Can I catch a ride?

I know it’s been awhile. It’s not that I’ve been busy – I have – but not so busy that I couldn’t blog. But since the local election passed, I haven’t felt particularly inspired by anything. There’s nothing like Memphis politics to get you thinking.

There seems to be so little going on that I’ve even stopped listening to Drake and Zeke on the way to work. It had gotten to the point where I’d here them in the morning, then, if I went anywhere after dark, I’d hear the same show again… and if I got into the car Saturday morning… it’s on again in “The Best of D&Z.” Not to mention when they take time off – you end up hearing stuff you heard a few weeks earlier. I know they’re popular, but the station could actually spring for a nighttime and Saturday morning disk jockey!

Anyway, just before I switched from D&Z this morning to Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio, I hear either D or Z ask why the assistant school superintendent needed a chauffeur who happened to be a school security guard. I wasn’t familiar with the story, but I logged onto the Main Street Journal’s site and found a link to the story on Action News 5.

So it seems part of Irv Hamer’s deal to be Kriner Cash’s #2 is to get a driver to and from work, as well as to any location where he’s conducting MCS business. Here’s a portion of the statement from the district explaining things: “The current practice allows the Deputy Superintendent to work while traveling and helps to ensure that he safely and timely arrives to and from work as well as the myriad of sites that he visits on the District’s behalf.

A driver is one thing. But it seems that members of the school security staff are the employees tasked with ferrying Hamer to and fro. They do the same for the superintendent. I’ve been at events where Cash has attended, and let me say, it’s the only time in my life where I’ve seen a school superintendent show up anywhere with armed security. It sends some kind of message.

Perhaps security is necessary for some people at some levels. I know the CEO of the place I used to work at has corporate security people at his house. Maybe if I were a billionaire, I’d feel a need to do that too, although I’d pay for my own, and not pass costs onto my stockholders. When Dick Hackett was mayor, he’d walk down Main Street with no more protection than his communications guy (a nice person, but you’d want someone more imposing if you were in a jam). On the other hand, Willie Herenton had enough police around him to look like a visiting head of state. Of course, I guess it’s up to the individual to determine what is actually necessary.

Back to the MCS thing. One of the things Cash had initially wanted for Memphis Schools was an internal police force. He didn’t get it, but let’s suppose for a moment that he was on track about the need for security in the school system. That being the case, why take away from the finite security force that does exist so they can ferry you and your boy to and from? So you can work in the car? If you’re spending that much time in traffic, move closer to work or cut back on your outside appointments. Why use well-trained, highly-paid security staff as bus drivers? In fact, if you need to work and ride, take MATA – it’d certainly be cheaper (doesn’t the mayor of New York City, a billionaire, often ride the subway to work?). Why not use scarce resources wisely, especially in a time where the system is scrambling for money to put badly-needed educational assistants back into classrooms?

I commute 36 miles a day, 180 miles a week. And I pay for it myself. So Kriner & Irv, if either of you are going from downtown to East Memphis in the morning, can I catch a ride wit’ you?


Keeping Up

I know that I’m not cranking these out as often as I once did. It’s not that the ideas aren’t there, it’s just trying to make the time to sit down and do it. Of course, the other thing is that it makes it tougher for people interesting in reading the thing. I guess some people see the updates on my Facebook page or on my Twitter page. As far as Twitter goes, that’s about all I use it for anymore.

And Improved!

So, one of the things I thought I would do is try a fresh, new look. The folks at WordPress have come up with a new theme, “Twenty Ten.” Is a bit cleaner, with a slightly bigger font than my old theme, “Ocean Mist.” Dramatic new look, same old content. Will you look at me more if I’m artificially better looking? I feel like Pam Anderson all of a sudden. Okay, maybe not.

I know it can be a hassle to check a blog every day to see if there are any updates. I used to go through that with a lot of other folks, waiting for Joe Larkins to break down and write something when he was blogging regularly. One of the nice things about Word Press is that they actually make it easy for people to keep track of the blogs you’re interested in reading. I found that you can add a little subscription box to the top of the blog page that lets people plug in their email address so they can get updates when there’s a new blog. In fact, I added it to my page a couple of months ago, thinking that the regular readers would sign up. It’s in a little box in the upper right that reads like this:

Tired of checking everyday to see if I’ve written something new? Click to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email!

Okay, the only thing about this is that you can let yourself in for some disappointment when you do something like that. I decided to see how many of my faithful readers had taken advantage of the feature. I guess it’s fairly easy to click through from Facebook or just to bookmark the blog itself. Often, the fine folks at the Main Street Journal are kind enough to include me in their listing of local blogs. It’s also an excellent compendium of local news. Check it out, it’ll save you from jumping from site to site on your own.

Up to Date

Anyway, it seems that one person has taken advantage of the subscription feature. One. But, like I mentioned, maybe everybody else is getting the blog somewhere else. Of course, if I don’t think that way, I’d be mighty depressed. Since I’m not really writing that often, it shouldn’t be that much of an issue. I’m pretty happy that anyone reads these things at all.

Now, don’t go and subscribe to the blog if you haven’t been a regular reader. If you’ve been finding it some other way, please keep on doing that. And as always, comments, criticisms and even complaints are welcome. Complaints are more welcome if they’re about somebody else.

Wait, what?


Blog You Very Much

If you write, especially for publication, you hope to be read. One of the bad things about blogging is that most host sites provide some kind of system that shows just how many times people stop by to look at your work. I’d like hundreds of readers each day, hanging on my every word. But, I’m realist enough to know that it’s pretty much friends, co-workers and family who stop by on a regular basis. And, some of my friends who blog link my blog on their, so I pick up the occasional reader that way. And Mike Hollihan, over at the Main Street Journal site, links to the blog, so I get clicks from MSJ readers, which is nice.


Do What?

Anyway, I go to the part of the WordPress page that lets me see how many hits the blog has gotten once or twice (or three times) a day usually. I was across the bridge in West Memphis all day, so I didn’t actually check Wednesday until after I got home and did my evening jog. More than 500 views today. 5-0-0. And climbing when I checked at 8pm. I’d been linking to StumbleUpon lately, but that’s only pushed my average hit count to about 90 a day.  Before today, I think the best I had done was 200-something on the day I got my new job.


The target of many searches...

Whenever there’s a big spike, I wonder what it was I did in that day’s blog that was so darned interesting, especially compared to every other day. Also, whether I could blatantly repeat it to get the same number of hits the next day. Well, I checked the counter a little more closely, and saw that the blog getting all the hits was one from July, telling the tale of how I broke out the back window of my car. I drilled down a little deeper, and looked and what word or phrase in that blog was most actively searched. It turns out that it was a phrase that led to a picture I posted with the last sentence of that blog: “lucy and the football.” If you keep track, Charles Schultz had her do it the first time on November 16, 1952 (but she wasn’t the first girl to do that to Charlie Brown).

What Are All These People Talking About?

Crash, boom, bang!

Crash, boom, bang!

I was lucky.  I picked up my recently repaired car on Friday, shortly before the heavens opened on the Mid-South, knocking out power and knocking down trees.  I was lunching in the downtown Blue Monkey when the worst of the storm passed.  The worst we saw was a slight power flicker.  If anything, I thought the power might go out and I wouldn’t have to pay.  That didn’t happen, but by the time I got home, things were already starting to dry out.

I heard the return of the storms Saturday night (or was it Sunday morning?).  Again, we didn’t have much of any damage in my part of downtown (although this was the day my newspaper carrier decided not to double bag the paper, so it was a little damp).



I say all that to say that I was tickled to hear one of the problems some people were complaining about on Monday was that, with their power out, they couldn’t update their Facebook pages.  Of course, no one said that was their biggest problem, but it just goes to show how dependent we’re becoming when it comes to the social media.

I am amazed (and often amused) when I see the sheer number of blogs out there.  And I’m not talking about the blogosphere in general… I’m talking about right here in Memphis!  For a while, the only local blogger I knew was my pal Joe Larkins.  Because we have similar professional backgrounds, I’ve always been interested in what he talks about.  But once I started doing this blog, I keep coming across different blogs and different blog aggregators.

A lot of this exposure came when my efforts would included with other bloggers on sites like “The Memphis Blog,” by the Commercial Appeal.  Or the smart folks at Main Street Journal.  Not smart because they link to my stuff, I met one of the staff at the recent citywide trivia finals, and you gotta be smart to be in that.

Tweet tweet!

Tweet tweet!

Anyway, it’s not just people.  More organizations are going online to try and bring some immediacy to what they do.  Friends of mine at CNN are tweeting and blogging news and program updates during the day.  It’s kinda neat to see the “CA” initials after a CNN tweet… I know it’s my friend Carrie.  I was also impressed to find out that Memphis Light Gas & Water has been tweeting during the recent power outages, giving people a quick way to find out what progress was being made in getting people powered back up.

And no, it’s not like the local TV executive who once suggested running an on-air crawl to let viewers know the station had been knocked off the air during a storm (I can’t remember whether we explained why that wouldn’t work or if we just nodding and moved away from him).  MLGW tweets work whether you’re computer is up or not.  Most cell phones can access Twitter, so as long as the phone has some power, you’re not completely cut off.

Hello out there!

Hello out there!

Between FB & Twitter, it’s becoming a lot easier to keep in touch with everywhere.  People worry about letting either become major time wasters, but like everything else, you just have to exercise some control.  Plus, as I learned during my recent spate of joblessness, it’s a great way to connect and reconnect with people.  A friend of mine was telling someone the other day how FB is helping her get in touch with a lot of people she went to high school with.  It’s great to not have to wait for a 5 or 10 year interval to bring everyone together in a reunion.  I heard from my high school sweetie today… and it’s literally been 35 years since we’d been in touch.