Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Free Chick-fil-A Biscuits on New Year's Day

Chick-fil-A Inc. is poised to go to battle over breakfast by offering free chicken biscuits with any purchase Jan. 1.

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A said the promotion is in response to competitors that have entered the chicken biscuit segment.

"We pride ourselves on making our biscuits from scratch every day, not the 'homemade tasting' biscuits being advertised elsewhere,” said Woody Faulk, Chick-fil-A vice president of brand development and director of Chick-fil-A's menu strategy, in a release.

Faulk was making an obvious reference to McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) and others, which have recently launched variations on Southern-style biscuits.

The offers to try a complimentary biscuit, will be distributed through participating restaurants on Jan. 1 and may be redeemed through March 28.

Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy launched the chicken biscuit in 1986 along with a full-line breakfast menu, as the chain branched out of malls into standalone restaurants. Breakfast accounts for 17 percent of the chain’s sales, and Chick-fil-A revamped its breakfast menu in 2004 to include high-end coffees and four new entrees.

"Breakfast has become our fastest growing day part in terms of sales-percentage increase," Faulk said.

Chick-fil-A has more than 1,420 restaurants in 38 states, including 29 in the Orlando area. The company had record sales of more than $2.6 billion in 2007, which was a 16 percent jump from the previous year. The company has notched 40 straight years of sales gains.

Local Pet Store Accused of Selling Sick Dogs

A.C.: "That's horrible about the dogs with Parvo."
K.J.: "I know. Merry Christmas, right?"
Me: "Here's your dog carcass. Happy Holidays!"

Marketing Firm's Clients May Require Re-Branding

We're reviewing the clients of a marketing firm in town.

K.J.: "Shameless Dave and the Miracle Whips?"
Me: "Must be a band..."
K.J.: "Hm."
Me: "Or an escort service!"
K.J.: "Huh?"

Monday, December 29, 2008

Augusta Newspaper Struggles in Slow Economy

AUGUSTA, GA. - My husband opened the front door yesterday and pulled The Augusta Chronicle out of the front bushes. He was jonesing for his crossword puzzle, which - I swear - is the only reason we subscribe. Thirteen dollars a month for crossword puzzles. Don't get me started.

Anyway, he yanked it from its plastic sleeve and held it aloft with a look of astonishment: "Look at this!"

I turned from my continuing failure to beat Amber Carlson's high score in Facebook Word Twist and looked: "Yeah, honey, the paper comes every day."

"No! Look at the size of it!"

In his hand was a size of paper one would expect to see from a Wednesday edition, not the circulation-heavy Sunday paper.

"What on earth?" I exclaimed. Where were the circulars? Where were the long-form stories about pressing issues or year-end wrap-ups? Heck, where were the advertisements?

"That's the smallest Sunday edition I've ever seen," he said, looking down at the sad stack of sections in his lap.

"Yeah... doesn't look good," I said. I wonder about the fate of the Chronicle's employees, many of whom have been laid off in the last six months. Good, talented, hard-working people. With millions of dollars in loans hanging over the company's head during an economic downturn, what is the next step for the oldest continually printed newspaper in the South?

The Statesboro Herald paper just canceled their Monday edition, and even told workers not to come in on Monday to save the company money. Is this the next step for the Chronicle?

The Tampa Tribune is combining forces with the broadcast folks at Tampa's Newschannel 8 and the digital workers at to share newsgathering skills and products. Morris Communications already has its own internal content-sharing mechanism, and - let's be honest - the majority of the copy available in any daily paper: wire stories. But will The Augusta Chronicle turn to other area newsgathering organizations to share information and copy?

The Detroit papers - The Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News - have reduced home delivery to just 3 days a week. The Augusta Chronicle has already cancelled home deliveries in the outermost areas of their circulation pattern. Is this the next step they'll take?

The venerable Christian Science Monitor will - in the new year - be the first nationally ciruclated paper to replace its daily print edition with website access. They will also offer subscribers weekly print and daily e-mail editions. Granted, The Augusta Chronicle isn't distributed nationally. But might they localize this strategy?

There is a reason that weeklies have out-paced the dailies in terms of growth. The Association of Alternative News Weeklies says that the strategy of an alt-weekly is "local, local, local, sexy, local," which means we keep to our market, don't worry about filling pages with wire stories that can be faster and more easily read online, toss in a bit of controvery, humor, and sexiness when it fits the story, and - oh, yeah, we do it with local employees and resources. We don't, for example, outsource our design department to Asia, or our call center to Latin America. By streamlining our mission and targeting our market with laser-like precision, we keep our overhead low and speak directly to the people who want to hear from us, rather than muddying up the lines of communication with a bunch of stuff nobody asked for. A column on wine? Really? 'Cause I think you've tried that a couple of times before and it never works out.

But daily papers serve a different purpose than weekly papers, and their survival is essential to a healthy democrasy. And more is available to papers than the unchanging print-and-distribute methods available to newspapers - and I'm talking beyond what their woefully underdeveloped web sites can deliver.

For example, consider the digital paper developed by Fujitsu.

It is the world's first film substrate-based bendable color electronic paper with an image memory function. I don't know what substrate-based means, but the rest of the words make perfect sense: the new electronic paper features vivid color images that are unaffected even when the screen is bent, and features an image memory function that enables continuous display of the same image without the need for electricity. The thin and flexible electronic paper uses very low power to change screen images, thereby making it ideal for displaying information or advertisements in public areas as a type of new electronic media that can be handled as easily as paper.

Imagine a business model where such a "digital paper" is cheap enough that a newspaper could give one to new subscribers and wean them off the paper product. Or, if you didn't want to subscribe, you buy a screen and get the daily paper when you buy it, one at a time. Now imagine how much overhead that would save newspapers when their printing costs are all but obliterated. Imagine the drop in paper prices as demand around the world falls for the first time in generations. Imagine the decline in harvest forestry, as one of the industries that utilizes pulp paper almost completely ceases to purchase it.

Take these screen shots from the movie "Minority Report," in which a commuter reads USA Today on a train.

Scene one: A regular front page of the national paper.

Scene two: a digital update hits the page.

The breakthrough that made this paper possible is actually three years old. That means that the production kinks have most likely been worked out, and Fujitsu is waiting for the rest of the world to catch up, in order to make this enterprise possible and profitable. Why not daily newspapers?

Or consider Amazon's bulkier but still portable Kindle device, currently sold-out on their site. Three years ago, they set out to design and build an entirely new class of device—a convenient, portable reading device with the ability to wirelessly download books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers. The result is Amazon Kindle, a plain, black and white wireless portable reading device.

Again, that's a new business model that people - and the planet, for all you greenies out there - could really get excited about again.

And it will soon be no longer a luxury, but a necessity for the dailies. Let's look at how people ages 45 and under interact with the media. When the actor Paul Newman died, many people found out via Twitter, e-mails or IMs. They then might have gone and checked out the lengthy entry about Newman (did you know Newman was 19th on Richard Nixon's enemies list?) on Wikipedia, which had likely already been updated. Then they'd visit YouTube and watch some of his old movie scenes (did you know he screen tested with James Dean for "East of Eden?"), or search the blogosphere for recollections from writers who had met or who felt a connection to the old-guard actor.

At no point do people feel the need to engage with a daily newspaper!

That is why alt-weeklies are thriving, and dailies are dying - almost literally! The daily readership is older, less affluent, and less technologically savvy. They are, as they say, "aging out" of newspaper readership. But humor, long-form journalism and a strong local focus never die. Hooray for the alt-weekly niche!

Still, everyone in the industry - daily or weekly, alt-weekly or magazine - has a lot of forward-thinking to do. And we can't be ruled by the bean-counters in suits, who expect the industry to right itself after the recession ends. Consumer media use has changed permanently. I expect we'll be seeing smaller and smaller editions of The Augusta Chronicle as its readership ages and shrinks. I expect we'll be seeing more direct competition between dailies as they contract, and weeklies as they expand.

Hopefully, media companies will move ahead with technological advances more current than simply choosing a web press based on price. I hope so. Because despite the decline of the American public's trust in journalism (thanks, Geraldo), it's still a needed to serve as a check and balance for our system of government. And I think we can all agree that as far as what body we can trust, the media ranks a lot higher than Congress.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Urge Overkill

Saturday, December 27, 2008 By

Has anyone else looked around their home after Christmas and wondered: Where the hell are we going to put all of this stuff?

Why do we have so much STUFF?! It's not like we're on the verge of a hoarding intervention, but seriously: I bought a fireplace screen at a yard sale - AND WE HAVE NO FIREPLACE!

By the way: anyone want to buy a couch and chair? We seem to have multiplied seating furniture.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Grinchmas

Me: "So what about your grandparents?"
Scott: "Lunch tomorrow. They already got the ham, so I told them we'd bring the sides."

Me: "Cool. Whatcha want?"
Scott: "Just grab a box of Stovetop Stuffing and a couple of cans of green beans."
Me: "Oh, wow, honey. The effort you're putting into this is so impressive."
Scott: "Hey, I was going to chop onions and celery for the stuffing."
Me: "Ooooooo. Onions and celery. I stand corrected."
Scott: "And chicken broth."
Me: "Mmm."

Scott: "You know, I'm very busy here. You forget that I have some important breaking news to report."
Me: "I'm sorry. I forgot how very important you are, big radio-man. What's the breaking news?"
Scott: "I am... (dramatic pause) tracking Santa."
Me: "Tracking Santa."
Scott: "Yes."
Me: "Really."
Scott: "With NORAD."
Me: "Like in 'War Games?'"
Scott: "What?"
Me: "Nothing."

Scott: "Guess where he is right now."
Me: "Uh... China?"
Scott: "No. Ssabbaassssuhhh (slurring words), Afghanistan."
Me: "You don't know where that is, do you?"
Scott: "It's in Afghanistan."
Me: "Touche. Well, I'll let you get back to your GPS system."
Scott: "Thank you. Remember to listen to WGAC News/Talk 580 for more updates."

On a Magic Kingdom Ride

Thursday, December 18
9 a.m. - WHY am I taking client phone calls while I am @ Disney?! I look like a self-important a-hole. Wait… Am I?

10 a.m. - News flash: Florida + scarf = stupid. Don't be a fashion victim.

10:30 a.m. - We've been @ Walt Disney World only a few rides long & Em already wants to be carried. Crap.

10:45 a.m. - Em being a butthead. Please send alcohol.

11:30 a.m. – Ah. Saved by hot dogs and Uncle Michael. And now I’m out $20.

1 p.m. – God, I don’t remember the last time she and I had this much fun together! She’s having the time of her life, and I’m laughing so hard at her that my stomach is hurting!

2:30 p.m. – Emmie rides her first roller coaster, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Then we go back for another spin on Pirates of the Caribbean and the tea cups. We attempt the Haunted Mansion. “Yeth! I want to see da scary house!” Emmie insists. Oookkay…

3 p.m. – It’s a hit! “I wan ride it again, mama!” Emmie shrieks. “Dat was a slow scary! I lite it!”

4 p.m. – It’s time to start heading to the bus transfer to Hollywood studios. Emmie doesn’t want to leave.

5 p.m. – We’ve been waiting for the bus for a half-hour, and we’re still having a great time just sitting on the bench making faces at each other.

5:15 p.m. – Emmie’s as excited by the bus ride as anything else. For some reason, she begins chanting “Treinta! Treinta! Treinta!” Some of the surrounding tourists are from Latin American countries. They look at me quizzically. I shrug my shoulders. I don’t know why she’s chanting “30! 30! 30!” in Spanish. One of them stops to speak to her, asking if she’s having a good day… or something. She smiles and nods, “Glatheeas!” They are enchanted, and can’t tell that she has NO idea what they’re talking about. She’s just being polite.

6 p.m. – We arrive at Hollywood Studios and immediately hop on the Star Wars ride. Emmie is shrieking with excitement. Then we check out the Muppet 3D show. It’s hilarious! Except the little 3-D guy reminds me of “Izzie” from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and now I’m pissed off at ACOG all over again.

6:30 p.m. – We meet up with Jessica, Jackson, and Jacob. Jackson learned to swim today in the hotel pool! We ride the two rides with them, and move on.

7 p.m. – Load the kids onto the Tower of Terror.

7:30 p.m.That was a mistake. Jackson disembarks a complete basket case. Emmie shakily lectures me: “You not tate me on da scary dat go up and down! Das not berry nice, mama! I not ride it agin! I not lite it! No, ma’am! Das not fun! Das not good!” The lecture resumes every time the ride is mentioned.

8 p.m. – Leave the park, exhausted, and trail back to the condo, where Emmie immediately puts on her jammies and crawls into bed by herself, asleep before the lights are turned out. Must remember that to implement at home...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Road Trippin’: Orlando Blooms

Subtitle: Or, how I survived a minivan with three kids and 1,000 rotations of the “Shrek” soundtrack

AUGUSTA, GA - It wasn’t the dumbest thing I’ve ever done – that would be a list too long to publish – but it could have been. We took three children – ages 11, 4, and 3 – to Orlando for a week. Our goal: do as much as possible without killing ourselves or other people.
So aided by the good people at the many local theme parks, and a really nice lady at the Orlando Convention & Visitors Bureau who assured me that a nice percentage of the city’s visitors get out alive, we piled into a borrowed minivan and set forth into the land of reptiles – and enormous alligators.

Wednesday, Dec. 17

7:30 a.m. – We leave the house only 30 minutes later than I was hoping. The kids are excited to be together, and are occupied with activity bags.

9 a.m. -
Jackson: My pants smell like this.
Jacob: Let me smell!

10:30 a.m. – The “Shrek” soundtrack is on its 5th round. Apparently, no one thought to bring any other CDs. No, wait, we have the WWE wrestling soundtrack. Because that’s SUCH an improvement.

Noon – Not even half-way there & we've stopped 4 times, twice 4 behavior issues. Jackson’s defense: “A four-year-old is not meant to be sitting in a car this long!” It’s hard to argue with that. We stop at the Welcome Center just across the state line, and make the mistake of tossing Cheetos to a couple of lurking birds… and are engulfed by a 200-bird-strong flock of hungry, feral, feathered friends. “Stop throwing chips!” Jackson shrieks, utterly freaked out by the sheer numbers. We beat a hasty retreat into the van as the birds eye us greedily.

2 p.m. – The “Shrek” soundtrack in its fifth straight hour. I hate Smashmouth. Do they have any other songs?

3 p.m. – Playing the alphabet game & Jacob is already cheating. Eventually, I win with “Xcitement” on a billboard and “Zoological” on a road sign.

3:30 p.m. – About 30 min outside of Orlando, & we've only had 2 murder 1 child... So far.

4 p.m. – Condo is better than we hoped. Swam for a couple hours. It may be Fla., but it's still Dec. I didn't last 2 long.

6 p.m. – Now waiting for pizza. After carefully freezing casseroles, we went off & left them. Good work, Mom! And also, the inside of Pizza Hut hasn't changed since I was 9. And I still suck @ Galaga.

Free Chocolate to the First Person Who Can Tell Me Why I'm Thinking of the Pointer Sisters

A.W.: "I'm glad I changed clothes. I wouldn't want to be wearing the same colors as [name redacted]."
Me: "Why? I love the Worthington Collection!"

And Also, He Looks Like Alf

AUGUSTA, GA. - B.O., who likes to find new and ever more inventive ways to annoy us with his iPod, turned on Christmas music a few minutes ago for our in-office party.

K.J.: "Ugh... I hate Josh Grobin."
H.O.: "How can you even say that?"
K.J.: "I can say it over and over and over and over again."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sympathy for Coma Boy?

Me: "Yeah, K.J. asked me, 'Did it make you love him more?' And I said, 'No, but it made me stop worrying about the little stuff, like the fact that he leaves his boxers in the floor every damn day."
S.S.: "I would totally play that up. I'd be like, 'You pick it up. I'm dying!'"
Me: "I wish he would! That would be so funny!"
S.S.: "Lick it up! I'm DYING!"

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Weird Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree

Emerson: "When you put sumping in your butt crack, das mean you gon' be sick... What? Why you laffing? I not say nuffing!"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ah, the Life of a Sales Person

K.J.: "So I had a weird experience the other day..."

Me: "Did you get into a car with Bryan, too?"

K.J.: "No! So this guy comes in and asks some questions I told him that he had to talk to Tom Grant. So he comes back a couple days later and says, 'I really liked your nose. Can we get together and talk about advertising?'"
H.O.: "What?"

K.J.: "Right. 'Your nose is cute, I wanna buy an ad.' So I was like 'Well, what kind of business are you in? What are you thinking about advertising?' He said, 'I own and finance company, and I don't know.'"
H.O.: "Whooaa..."

B.O.: "So probably not a good prospect."
K.J.: "Whatever. I'm having lunch with him on Friday. If I don't come back..."

H.O.: "What was his name?"
K.J.: "Mike."
H.O.: "What's his last name?"
K.J.: (shrugs)
H.O.: "You didn't get his last name? Mike what?"
Me: "The Ripper."

Emmie at the Metro Spirit Xmas Party

AUGUSTA, GA. - The Boll Weevil is a great place to eat, and our food was awesome. Emmie ordered a piece of red velvet cake that was nearly a foot tall. Seriously, it will snack her for at least a week. Next time you're there, go for the pork chops. Yum! Although A.C. didn't like them, but I'm pretty sure she left her taste buds at home.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Things I Never Thought I'd Say at/about a Navity Scene

AUGUSTA, GA. - "No, Emerson, we don't high-five the Virgin Mary."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"That's not Mary Had a Little Lamb, sweetie. That's Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus."
"Das a lamb?" "Yes."
"Das a Mary?" "Um... yes..."
"Mary hab a liddel lamb!" (excited squeal)
"Um... okay... well... alright, I can't argue with that."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"No, Emerson, we don't high-five Joseph of Nazareth."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"Das a tree!!"
"Das a tree, mama!"
"Sure is, doodle."
"Why dey sleep under da tree?"
"Um, see, there was no room at the inn, and so they slept in the stable."
"Da stable?"
"Da stable is a tree?"
"Well, no, the stable is a barn. That's why the sheep is there."
"Barns not hab a tree! "
"Well, no, not technically. But maybe some have... palm trees... um..."
"Das not a barn. Das a tree! Wuss a stable?"
"A stable is where they keep the animals. It's like a barn."
"ooooOOOOhhhh. Is like a barn. Das a Mary hab a liddel lamb!"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"No, Doodle, we do not high-five the baby Jesus, okay? Just... let's go."
"I don' wanna go!"
"Honey, come on. Daddy's cooking dinner."
"I not hungee."
"For Christ's sake, honey, will you please stop slapping the son of God?"
"I like him! I gib him fibe!"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Later, at home...
I complained to Scott. "I just knew people were going to start chucking Bible tracts at my head. I could not get her to stop high-fiving the baby Jesus!"
"Well," he said. "He's Buddy Christ, now. I'm sure he didn't mind."

Sunday, December 07, 2008

My Father's Way of Honoring Our Service Men and Women

AUGUSTA, GA. - One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Spencer standing in the foyer of the church staring up at a large plaque. It was covered with names and small American flags mounted on either side of it.

The six-year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the little boy. He said quietly, "Good morning, Spence."

"Good morning, Pastor," Spencer replied, still focused on the plaque. "Pastor, what is this?"

The pastor said, "Well, son, it's a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service."

Soberly, they stood together, staring at the large plaque. Finally, little Spencer's voice, barely audible and trembling with fear, asked: "Which service, the 8:30 or the 10:30?"

FYI: Never play cards with my dad.

Friday, December 05, 2008

What up NOW, Santa?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Day Tragedy: Ode to a Cooking Pot

I burned the crap out of my soup pot.
It's black and charred and smells a lot.
I called my husband, teary-eyed:
"Thanksgiving is done! The pot is fried!"
But he never panics; never fears.
My husband knows Wal-Mart is near.
And so when ends his radio show,
Off to the store my hero will go.
And while he's shopping on turkey day,
I'll try to wave the smell away -
But all that cooks is now on hold.
It's a story as new as it is old:
No matter how hard I work to prepare,
Something burns - I'm just glad it wasn't my hair.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

James Brown Gives Dancing Lessons

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 By , No comments

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Half-Off Sale at Summerville Child!


Friday, November 28


Saturday, November 29

50% OFF

Fall & Winter


Summerville Child

1505 Monte Sano Ave.

Augusta, GA 30904


Morning Meditations

We're driving to Emmie's school this morning just after 7 a.m. The sky was bright, the result of clouds diffusing the sun's light, but the sun was still low on the horizon...

Emmie: "I think it's sun-times!"
Me: "It is sun-times. Look over there and you can see that the sun is coming up."
Emmie (peering out the passenger's side window, down Central Avenue): "I see it! He waked up! ...I wanna gib him a hug."
Me: "Me, too... but, you know, we can't really hug the sun, because the sun is made of fire."
Emmie (thinking): "He gon' burn us?"
Me (giggling): "It's nothing personal."
Emmie: "An' we gon' be fire?"
Me: "Probably."
Emmie (dreamily, in a way that kind of freaks me out): "An da cars gon' be fire... an' da gas gon' be fire... an' da road gon' be fire... an' da home gon' be fire..."
Me: "Mmmhmm..."
Emmie: but he don't hab no faces."
Me: "Who - the sun?"
Emmie (sadly): "Yeah..."
Me (chuckling): "No, the sun doesn't really have a face, honey. We just draw one on it to give it personality."
Emmie (nodding as though she knows what the word 'personality' means): An' so he can eat.
Me (sniggering): "Um, maybe, but what would the sun eat?"
Emmie (frowning cutely): Um... um... OH! I know! Sunflowers!

Monday, November 24, 2008

What Readers of Augusta Parent Buy Each Month


January: The average American gains seven to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. And what do they resolve? To diet and exercise, of course. The Super Bowl has made the two weeks prior to the game a huge TV-sales period, second only to Christmas.

  • Fitness plans
  • Fitness equipment
  • Sports gear, including shoes
  • Books
  • Education enrollment – private schools, day cares, preschools
  • Clothes
  • Mental Health assistance/goods
  • Tax preparation
  • Financial services
  • Health services
  • "White sale" items -- sheets, pillowcases and blankets
  • Computers
  • Televisions
  • Home heating (now through Feb. 28)
February: She may be weary, women do get weary, seeing that same shabby couch… and lamp shade and recliner, for that matter, especially in the inclement, stay-in-the-house month of February. It's also a great month for spring and summer cruises.

  • Fitness plans
  • Fitness equipment
  • Flowers
  • Jewelry
  • Restaurant visits
  • Tax preparation
  • Financial services
  • Travel arrangements
  • Chocolates
  • Fragrance, toiletries
  • Resort and cruise wear
  • Furniture and housewares
March: Whether they're off on an early spring cruise or just getting a jump start on warm weather vacation planning, the good news is that this is the month luggage is likely to move, along with stormy weather outerwear. And Master’s Week approaches!

  • Windbreakers and raincoats
  • Gardening tools
  • Luggage
  • Athletic and outdoor equipment
  • Flowers
  • Travel Arrangements
  • Clothes
  • Tax Preparation
  • Financial services
  • Golf wear and supplies
April: Now that spring cleaning is done, they can't help but notice how grungy the walls look compared to the rest of your polished and bright abode. Fix it up, or get away, consumers say!

  • Spring finery
  • China
  • Kosher foods
  • Eggs (chocolate and chicken-laid)
  • Wallpaper and paint
  • Athletic and outdoor equipment
  • Tax Preparation
  • Financial services
  • Automobiles
  • Automobile accessories
May: It's Memorial Day and the traditional kickoff of summer. They can spend the first long weekend of the year in your backyard or at a picnic – spend big bucks on a big-ticket appliance.

  • Major appliances (Memorial Day weekend)
  • Barbecue and picnic foods
  • Summery handbags and totes
  • Swimsuits and sandals
  • Flowers
  • Clothes
  • Jewelry
  • Travel arrangements
  • Lawn & Garden products
  • Travel arrangements
  • Outdoor furniture and equipment
  • Kitchen and home goods
June: Summertime and the living is easy – and consumers are looking for portable entertainment devices like DVD and mp3 players. Their cell phone plans are probably running out, too.

  • Summer fashions
  • Hardware and home fix-it tools and materials
  • Televisions and portable music players
  • Dairy foods (Happy National Dairy Month!)
  • Kitchen and Home goods
  • Consumer electronics
  • Wireless products
  • Travel and tourism products
July: Now that the heat is really on, consumers may notice that ceiling fan isn't quite up to the job. And if they also stock up on crafts supplies often marked down at this time of year, you can play indoors in comfort.

  • Air conditioners (now through September)
  • Major appliances (Fourth of July weekend)
  • Barbecue and picnic foods
  • Craft supplies
  • Summer Clothes
  • Travel and tourism products
Ah, summer’s swan song, and school’s surge. Whether it’s preschool or Princeton, certain consumer items always sell in this month of transition.

  • “White sale” items
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Fresh produce
  • School supplies
  • Pre-season fall fashions
  • Swimsuit and other summer-wear "steals"
  • Air conditioners (now through September)
  • Children’s Clothing and accessories
  • Shoes
  • Education and School supplies
  • Computer equipment
  • Computer peripherals
  • Consumer electronics

A big food month as people start stocking up on canned goods for the winter, and the month many charities typically launch drives for foods with long shelf lives. It's also desperation time for home sellers who missed finding the right buyer in the spring and summer but want to be moved before the winter.

  • Homes
  • Scooters and bikes
  • School supplies
  • Canned goods
  • Children’s Clothing and accessories
  • Shoes
  • Computer equipment and peripherals
Old cars start to look worse for wear as the weather cools. Or they get repaired to stave off the cold. The rabid Christmas fans begin their shopping early.

  • Candy
  • Costumes
  • Automobiles
  • Automobile accessories
  • Outdoor sports equipment
  • Alcohol (now through Jan. 1)
  • Tires (in advance of winter weather)
  • Auto repairs
  • Memberships


Before they shiver their timbers under winter's full blast, consumers retailers vie for your heavy blankets and down comforters, and begin holiday shopping.

  • Fall-clothing blowouts, winter-wear markdowns
  • Blankets, comforters
  • Thanksgiving fixings: cranberries, turkey, yams, etc.
  • Alcohol (now through Jan. 1)
  • Consumer electronics
  • Jewelry
  • Books
  • DVDs
  • Toys & Games
  • Charitable contributions
  • Alcohol
  • Home heating (now through Feb. 28)
Used to be you had to wait until after December to get good buys on holiday-related gifts and goodies. But not in today's market.

  • Books
  • DVDs
  • Consumer electronics
  • Jewelry
  • Clothing
  • Computers
  • Furniture
  • Toys & Games
  • Alcohol
  • Perfume, ties, sweaters, jewelry, billfolds and other popular gift items
  • Food serving and storing pieces
  • Party foods and treats
  • Greeting cards
  • Home heating (now through Feb. 28)

Trends for 2009

Here are 100 words to describe 2009, according to a coalition of top trend-spotters:

  • Austerity
  • Authenticity
  • Badoo
  • Basic
  • Blue
  • Busy
  • Change
  • Classic
  • Cloud
  • Community
  • Compliance
  • Connectivity
  • Control
  • Conviction
  • Core
  • Crisis
  • Debt
  • Deflation
  • Demur
  • Earthy
  • Eco
  • Enough
  • Ergomorphic
  • Eviction
  • Experience
  • Family
  • Factual
  • Fear
  • Free
  • Frugal
  • Gardening
  • Grateful
  • Green
  • Haptics
  • Home
  • Honest
  • Hopeful
  • Indebted
  • Inflation
  • Infrastructure
  • Intimacy
  • Juncture
  • Keepsake
  • Local
  • Meta
  • Natural
  • Overwhelmed
  • Pamphlet
  • Patina
  • Payoff
  • Polarisation
  • Privacy
  • Protectionism
  • Prudery
  • Purpose
  • Quality
  • Reassurance
  • Recession
  • Recovery
  • Redundancy
  • Regulation
  • Resentment
  • Resignation
  • Renovation
  • Restraint
  • Risk
  • Saving
  • Security
  • Serious
  • Shaken
  • Shortage
  • Shredding
  • Simplicity
  • Slow
  • Smart
  • Sparkle
  • Spike
  • Stress
  • Stagflation
  • Struggling
  • Surviving
  • Technophobic
  • Telepresence
  • Thrift
  • Tired
  • Traditional
  • Trustworthy
  • Uncertain
  • Unfashioning
  • Unplugged
  • Unwind
  • Unwired
  • Virtual
  • Volatile
  • Water
  • White
  • Xenophobic
  • Yearning
  • Zeitgeist

Just for Fun

Youniverse Personality TestYouniverse Personality Test

Morning Toddler Translations

Emmie: "Sound like beempeed! Woot, Mama! I tate my penterture wif my methometer!"

Translation: "Hear that beeping?! That signifies that I am officially a 'big girl,' as I am capable of taking my own temperature with this digital thermometer! Recognize my abilities and tremble before my superiority! And give me ice cream!"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

No Wonder My Brain Feels Fried...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Shop SMART! Buy ART!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 By , No comments



Sat. Nov. 22,

9 a.m. - Noon

Due to last Saturday's overwhelming success, the annual Art in the Attic Sale will be held again. Come do your Christmas shopping early and get some great bargains on artwork.

Held at Tinker's Pig Art Studio on Central Ave. close to Monte Sano.

All proceeds support The Art Factory.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tables Turned? Or Spinning?

Lots of people accuse our newspaper of being "a liberal rag." Coming from outside this area as I do, I find it to be - generally speaking - more centrist that it's perceived in Augusta. But it's certainly farther left than the conservative enclave in which we publish.

Hmm. That sounded accusatory. I meant it merely as factual.

Our efforts are generally focused on telling a good story that is also balanced and accurate, and on entertaining people. That's what alt-weeklies do: long-form journalism, arts and entertainment, and humor.

Sometimes our humor falls short. And then sometimes they let me write about zombie escape plans. Try and find THAT kind of necessary, life-saving, survival information in The Augusta Chronicle! Ha!

In contrast, the local daily is decidedly more conservative than we are. It's more conservative than a lot of papers - and stands in stark contrast to the Atlanta-Journal & Constitution, which is what I read growing up. Or, whatever incarnation of the present brand that existed at the time. Does anyone else remember getting both the morning and afternoon papers? Anyone? Bueller? Who had the time to read all that?!

Anyhoodle... the really funny thing is that these labels - conservative, liberal, centrist - are relative for most people. Take this gem from today's rants and raves section of the Chronicle's website: "THIS IS A RANT to your newspaper. Ever since that socialist communist was elected president, you've been featuring his picture on the front page every day. I don't remember President Bush's picture being on the front page every day after he was elected. Print this if you got the guts and courage to, 'cause you're lilly-livered just like the rest of the communist Democrats."

See? The way something looks to them is the way it is. (And, also, John Wayne is alive and living in Augusta! "Lilly-livered?") To that person, the Chronicle staff is a bunch of communist Democrats. From across the street where we sit, the Chronicle staff is a bunch of nice people who think differently than we do about stuff, but for whom we'd buy many beers at Stillwater if given the chance. At least, the editorial staff. The sales staff... yeah. We're not allowed to play their reindeer games.

Anyway, my point is that perception is reality. Bob Barr, for example, would probably take the Chronicle's editorial staff (Hi, Mike! Not criticizing you guys!) to task about their recent editorials on the business bail-outs. I know I would.

Perspective is so important in politics and journalism. Who can sit down and list the various characteristics that actually define the positions of the political poles? (ASU Political Science department, you are exempt from this pop quiz) I think you'll find there's a lot of confusion among the general public, and thus there's a lot of confusion about how balanced print journalism actually is.

People don't remember the original political recipe. They go into their mental card catalog (Gah! I'm old!) and find that the writing on the recipe cards has smeared and blurred. They can't distinguish between the instructions (as an example) for cultural conservatism and political conservatism. So they take what they think they remember, mix in a bit of free-market economics, blend in some nebulously defined emotional or religious convictions. Dash of xenophobia optional. Or, if they don't have the time to bake their own set of beliefs, they can just go to the market and purchase a box of Rush Limbaught or Austin Rhodes brand (hi, Austin! Not criticizing you! Just saying some people don't bother to think for themselves!) (Hi, Rush! I'm TOTALLY criticizing you!).

Worse, American politics seems to have taken a "pick a team" approach. Does the below graph explain part of the reason why? Is it the fault of the (shudder) "drive-by media?"

song chart memes
more music charts


I don't know. I hope not. Especially considering the vast wealth of information that exists on the International Truth Machine, thanks to Al Gore. I mean, does anyone even know that there's a philosophy called "liberal conservatism?" Well, how about the idea of "conservative liberalism?" It also exists! As well: "libertarian conservatism!" Wait... did I hear someone just scream "blasphemer!"? Or was that my subconscious?

We try very hard to remain true to the philosophies that guide us at The Metro Spirit and Metro Augusta Parent: factual reporting, accurate current events analysis, support of democratic ideals (thus our annual Metro's Best competition), sound business ethics, and the pursuit of beer.

I can't tell you by what principles The Augusta Chronicle operates, but I think one can tell from its editorial page writing that they're not aiming for the middle of the road when it comes to journalism.

And when the major media organization in an city, state, or country leans in one direction, it's even more important for alternative media to present a different perspective. It helps an informed citizenry to stay, well, informed, as opposed to conditioned. That's why there's a Washington Post AND a Washington Times. That's why the Boston Herald exists alongside the Boston Globe...

... because an informed citizenry is essential to the continuation of American democratic ideals. Our system of government required participation. Successful participation demands sound decision-making. And sound decision-making can only be achieved through knowledge of the issues.

Barring a surprising population explosion, Augusta will never be a so-called "two paper town." But that doesn't mean that any one media outlet has all the answers. We hope you find answers in your well-reasoning mind, after assimilating all the information you can (you know, amidst work, home, and the rest of your life).

All we ask is that you don't believe everything you read on the Internet.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Well, I Think Steve Madden is a Woodchuck

A.W.: "Laundry, folding laundry, dishes, cleaning... I hate it all."
J.C.: "Wow, J's a lucky man."
A.W.: "He does a lot of that stuff. Of course, between the Steve Madden game..."
J.C.: "Steve Madden?"
A.W.: "Wait... John Madden?"
J.C.: "Yeah. I think Steve Madden's a shoe."

Actually, they kind of resemble each other...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dunno Where the Smart Mouth Comes From...

AUGUSTA, GA. - A string of red arrows greeted me on Gordon Hwy. No left turns for miles. At a certain time of day the lights are scheduled to change only once every 15 minutes or so, so I drove to a cross street closer to home. Red arrows.

"Where we go-eend?" Emmie asked.

At the next cross street, more red arrows. I drove on. And the next. And the next. From Highland to Milledgeville and on to Kissingbower, nothing but red lights. I finally hooked a left into the old Winn-Dixie and cut through the parking lot.

"WHERE are we GO-EEND?!" Emmie demanded.
"Well, I'm going home. Where are you going?"
"Uh!" she squealed in disgust at a question so willfully ignorant. "I not dry-beend!"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ah! Why Didn't I Listen to Clark Howard?!

So I signed up for a 2-year plan with Suncom with a free phone, 1,000 minutes, free mobile-t0-mobile and whatnot.

Then came T-Mobile. They bought up Suncom with a surprising quickness, changed the rate plans all up and forgot to transfer me onto their network. Texts refused to send. Voice mails disappeared into the air. It became impossible for me to receive a call unless it was from another T-Mobile customers.

And then I went over my minutes, for which they charged me an outrageous amount of money. The irony? A great number of those minutes were spent either on the phone with T-Mobile, or apologizing to people for the number of calls that the network had dropped because they no longer support my telephone model.

Fast forward: For two weeks, my phone has been largely useless except to make or receive calls aimed at other T-Mobile customers, and if I want to have the same number of minutes from another company, it will double my monthly expenditure. There's an unlock/SIM card operation that the T-Mobile store might be able to perform in order to save my contract's life, but it's an experimental procedure not yet recommended by the FCC.

So if anyone out there knows where I can get 1,000 minutes a month for $39.99, I'd love to talk to you. Give me a call. If you can.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Scott's Amazing Recovery

Thursday, November 13, 2008 By , 2 comments

AUGUSTA, GA. - We had a scare yesterday when we found out that a patient who was at University with Scott - and had the same disease - has died. The 74-year-old avid cyclist, who had been feeling fine and even biking again, passed away a couple of days ago. His lungs had been hit hard by the disease, and his body never really fully recovered.

So when a friend called and tensely told me not to let Scott reschedule his appointment, I made sure he'd still planned on going this morning. And then I told him the news of the gentleman's death. He got quiet.

"I wish you hadn't told me that," he gritted through his teeth.
"I'm sorry," I said, watching his reaction carefully.

So when 11:45 rolled around, my brain slowed to a crawl. I continued to work, but as a robot. When my phone rang at 12:30, I snatched it up.

"You wanna hear some good news?" Scott said, with joy and relief in his voice.
"My bloodwork isn't quite where it should be, but it's almost normal," he said.

I let out my breath with a whoosh - and then sucked it back in again.
"What does that mean?"
"My hemoglobin should be at - I think he said 12.5 - and it's hovering just under 12," he said.
"What about your B levels?"
"What about your... other stuff?"
"All fine."

I exhaled one final time, relieved.
"Thank god. So, what's the next step?"
"Just keep taking my multivitamins, keep allowing my body rest when it needs it, and stay on the medications as is," he said.
"So we just keep on keepin' on?"
"That's awesome," I said, a grin paining my cheeks.

Again, we probably have six more months before he's totally back to normal, but it's all good right now.

Majoring in Math Not a Requirement for Journalists

A.C. and I are riding to work together, past MCG on 13th Street.

"Wow, what's up with all the golf carts?" she exclaims.
"I just didn't expect to see 10 golf carts running down the sidewalk this morning," she laughs.
She points. I only see one.
"I only see one."
"There's another one back there," she gestures behind us.
"Um, that's only two."
"Yeah, I was rounding up."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Just Checking...

Is it weird that I totally want to live in this?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Zootastic Photos!

AUGUSTA, GA - So this weekend we lost our collective mind and decided to take ELEVEN people - mostly short folks - to Riverbanks Zoo. It made for a full Saturday of being-outside-ness, an activity that, frankly, I can't stand because of it necessitates close proximity to the estimated 900 thousand different kinds of living insects that populate the outside. Really, is it necessary that there are so many?

Not that the children noticed. They were too busy being normal tweens, vamping for the camera and shrieking with delight.

Except my daughter. MY daughter was trying to pull a Dorothy Parker /Sylvia Plath kind of move by opening Amber's sliding van door while they were doing 70 MPH down I-20. Great. Couldn't she have inherited my - well, I'll think of something - instead of my tendency towards overwrought teenage histrionics? Or, could she at least wait until she is 12 to start demonstrating them?

Luckily, nothing happened. Amber pulled over, got the demon-child re-situated, engaged the child locks and we made it to the zoo on time, with all accounted for. We patted tortoises, rode the carousel, watched a 3D Spongebob Squarepants movie that made me throw up (huzzah!), ate overpriced and very dry burgers, bought overpriced pappy crap from the gift shop, and shoved all five of the children into one photo booth for pictures.

But the highlight of the day - besides Emmie getting to eat her first ICEE (for the love of god don't try to take it from her), was the pony rides.

At $5 a pop, I don't even want to think about how much those rides cost us. Check out the last photo, of Annie McFanny, and the zoo staffer leading the horse. Do you see the expression on her face? That's not a candid moment. That's how she looked and talked all day. What's up with that? Is she some kind of indentured servant?


Poor Jim was the only man along for the ride, except for little Conner, who's not yet quite old enough to offset the wave of estrogen that was me, Amy, Kerri and her 6-month-old daughter, the Lovely Lila, and a pregnant Amber. Yes, menfolk, there was talk of tampons at one time.

Sit, Jim; sit. Good boy.

Being the good sport he is, Jim spent much of the day on reconnaissance (a word I didn't realize that I could spell) when one - or more - of us wandered off.

And Scott? You all knew that was coming, right? He spent the day sleeping. No cow slobber for him, I'm afraid; no refreshing odor of elephant dung.

He also missed out on: "No, Emmie, DO NOT CLIMB IN THERE WITH THE MONKEYS;"

and he missed several hundred renditions of, "Come back here RIGHT NOW, young lady;"

and one very delightful tantrum that ended with, "Look, I'm sorry that you dropped your random-ass stick into the giraffe exhibit, but mommy is not going to climb down there and get kicked in the head. Just go pick up another stick, honey."

Actually, as it turns out, giraffes don't kick when they fight. They do this weirdo neck-swinging/head-butting thing.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Where Do They Come Up With These Things?

Emmie and I are snuggling in her bed, reading a book about "Finding Nemo."

"Can you find the pirate?" I ask, and she frowns in concentration.

"No! I not see da pirate!" she says.

"I'm just joking! There's no pirate," I laugh.

"Awwww, you mate a joke," she laughs. "Can you find da elephant?"

I pretend to look.

"NO! I mate a joke, too, mama!" she laughs uproariously. "Elephant not lib in da oshun!"

We giggle and kick our legs under the blanket. Then she puts on her serious face.

"I don' like da pirates," she says.


"Nuh-uh," she shakes her curls. "Dey gonna slap me in da face."

... "Uh, what?"

"Mmmhmm! Dey gon' slap me in my face," she nods vigorously, as she flips pages in the book.

"Why are the pirates going to slap you in face?"

"Cause da pirates are da bad man," she explains. "Dey slap me in da face. But den I gon' get my arr-matey, an' I gon' slap DEM in da face."

What the hell is she talking about? "Honey, who's going to slap you in the face?" I ask.

She sighs and clutches my face in her hands: "Lithen to me. Da pirates. Dey are bad people. Dey gon' slap me, but I gonna slap DEM in da face wif my arr-matey, and den dey gon' cry cry cry and run away and I sabe your life!"

... We stare at each other for a few moments. She is intense. I am unnerved.

"I see. And who told you this?"

She goes back to flipping pages in her book: "I did."

"You told yourself this?"



"And what happens after they run away?"

"Den the woof come. But I arready got my arr-matey, so I gon' slap HIM in da face and he gon' run away."



"What if the wolf just wants to be friends?"

She whips her head around to look at me, incredulity etched across her face. "NO! Da woof is bad! He bite bite bite! But I gon' slap him wif my arrmatey, an' he gon' run away!"

"There's a lot of slapping going on around here. What's up with that?"

She looks up at the ceiling. I snort into her pillow.

"No, honey, what's this slapping thing you've gotten on? Why are so concerned about pirates slapping people?"

"Cause... cause... cause.." she trails off. I wait...

..."cause dey bad!" she finishes. I can't really argue with that.


"You see? You unnerstan' me, mama?" she asks, one hand on my cheek.


"You say, 'Yes, ma'am,'" she commands. I grin, and she laughs.

"Yes, ma'am. Pirates bad. Wolves bad. We slap them with our arrmateys," I sum up.

"Berry good. Now go sleepies. I gon' go play peeyooter," she says, and slides off the bed onto the floor.

"Um, excuse me...?" I call, and she turns and shoots back into the bed, laughing.

"Iss time for night-night?" she giggles, as we both laugh.

"Yes, time for night-night," I chuckle.

"Okay, mama. I lub you. You a good girl."

"Thanks, doodle."

"You welcome."

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Beautiful Day...

AUGUSTA, GA. - So this morning I demonstrated why I have a category of blog entry entitled "Stupid Wife Tricks." Because all day I was just a walking accident waiting to happen, as my mother would say. Except it did happen. Repeatedly.

First, I got up this morning, ran to the bank to deposit a check, and left my ATM card in the machine. Dang.

Then I ran home to make some breakfast, forgot about the bread in the oven, and didn't remember until the smoke alarm started going off. I ran into the kitchen, slipped on a wet spot on the floor, and skidded across the linoleum to a stop. It's a good thing I did because there was so much smoke in the room that if I'd walked in, I'd probably have passed out from lack of oxygen.

After that, I got a call from a woman who looked up online after finding my bank card in the ATM. Samantha Smith, I love you. She wouldn't take any money for the service she did by googling me and meeting me at the Wachovia with my card. "No, I just know how hard it is to get a new one. Those 10 days feel like forever," she said.

But meeting her made me late to meet a friend, who was nice enough to drive everyone to Kackleberry Farm. I ran out of the bathroom and tossed on my clothes when she came in, and exited in a hurry. "Did your mommy just get out of the shower?" she teased Emerson. Hey, you're lucky I didn't leave body parts behind.

Once there, we found out that they don't take check cards. Thank god we all had enough cash - but can I recommend that, since Queensboro National Bank & Trust is a sponsor - that they perhaps consider placing an ATM on the premises?

The first activity was a giant inflatable yellow pillow. It's like one of those kiddie jumping castles, but without walls - and it's enormous. Like the big kids we sometimes are, T.C. and I jumped up on the surface with the little kids (while the teens looked on in bemused embarassment for a while before deciding, as a group, that a short trial might have an acceptable level of coolness). And then I slipped on the side and did a sideways face-plant while trying to - oh, hell; I don't know what I was trying to do. But I got back up laughing, and kept on jumping until Emmie was ready to move on to my next attempt to do bodily harm...

... something like this:

... or this:

But I got through the rest of the day almost without incident through the corn maze, the hay jump, the lassoing, the pig races, the petting zoo, the corn cob launcher, the sand pile, the swing set and even the random yellow jackets buzzing around our hot dogs.

We all did well, even when Emmie (who's just three years old) decided that she could not live without trying the zip line. I should have heeded the cosmic warning when - while running along with her to make sure she didn't fall off the zip line and hurt herself - I stepped in a hole and almost went flying off into yet another face plant. But that near escape only emboldened me. After Emmie rode the zip line about a dozen times, it was nearing time to go, but I wanted to ride their crazy-tall tunnel slide with Emmie before we left.

The force by which she had come careening out of the slide in the past didn't concern me. I'm much heavier, I reasoned, and thus the friction would be greater and slow us down. Plus, I'd plant my shoes against the sides if that theory was wrong.

It was all wrong. From the moment I gently pushed off the top I saw that this short ride would not end well. My shoes slid harmlessly, comically, against the slick interior. My 10% lycra pants did nothing to combat our slide of doom.

So this is how we would end, I thought. Nearly four years of worrying about the many things that could kill my child and at the end, it would be my rapidly descending ass.

We shot out of the slide with my legs at an odd angle from straining to slow our roll. I planted my feet as best I could and rolled with Emmie in my arms. No hard-boiled detective could have done any better to protect his charge. She hopped up, laughing, and ran off to climb the slide again. But the moment of impact shot through my leg like an explosion. I envisioned, along with the pain, that my leg was snapping mid-tibia. Human legs just don't bend like that. I came to a stop in the sand and stayed there.

"Are you alright?" a woman's voice called after a moment. Eyes closed against the sun and brain reeling with the weight of my own retardation, I raised my thumb in response. She chuckled. "We've got a mother down! Hurt mommy!"

Thanks, lady. I felt sand seeping through the waistband of my pants and into my underwear. That was as good a reason as any to sit up. I looked around. No one was particularly interested in my recreation of Joe Theismann's famously videotaped broken leg.

See it here... and cringe with me:

So I stood up... not so bad. Actually, it didn't hurt enough for me to worry about. So I took a step... and almost fell down again. It DID hurt. But it wasn't broken. I limped over to where T.C. stood.

"You okay?" she asked, amused.
I burst into laughter: "No, man! My leg freaking hurts!"
She nodded: "I saw you shoot out of the tube like a rocket. What were you thinking?"
"I was thinking, 'Oh, shit!'"