Tag Archives: Tallahassee Democrat

People of Wal-Mart

This is the name of a website (peopleofwalmart.com) which features both photos and videos taken of Wal-Mart shoppers, mostly surreptitiously.  It’s a little mean-spirited, in that it doesn’t seem fair to do this to people who have no idea you’re doing it.  It’s like the paparrazzi who are so fond of taking pictures of sex goddess movie stars without makeup, slimy looking hair, and cellulite. 

On the other hand, here’s my take on it:  if you don’t want someone to take a picture of you looking like that, don’t go out looking like that.  Celebrity or not.  If you don’t care, then you’re home-free.  Go any way you like.  So that would be me–I don’t care. 

Therefore today, I think I might have made a good Person of Wal-Mart.  T-shirt, gym shorts, flip-flops, no makeup.  But not a very good one.  First of all, I would have had to weigh at least double what I do.  But you don’t always have to be fat to be a Person of Wal-Mart.  There was one photo I saw where a woman is walking her poodle in the parking lot, between giant piles of banked-up snow.  You can’t see her face, but she has nice-looking long blonde hair, is thin, and is wearing pajamas and socks and bedroom slippers.  You get the point.  There is a certain mind-set to being a Wal-Mart person. 

So, you might ask, what the hell was I doing at Wal-Mart?  The short answer is, I needed a newspaper.  Today marks exacty the third time I’ve been there since it opened four years ago.  The first two times were for emergency purchases of Ibuprofen.  By my calculations, I’ve now spent around $7.00 there.  It’s an empty protest to be sure, but it makes me happy.   

I do a lot of empty protesting now that I think about it.  Probably it’s because I’m too realistic.  I don’t kid myself that I can change anything substantially.  But I still do believe that I might say something  that plants a seed that might eventually sprout.  Really, it can, and sometimes does.  It’s such a more hopeful way to live than simply giving up and saying nothing you do makes a difference. 

So I tried not to go to Wal-Mart.  I went first to my corner convenience store, where my favorite weekend Rwandan engineering student was on duty, but they were out.  He said, go to Wal-Mart.  So I blame him. 

The reason I needed a paper was that today, an op-ed came out by a former dog rescue person regarding certain changes the County is trying to make to its Animal Control ordinance.  I was there the last time they did it, I will be there again.  You have three minutes to comment before the County Commission.  I need to make it work.  So I needed to see what was already said–no need to repeat it.  The Commissioners all read the paper. 

The big issue is tethering.  The County is proposing minor changes to it which mostly involve the type of tether that can be used.  But there needs to be a sweeping change.  As long as we tolerate dogs being tethered outdoors 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, tweaking the kind of tether is like arguing about what color to paint the walls of Hell.  Which I plan to say.

Tallahassee News…Part 2

Before I get into this, let me state for the record…I like it here.  It’s my adopted hometown.  What is it about us Americans?  A huge percentage of us can’t wait to get out of wherever we grew up.  And I’m no different.  Hell would be being forced to live in the small town where I mostly grew up. 

But I’ve been fortunate since that time to have lived in six different cities, some way larger and more legendary than this one.  In each one, I met loads of people who couldn’t wait to leave, though most of them never did.  They just stayed in place and whined.  From them, I learned the art of appreciating where you are at the moment.  I always saw “their” cities through new eyes.

When I moved here from West Palm Beach, a friend told me I was going to hate it. He said, it’s so…provincial.  You will not fit in.  When I returned to West Palm after my first visit, I told him…You forgot to mention that it’s beautiful there.  Well, he said, there is that. 

When I define Tallahassee, it breaks down to:  it’s the State Capital, it has two major universities, and it has a lot of trees.  I think it’s pretty cool that in the course of my everyday life, I can drive by Andrew’s Capital Grill and see the governor having lunch on the patio.  Politics, thought and enthusiasm generated by the university atmosphere, and lots of live oaks.  What’s not to like?

According to the 2000 Census, the Tallahassee MSA has a population of 284,000-plus, and 150,000-plus within the city limits.  But its size does not begin to define it.  So now we move on to yesterday’s news. 

One of the universities here is Florida State, and one of the top ongoing stories is that they are being sanctioned by the NCAA for a cheating scandal.  To condense, some 60 or so student athletes cheated on an online music appreciation course (oh, stop me from picturing Bubba trying to understand Bach), aided by 3 staff members.  So the NCAA, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to vacate any victories by FSU in games  those students played in.  The big deal about that is that if that holds, Bobby Bowden will fall way behind Joe Paterno in the quest to be the winningest coach ever.  Okay, fine.  Yawn.  But that isn’t the story.  The story is that when the NCAA issued its decision in reply to FSU’s appeal, they said FSU couldn’t tell anybody what it said.  They sent a read-only file to FSU’s lawyers.  The local newspaper sued.  Finally the State Attorney General sent them a letter saying they were in violation of Florida’s open records law.  Then and only then, the NCAA said FSU could release the records, but they themselves wouldn’t, and didn’t feel bound by that silly Florida law.  So that is the story.  I always thought that the NCAA were the good guys.  Who knew they were fascists?

The other important story in the news yesterday concerned Gary Michael Hilton, who is awaiting trial here for the murder of  a nurse a couple of years ago.  She was found decapitated in the Appalachicola National Forest.  The story was that the Ormond Beach authorities are looking at him for the murder of a decapitated man found in a state park near there.  In that case, his head has never been found.  Gary Michael Hilton confessed to the murder (and decapitation) of a young woman in Georgia, and was sentenced to life in prison for it.  Only because he confessed.  So he will go back to Georgia to spend his life in prison, unless Florida kills him first. 

I went through a tough moment when I was called for jury duty some months ago.  I was afraid that I might be called upon to be in a death penalty case, such as Gary Michael Hilton.  I think Hilton is a monster and a serial killer.  If a jury convicted him and sentenced him to death, I would be okay with that.  It’s just that I couldn’t do it myself.  It’s a contradiction, I know, and trying to reconcile it in my mind gives me a headache. 

So Tallahassee is not that provincial, as provincial goes.  We’ve got high school teachers having sex with students, the NCAA acting like the Gestapo, and serial killers in jail in our midst.  This is, after all, the place where Ted Bundy got caught.

Sign Me Up

It’s amazing to me how much trouble I can get myself into just by commenting on a blog on my hometown newspaper, the Tallahassee Democrat.  Wait…hang on.  I seem to have misplaced my membership card in the American Communist Party.  Okay, whew.  There it was in my wallet, between my driver’s license and my voter registration card.  For those of you who don’t really know me, let me take all the fun out of this and say:  I’m kidding.  I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist Party, Mr. McCarthy. 

As a known liberal…oh wait.  I have to go look for my ID card.  Okay, can’t find it…you will just have to take my word for it. 

On the Democrat there is a lively and outraged discussion going on about the fact that Bill Ayers is about to come speak at Florida State University.  Protest! , they urge!  Don’t give FSU any money!  I must admit that I enjoy seeing people on the “other side” reduced to such tactics.  It is so totally comforting  to see these people be in the minority. 

So today, one of the wacko conspiracy theorist people (which is about all that’s left on the TD) said that I apparently must harbor secret sympathies with Bill Ayers.  Maybe that’s because I said it was okay with me if he spoke at FSU.  I guess he missed the part where I said I agree that Ayers was a terrorist, that he is unrepentant and in denial, and that I think he is a despicable person. 

Well, you know how it is.  Once a liberal, always a liberal.  Meanwhile, if you find my Liberal ID card, would you please mail it back to me?  Otherwise, I’ll have to sign up all over again.

Don’t That Beat All

For those of you who aren’t from the South, this is a time-honored phrase meaning “What the fuck were they thinking?” We are prohibited from saying this out loud, due to the if-you-can’t-say-anything-nice rule. 

The occasion for this post is that today I learned that sometime in the past week, my hometown newspaper, the Tallahassee Democrat, held a “Blogger’s Luncheon.”  Apparently my invitation was lost in the mail. 

The luncheon was organized by a reader, and took place in the Democrat headquarters, where attendees wore name tags with their screen names on them.  The food consisted of sandwiches from the Dem’s cafeteria, plus whatever the attendees brought with them.  What?  This is a church supper?  They should have invited me–I make a mean coleslaw. 

I have to work hard at not being too cynical, but in this case, I’m failing miserably.  This is the last gasp of a dying newspaper. 

Don’t that just beat all?

A Cautionary Tale

On Thursday, I had a really bizarre experience.  A reader on the Tallahassee Democrat blog area sent me a message, and I opened up my profile page to read it, and when that opened, it first went instead to the “Comment” section.  That was a very fortuitous experience, since I happened to note there were four comments made under my name on a newspaper article I hadn’t even read.  Usually I have no reason to look at my own comments;  after all, I know what I said.  The first comment made that day was around 11:30 A.M., at which time I happened to be in the drive-through line at Bank of America, nowhere near a computer. 

The comments were very negative; the first one began with “You people make me sick…” and deteriorated from there.  That isn’t language I would ever use.  Sure, I can be sarcastic, but I would never begin a response that way.  And the misspelling and bad grammar used aren’t me.

My first reaction was to believe that someone was trying to impersonate me;  using my screenname and icon.  I was afraid there was some security glitch in the TD’s software that allowed that to happen.  I almost (operative word:  almost) feel guilty about that now.  The reason that was my first reaction is that the TD’s blog software is both limited and lame. 

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that at the time these comments were posted, it had to be someone in my office.  Unless Fakedog has learned how to blog from my home computer.  Here’s what happened.  The Dem allows you to click an option which says “Keep me logged on on this computer”.  Prior to saving it as a Favorite on my work computer, I had taken that option.  Therefore in my absence, a person in my office had pulled up the Dem website and posted comments which appeared under my screenname.  Sure, after this person’s first comment posted, she saw that it was posted under the screenname “Fakename”.  But she assumed that was some generic name that allowed you to post comments even though you hadn’t created your own account.  Makes perfect sense to me. 

So in 24 hours of back and forth emails with the Democrat, during which time a staff member has been seriously trying to help, the end result is, it hasn’t worked.  My password has been reset like four times, and none of them will let me in.  Did I mention, limited and lame?  In an effort to help, they’ve totally locked me out.  Thanks a lot. 

The cautionary part is, don’t ever click that option which allows you to remain logged in on a computer that other people have access to.  The other cautionary part is, if you don’t exactly know what you’re doing, don’t post comments from your work computer, the content of which could get you fired.