Archive for May 2007

Goodbye, Part II: Closing Shop

May 31, 2007

My office is empty, I’ve deleted all trace of myself from the computer, and I just sent my last e-mail to my co-workers.

Feels weird. Of course I’ll miss the folks I worked with. But part of me is saying that the years (and money) I spent on law school, and the time I’ve spent since then working on my career, are now wasted.

I don’t know, though. Those are sunk costs; I can’t let them determine how I’m going to live in the future. And right now, the future as a teacher in Louisiana looks a lot better than the future as a lawyer in Alabama. I had my chance to really commit to practicing law here, and I couldn’t do it. Don’t know if the problem was Alabama or the law, but whatever it was, I just could not see myself here five years from now.

I know, the scientific way to decide the cause of my malaise would have been to either change locations or careers, but not both at once. You can only test one variable at a time. Life isn’t a laboratory, though. The double-whammy was my best option.

How will it work out? I don’t know, but I feel really good right now.

(BTW, I’ll be out of town until next Tuesday or Wednesday. Light – or no – posting until then is because of my absence, not because the blog is done. I’ve still got a few more posts to go.)

Goodbye, Part I: Stuff I’ll Miss

May 30, 2007

Opening my latest water and sewer bill and seeing a $65.00 sewer fee (that’s for the sewer ALONE; it doesn’t include the water) almost made we write a post about stuff I won’t miss. But I’ve already griped plenty enough. So here are some of the things I really loved about Alabama in general and B’ham in particular.

I just returned from lunch at T-bones, my favorite lunch place, so I’ll start with the eats. I know it’s not a B’ham native, but for breakfast the Original Pancake House in five points is our favorite. (Hmmm, peach pancakes with whipped cream, hmmmm). V-Richards is a close second, though. (Hmmm, Greek Omelette and cheese grits, hmmm). For dinner, if we want to eat outside, it’s either Rojo, the Grill, or Mellow Mushroom. We really aren’t cool enough for Rojo, and the Grill ain’t the Mill, so usually it ends up being Mellow Mushroom. Like the Pancake House, it’s not a B’ham native, but the pizza is good and they have a great selection of draft beer. For Mexican, it’s El Cazador on Montclair. Alfredo’s has the best pizza in town. Never heard of it? That’s probably because they are hidden back by the Burlington’s in the rear corner of the festival center on Crestwood Blvd (US 78) and they don’t deliver. I could go on and on, (Fish Market, Silvertron, DaVinci’s, Crestline Bagel) as B’ham has plenty of good food.

I like to eat, so I need to exercise, and another thing I’ll miss is the great riding and running opportunities. The Mercedes Marathon is a great event. I was in my third year of law school when I ran it for the first time. The feeling upon completing the marathon - my first - was infinitely better than what I felt when I finished law school. If you want something shorter, the Vulcan Run has all the community spirit, but only a quarter of the distance. For cycling, granted, it doesn’t start in Alabama, but the 3-state 3-moutnain challenge - my all time favorite bike ride – does go over Alabama’s Sand Mountain on it’s way through Alabama and Georgia back to the starting place of Chattanooga. Locally the best ride is the weekly Tuesday Night World’s, starting from Homewood Cycles at around 5:00. It’s thirty miles of race-intensity action.  

I don’t need organized events, though. I have plenty of my own running and riding routes, all of which start from my front door in Crestwood. My favorite running route is an eight mile run going from my house over to Highland Ave and then up to Key Circle before hitting Altamont and then snaking back down through Forrest Park and South Avondale to my house. As for the bike, I don’t know. Turkey Creek, Brookside, Bessemer: Each is great in its own way. Then there’s the PTA ride, which takes me by various roads (Essex, Stone River, Karl Daly, AL 25) up and over Red Mountain, Shades Mountain, Oak Mountain, and Coosa Mountain, and then back the exact same way. PTA stands for Pain, Torture, and Agony. For off road rides (and runs) my trail of choice is the JCC. Being able to ride your bike to a trail is a rare treat.

O.k., now I’ll just list random stuff.

1) Do Dah Day. In Shreveport, or any other decent sized city, I’ll still be able to do stuff like everything else on this list. But Do Dah Day is sui generis.

2) The Sipsey Wilderness. Every time I go, I look forward to the decent from the rolling hill tops down into those amazingly beautiful, cool, moss covered, water-fall filled canyons.

3) The Alabama Theatre. It doesn’t matter what’s playing, the Showplace of the South is a treat by itself.  It makes a fantastic show – for instance the Nickel Creek concert we saw there a few years ago – even better, and a painful one – I first saw Gone with the Wind at the Alabama - endurable.

4) WorkPlay. Another outstanding venue. Among other great show we’ve seen there are Josh Ritter, HEM, the Damnwells and Catlin Cary.  

5) Laser’s Edge. All the attributes of a local music shop with none of the Jack Black in High Fidelity attitude. I’m a dork, yet they always talk to me when I go in there.

6) Continuing the music theme, Reg’s Coffee House. “Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakie. It’s time once again for Reg’s Coffee house, your weekly trip into the world of the singer song writer.”

7) The Black & White and the B’ham Weekly. It’s always been my blogger’s dream to one day be popular enough that I could get someone like Courtney Haden or Kyle Whitmire to guest post.

8. The woodpeckers who live in the little stand of trees across the street from my house. Really cool birds, except when one of them decided to announce his presence by banging on the downspout next to our bedroom window at 5:30 in the morning.

9) The trees. Redbuds, Tulip Trees, Dogwoods, Cherries, Bradfords, Magnolias, I’ve never lived anywhere with as many beautiful flowering trees. I love riding my bike in the spring when the dogwoods and cherries are blooming. There’s parts of Mountain Brook and Redmont that look like it’s snowing when the wind blows through those things. The fall ain’t bad around here, either.

10) Here’s a list of stuff I already miss, these things having gone the way of the buffalo: Highland Coffee Company, La Reunion (I know it’s still there, but in name only), the movie theater in the festival plaza, the bookstore in forest park (Bought my first Wendell Berry book there, yet I’ve already forgoten the name).

11) The Iron Man. I know he’s also a symbol of federal pork, but hey, you gotta love Vulcan.

12) Local television loonies: Suzuki Man, James Spann (well, pretty much all the weather guys), and the endless parade of Reverend Apostle Bishop Doctor Blowhards on the public access channel.

13) St. Paul’s Cathedral. That’s where we joined the church and where our kids were baptized. Fr. Donahoe gives religion a good name. It’s a beautiful building, too. What I’ll always remember is that during the spring, and again in the fall, there’s a moment or two in the Saturday Evening mass when the sun shines through one of the stained glass windows so brightly that you can’t even look at it. You have to sit in the southeast corner (that’s rear right, if facing front) to see it. The window is in the northwest corner (front left, if facing front). The window is red surrounding a gold grail. The sun at that time of day and that time of the year also sets in a reddish gold color, hence the spectacular results when the sun crosses in front of the grail. Beautiful.

14) Walking. Thanks to geography, racism, balkanization and non-existant planning, the metro area is seriously car dependant. However, our little corner of the world, featuring sidewalks and interconnected neighborhoods, is pedestrian friendly, if you don’t mind a few hills. Most Sunday afternoons, we load the kids in the jogger, grab the dog and head off to explore. The route will usually involve some combination of Crestwood, Avondale and Forest Park. Occasionally we make it all the way to Highland. No matter where we go, though, the old homes, carefully maintained gardens, and picturesque views make for a great trip.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten things, but this is what comes to mind when I think about leaving. What about you? What do you like about Alabama?

Programming Note

May 29, 2007

Friday before last, I sent this message via e-mail to everyone at my firm:

To all,

For those who don’t yet know, this afternoon I submitted my two week notice. 

Jenny, the kids, and I will be moving to Shreveport, Louisiana next month, where I plan to teach high school.

Of course, my decision to leave the firm was very difficult. This is the only law job I have every held and I thoroughly enjoy working with all of you. But most of my family lives in the Shreveport area, and I really want my kids to grow up with all of their little cousins. 

Feel free to ask me any questions, as I’m sure there are many.

Thanks,

Moving to S’port means the end of the Alablawg, too. I hate it, I really do. I don’t have state legislators blogging here, nor do I get interviewed by national publications. The Alablawg is rightly subjected to all the typical complaints about blogs: Opiniontated, crude, self-infatuated. But it’s fun.

When I started this thing, I initially wanted it to be an objective review of Alabama law. That lasted about two hours: My opinions are too strong and my interests too varied. Instead my standard became blogging about whatever I found interesting. That doesn’t mean I disregarded readers. Far from it. I always blogged about whatever I wanted to blog about, but the best part of it was knowing some folks actually enjoyed what I wrote. I really am shocked every time someone leaves a comment, or e-mails me, or links to me, or – as happened just last week – whenever I run into a reader and they tell me how much they enjoy the Alablawg.

I’ve enjoyed the Alablawg so much that I even considered trying to keep it up from Louisiana. That wouldn’t be right, though.

Anyway, about the future. We’re moving the weekend of June 15th, and I had initially planned to wait until a few days before then to announce the end of the blog. But reading the news today, I just could not bring myself to post about any of it. I feel like a lame duck. Time will be limited, too. The next couple of days at work will be dedicated to wrapping up files and that sort of thing. Then I’ll be out of town until the middle of next week. After that, it’s packing, packing, packing. Most importantly, though, I didn’t want the end of the Alablawg to be one single abrupt goodbye post.  

So, over the next two weeks, rather spend the limited amount of free time between now and then posting about the news, I’ll follow a goodbye theme. In other words, after this post, I plan on putting up a few others discussing things like: 1) Stuff I’ll miss about Alabama; 2) Stuff in Alabama I never got around to doing, and; 3) Why we’re moving (this will be the final post). There will probably be some more pictures as well.

And if there’s anything else you want me to discuss, just let me know.

Pictures

May 26, 2007

The usual: bike ride; kids; contest.

Fifty miles today, going through North B’ham to Brookside and then back to town through Graysville, Adamsville, and, eventually, Ensley.

Corridor X, aka the future I-22, up around Graysville:

FBC, Mulga:

Speaks for itself:

Bayview Lake:

Tuxedo junction:

Fittingly, right around the corner:

Now for the children.

“Sure wish someone would feed me.”

“Me too.”

Omi all ready for church:

And for the pool:

And another:

What a ham:

Finally, the contest. Duke is the winner for the last one: Penny, the billboard for the Birmingham Hide & Tallow Company. She’s right across the First Avenue North (US 11) viaduct from Sloss. Here’s a couple of other pics, to give you some perspective.

Looking west, towards downtown:

And looking east:

Now the new contest, a real blast from the past:

As always, e-mail your guesses to alablawg@hotmail.com.

“I probably won’t ever kill anything else that big.”

May 25, 2007

I hope not; as an unarmed backpacker, I’d like to believe this is as big as it gets in the woods of Alabama:

An 11-year-old Alabama boy used a pistol to kill a wild hog his father says weighed a staggering 1,051 pounds and measured 9-feet-4 from the tip of its snout to the base of its tail.

Here’s the pics:

I’m not a hunter, so I’ve got nothing to offer here. I will admit, though, that if during a backpacking trip I ever cross paths with anything that big and ugly, and my dog can’t outrun me, well, she was a good dog.

Fightin’ Words

May 25, 2007

Today’s conservatives can argue for immigration restrictions if they so choose. But they should not claim the mantle of Reagan in doing so.”

Why I Like Bob Riley

May 25, 2007

How do you suppose Fob James, or if he’d succeeded in last year’s guber election, Roy Moore, would have handled this?

The Legislature adopted a resolution Thursday apologizing for Alabama’s role in slavery but restricting the use of the resolution in any lawsuits. . . .

Immediately after the votes in the House and Senate, Gov. Bob Riley’s spokesman, Jeff Emerson, said the Republican governor would keep a commitment he made earlier to sign the resolution as soon as he receives it.

I’ve already said I think the resolution is a good idea, and that any legislator who objected on reparations ground is either ignorant or putting forth a pretext. But the reason I like Riley is that even if he’d decided not to sign the thing, I think he would have refused in a dignified and reasonable manner.  

“It’s an idiot’s guide to terrorism”

May 25, 2007

I’m sure there’s plenty of smart assed comments to be made about that statement from Alabama’s Homeland Security director, Jim Walker.

To be fair, though he was not discussing Dubya’s latest stay the course in Iraq speech, just Alabama’s homeland security website, which until recently warned us good subservient citizens that:

domestic terrorists are found in many single-issue movements. Among them are anti-government groups that believe the “current government is violating the basic principles laid out by the U.S. Constitution.”

“In general, these terrorists claim that the U.S. government is infringing on their individual rights, and/or that the government’s policies are criminal and immoral,” the Web site stated. “Such groups may hold that the current government is violating the basic principles laid out by the U.S. Constitution and that a new world order is attempting to enslave humanity.”

Right. So who isn’t a terrorist then?

“By the Web site standards mentioned, opposition to gun control laws and excessive taxation makes one a terrorist. Insisting that we adhere to the Constitution makes one a terrorist,” said Stephen P. Gordon, political director of the Libertarian National Committee.

“Lawfully demanding that the federal government protect, as opposed to usurp, the individual rights outlined in the Bill of Rights makes one a terrorist. The two groups of people who most typify the description I just provided are our Founding Fathers and Libertarians. It seems that Alabama Homeland Security would incarcerate Madison, Washington and Jefferson at Guantanamo Bay, if they had that option,” he said.

No doubt they would. And then they would label as America Hating Terrorist Sympathizers anyone who insisted that the government prove in a court of law that the Founders actually are terrorists. On second thought, I guess arguing that the government has to obey the law makes you a terrorist, so if you demanded a fair trial for the Founders, you’d be joining them in Guantanamo.

But hey, at least we’re safe.   

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

May 24, 2007

Please, God, please don’t let this happen:

Jefferson County Commissioner Larry Langford has not announced his candidacy for mayor of Birmingham, but a statement he made in a meeting today caught listeners’ attention.

In response to statements from transit advocates in a meeting with commissioners, Langford said, “Birmingham has transit problems that need to be fixed, and it will be fixed in October.” The mayoral election is Oct. 9, and Langford has been widely discussed as a potential candidate.

O.K., So No-One’s Perfect

May 24, 2007

Just after lionizing Artur Davis, I read this:

Do they [four of Alabama's Republican congressional representatives] think its OK to charge “unconscionable” prices for gas?  We have all seen it happen in a crisis of some sort.  It happened after Katrina, even up to north Alabama.  Gas prices went through the roof overnight.

The Federal Price Gouging Protection Act passed the House of Representatives on a vote of 284 to 141.  The bill bans sellers from charging prices that are “unconscionably excessive,” or take “unfair advantage” of consumers. 

The bill would give the FTC “the explicit authority to investigate and punish those who artificially inflate the price of energy,” and require offenders to pay triple damages or up to $3 million for charging “unconscionable prices.”Some Republicans said the bill sets vague definitions of what price would qualify as “unconscionable” and would be tough to enforce. . . .

Democrats Bud Cramer and Artur Davis voted for the bill as did Republican Robert Aderholt.

Sigh. No doubt this law is extremely vague, and therefore invites arbitrary enforcement. But in addition, as this article explained when Alabama AG Troy King declared war on price gougers after Katrina (the results being one of his greatest hits; his ignorance extends to economics, too), price gouging laws are counter-productive and even immoral.

They do make for good stump speeches, though.


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