A Technology Rant.

While I may be accused of many things, understanding–and using–technology is not one of them.

Lord only knows how long I’ve had my old flip phone.  I do not text.  It does not take pictures.  My GPS is made of paper, unfolds and has lot of lines on it.  I use my ancient IPad for only one thing.  When I am traveling I stop at McDonalds because I know they have wifi and I know how to access it to check my email.

When I am in a restaurant I am not looking at some electronic device to check Twitter because I do not tweet, nor know what it is.

So you get the picture.

Which brings me to why I write.  I get TV and internet service from Spectrum.  I have been a loyal and faithful customer since 2015.  Have always paid my bills on time.  I have the basic TV package, none of the add ons I hear about.

I just paid my latest bill for $163.41.  Checking my checkbook (yes, I still write checks and put them in a stamped envelope) I find that my check to them on July 12, 2018 was $98.67.  Hardly a math whiz, I did nonetheless figure that is a jump of 65 percent in 14-15 months.  Which is ridiculous to this old man.

So this afternoon I spend 20 minutes on the phone with a Spectrum customer service lady (yes, I did actually get a human on the phone after punching a few buttons to let them know I was not calling about having flat feet, ingrown toenails or a cat that claws the furniture.)

I wanted to know what I could do to lower my monthly bill.  I learned that I am paying $12.99 a month for a box that plays something called a DVR.  I have never used it.  The lady tells me that if I unhook it and take it to the local Spectrum store, I can save $12.99 each month.  I tell her don’t even know where this contraption is and that since one of her technicians obviously installed it, they can come get it.

She tells me it will cost $49.99 for the technician to do that.

Then she tells me that she has found a way to save a few dollars on my internet–but this will require new equipment that I can pick up at their store and install myself.  To  me, this  is like going to the dentist, learning I have a tooth that needs filling and the dentist handing me some teeth-working-on-tools and saying “Have at it.”

Then the lady tells me that if a technician comes to my house, he can remove the DVR box and install the new internet equipment at the same time and I only have to pay for one visit.

I tell her that I have been a loyal customer, have always paid my bill on time and feel that I am being had.  All she says  is, “I understand.”  I also tell her to relay to Spectrum management that they are idiots.  Again, “I understand.”

So one morning this coming week a technician is supposed to show up, at my expense, and make changes that will save me about a few dollars each month.

No doubt, he will use a GPS to find me.

Yep, the world has passed me by.




Auburn Tigers Rise From The Dead To Beat Oregon

Editor’s note: It was 54 years ago this summer that a fresh-faced kid from south Alabama was sports editor of The Auburn Plainsman.  Those were far different times in college football.  The game had not turned into the huge commercial ventures they are today.  Coaches did not get paid millions of dollars a year.  Players did not spend 365 days a year thinking of only football.  Tickets cost less than $10 a game.  There were no sports channels on TV.  But us Auburn fans still screamed “War Eagle” after touchdowns and the thrill of winning was no less than it is today.  That fresh-faced kid is now waiting on his 77th birthday and on occasions such as this, can not help but revert to what he did in simpler times.

In a storybook ending, the Auburn Tigers snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and beat the University of Oregon 27-21 to open their 2019 football season in Arlington, TX.  Improbably, their victory was led by a quarterback  who was wearing an Auburn uniform for the first time in his life.

Well, officially at least.  Truth is, quarterback Bo Nix has worn orange and blue his entire life.  This is understandable given that his dad, Pat Nix, also played quarterback for Auburn and his grandfather, Conrad Nix, went to Auburn as well.  And football is the Nix family business.  Now retired, Conrad was a celebrated high school coach in both Alabama and Georgia, winning 260 games in 27 seasons he coached in Georgia, including two state championships.

Pat won a state championship in 2017 coaching Pinson Valley to an undefeated season.  Bo was his quarterback–and one of the most-coveted high school quarterbacks in all the land..  Some even said THE most coveted.  And while college recruiters from far and wide made visits to Pinson Valley, there was never really any doubt that Bo would suit up in orange and blue.

After all, his daddy became an Auburn legend in the 1993 Iron Bowl when he came off the bench to replace injured QB Stan White and immediately threw a dramatic TD pass to Frank Sanders to lead Auburn to a 22-14 win over Bama on the way to an undefeated season.  That was the day “Nix to Sanders” became part of Auburn folklore.

No doubt Bo played out that same moment in a 1,000 backyard football moments growing up.  It’s just what boys do.

However, not even the most rabid Auburn fan could imagine Bo replicating such an iconic moment in his very first game in orange and blue.  But to prove that fairy tales really do come true, with the game clock ticking toward zero last Saturday night and his team trailing by two points,  Bo Nix, the son of Pat and the grandson of Conrad, threw a pass to Seth Williams who caught it at the two-yard line and tumbled backwards into the end zone.

The stadium, just outside of Dallas and a monument to the opulence that shrouds the games I once watched while a student at Auburn, erupted.

Somehow their team, which looked totally outclassed early in the game, had amazingly willed itself to a win.  A defense, expected to be among the nation’s best according to all the pundits, woke up and played like it was coached to do the second half.  The offense was never overwhelming, but they continued to do what had to be done.

And at the end of the day, a little boy’s dreams came true and Nix to Sanders was replaced by Nix to Williams.




He’s Back

1,546 miles.  Six states.  Five nights.  And tired.

Plus, south Alabama is still hot and humid, just like it was when I left on Aug. 16.

Was great to visit family.  Daughter Kim and son-in-law Tod came from Maryland to my sister’s in Black Mountain, NC.  Brother Stephen flew in from Medellin, Columbia, which he says is a mile high and temperature is basically the same year-round.  In the low 80’s in the day and 60’s at night.  He has no air-conditioning.  When I asked what  seasons they have, he simply told me “wet” and “dry.”  Which basically means every day is like yesterday.

I will stick to spring, summer, fall and winter.  I mean, how do you know when it’s football season?

Black Mountain is about 25 miles east of Ashville.  Was in the 60’s early every morning.  When that happens down here, we say, “fall is in the air.”

A side trip to  Coalwood, WV.  The boyhood home of Homer Hickam, who wrote the book, Rocket Boys, more than 20 years ago(This will be a post for another day.)

But as I knew it would be, Alabama and our public education trials and tribulations were never far from mind.  So lots of phone calls from the road to check on things.

My brother-in-law is Anthony.  My only niece, his daughter, has a boy who just turned two.  He is a cheery child, always laughing and smiling.  He too is Anthony.  So throughout my stay, there were constant questions of “where is little Anthony”?

With that in mind, I leave you with this.


Heading For The Hills

My family is very small.  Only me, my sister and my brother.  Sister has one daughter and one grandchild.  I have a son and daughter and no grandchildren.  My brother has never married.  So we don’t need much space to have a “family reunion.”

Neither do we have many chances to see one another.  Especially since my brother lives in Medellin, the capital of Antioquia Province in Columbia and, until a couple of months ago. my daughter and her husband lived in Germany.

But we will have a chance to gather for a couple of days nest week at my sister’s in Black Mountain, NC.  (Son Kevin, in Mobile, will not be able to come.)  And here’s hoping that the weather will be just a tad cooler than south Alabama in August.  (My computer says right now at 4:30 CDT on Thursday, August 15, it is 82 degrees in Black Mountain as compared to 99 degrees in Montgomery.).

No wonder my sister and brother-in-law like it there.

So I will let someone else be concerned about Alabama politicians who know more about schools than teachers who work in them and former members of our charter commission who swallowed Soner Tarim’s bait about Woodland Prep hook, line and sinker for a few days.  I’m heading for higher and cooler ground.

Have A Grand 4th Of July (And Respond To Our Survey On Your Way Out The Door)

Click this link to join the more than 850 others who have given their input into our latest survey about having an appointed state board of educating vs. an elected one.

Then enjoy family and friends on this very special holiday.  My memories of the 4th of July are primarily that for one day in the summer, work on the farm came to a halt and somewhere along the way was homemade ice cream and watermelon.  That was back in the day when the cream was churned by hand and the melons were homegrown.

And more than likely lunch (or dinner as we say in the South) was fried chicken, potato salad and baked beans.  As we cranked the freezer, Daddy told about his own memories of the 4th were not much different than mine now are.  About daylight, someone would hitch a mule to the wagon and head for the ice house in Red Level where they would get a block of ice, cover it with sawdust and head for home.

Grandpa had a sweet tooth for sure.  Which he passed along to me.  And the homemade ice cream that came with each 4th of July was a welcome treat.

So here is wishing you a safe and happy 4th.  The day we pause to remember that we are celebrating the greatest political statement ever made.  One that has survived challenge after challenge and still remains a symbol of  what should be right and good about the best of what mankind has to offer.

Elected vs. Appointed State School Board. Take Our Survey.

In addition to voting for candidates for president next March 3rd, Alabama voters will decide YES or NO on a constitutional amendment as to whether to switch from the present elected state board of education to one appointed by the governor.

If approved, the amendment gives the governor the authority to select a nine-member Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education.  Appointments would have to be confirmed by the state senate.  Members would serve staggered six-years terms.  They would appoint a state education secretary.

The proposal also includes a directive for the new commission to set new standards to replace Common Core curriculum standards.

What do you think?  Here is your chance to be heard.  Respond to our survey which you find here.

It will take three to four minutes.  As always, your response is anonymous.

We hope you will fill out this survey and that you will also pass it along to friends and colleagues and ask them to as well..  The more, the better.

Results will be posted in a few weeks.