Archive for August, 2010

People are Blogging Less, and That Includes Me

August 30, 2010

ARE YOU BLOGGING LESS?

A Pew research report tells us that overall people are blogging a lot less now. The report says,” In 2006, 28% of teens ages 12-17 and young adults ages 18-29 were bloggers, but by 2009 the numbers had dropped to 14% of teens and 15% of young adults. During the same period, the percentage of online adults over thirty who were bloggers rose from 7% blogging in 2006 to 11% in 2009.”

This doesn’t mean teenagers are less active online. They have gone to social sites, with Facebook being the favorite. Facebook isn’t as demanding as blogging., Real blogging requires significant content, and teenagers, I read, just don’t have the life and professional experiences to offer insightful content. Besides that, it takes a lot more time and effort to write meaningful blog posts.

Studies also show that the percentage of folks 65 and older that go online is quite small,  38 percent. That compares to more than 90 percent of teenagers and young adults.

I am among bloggers who are blogging a lot less. Some weeks I only do one post, which I put online either Sunday night or Monday morning. It is not, however, because I use Facebook a lot. I am on Facebook, but I will go for days without checking it. I blog less because I have other things to do and because I don’t want the pressure of trying to post something every day. How about you, are you blogging less and is it because of Facebook?

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Cooling Off in Highlands Again

August 23, 2010

Deciding to get away from the oppressive heat for at least a couple of days, I went to Highlands, North Carolina recently.  I did the same thing last year.

Small downtown Highlands, NC shopping nook sitting by a brook

 Highlands’ number one attraction is its coolness in the dead of summer, and, though it has hit the 90’s there this summer, it was characteristically cool when I was there.  One day the high was 78 and the other, 81.  Compared to 98 in Columbus, that’s cool.

The weather and gorgeous mountain scenery attract a lot of people with serious  money, including some from our area.  Most of them show up in the summer. It gets really cold in the winter. I was told the population in the winter is about 3,000 and it’s 25,000 in the summer. Even though it does have some very expensive restaurants and upscale boutiques to appeal to all of those rich folks,, there is also a lot to attract the average Joe and Flo.

Guess who at Dry Falls

For one thing, there is the very popular Dry Falls. It’s called Dry Falls because you supposedly can walk under it and stay dry.  Basically that’s true, but you do get a little wet from the spray.  I did.  Though the walk down and back up caused a little heavier breathing than normal, I enjoyed the experience.  It’s free, if you don’t count the big bucks you spend on gas to get there. Nearby there is also a nice state park with a swimming and fishing lake.  You do have to pay to park there, but it’s only $4. 

The way it looks behind the falls

And, though I did enjoy eating in a fairly expensive restaurant that provided a posh ambience, I also equally enjoyed a nearby reasonably priced one.  The Sweet  Treats  restaurant sits right by a crystal clear mountain stream that flows through downtown Highlands. The food is good, and it has an ice cream parlor that is quite popular.  I got a sugarfree strawberry yogart. They blend fresh fruit into the yogart as you watch. Marvelous! It has a neat deck on the side where you can buy fish-food pellets to drop where some really large trout are swimming.  When the pellets hit the water, the trout immediately strike and consume them. 

Deck walkway on the side of Sweet Treats restaurant and ice cream parlor. There are huge trout fish in the stream below that you can easily see and drop fish food pellets to see them break the surface.

Real estate prices in Highlands are still astronomical.  Some new friends I met there have their old (it was built in the 1920s),  modest home up for sale. In Columbus, I would say it would be worth about $160,000.  The asking price in Highlands is more than $400,000.  That’s because the lot is so expensive,  somewhere in the $250,000 range. 

“Getting a lot of bites?”

“Nope.  People aren’t buying right now.  It’s just like the rest of the country.”

“Are prices coming down because of that.”

“Nope.  Our real estate agent tells us not to do that.”

So, according to him, homes are not selling, but prices remain high.  I guess, if you have enough money, you figure you can wait out the slump.    

Anyway, as I said, you don’t have to be rich to enjoy a really special mountain town. But, if you plan to stay there, it helps a lot.

The Universal Language Prevailed at the Schwob of School of Music Convocation

August 20, 2010

Since some of my family members say they enjoy my blog when it’s not political, I will get back to some non-political posts.  I don’t promise I won’t do some future politicals because, well, I’m involved and interested in politics.  I can’t help it if some people just don’t think correctly politically.  I love them anyway. 

And I love music, especially really good stuff. I realize that “good stuff” is in the ear of the beholder, but I can’t help it if a lot of beholders like…well…substandard music.  I heard some really good stuff at the Columbus State University Schwob School of Music Convocation today.  There were also some speeches.  Music is the universal language.  You don’t even to have to understand the words to relish it. 

Zachary Bryant, tenor, Schwob School of Music 2010-2011 Opening Convocation

I didn’t understand the words that tenor Zachary Bryant sang when he rocked Legacy hall with Die beiden Grenadiere by Robert Schumann, but I didn’t need to.  I felt the emotion without understanding the words. Actually, sometimes it’s better not to understand the words.  After Googling it,  I learned the song is about  French prisoners of war returning from Russia after Napoleon got his butt kicked by the Russian winter and Russian Army.  It concludes with the French national anthem La Marseillaise, which is quite stirring.  Also after watching a YouTube video which has a great rendention of Marseillaise and which translates the French into English, I learned that Marseillaise is really quite bloody.  I also liked it a lot better before I understood the words. 

There were no words to Tchaikovsky’s Valse-Scherzo so I didn’t need to look it up online.  There is no way they could have improved on the emotion that piece conveyed when marvelously played by Jing Yang on the violin and Yien Wang on the piano. Brilliant!  

As far as the speeches were concerned,  Dr. Tim Mescon, Columbus State president, told the new freshman they were joining a globally connected  music school, pointing out that, as one example,  Professor Joseph Golden, the school’s organist and opera director,  has been invited by the European Union to participate in an international organ event.  

Dr. Fred Cohen, Schwob’s director, pointed out the importance of engagement and mastery of musical performance.  That’s something at which the school has been successful at for as long as I can remember.  Those fresh-faced freshmen, lapping up today’s musical feast and responding with thunderous  applause, no doubt have  something in common with the students of the past:  impressive talent.  They wouldn’t be there if they didn’t.  No one gets in without an audition, and a lot more audition than are selected.  And where do they come from?  All over the world, and from some of the world’s most prestigious music schools, schools like Julliard. 

If you really like good music, do yourself a favor and attend some of the many public performances offered by Schwob every year.

Can Roy Barnes Win Back Georgia Teachers?

August 17, 2010

For former Governor Roy Barnes to be elected governor again, he is going to have to have the  support of Georgia’s public school  teachers.  You’ll probably remember that he lost those teachers and lost his reelection bid.  The teachers were enraged by his education plan that put the onus of improving student performance on their backs, and I hear that a lot of them are still mad about it. 

Former Governor Roy Barnes, Mrs. Barnes, Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington at Barne's Columbus Airport appearance during primary campaign

But, what is their alternative?  Public education’s budget in Georgia has been slashed about 3 billion dollars by the Republican controlled legislature and Governor Perdue.  What do you think?  Can Barnes get the teacher vote?

More on the Georgia Democratic Party Convention

August 16, 2010

I promised a little more on the Georgia Democratic Party State Convention, so here are a few shots that I took at the convention in Athens Saturday. I was there as a delegate.

This is my cousin Carol Porter, who is running for Lt. Governor.  She got everyone at the convention’s attention when she said that the Georgia House got rid of Speaker Glenn Richardson after an ethic’s scandal, and now it’s time to “go over to the Senate and get rid of the corrupt lieutenant governor that’s there now.”

There was a lot of cheering, music, rhythmic  clapping and sign waving when former Governor Roy Barnes accepted the nomination to run for governor.  He said that opponent Nathan Deal is  “part of the team that brought Georgia to where we are right now. The team that gave tax breaks to the special interests. His team that laid off our teachers and shortened the school year.”

And Michael Thurmond, who is running for the U.S. Senate,  got smiles as well as cheers when he said “the political odds are stacked firmly against me,” but added, “You know and I know that through faith and hard work all things are possible.

“I’ve got the heart and the soul and the spirit of the sharecropper,” he said.  He said his daddy was a sharecropper, and his daddy’s daddy was a sharecropper, and that he was a sharecropper, too, but that he is “a sharecropper with a law degree.”

He told about how he rode on the back of his father’s vegetable truck when they sold vegetables. He said his father told him that if he applied himself and worked hard that one day he would have that vegetable truck route.  He wasn’t too thrilled about that prospect, but he said when he ran for the state legislature the first time, that vegetable truck route was in his district, and that when he went to knock on doors and ask people for support they would tell him they remembered his father who was a mighty fine man and they would gladly put one of his campaign signs in their yard.

At their State Convention, Georgia Democrats Call for Ending Republican Misrule

August 15, 2010

Georgia Democrats demonstrate with music and rhythmic clapping for Democratic candidates running for state and federal offices. I took this picture at the party's State Convention in Athens.

Just check out your auto’s gear shift and that will tell you the difference in what Democrats and Republicans do for Georgia.  “D” stands for Democrats and it stands for driving forward and “R” stands for Republicans and moving in reverse.  That was one of the comparisons made at the Democratic Party of Georgia State Convention in Athens yesterday.  

It was also where former Governor Roy Barnes accepted the party’s nomination for Governor of Georgia. Barnes told the delegates that the billions of dollars in cuts to the Georgia education system is “the greatest moral retreat that’s ever been seen in our history. That other team wants to do away with the public school system. They want to take a voucher and give it to their kids, and they don’t care about ours.”

The only newspaper report on the convention that I have found online so far is an article in the Athens Banner-Herald. You can check it out by going to this link.  I will have a more on the convention later.  I was there.

GEORGIA STATEWIDE CANDIDATES ARE EXPECTED AT A COLUMBUS FORUM

August 11, 2010

Here’s your chance to learn about them and their positions on issues in one 90-minute session.  Mark August 26th on your calendar.  The forum starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Cunningham Center at Columbus State University.  Here’s the Columbus State University news release about the forum.

Aug. 11, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ga. — The next generation of state leaders are all expected to be in attendance at a forum later this month that is designed to educate local residents about candidates running for offices.
   
Columbus State University, the Young Professionals of the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and the Society of Human Resource Management are presenting a candidate forum on Aug. 26 at CSU’s Cunningham Center.
    
Organizers are expecting Democrat and Republican candidates from the following races:

    • U.S. Senate
    • U.S. House of Representatives, District 2
    • U.S. House of Representatives, District 3
    • Governor
    • Lieutenant Governor
    • Columbus Mayor
    
The forum, which is is free and open to the public, will begin at 6:30 p.m. and last about 90 minutes.
   
“It has been said that all politics are local. If that is the case, we must be very active in identifying the issues so that our voting citizens will know how the incumbents and candidates stand on the issues.  Our Chamber is proud to be a co-sponsor with CSU and SHRM — another example of why we are known for our public-private partnerships in the Columbus region,” said Mike Gaymon, president and CEO of the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce.
    
A private reception with the candidates will be held from 5-6:15 p.m.  A limited number of tickets will be made available for this portion of the evening. Tickets for the private reception are $30 per person and can be reserved by going to the event’s website  http://www.colstate.edu/2010candidateforum. and selecting the link “Make Reservations for Private Reception.”

Non-residents Will No Longer Have Free Memberships to Chattahoochee Valley Libraries

August 9, 2010
  

Starting in September, if you don't live in the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries' service area, you'll have to pay for a library card that will allow you to use these computers and other library services.

THIS MEANS HARRIS COUNTY, GEORGIA AND RUSSELL COUNTY, ALABAMA  FOLKS, AMONG OTHERS, WILL HAVE TO PAY TO USE THE CHATTAHOOCHEE VALLEY LIBRARIES. WHAT THIS BOILS DOWN TO IS IF YOU DON’T PAY TAXES TO SUPPORT THE LIBRARIES, YOU’LL HAVE TO PAY FOR A LIBRARY CARD.

 If don’t live in Muscogee, Marion, Chattahoochee, or Stewart Counties in Georgia, you’re going to have to pay $35 for a Chattahoochee Valley Libraries card staring in September.  

Overdue material fines will increase to 25 cents per day. 

Here’s the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries news release: 

 LIBRARIES TO CHANGE FEES SEPTEMBER 1st

EFFORT AIMED AT INCREASING ACCESS TO MATERIALS FOR AREA RESIDENTS
 
In an effort to increase area residents’ ability to access its materials, the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries will change its overdue fine policy and will implement a new Non-Resident Library Card beginning September 1, 2010.
 
On this date, fines for overdue materials will be 25 cents per day, per item. The maximum fine of $5.00 per item will remain the same, as will the $50.00 limit on customer accounts.
 
In addition, patrons who do not reside in the Libraries’ service area (Muscogee, Cusseta-Chattahoochee, Marion, and Stewart Counties) will be able to purchase an annual Non-resident Library Card to check out materials and use computers. The cost will be $35.00. Non-residents from surrounding counties who currently have a library card will be allowed to use it until its expiration date, at which time they may renew by paying the annual fee.
 
Those non-residents who own property or a business in the service area will be eligible to receive a Resident Library Card, as will students who attend local colleges or universities.
 
Guest Smart Cards, which allow 7 days of access to the Libraries’ computers for non-residents, may still be purchased for $5.00.
 
“Reductions in funding mean that we have had to reduce our materials expenditures by 11%,” says Claudya Muller, Director of the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries. “We are implementing these policies to ensure that those whose property taxes support our libraries have the best chance to find the materials they need.”
 
For more information, please visit the Libraries’ website www.chattahoocheevalleylibraries.org

AND THE WINNER OF THE HANDEL-DEAL RUNOFF IS…

August 9, 2010

Roy Barnes.

IT’S NOT GETTING MUCH PRESS, BUT THE DEMOCRATS ALSO HAVE A PRIMARY RUNOFF FOR A STATEWIDE OFFICE

August 5, 2010

While the Republican Primary runoff for governor has sucked up just about all of the media oxygen, the Democrats also have a runoff for a statewide office, Secretary of State.  Believing that voters should have some idea of who they are voting for, here is a brief comparison between Gail Buckner and Georganna Sinkfield. They are running for the Democratic Party nomination. Both are veterans of the Georgia legislature. Sinkfield has been in the legislature for 28 years, Buckner, almost 19 years.

Gail Buckner

Campaign issues:  Criticizing former Secretary of State Karen Handel, she said Handel “Mis-Handeled” the office when she was out campaigning for governor, letting the Deputy Secretary of State run the office, and that the office was “Mis-Handeled” again when Governor Perdue made a political appointment by putting inexperienced Brian Kemp in the office when Karen Handel resigned. 

She promises to add verifiable paper ballots to the electronic voting machines, will clamp down on identity theft and investment fraud,  will encourage new corporations, preserve state records, and work with other state agencies to encourage economic development.

Education: She has a Bachelor’s degree from Clayton State University

Profession: She’s a retired teacher, who owns a marketing company and is in the Georgia Senate

Political experience: She has the most name recognition because she ran for Secretary of State in 2006.  She was a state representative from 1991–2006

Military experience: She was not in the military.

Civic experience: She has two honorary life memberships in the Georgia PTA, is president of the Clayton County Boys and Girls Foundation Inc, and is a member of the League of Women Voters of Georgia.

Family: She’s married, has 3 children and 6 grandchildren.

Georganna Sinkfield

Campaign issues: She promises to guarantee open and fair elections, to end fraud and abuse, and to grow new businesses by cutting red tape.  She Twitters, I want to be your next Secretary of State. The right to vote must be protected, banks must be stable, starting a business should be a dream. Georgia deserves trusted, experienced and dedicated leadership. We deserve a Secretary of State who will be a voice for all Georgians.”

Education: She has a biology degree from Tennessee State University, and she attended Emory University School of Law

Profession: She has been in the Georgia House of Representatives since 1982. She’s also involved in real estate services

Political experience: She is the longest serving female State representative in the Georgia House for 28 years. She was the first female president of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus.

Military experience: None

Civic experience: She served on the Education Review Commission, the State Task Force on Homelessness, and the State Task Force Turning Points. She also served as a member of Preparing Our Youth for the 21st Century, and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education. She was awarded the Drum Major for Justice Award and legislative awards from AARP, GCAPP and others.

Family status: She is married, has two children and five grandchildren

For more information, you can go to their websites: Georgana Sinkfield, Gail Buckner.