Tag Archives: Georgia

Let’s talk a little college football

The great thing about football season is you never run out of things to talk about. This week, Alabama coach Nick Saban and Florida coach Will Muschamp fired some shots at each other. Since Will is one of Nick’s protégés it makes it all the more interesting. Nick isn’t happy with the way the BCS bowls will be selected after the conference games.

One of the unfair elements of the process is that those voting in the various polls tend to look at a team’s losses, not their wins. So this year, Alabama and Georgia both have one loss and will play for the conference championship. However, the loser of that game will have a second loss and almost definitely be ranked behind one-loss Florida in the BCS rankings.  Because they won’t play in the conference championship, Florida won’t have the “opportunity” to pick up that additional loss. That means Florida will probably get a BCS invitation, while the Alabama-Georgia loser will not.

No fair! Says Nick.

“It’s not really a great scenario for either team. You play your way into the championship game, which means you’re the best team in your division. It doesn’t seem quite right. I don’t feel good about it for our football team or their football team.”

Actually, I agree. What’s interesting, however, is that Nick didn’t express that opinion last year when his Alabama team…

1.) Finished second to LSU in the Western Division and did not go to the championship game.

2.) Advanced to the #2 BCS ranking, when Georgia lost to LSU.

3.) Picked up the SEC’s second BCS invitation, to the national championship game.

4.) Won the national championship even though they did not win their division or play in the conference championship.

I love a little hypocrisy.

By the way, Muschamp’s response – “I can switch and go to Atlanta if he doesn’t want to go to Atlanta and play the ‘Dogs. Be careful what you wish for Nick.”

Is young Will channeling a little Stevie Spurrier?

Meanwhile the discrepancy in the strengths of the conferences is creating some interesting situations.

Georgia Tech, with a 6-6 record, will play FSU in the ACC conference game this weekend. If they win, they get a bid for a BCS bowl, probably the Orange Bowl. Meanwhile, the Big East doesn’t have a single team in the top 25, but guess what conference does? The MAC! Right now, Kent (“Four dead in O-hi-o”) State could move into the top 16 with a win in their conference championship game.  The BCS rules state that a school not from a “guaranteed-bid” conference earns a spot in one of the BCS bowls if it finishes in the top 16, and is ahead of the top-ranked team from one of the “guaranteed-bid” conferences.

If you were running the Orange Bowl, how excited would you be to host a 7-6 Georgia Tech playing Kent State? (Sorry, son-in law.)  One columnist, Pat Dooley, from the Gainesville Sun, wrote he wouldn’t watch that game if were played in his backyard.

On again, off again

I’m sitting here on my patio on a very nice Sunday afternoon, looking back on a hectic week, but a pleasant weekend.

As I mentioned in earlier posts, we had been planning to host a visit by the state senate higher education committee this week. Since the institute where I work is a unit of the state university system, this was a pretty big deal. Things started to unravel Monday morning, when the committee chair’s legislative assistant started calling around to make sure everyone who said they were going to come was still planning to do so. One senator backed out for medical reasons, and another, local senator started to get wishy-washy about how much of the activities he would be able to attend. This left us with just two confirmed senators, and one of those was local. We consulted with the committee chair, who wouldn’t come right out and say that we should cancel (or at least postpone) the visit, but strongly inferred it. So we spent two days calling and emailing around to make sure everyone got the word.

One concern was a low-country-boil dinner we had planned for Wednesday evening. We had invited a fairly good number of local people. We called and emailed all of those who responded to the RSVP on the invitation. I had a little concern (but not too much) for the roughly half of the invitees who couldn’t be bothered to mark a check on the pre-printed RSVP card and place it in the pre-addressed and pre-stamped return envelope to let us know if they were going to attend or not. (Sorry. That’s still a sore point with me.) We got in touch with many of them, but not all. I half-hoped someone who had not responded showed up for the dinner anyway.

“Oh, gee. Sorry, but we cancelled the dinner. We didn’t know you were coming or we would have called you. Have a nice evening.”

Snark!

Going out with a bang!

This is almost too good to be true. Man dies of a heart attack while having a threesome and family successfully sues for medical malpractice. I wonder what St Peter had to say to him when he showed up at the Pearly Gates.

A lovely trip to Sapelo Island

It’s been a busy two weeks. Now it’s time to catch up.

Earlier this month, I had an interesting day-trip. I had been asked to address a “master naturalist” class being held on Sapelo Island. Sapelo is a coastal island about 40 miles south of Savannah. I was out the door by 6:30 am, just to make absolutely sure I was on board the 8:30 am ferry to the island.

I got to the ferry just as the sun was coming up and the view was almost worth having to get up in the dark of the night.

A beautiful morning.

Marsh near the Sapelo ferry dock.

Nearly ready to go.

The passengers on the morning ferry ride.

Sapelo Island is an interesting place. Even with the ferry, access is restricted. You have to be invited to go there, either because you are visiting one of the residents, or you have some business on the island.  I have been there before when I visited the old Gulluh-Geechee community of Hog Hammock. The occasion at the time had been to accompany a professor-linguist who was working with the local residents to translate some old recordings that had been made on the island in the 1930s. This time, I was headed to the University of Georgia Marine Institute. It is located on the old RJ Reynolds (tobacco fortune) property.

I and some of the other speakers were picked up at the dock in one of the open-air trucks.  I’m glad it was a bright, sunny day, and not storming.

Sapelo Island's answer to mass transit.

I met up with Don Gardener, the extension service agent who invited me to the talk. My talk apparently was well received. I was scheduled for an hour on the agenda, which is about three times our normal civic club talk. But the group seemed to stay engaged, and there were lots of questions. That is good.

While waiting to depart for the 230 pm ferry trip, I got to talking with Dorset Hurley, the research director of the Sapelo Island National Esturine Research Reserve. He had a little time on his hands, so he offered to take me for a drive around the south end of the island. Nice guy. The tour included the historic light house.

Sapelo Island light house

He also gave me with a great rundown of the kind of salt marsh research they are doing there.

The entire ambience of Sapelo is very laid back. One good example of that is what I was told to do in the event my expected “ride” back to the ferry dock did not arrive in time.

“Just take one of these pick up trucks. Drive it to the dock and just leave the keys in the ignition.”

Clearly, auto theft is not a major problem when you are on a small island and there is no way to get the vehicle off.

In any case, my ride showed up in time and I was on the 230 ferry for the half-hour trip back to the mainland.

Back to the mainland.

All told, it was a very nice day. Back to work.

Why do we need an amendment?

Let’s talk a little politics.

I was interested when I saw this announcement about a news conference to be held in Atlanta today to push for a balanced budget amendment. Take a look at the list of Georgia’s Republican congressmen behind this effort. I have questions for these people. If you think a balanced budget is such a good idea, why do you need a constitutional amendment to force you to do it? And if you really believe a balanced budget is such a great idea, why have you been unable to produce one since Bill Clinton left office?

You can blame a lot on President Obama, but not all. Republicans were in control of the White House and the Congress for much of the 2000s, when the deficit exploded.

Here is what no one is saying. You don’t need a constitutional amendment to have a balanced budget. You just need some congressmen with some guts (or other anatomical parts.)

Most of the time I think a balanced budget is a wonderful idea, but not ALL of the time. Such a constitutional provision would prevent the government from responding to many emergencies, from wars to recessions. It has been observed that we could not have fought World War II, for instance, with a balanced budget amendment in place.

As it relates to our elected representatives, the Congress has lived up the saying:

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

Our Congressmen and women are like shopaholics who just can’t miss the next sale. They are addicted to spending the public’s money. Now they are apparently admitting they can’t control themselves, so they are asking for a constitutional amendment to control their impulses.  To continue the analogy a little further, they are saying they can’t help themselves and need someone to tear up their VISA card so they won’t be able to go shopping any longer.

These folks are supposed to be smart and capable of running a government. At least that is what they tell us every time they come up from election. Why do they need an artificial restraint to keep them from doing what they are supposed to do in the first place?

I have an idea; why don’t we just elect some representatives who can do the right thing without being forced to do so?

Here are two more links on the balanced budget amendment question.

From Business Week

From The Washington Post.

Too much stress too early in the morning

There are times I love and am amazed with technology, and there times a loath it with an intense passion.  This morning at 7:30 a.m. at the First Christian Church in Guyton was one of the latter.

Despite my relatively advanced age (late 50s), I am moderately proficient with computer technology. I am just old enough, however, to continue to be amazed that I can carry my entire work life around with me on my laptop. With my home WiFi and my cell phone, I am about 95% as efficient sitting at my kitchen table as I am at my desk at work.

All is wonderful…until it isn’t.

To make a long story short, I was out of bed at 5 am this morning for a breakfast Rotary Club talk in a small town about an hour away. When I arrived and turned on my laptop, I discovered the folder with all my Powerpoint presentations, was empty. It was not a great piece of news at 730 in the morning.  This particular group had already heard my basic overview talk. I had borrowed a presentation from our director so I would have a fresh act. It was not something I could ad lib without the Powerpoint support.

My hosts said, “Why don’t you just take a few minutes and tell us about some of the things going on there?”

OK. I can do that. So I got up and talked off the cuff for about 15 minutes. I repeated some basic background information about who we are, and talked about some of the current projects I have written about over the past couple of months. I doubt if I would win any “best presentation” awards, but it filled the time and no one walked out or threw the remains of their breakfast at me. I guess I came out ahead.

(For you technogeeks out there, the problem turned out to be a sync problem between my laptop and the server at work. I don’t understand it, but the files are now back and things seem to be working again. In the future, I’ll also have my presentation on a flash drive as a backup.)

And speaking of technology, I ran across this very funny blog post about a journalism professor who forced his class to put together a newsletter using 1980 technology like manual typewriters. It is funny. I can relate.

On choice

On the way to work this morning, I started thinking about the concept of “choice.”  What prompted this was a report I heard on NPR on the death of a very conservative Georgia state legislator. They had a comment from a more liberal legislator who said that she liked and respected the deceased although they had very different ideas about the role of choice in government and society.

There was no question the legislator was referring to the abortion debate when she mentioned “choice.” The deceased legislator was famous among his colleagues for trying to attach an anti-abortion amendment to every bill he came across, whether it had anything to do with abortion or not.

I started thinking about the different ways liberals and conservatives view the role and importance of choice. It appears that both sides have multiple views.

Liberals promote the value of a pregnant woman’s right to make a choice whether to deliver or have an abortion.  Conservatives disagree.

Conservatives promote the value of a person’s right to choose to purchase and carry a gun without many restrictions. Liberals sincerely wish that choice was not an option.

Many conservatives think people should have the right to choose what public schools their children will attend. Most liberals believe that would be a detriment to public school systems.

The value of choice, it seems, depends on whether you agree with the choice or not.

Not surprising when you think about it.

An island weekend

I had to work this Saturday, but at least it was fun work.

I took a trip to Wassaw Island, a barrier island near Savannah.  The purpose was this — each year, we offer some “trips” as prizes for the silent auction that is part of the university system’s big fundraising gala. Today one of the winners of last year’s prizes came for his trip. We put them up in one of our cottages on our campus and took them to Wassaw Island for a beach and nature tour. My boss, his wife (who was our guide) and I hosted the day.

Wassaw is only reachable by boat.

The Fish and Wildlife Service dock.

It is entirely a nature preserve. When we were leaving the island, we saw a few boaters “beaching it” on the very south end. Aside from them,  I believe we were the only humans on the seven-mile long island. Our own private pardise for a few hours.

The family involved was very nice – the parents and two children. They seemed to enjoy the day. We docked at the Fish and Wildlife dock on the land-side of the island and hiked across the island to the beach.

Wassaw has a different look to it than some of the other barrier islands I’ve visited. It is newer and doesn’t have the same expanse of maritime oak forest. There is a 35 foot high sand dune (hill) running down the middle of the island.

Hiking up the "dune" on the way back to the boat.

On the beach side of the dune, the terrain is low-lying but the vegetation is mostly pine and palmetto – not many oaks at all.

Burned pines on the beach side of the big dune.

So we hiked across the island and spent a couple of hours just hanging around the beautiful beach.

Arriving at our "private beach."

Not very crowded today.

When we returned, we got cleaned up and I started cooking dinner. We provided a low country boil, and that was my responsibility. It went well. I managed to cook the shrimp just right. (It’s very easy to overcook the shrimp. Then they are soggy and tough to peal.)

Mrs. Poolman originally planned to join me on the day’s activities, but her boss asked her to work Saturday as an overtime day. She would earn some significant $$$ for the shift, so she jumped on it.

Today (Sunday) is our only off-day of the weekend. We spent it cleaning house (Mrs. Poolman) and yard work in the backyard (me). I’m grilling some chicken for dinner and Mrs. P is doing the green beans and new potatoes. We’ll be to bed early tonight. The work week awaits.

A great day on Ossabaw Island

I had a great time on Wednesday of this week – a day trip to Ossabaw Island. Ossabaw is one of Georgia’s secluded, undeveloped barrier islands. The only practical way to reach it is by boat.

The beach

We took off from our campus at 8:30 in the morning with a group of eleven scientists and technicians for the one hour trip down the Intra-Coastal Waterway to the island.

Ossabaw Island is held by the State of Georgia as a Heritage Trust. Access is by permission only.

We had several reasons for this trip. One reason was to conduct some maintenance on the “Barrier Island Observatory.” We are part of a group of organizations that are developing an observatory network on the island. This is a series of sensors and cameras that can by accessed through the Internet. Right now there is a weather station, a water sensor at the dock and at two wells, and a camera at the dock. You can see what they pickup here.

We also had a couple of geologists who needed to dig some core samples, and a graduate student who collected Spanish moss and air samples.

I went along to take pictures and to enjoy the day.

It was great to get out of the office. Along the way, we passed the bald eagle nest on Pigeon Island.

Once on the island, we got around on the back of pick up trucks.

The causeway from the dock to the island.

The island is beautiful and peaceful, with scenes ranging from maritime forest, to salt marshes to open beaches.

Salt marsh

Dead palm trees

A dead tree -- the result of erosion.

An interesting matrix of dead wood on the beach.

Tabby former living quarters

When we first arrived, we were greeted by “Paul Mitchell,” one of the island’s pet hogs.However, unlike on my last visit to the island, we didn’t see very much in the way of wildlife. We saw only one alligator. I think part of the reason for this is that the fresh water ponds on the island are very low, so the gators aren’t close to the various roads and causeways.

No water = no alligators.

All in all, it was a great day and a lot of fun.

Poor, impoverished students

College students in Georgia are starting to whine. I have a little sympathy for them, but not too much. The governor released a plan this morning to save the Hope Scholarship. That is a lottery-funded program that has provided full college scholarships at state schools for students who graduate from high school with a 3.0 GPA and maintain it in college. Unfortunately, lottery sales are not keeping up with Hope demand and something has got to give. The governor’s plan caps most Hope Scholarships at 90% of current tuition levels with no automatic increases as tuition goes up at state schools.

I am sympathetic to the students and their parents, but not totally. I think that having someone pay for 90% of your college tuition is a really good deal. At one typical medium-range Georgia public university, that unpaid 10% comes to just under $44/month (two semesters’ tuition and fees, spread over 12 months). I strongly suspect that many of those students spend more than that on beer.

There is something to be said for requiring the student to pay at least a portion of the cost of their education. They may place more value on it. I had a boss once that held to that exact theory. He would reimburse employees for outside courses and training to improve themselves, but never the entire bill. He believed that if someone wasn’t willing to foot even a small part of the bill for a course, it would not be something they would take seriously. I think he was right.

Another issue is how the level of affluence of many of today’s college students has increased since I was a poor, impoverished (I really was!) student back in the dark ages of the 1970s. Before my current job, I worked at a state university, and got to see the way many of today’s college students “survive.” It always amazed me when I volunteered to help out on “move-in day,” and saw how many students arrived equipped with their own car, laptop computer, stereo, smart phone, flat screen TV, video game system, etc.

In Georgia, the joke has been the biggest beneficiaries of the Hope Scholarship are the car dealers. Enough parents used the money they saved on tuition to buy their young student a new car, they invented a new term for it – the Hopemobile.

Most of today’s students look with distain at the idea of living in a 13×13’ dormitory room.

My old dorm room looked pretty much like this.

Share it with a roommate? Never!

Use a communal restroom and shower room down the hall? Who are you kidding?

Most now live in relative luxury in off-campus apartments or in more-expensive apartment- or suite-style residence halls.

I’m sure there a few students for whom the Hope cutback this will be a hit, but for many, perhaps a great majority, this will be a minor inconvenience.

So if you are faced with an additional $34 a month in education expenses, what can you live without? Your smart phone? Your car? Your cable TV service? Your regular Thursday night bash at the student-bar? Your “luxury” apartment?  I’m sure it would be a tough decision.