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Showing posts from February, 2015

Plastic bag brouhaha heating up in the Georgia General Assembly

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With the weather woes and school closings - or in the case of Gwinnett, school openings - there has been much brouhaha this last week in February 2015 in the Atlanta metro. Whether one agreed with how the leaders responded, no one can disagree that there was a smattering of opinion on the social nets and traditional radio and television concerning how the metro area handles winter weather. When anything like this hits the general population, it seems like many folks elect themselves governor, mayor, school superintendent, lawyer and/or meteorologist. Let's face it: predicting any type of weather has been and looks to be an inexact science. The bottom line is that folks in charge wish to do what's best for his or her community. Who wants to have a regional or worse yet, national embarrassment on his or her hands?
Now that North Georgia and the metro area has thawed out, hopefully we're done with any threat of a snow or ice event for this winter season. Nevertheless, let&#…

When it’s Snowy, Icy and Cold, It’s Hot and Dry Somewhere Else

After the large heavy snowflakes descended upon our neck of the woods, I’m thinking about what’s happening within other corners of the globe. What? Have you gone mad? Perhaps, but after negotiating myself and loved ones through these winter weather events over the years, I’m curious as to what it’s like in places on the other side of the Equator like Johannesburg, South Africa or throughout Australia. The Aussies are in the dead of summer in late February. I know, it’s beyond a challenge to have “summer empathy” for our friends down under, but the fact is, it’s in the high 80s in Darwin, Australia. Darwin is in the northern part of the country. Melbourne and Sydney towards the south certainly have their warm and dry spells, but hardly like their neighbors to the north. Remember everything is reversed down under – warmer in the north, cooler in the south.
Darwin, Australia’s late February 2015 temps are not too bad for summer compared to our temps in our typical late July/early August …

Ice, Ice Baby - Southern Style

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I have been through scores of winters here in the Southeast and most of them are an adventure. One day, you could be strolling in a public park feeding the ducks or walking the dog and the next, you're holed up within your four walls protecting yourself from temperatures in the teens. For those new to the Atlanta metro area, welcome to Winter 101.
When I came down from Ohio's north coast more than 25 years ago, I recall folks telling me about how terrible the winters could get down here. I scoffed at the idea since those recollections were told to me in the hot August heat and humidity. Those Atlanta winter veterans couldn't have been more right as the subsequent years presented many winters with frigid temperatures.
When folks from up north would call and make fun of our then-minor snowfalls, I explained to them how much more dangerous it is down here with the lack of snow removal equipment. Our roads are far more treacherous than their treated roads up there - most of…

He's still Billy Joel to me

There we were, shivering 17-year-olds standing outside at the top of a ramp leading into the back of the arena in Richfield, Ohio. “I know his manager, we can go back stage and get our shirts signed,” my friend Chuckie announced. “This is ridiculous,” I replied. “Plus we’re missing the encore.” As I’m hearing the muffled sounds of the 1977 song “Only the Good Die Young,” I was thinking to myself that no one outside of my circle friends will know about what we attempted on that chilly late March 1984 evening. On that evening, my and friends and I wished to meet with the legendary musician/piano player/singer/songwriter Billy Joel. What were we thinking? Despite this performer’s success, generally it wasn’t “cool” for a male high school student to like this guy in those days. In my school, it was cool to like Black Sabbath/OzzyAC/DC and for a bit more mainstream flavor, The Beatles or Bruce Springsteen, but Billy Joel? Really? The “Uptown Girl” guy? “Not cool, dude,” some would say t…

Could more crosswalks and improved traffic signals make us safer on the roads?

 The following is quite local - more relevant to metro Atlanta, but could apply to other cities:

It took several years, but it finally happened: a proper set of traffic signals at the Peachtree Parkway/Woodhill Drive intersection. Over my 25-plus years in the area, I drove, ran and biked through this challenging intersection. Aside from this intersection’s heavy use, the traffic signals have been dated. Attempting to go either go straight, left or right from Woodhill Drive onto Peachtree Parkway has been tough without a protected arrow.
Finally this past week, the signals have been updated. Those flashing yellow arrows which have been popular in nearby Johns Creek for years have finally made their way into this set of signals. The signals should make drivers, cyclists and pedestrians a tad safer with the emphasis on “tad.” If anything, there is a bit of a piece of mind with the new signals.
Much like most of metro Atlanta’s thoroughfares, Peachtree Parkway is essentially a freeway th…

Flashback: "Mike and me" August 2011

I met Mike in the first grade. He came to my birthday party that March. I turned 7. One of the kids set the thermostat’s dial up so high on our home aquarium, the guppies fried. It would be last my home birthday party. As for Mike and lot of other kids, they wouldn’t come back to my parents’ house for years. We reconnected in the eighth grade when my best friend Danny and I asked Mike to be in one of our Super 8mm films. Not too far after that, Mike came over to Danny’s house when television’s PM Magazine came over to do a story on us. After our television appearance, I barely saw Mike throughout the rest of junior high and most of high school. We didn’t have a falling out. We weren’t in that many classes together, so why bother? -- just chalk it up to adolescent boys going their own ways, I guess. Mike and I reconnected during our senior year when we had a few classes together. We started to spend time at his apartment. My friends and I couldn’t figure out why his family moved to an…

Flashback: "The Awful Truth" May 2013

It seems that modern society loves to witness success and failure on equal levels.  Take for instance the train wrecks and rags-to-riches stories in the Reality TV world. There's the "good, bad and ugly" in this world. The "bad and ugly" includes shows visually documenting everything from pregnant dating moms to well-known people melting down in rehab. The list of reality shows depicting humiliation and disrespect  goes on and on with conceited CEOs firing would-be apprentices to real housewives beating up on each other. If that isn't enough, millions also enjoy watching family dysfunction combined with a healthy dose of narcissism in Keeping Up With The Kardashians and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Dating programs have been taken to a new level with The Bachelor, in which single women vie to snag one lonely, rich arrogant male who is probably sorry he got roped into the show in the first place. Of course there's a reversal program titledThe Bachelorette. …

Flashback: "Suddenly" May 2013

A while back, a mother was driving her kid to school just like scores of moms do each day in this country. Suddenly a flying tire flew at the mom's windshield killing her. Recently, three people in a car were hit by an Amtrak train. The tragedy occurred  at an unprotected Toccoa, Georgia railroad crossing sending  the vehicle into a ravine killing all occupants. Sudden impact. Sudden death. We obviously tend to keep our minds away from these thoughts. After all, we tend to focus on the here and now while enjoying the current good moment. And why not carpe diem? Still,  the larger question is, "Are we doing all that we can to appreciate what we have in the moment?" Thankfully we don't see these sudden tragedies occurring every day to remind us that life is precious and fragile. So, many of us turn to what reminds us of life's many values through personal convictions - whether through community involvement or religious activities. In addition to reminding ourselves…

Will the music die one day?

I once ran across one of those Parade magazine question and answer features a number of years back when someone asked Marilyn Vos Savant if we’ll run out of music one day. So will we run out of an original combination of music notes? Will the music die one day thus literally taking singer-songwriter Don McLean’s “American Pie” come true? The gifted Ms. Vos Savant replied through her massive intellect that it is impossible. In general, I believe Ms. Von Savant that original music will always be possible, but there are times when the thought gives me pause. Take for instance what happened in the music world in late January this year. Singer Sam Smith settled a lawsuit from fellow musician Tom Petty. The suit charged that the chart-topping Smith single, “Stay with Me” contains a number of similarities to Petty’s 1989 hit, “I Won’t Back Down.” I confess that when I first heard Smith’s single on the radio, I would start singing “I Won’t Back Down” to myself. On a side note, I would never d…