutes...

"Our Lives, Our Fortune, Our Sacred Honor"
It was a glorious morning. The sun was shining and the wind was from the southeast. Up especially early, a tall bony, redheaded young Virginian found time to buy a new thermometer, for which he paid three pounds, fifteen shillings. He also bought gloves for Martha, his wife, who was ill at home.

Thomas Jefferson arrived early at the statehouse. The temperature was 72.5 degrees and the horseflies weren't nearly so bad at that hour. It was a lovely room, very large, with gleaming white walls. The chairs were comfortable. Facing the single door were two brass fireplaces, but they would not be used today.

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The moment the door was shut, and it was always kept locked, the room became an oven. The tall windows were shut, so that loud quarreling voices could not be heard by passersby. Small openings atop the windows allowed a slight stir of air, and also a large number of horseflies. Jefferson records that "the horseflies were dexterous in finding necks, and the silk of stockings was nothing to them." All discussing was punctuated by the slap of hands on necks.

On the wall at the back, facing the president's desk, was a panoply -- consisting of a drum, swords, and banners seized from Fort Ticonderoga the previous year. Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold had captured the place, shouting that they were taking it "in the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!"

Now Congress got to work, promptly taking up an emergency measure about which there was discussion but no dissension. "Resolved: That an application be made to the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania for a supply of flints for the troops at New York.

"Then Congress transformed itself into a committee of the whole. The Declaration of Independence was read aloud once more, and debate resumed. Though Jefferson was the best writer of all of them, he had been somewhat verbose. Congress hacked the excess away. They did a good job, as a side-by-side comparison of the rough draft and the final text shows. They cut the phrase "by a self-assumed power." "Climb" was replaced by "must read," then "must" was eliminated, then the whole sentence, and soon the whole paragraph was cut. Jefferson groaned as they continued what he later called "their depredations." "Inherent and inalienable rights" came out "certain unalienable rights," and to this day no one knows who suggested the elegant change.

A total of 86 alterations were made. Almost 500 words were eliminated, leaving 1,337. At last, after three days of wrangling, the document was put to a vote.

Here in this hall Patrick Henry had once thundered: "I am no longer a Virginian, sir, but an American." But today the loud, sometimes bitter argument stilled, and without fanfare the vote was taken from north to south by colonies, as was the custom. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

There were no trumpets blown. No one stood on his chair and cheered. The afternoon was waning and Congress had no thought of delaying the full calendar of routine business on its hands. For several hours they worked on many other problems before adjourning for the day.

"Much To Lose"
What kind of men were the 56 signers who adopted the Declaration of Independence and who, by their signing, committed an act of treason against the crown? To each of you, the names Franklin, Adams, Hancock and Jefferson are almost as familiar as household words. Most of us, however, know nothing of the other signers. Who were they? What happened to them?

I imagine that many of you are somewhat surprised at the names not there: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry. All were elsewhere.

Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56 almost half - 24 - were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, nine were landowners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians.

With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th Century.

Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head. He signed in enormous letters so that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward. Ben Franklin wryly noted: "Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately."

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Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: "With me it will all be over in a minute, but you, you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone." These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember, a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.

They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics yammering for an explosion. They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers. (It was he, Francis Hopkinson not Betsy Ross who designed the United States flag.)

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks: "Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law.

The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever-increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repost.

"If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American Legislatures of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens."

Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2 that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration.

William Ellery, delegate from Rhode Island, was curious to see the signers' faces as they committed this supreme act of personal courage. He saw some men sign quickly, "but in no face was he able to discern real fear." Stephan Hopkins, Ellery's colleague from Rhode Island, was a man past 60. As he signed with a shaking pen, he declared: "My hand trembles, but my heart does not."

"Most Glorious Service"
Even before the list was published, the British marked down every member of Congress suspected of having put his name to treason. All of them became the objects of vicious manhunts. Some were taken. Some, like Jefferson, had narrow escapes. All who had property or families near British strongholds suffered.

· Francis Lewis, New York delegate saw his home plundered -- and his estates in what is now Harlem -- completely destroyed by British Soldiers. Mrs. Lewis was captured and treated with great brutality. Though she was later exchanged for two British prisoners through the efforts of Congress, she died from the effects of her abuse.

· William Floyd, another New York delegate, was able to escape with his wife and children across Long Island Sound to Connecticut, where they lived as refugees without income for seven years. When they came home they found a devastated ruin.

· Philips Livingstone had all his great holdings in New York confiscated and his family driven out of their home. Livingstone died in 1778 still working in Congress for the cause. · Louis Morris, the fourth New York delegate, saw all his timber, crops, and livestock taken. For seven years he was barred from his home and family.

· John Hart of Trenton, New Jersey, risked his life to return home to see his dying wife. Hessian soldiers rode after him, and he escaped in the woods. While his wife lay on her deathbed, the soldiers ruined his farm and wrecked his homestead. Hart, 65, slept in caves and woods as he was hunted across the countryside. When at long last, emaciated by hardship, he was able to sneak home, he found his wife had already been buried, and his 13 children taken away. He never saw them again. He died a broken man in 1779, without ever finding his family.

· Dr. John Witherspoon, signer, was president of the College of New Jersey, later called Princeton. The British occupied the town of Princeton, and billeted troops in the college. They trampled and burned the finest college library in the country.

· Judge Richard Stockton, another New Jersey delegate signer, had rushed back to his estate in an effort to evacuate his wife and children. The family found refuge with friends, but a Tory sympathizer betrayed them. Judge Stockton was pulled from bed in the night and brutally beaten by the arresting soldiers. Thrown into a common jail, he was deliberately starved. Congress finally arranged for Stockton's parole, but his health was ruined. The judge was released as an invalid, when he could no longer harm the British cause. He returned home to find his estate looted and did not live to see the triumph of the Revolution. His family was forced to live off charity.

· Robert Morris, merchant prince of Philadelphia, delegate and signer, met Washington's appeals and pleas for money year after year. He made and raised arms and provisions which made it possible for Washington to cross the Delaware at Trenton. In the process he lost 150 ships at sea, bleeding his own fortune and credit almost dry.

· George Clymer, Pennsylvania signer, escaped with his family from their home, but their property was completely destroyed by the British in the Germantown and Brandywine campaigns.

· Dr. Benjamin Rush, also from Pennsylvania, was forced to flee to Maryland. As a heroic surgeon with the army, Rush had several narrow escapes.

· John Martin, a Tory in his views previous to the debate, lived in a strongly loyalist area of Pennsylvania. When he came out for independence, most of his neighbors and even some of his relatives ostracized him. He was a sensitive and troubled man, and many believed this action killed him. When he died in 1777, his last words to his tormentors were: "Tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it [the signing] to have been the most glorious service that I have ever rendered to my country."

· William Ellery, Rhode Island delegate, saw his property and home burned to the ground.

· Thomas Lynch, Jr., South Carolina delegate, had his health broken from privation and exposures while serving as a company commander in the military. His doctors ordered him to seek a cure in the West Indies and on the voyage, he and his young bride were drowned at sea.

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The Bennington Flag of the Vermont Militia

· Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward, Jr., the other three South Carolina signers, were taken by the British in the siege of Charleston. They were carried as prisoners of war to St. Augustine, Florida, where they were singled out for indignities. They were exchanged at the end of the war, the British in the meantime having completely devastated their large landholdings and estates.

· Thomas Nelson, signer of Virginia, was at the front in command of the Virginia military forces. With British General Charles Cornwallis in Yorktown, fire from 70 heavy American guns began to destroy Yorktown piece by piece. Lord Cornwallis and his staff moved their headquarters into Nelson's palatial home. While American cannonballs were making a shambles of the town, the house of Governor Nelson remained untouched. Nelson turned in rage to the American gunners and asked, "Why do you spare my home?" They replied, "Sir, out of respect to you." Nelson cried, "Give me the cannon!" and fired on his magnificent home himself, smashing it to bits. But Nelson's sacrifice was not quite over. He had raised $2 million for the Revolutionary cause by pledging his own estates. When the loans came due, a newer peacetime Congress refused to honor them, and Nelson's property was forfeited. He was never reimbursed. He died, impoverished, a few years later at the age of 50.

"Lives, Fortunes, Honor"
Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact.

And, finally, there is the New Jersey signer, Abraham Clark.

He gave two sons to the officer corps in the Revolutionary Army. They were captured and sent to that infamous British prison hulk afloat in New York Harbor known as the hell ship Jersey, where 11,000 American captives were to die. The younger Clarks were treated with a special brutality because of their father. One was put in solitary and given no food. With the end almost in sight, with the war almost won, no one could have blamed Abraham Clark for acceding to the British request when they offered him his sons' lives if he would recant and come out for the King and Parliament. The utter despair in this man's heart, the anguish in his very soul, must reach out to each one of us down through 200 years with his answer: "No."

The 56 signers of the Declaration Of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. "And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

--Rush H. Limbaugh, Jr., father of talk show host Rush Limbaugh

ps... if you've never read David McCollough's "1776", get it. Its an amazing account of a revolution that was filled with mistakes, cursed with bad luck and led by a man that only years later was recognized as being great.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Taking Alabama Adventure For a Spin

As I sat in the little gold car, snuggled up next to the lovely Steph Leann, with only a small metal bar across our laps to protect us from centrifical forces, I closed my eyes. I closed my eyes to perhaps stop the spinning. The little gold car, with its metallic sheen and blinky lights, spun rapidly on it's base. The base itself was attached to an arm which led to a small hub, where three other arms spread out in opposite directions, all arms spinning, each with its own gold car attached. The bigger hub of four cars was attached to a giant arm, which led to the central hub, the big fancy thing in the middle, the big thing that itself was spinning, creating for me not just on immediate spin, but two others occurring at the same time.

And this was all on an incline.

On thought went through my mind... Toby Keith. Well, not Toby Keith himself, but a Toby Keith lyric....
"I ain't as good as I once was... and that's just the cold hard truth. I still throw a few back, talk a little smack, when I'm feeling bulletproof"

When the ride stopped, and the lovely Steph Leann and I slowly made our way off the platform and wobbled into the walkway, we decided that would be the last time we'd ride the Mind Spinder again. I looked at Steph Leann and grimaced "Wow... I'm not 20 anymore."

But that's okay, we were at the Park Formerly Known as Visionland, that being Alabama Adventure Amusement Park. That's right, it was Birmingham's own Miracle Strip. If you're standing in the welfare line, and you ask for Land O'Lakes butter, Kraft cheese and Six Flags, they had you gubmint butter, gubmint cheese and Alabama Adventure.

Sidebar: I cannot express to you how my heart sunk when I discovered a few years back that Miracle Strip Amusement Park was being torn down for a high rise condo (of which the deal, rumor has it, has fallen through). I grew up in Samson, right across the Florida line, about 70 minutes from Panama City, and Miracle Strip Park was a yearly destination. They had all the rides Alabama Adventure has, only fancier, and admission was cheaper, and darn if the Starliner Coaster wasn't one of the scariest coasters ever... not because it was built scary, but because it was so old, you knew one day it would collapse.

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Miracle Strip has become Miracles Condos. I weep for the future.

In our yearly trip to the beach with the Campbell Family in 2004, I drove by in horror as some of the rides had been removed, weeds grew in the parking lot and a construction fence was surrounding the lot. It actually hurt me. RIP, Miracle Strip Park.

Steph Leann works for Southern Company, and they sometimes do "team building days" where everyone from a SoCo department gets together has lunch somewhere (in this case, Alabama Adventure) and has fun "team-building" exercises and games. Late in the afternoon, after everyone else has left the team building un, I drove out to meet Steph Leann for some Visio... er, Alabama Adventure fun!

For those of you unfamiliar with the park, its really set up like any other park... when you enter, you have several shops and snack bar areas on either side before you get to any rides. There are actually two parks--Magic City USA (named for Birmingham being "The Magic City") and Splash Beach, the water park next door. Our tickets actually included admission to both, and part of me wanted to visit the water park, but just not tonight.

Go down the steps at the end of "Celebration Street", where all the shops are, and you enter into the game area, where you can pay five dollars to toss a ball and miss for the chance to win an oversized Shrek that if you did win, you'd have to carry around all day.

The big thing happening tonight is the Summer Concert Series, which this summer features such superstars as Aly & AJ, Jesse McCartney, Darryl Worley and tonight, megastar Bo Bice. Bo is from Birmingham, so his audience is a bit bigger than usual. For my money, though, I'm ready to ride the two roller coasters, the Rampage and the Zoomerang.

We tackle the ferris wheel first (which I hate ferris wheels, so I won't be doing that again), then go to the Log Flume, a ride that seems to take, oh, about 9 seconds. Seriously, in a fiberglass log, you go up a big hill, drop about a foot, go around two small curves and then down a hill. A little water splashes and that's the ride.

We go up the hill to the big swings... like the ferris wheel, I hate the swings. Just can't do it. So I sit this one out... Steph Leann loves it, though, and I see her smiling as she rides.

Immediately after the Mind Spinder, we gather ourselves and decide to ride something a little less spinny, The Scrambler. It doesn't spin quite as much, but still, it spins. Perhaps too soon after the Mind Spinder. After the Scrambler, we figure to play through the pain and just knock out the spinny rides. The Himalaya.

I ain't as good as I once was, my how the years have flown, but there as time back in my prime when I could really hold me own...

If you've never been to a county fair or festival, or have never seen the Mind Spinder (or rides like it) or the Scrambler (which is the universal name for this--or should be), you will probably know The Himalaya. Its a bunch of cars crammed together in a big circle, and the whole things spins. You go up an incline and down an incline. Then, about two minutes later, the whole thing sping backwards. Haven't been on the Himalaya in a while, and this one was missing something... The Unintelligible DJ.

At county fairs and festivals, there is an Unintelligible DJ in a booth next to the ride, playing loud music like "Pour Some Sugar On Me" or "Sweet Emotion" really loudly. This time there was music playing, but I think it was an OutKast cd. Anyway, the DJ is talking, but perhaps due to the ride spinning or the DJ having biscuit dough crammed in his mouth, I dunno, but you can never understand a word he's saying... save for two words. "Go Backwards". That's the announcement that now the ride will in fact be reversing its course. Here's what you hear:

mmphmmph mpm pmmph mp mmp Go BACKWARDS!!

Miracle Strip called it the Muzik Express, and they had The Unitelligible DJ.

We had a chance to meet Bo Bice, because I knew a few people that worked there from working with them in a previous job, but Steph Leann and I stood there in the meet and greet tent and just stepped out of line. I mean, what do I say to Bo Bice? I don't own his CD, I am not planning on buying it, and that terrible song "The Real Thing" that came out last year doesn't make me a fan. I'm sure he's a nice guy and all, but we shrugged and headed for the coasters.

Steph Leann had ridden them both earlier, and it kinda gave her a headache, so I ventured solo onto the Zoomerang, a big metal coaster that resembled the late Viper in Six Flags Over Georgia.

I used to be hell on wheels back when I was a younger man. My body says "you can't do this boy" but my pride says "oh yes you can"

I have a firm belief that every coaster should be ridden in the front and back (NYC Jenni, insert your own joke here) so thats what I did. Front row, then climbed back in line and sat in the back seat. As coasters go, its not bad, but I can name several that are better than the Zoomerang. Someone liked it, though, as I passed by a triangular patch of hurl on the sidewalk on the way down. I was excited about the Rampage, though, as I've ridden it before--its a wooden coaster, and wooden coasters are awesome.

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The reason I wanted to come to Visio... er, Alabama Adventures.

I've been on the Rampage before, a few years ago, riding it four or five times in a row, but I was excited to revisit the ride. The Travel Channel even listed it as one of the country's Top 10 wooden coasters, and its right here in Birmingham!!

Its never a good sign, however, to see four guys with harnesses and toolboxes walking up and down the tracks of the coaster. This led me to believe that I wouldn't be riding it tonight.

We hit the pirate ship and then the log ride again, battling swarms of gnats along the way, and decided it was time to get going. I missed The Rampage, though.

It's probably a good thing. After multiple spinny rides, and too many twists and turns when all I'd eaten was some soft serve ice cream and some of Steph Leann's funnel cake, I was about done. Heck, when climbing out of the back seat of the Zoomerang, the chick asked me if I wanted to ride it again. I politely declined. After all...
I ain't as good as I once was... I gotta few years on me now... but there was a time back in my prime when I could really lay it down...