Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What the cluck?

If you're like me, you're very excited about May because it's International Respect for Chickens Month. Seriously. I can't make this kind of stuff up.

Among the events: International Respect for Chickens Day is May 4, and celebrates the dignity, beauty and life of chickens and protests against the bleakness of their lives in farming operations.

Also, United Poultry Concerns urges people to do an ACTION for chickens on or around May 4 — "leafleting on a busy street corner, tabling, writing a letter to the editor, holding an office party or classroom celebration, showing the movie Chicken Run, or simply talking to people about the plight and delight of chickens."

In honor of the event, Minneapolis-based Chicken Run Rescue is holding its Third Annual Chicken Calendar Photo Contest to capture the beauty of chickens in a photograph. On May 8, UPC will leaflet people on the Lafayette Park sidewalk across from the White House, urging everyone to "Show Compassion and Stick Up For Chickens!"

I guess that's different from this past Saturday's Broadway SpringFest here in Columbus, where you could get "chicken on a stick."

For the record, I don't merely respect chickens. I love them. Especially honey barbecued.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Rep. Up Tight, R-Georgia

Further confirming some Northerners' stereotype that Georgia is home to nothing but religious zealots and backward hicks, Rep. Paul Broun, a Republican, has introduced the Military Honor and Decency Act, which would ban troops from being able to buy those raunchy magazines Playboy and Penthouse on military bases. You can read the Army Times story here.

Do you get the feeling that Broun might be the next Rep. Mark Foley, the former Republican head of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus who got busted for sexually explicit chats with a teenage page? Don't remember him? Read about him here. Or perhaps Broun just really is that uptight. Certainly if we ban these magazines, these guys will never think of naked women again.

I'm sure our troops, especially the ones who've been deployed to Iraq, have seen things far more horrifying than silicone-enhanced naked women. Maybe Broun wants to keep nudity and sexual perversion where it belongs, such as at U.S.-run prisons like Abu Ghraib. It's a shame he seems more concerned about this than sending kids to die for a mistake.

Sometimes I wonder if uptight folks like this guy are the people who are the true purveyors of perversion by making something as natural as sex and beauty so dirty in the first place. Dude, chill. It's just a naked lady. Don't panic!

We're in the money!!

Good news! ... for the oil companies, anyway. The economic stimulus checks, also known as the Distract Everyone From Real Economic Problems Act (DEFREPA), begin going out today.

In case you didn't know, they're based on the last two digits of your Social Security number.

For direct deposit, if your last two numbers are 00 - 20, you'll get your money May 2. If your numbers end in 21 to 75, May 9 and 76 to 99 arrive May 16.

For those of you expecting paper checks in the mail, 00-09 should receive your check in the mail by May 16. The numbers 10-18 will receive their checks by May 23. The cycle continues and the next ten numbers will get their checks seven days later and so on.

If your Social Security number ends in 88-99, and you don't have direct deposit, you will be the last to see your money on July 11.

If you'd like to know just how much your check will be, click here for the official IRS information. You'll need your 2007 return handy.

Sad thing is, the reason we need these checks is because of our dependence on big oil, which continues to rack up record profits. Thankfully for Exxon-Mobil, this money will help you be able to keep you buying gas, thus keeping demand at high levels and prices rising, ensuring we'll hit the $4 mark sometime around Memorial Day. But I'll have you know that I'll be a rebel and my stimulus check won't go to more record profits for the oil companies. No, mine will go to MasterCard, addressing a whole ’nother economic crisis.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Now, that's cold ... er, Cole

A friend of mine forwarded this picture of a message she put up on the sign outside the insurance agency for which she works in Montezuma, Ga. Note there's a big cemetery next door. The sign has been changed, but not before I was able to forward the picture to a few folks in an effort to embarrass my friend. They came back with some other suggestions for her future signs:
  • Cole Insurance — put your mind at rest before you're laid to rest.
  • Think Cole before you get cold.
  • Think you don't need insurance, you're dead wrong.
  • It's never almost never too late to think of insurance.
  • Get it before you're gone.
  • Insurance ... because your family is counting on you.
  • Plush or pine box.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Try this on for size

Those of you who know me well know that I'm a wee bit of a nonconformist. Those of you who know me well also know I'm a bit of an idiot. But the thought of conformity absolutely makes my skin crawl.

Yesterday I heard someone on television make the cliche comment that "everybody puts their pants on one leg at a time." After pondering that brilliant statement, I decided that I didn't want to be like everybody, so I jumped into my pants both legs at a time. This may be quite easy if you've got grease on your legs and can slip right through, but it's rather difficult when your feet get all twisted up somewhere around the knee area.

And then, of course, you trip, bump your head on the dresser, knock eight things of empty deodorant onto the floor and fall into the pile of green shirts that you're planning to wash any day now. You know, the usual.

Now I know why everybody puts their pants on one leg at a time. Oh, and these were not my pants. Mine were more colorful.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

Oil just passed a record $119 a barrel in midday trading on Wall Street and is expected to close at over $120 a barrel by day's end. Guess we could drive less and save the planet and save a few bucks at a time. Unfortunately, there's nothing right now that could save the economy short of a "Eureka!" energy discovery, such as practical cold fusion or powerful, regenerative solar power cells. Too bad there's no money in saving the planet and the economy. But there's darn good money in killing both. Ask Exxon-Mobil.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Saylor's 'N Sync

If 'N Sync is looking for a new member, consider my 8-year-old son Saylor. Here's his impromptu, somewhat acrobatic performance to "Bye Bye Bye." I don't know where he learned the moves, but he learned about walking around the house in your underwear from me. And in case you're wondering if I'm exploiting my child, I absolutely would not do that unless there was good money in it. (Is there?) Besides, it was Saylor who suggested filming this and added: "Dad, you should put this on Blawg Wild!" And he rules the roost here.

It's not news

While at the gym a few minutes ago, I did my weightlifting and then hit the elliptical thingamajig (it's not an elliptical machine, treadmill or stairclimber -- it's a little of each) and that's when I find me a TV station to watch. Since I'm already listening to my own music on my MP3 player, I either need sports, news or close-captioned shows to watch. Today, since sports don't get cranked up good until tonight, I turned it to Headline News and proceeded to start ellipticalizing. Over the next 35 minutes, Headline News followed a non-eventful car chase in L.A. I'd have changed it, but you just can't stop ellipticalizing once you get started.

Thank goodness for the scroll at the bottom of the screen with actual, you know, NEWS on it. This wasn't even a car chase. It was a high-speed car following. The woman, apparently upset over a car rental agreement, was arrested without incident. Too often, television stations mistake "news" for "things we can show on camera."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

CRCT time

Just a quick note to my 8-year-old son, Saylor, and all the other kids taking the CRCT today and through the next few days, a key component of President Bush's No Child Left Untested act:

Y'all just relax and don't stress out over these tests. It's merely the end-all, be-all of your elementary school lives and all that could happen if you perform poorly is that your teachers and principals could lose their jobs and starve to death, and your school could be taken over by the same government geniuses who invaded Iraq, managed Hurricane Katrina's aftermath and gave your economy away.

Have fun!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tag, you're paranoid!

A McLean, Va., elementary school has banned the game of tag because it leads to aggressive behavior. It's hardly the first school to do so as paranoia sweeps the nation. Next thing you know, they'll be banning kids from having green highlights in their hair on St. Paddy's Day. How long do you think it'll be before schools start locking kids in padded cages for their own protection and to help them focus on their education?

Read the story here.

No apology needed

China is demanding an apology from CNN commentator Jack Cafferty, who recently referred to China's leadership as a bunch of "goons and thugs" and the products that come from there as "junk." Read the story here.

How dare he make such an obviously true comment about the home of America's economy?! Note that China didn't refute his comments. And if you've bought toys for your kids at Christmas in the past decade or so, you know what he's talking about. It's amazing that the reasons everyone spouts for taking down Saddam Hussein in Iraq could be applied to China, as well, yet we don't attack them. Instead, we hand them our economic future on a silver platter. We see how well that's paying off. We've gone from a production-based economy to a consumer-based economy where we all spend our way to prosperity. That's all well and good until folks run out of money. Hence the mess we're in now.

Sweatin' to the Gospels

I never go to the gym without my MP3 player. The first few times I went to a gym without my own music, I had to hear repetitive hip-hop or songs that may be good but just aren't workout material, like "My Girl" by the Temptations or stuff like that. My MP3 player has one audio track for meditation purposes and several jazz tracks when I need to chill, but all the rest are songs for working out. And they are quite varied, from softer stuff like Sade and Michael Franks; to old disco acts like KC and the Sunshine Band and Kool and the Gang; to hard-rocking stuff from AC/DC and Drivin' and Cryin'; to more modern workoutable-acts like Shakira and BuckCherry. There's even a hard-driving blues tune from Taj Mahal.

We joined a new gym, Snap Fitness, on Saturday. While working out there on Sunday, I took off my headphones for a moment and noticed they had Sirius satellite radio playing. Unfortunately, it was on a gospel/inspirational station. Guess it was somewhat fitting since it was Sunday in the South, but who can work out to that kind of music? Maybe it's because my spiritual views are less submissive than so many "inspirational" songs, but that channel just didn't work for me.

If there were other people in the gym, I'd have just slapped my headphones back on and went about my business, but I was the only person in there at the time. Despite my searching, I couldn't find the Sirius tuner so that I could change it to something more aligned with my spiritual views as a Parrothead ... Sirius 31, Radio Margaritaville.

Then again, as much as I like Jimmy Buffett's music, I can't work out to it. It's music for sipping a margarita and sticking your toes in the sand, not bench pressing and lateral raises. Aside from "Livingston Saturday Night" and "Pascagoula Run," not much of it works for me in the gym. But it darn sure is inspirational afterward.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Do you need another reason to hate the New York Yankees? Of course you do. We all do. The ruckus they've raised over the very funny stunt pulled by a construction worker (a Boston Red Sox fan) who planted a Sox jersey when they poured concrete for the new Yankee Stadium, set to open next year. The guy wanted to curse the Yankees. But, really, the Yankees have been cursed by the baseball gods ever since they added Alex Rodriguez in an effort to buy a World Series crown. The baseball gods frown on that stuff.

New Yankees boss Hank Steinbrenner, George's young-un, hopes the worker gets beat up by his co-workers, wants him to pay for the jersey's removal and is contemplating criminal charges. I agree with the San Francisco Chronicle's Gwen Knapp, who believes the Yanks are too uptight, a lot like the "rules are rules" crowd here in Columbus.

It's sad when folks can't appreciate a good baseball curse anymore. Atlanta Braves fans who remember the Braves' great 1982 season appreciate one. That's when Ted Turner decided to tear down mascot Chief Noc-A-Homa's teepee to make room for more seats in late July. Chief Noc-A-Homa cursed the Braves and they won only two of their next 21 games. Turner put the teepee back up and the Braves rallied to win the division.

Ah, the good ol' days.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Universally screwed

For my second disappointing family vacation of the year (Gatlinburg was the first), we went to Universal Studios in Orlando, a city to which I once considered moving for a job but am now thankful I didn't. I really, really don't like the place. I'd rather listen to Celine Dion sing for three days straight while standing in a bucket of water moccasins.

Probably didn't help that after booking a vacation to Universal Studios online and upgrading to a fast pass to get through all the long lines, I found out when the electronic ticket kiosk printed my tickets in Orlando that the $83 I spent in advance for fast-pass tickets was good for only one day, the first day of our visit. At no point was I informed of this in advance, nor did I get to pick the day I for which I'd prefer to use the fast passes. So we started our vacation by getting our fast passes about 3:30 p.m. on the only day they'd be valid, giving us about 3 hours to use them once I got through griping to guest services, whose general attitude that day and the next on the phone was, "Sucks for you, don't it?"

Because you can't enjoy this place without the fast passes or express tix or whatever they call them, I had to buy more for the second day ... a little over $60. Like a lot of theme parks, it's in Universal's best interest to have long lines to create the sub-industry of selling express passes. The only thing worse than getting robbed by a place like Universal is voluntarily giving them more money afterward. Moral of the story is: Buy your express tickets down there, not online. It's no "upgrade."

It certainly puts the much more pleasant experience of Wild Adventures in Valdosta in perspective. Wild Adventures is cheaper, has more rides, is more customer friendly and is in a town full of nice folks.

Topping off Universal's misunderstanding of customer service: After leaving Islands of Adventure, we were asked if we'd take part in a survey that would last about 10 minutes. I really, really wanted to do this, but my wife, who'd had enough of my grumpiness after a couple of days of being robbed, decided she had better do it. Ten minutes later, she emerged with nothing but a "thanks" for taking the survey. Ten minutes wasted and she didn't even get a free drink, a coupon or a shiny nickel out of the deal. They didn't get our contact information, either, but I guarantee they'll have it before too long.

My son, Saylor, loved Universal and Gatlinburg, by the way. I guess these places are easier to tolerate when you're not shelling out hundreds of dollars to be miserable. It didn't cost Saylor a cent for me to be utterly miserable.

Good news is I get to pick the next trip (mainly to shut me up), which likely will involve a secluded beach with more crab traps than tourist traps.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Rock on, Uncle Rocky!

Me with the founders of the Missin' Links rock 'n' roll band: Uncle Rocky, left, and Uncle Dusty

My cousin Lisa and her husband Richard sent my Uncle Rocky (aka Fred Dixon) into retirement with a luau-style bash in Warner Robins, Ga. It should be noted that he's retiring from the insurance business, not the rock 'n' roll business. He's been the guitarist for the Missin' Links, who started as the Ideals, for nearly 50 years.

He said he had planned to start his retirement by just hopping in a car and taking a cross-country trip to see every little town and quirky sight from coast to coast. But now that gas is on its way to $4 a gallon, those plans are on hold. Or as we call it in my family, Dixon luck. And I'm half-Dixon, so that explains a lot about me. He also busted up a pinata full of lottery tickets that wound up being worth about $11. He should be able to stay retired for several days on that.

It was a surprise party and perhaps the only surprise party I've ever been to where the honoree was, well, surprised.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Rules are rules

In my latest TV commentary, I dispel the myth that Chris Johnson has problems with authority figures and rule makers.

Click here to see it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Good for Jekyll

Public outcry and some official opposition has led developers to cancel plans for a $352 million project on Georgia's Jekyll Island, which, by state law, must remain 65 percent undeveloped. Once a retreat for some of America's wealthiest people (including Rockefellers, Carnegies, Goodyears and DuPonts), the Jekyll Island Club once had members representing one-seventh of the world's wealth at the beginning of the 20th century. Fortunately, they turned the island over to the state of Georgia, which has done a good job of keeping it as natural as possible.

Unlike a lot of states (hint: Florida), Georgia's coast is mostly unspoiled and beautiful. There's a smattering of hotels, condos, restaurants and retail, but nothing like you'll see from, say, Panama City to Pensacola down in Florida. I'm glad the developers pulled out, although I suspect it may have less to do with public pressure and more to do with America's failing economy.

If you get a chance, go to Jekyll. It's a great place to get delightfully bored. But don't waste time. You never know when somebody might flash enough cash in front of somebody to spoil it all. Or Columbus could annex the island, and within a few months it'll be a retail and traffic nightmare like North Columbus.

Get better, Kim

A quick shout-out to the Driver family from back home. Kim Driver, who's the director of nursing at Flint River Community Hospital (where my mom works and my adopted sister Laurie Hair is CEO), was hurt in a head-on collision this morning between Ellaville and Oglethorpe. She was flown to The Medical Center in Columbus. I was there when the surgeon, Dr. Morrell, emerged and explained how he pieced her foot back together and fixed a few broken bones. Keep her in your thoughts. Dr. Morrell did a heck of a job explaining a hard situation.

I've had a few of my bones pieced back together there after a car wreck myself, and those few weeks of aftermath aren't fun at all. Kim's injuries are severe, but head-on collisions could be worse. Far worse.

It was my second trip to The Medical Center this week. Also keep my friend and co-worker's wife, Tracey Sheets in your thoughts as she tries to get better.

And, if you're so inclined, feel free to substitute "prayers" for "thoughts." I'm sure they'll take either one. Or both.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I'm taking my ball and going home

In the wake of negative publicity over the in-school suspension of a girl who wore green hair to school on St. Paddy's Day and the suspension of more than 20 kids for "slap fighting," Midland Middle School has stopped taking the newspaper. Guess you should leave it to a middle school to react like a 12-year-old amid negative publicity.

While the suspension for green hair was petty and deserves ridicule, the suspension of kids for slap fighting is warranted. However, don't equate the two and act like one leads to the other. It's apples and oranges. Almost makes you wonder if there was a slap fight going on while officials were bogged down chasing green-haired villains around.