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    Hillbilly Ecosystem

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    Another Week…Another Hurricane September 28th, 2004

    Well, Monday was a long day for me. This time due to Hurricane Jeanne which went just east of here. It caused a lot of flooding in parts of WCTV’s viewing area so I had to come in to work at 2am do direct weather cut-ins. No problem with me. It’s part of my job and believe it or not, I actually love my job.

    But these hurricanes are getting mighty old.

    According to historians, this is the first time 4 hurricanes have hit one U.S. state since 1886.

    The scary thing is that there’s 2 months left in hurricane season.

    Long-term scary: scientists believe that we are entering a 20 year period of more frequent and more intense storms.

    Oh goodie.

    Aggravation September 28th, 2004

    Today, I got aggravated with the local grocery stores again.

    And for the same reason as usual. I couldn’t find an item that I was looking for. It wasn’t some obscure item made by some small company. No. It was an item manufactured by a nationally known company (which shall remain nameless) which I found at one local grocery store but seem to not be able to find at other grocery stores.

    Hence my aggravation.

    In this town, I can’t seem to EVER be able to find everything I want in one grocery store. I would genuinely LOVE to have a grocery store in this town that I could get everything I want in one shopping visit.

    But in Tallahassee, you can’t.

    For example, there is a nationally known manufacturer of soup…you probably know of it…that has this microwavable soup product that, according to its website, comes in thirteen…count `em…thirteen flavors.

    But I’ll be DAMNED if any individual grocery store in this city carries all thirteen.

    Not that I want all thirteen (some of them don’t sound all that appealing), but I would hope that if I wanted to try all thirteen, I could find them all in ONE PLACE!

    Mind you, this is merely an example and somewhat on the extreme side at that, but illustrates my point.

    It has been suggested to me that I might take advantage of the stated offer that at least two grocery store chains in this area have: special ordering. However I have tried this on more than one occassion with totally unsatisfactory results. In short, their offer sucks.

    Even the SuperWalMarts and MegaKmarts and ElGiganteMegaloMarts around here seem to be either unable or unwilling to carry the full selection of a product offered by food manufacturers.

    It has also been suggested that I call ahead and see if they carry the item I desire.

    Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt.

    Nine times out of ten I get connected to some poor underpaid pinhead who informs me that they carry it. However more often than not, the store doesn’t carry it and the underpaid pinhead either intentionally or unintentially has misled me after wasting gas money and my time.

    And the aggravation will continue. This I know.

    *sigh*

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    Corporate Radio September 22nd, 2004

    A quick question:

    Is it just me or is corporate radio playing less and less music nowadays?

    My dream is having unlimited income to buy my own radio station in a good sized market (actually an AM/FM combo) and not have to worry about advertising all that much. I’d hire radio personalities who actually know how to mix music and challenge them with the largest and most diverse music library ever. Only a few limitations outside of things the FCC would fine a station over. No gansta rap or death metal (and various incarnations thereof). I’d leave the classical music to the public radio stations. But pop, rock, soul, country, jazz, hip-hop and a lot of other genres would be welcomed and played with absolutely no music clock of any kind.

    And to top it all off…a radical idea…

    The station would actually play REQUESTS!

    You’d never know what you would hear next. And I think such a station would, given time, develop a hardcore following.

    Would it work?

    I don’t know. It’s my dream and in my dream it works. Besides it would be fun. I’d love to pull a weekly shift of about 6-8 hours playing whatever I felt like playing.

    Oh well….at least we have student-run radio stations all around the country.

    And there’s Whole Wheat Radio. Thanks Jim & Esther!

    In Search of Ronnie’s Hat September 19th, 2004

    Sometimes I get something in my head that I just can’t shake out (no, not moths) until I get the information. Recently it was trying to figure out the style of hat Ronnie Van Zandt was famous for wearing while singing lead for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Normally I am pretty good at online research and thought this would be an easy one but found out pretty quickly this was not going to be an easy find.

    First off, I assumed it was some sort of western hat so I started with that and after looking at just about every cowboy hat on the net, I figured out that was a dead end.

    I tried looking for gambler’s hats. No luck.

    Planter’s hats. Nope.

    Plantation hats? Nada.

    Even looked at civil war civilian hats. Uh-uh.

    However my wife, who is smarter than I (she’s got a master’s degree) managed to find the info. And it was staring me straight in the face but I didn’t see it. Proverbial “can’t see the forest for the trees.” She found it on the Lynyrd Skynyrd FAQ at www.skynyrd.com(cached version).

    Bottom line is that Ronnie Van Zandt and also younger brother and current lead singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd, Johnny Van Zandt got their hats from Texas Hatters in Buda, Texas. They currently make a version of the hat that closely approximates the style Ronnie wore, The Hi-Roller, but expect to shell over $400 if you want it just like Ronnie’s. I, on the other had, don’t have that much to spend on a hat. Too bad. It’s a cool hat and it’s custom made for the buyer’s own head.

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    Volunteering September 19th, 2004

    Just about ready to head out to the TLC Animal Service Center to take pictures of adoptable animals for their online kennel. Eventually I plan on adopting a dog or two once finances get better with my wife and me. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a puppy either. An older dog would be fine as well. However he or she would have to be a special dog and most likely the dog would probably adopt us. Don’t get me wrong, cat folks, I urge folks to adopt cats and kittens from their local animal shelter, too. But I’m more of a dog person (I like cats, too). Plus, I believe in spaying and neutering.

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    The Polyphonic Spree September 18th, 2004

    Recently I was on a website with links to various unusual and unique online games. One of the games I tried was a point-and-click puzzler which had as a “prize” for finishing it a video from a group called The Polyphonic Spree. Upon completing the game I watched the video and liked it a lot. I went to the group’s website and watched other videos as well as live performances and was hooked. Their sound is complex and defies easy description but to me it reminds me of the optimistic orchestrated rock music from the late 60’s and early 70’s. I ended up getting all the CD’s I could find.

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    Ivan September 18th, 2004

    It’s been a couple of days since Hurricane Ivan hit the gulf coast west of Tallahassee. We (meaning WCTV Channel 6) covered it from the beginning when it was a tropical storm all the way to its aftermath. I am glad it did not strike Tallahassee directly or was closer than it was but I am saddened at all the destruction it caused in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. Pensacola and the surrounding area got hit the hardest and that’s where my parents live. Their home suffered minimal damage but they are without power and won’t have electricity for 3 weeks or more. At least they are alive. Thousands of others weren’t so lucky. They lost their homes, businesses and as of this posting at least 42 people lost their lives in the U.S. due to Ivan while 70 died earlier in the Caribbean. 4 died not that far away in the small town of Blounstown, FL due to a tornado spawned by Ivan.

    Two newspapers, The Pensacola News Journal and The Panama City News Herald each have pictures of the devastation available online. Also WJHG in Panama City, FL has a link to amazing video from their tower cam of the tornado that touched down and struck the broadcast building. The audio is the actual broadcast audio.

    Many of WCTV’s viewers and employees have friends and relatives who were directly affected by Hurricane Ivan. One of my co-workers has three Aunts still missing. Another co-worker’s niece rode out the storm and witnessed a port-a-john in her backyard get knocked down and then pitched upright immediately thereafter “as if by magic.” The Interstate 10 bridge’s eastbound lane has over a quarter mile heavily damaged by waters in Pensacola Bay. If you have seen the pictures of the bridge on the news right after the storm, you’ll see the water almost touching the bottom of the bridge at its low points. I have drived across that bridge many times. Normally there is over a 30 foot drop from the bottom of the lowest portions of the bridge to the water so to rise up over the bridge and cause that much damage just shows how powerful a Category 3 Hurricane can be. I am glad it wasn’t a Cat. 5 like it was in the Caribbean. The destruction would have been unimaginable.

    According to the latest reports I have read, every bridge and overpass west of Bay County, FL has suffered damage from Hurricane Ivan. In Pensacola for example, the I-10 causeway, the U.S. 90 bay bridge, the “3-mile bridge” leading into Gulf Breeze and the Bob Sikes Bridge going to Pensacola Beach all are now impassable.

    And Pensacola Beach is pretty much gone as it was. I finally saw aerial footage and stills from there and it’s depressing. In some places the hurricane dug its own canals from the Gulf side to the sound side right through the road and buildings. There used to be a nice galleria shopping center with an old fashioned ice cream shop that is now almost completely gone.

    I am curious how some places I have been to in the past couple of years in the Florida Panahandle fared. Like how did the Perdido Beach Resort do? Alvin’s Magic Mountain Mall in Panama City Beach. The “UFO House” on Pensacola Beach that survived prior storms. Joe Patti’s Seafood on Avenue A in Pensacola. The El Governor Motel in Mexico Beach, Florida. The San Roc Cay shopping complex in Perdido Key, Florida.

    Lord only knows how long it will take before all the repairs will be finished on the roads, streets, bridges, homes, businesses, etc.

    If you were directly affected by Hurricane Ivan or know of someone who is, please know my thoughts and prayers are with all the victims of that devastating storm.