Gas tank logic

The observation that panic buying is making the gas shortage worse does not make logical sense. The Athens Banner-Herald is buying that argument today. The argument is that motorists are "topping off" their tanks at every opportunity for fear that they will not be able to get gas again soon and so this early buying makes gas stations empty out sooner. Panic buying explained the beginning of this shortage when people rushed to buy gas for fear of rising prices and short supplies, so that first weekend brought an artificial shortage. But the argument does not make sense beyond that initial surge.

First of all, a lot of motorists are not "topping off" their tanks. The news has brought us stories of people running out of gas, motorists that ran out while in line at a gas station or while actually driving on the highway. Those people have empty tanks, not half tanks. Second, it has become unlikely to completely fill a tank since many gas stations have set purchase limits, but filling a tank is what people normally do when they buy gas. Third, "topping off" tanks is normal behavior for a lot of motorists who never allow their tanks to go below one-half or one-quarter full.

Now where this argument really fails logically is that in light of this gas shortage motorists should have been making adjustments to their routines and cutting back driving. I have canceled plans for two weekends now because of this shortage and thereby saved a whole tank of gas. I imagine that many other people have done the same. Of course, the panic buying argument comes from credible sources such as the AAA and oil distributors, and it could be supported factually if it could be shown that fuel consumption has increased as a result of the panic, but I have not yet read such a claim. If people have done the smart thing and cut down their driving, then any "topping off" behavior cannot be blamed for accelerating consumption because motorists would already be far behind on their usual consumption. Sure, if we really could force everyone to wait longer before refueling, the supplies would be helped for two or three days, but then everyone would return to the gas stations trying to get full tanks and not just half tanks, and the shortage problems would continue just like before.

Again, we saw an artificial shortage around September 12 caused by panic buying that interrupted the usual fuel distribution cycle. But over two weeks later after motorists have reduced their driving and used less gas, I don't think that "topping off" our gas tanks is exacerbating our problem, and I have read no factual support for this argument. We would have to show that motorists on average have not cut back on driving, a fact I would be surprised to find. Any early purchases by "hoarders" being reported anecdotally should have been more than offset by the reduction in driving we would expect.


UGA VII's ESPN College GameDay Debut

For those who may have an interest, I have a number of "behind the scenes" photos from ESPN College Gameday posted over on Flickr, and a series of stories on "Eye on Sports Media".


Local charity up for Animal Planet award -- needs your vote!

a relatively painless way to support a local charity that does good things. Campus Cats cares for (neutering, placing adoptable kittens in homes, vaccinations, etc.) for the feral cat population on University property, which then helps out border areas (downtown, etc.)
Wow! We are thrilled to learn that Kelly Bettinger and Campus Cats were not only nominated by Marsha Richmond at the University of Georgia for Animal Planet's Cat Hero of the Year, but made it into the final 10! Here's an election you can feel good about, and voting starts this Monday....
The People’s Choice voting will begin at 12:01 AM ET September 29, 2008 and will end at 11:59 PM ET October 13, 2008. Limit one vote per person/email address in the Contest and one vote per person/email address in the Cat Hero Award category. Votes must be recorded by Sponsor’s server by 11:59 PM ET on October 13, 2008. To vote go to:


Could Athens run completely out of gas?

Apparently there is some kind of sporting match that is bringing all kinds of visitors to our town right now. We're already having a gas shortage, so it is surely going to get worse. See "Note gas shortage, out-of-town fans advised" from the Athens Banner-Herald. Since Atlanta is experiencing this same shortage, some fans could be coming to Athens in their Expeditions and Tahoes without a full tank and so they'll need to fill up here.

I hope these folks are bringing some extra food for their tailgates. If we really do run out of gas and people get stranded in Athens when the hotels are already booked, we'll have something that looks Woodstock for middle-aged frat guys.

See also "Gas shortage may crimp weekend fun" in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Dodson is out

Mike Hamby is now running uncontested in the election for ACC District 10 commissioner. See this blog entry from Elton Dodson explaining his withdrawal.

Touch a truck day...

hey, it's a free event....


Come Out to the Park! Southeast Clarke Park hosts Touch a Truck Day, Saturday, October 4 from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Each vehicle will have trained staff present to answer questions. Concessions will be available for purchase.

This free event features trucks of all types and is for all ages. For more information, please call (706) 613-3580 or visit www.accleisureservices.com/familyprograms.shtml.


Gasoline shortage

How is the gasoline shortage affecting you? Please write comments about your transportation experiences in the wake of Hurricane Ike. I thought this would be a temporary problem based on panic from that first weekend, but the news is reporting a widespread shortage in Georgia. I suppose my wife and I have been fortunate to find gas the two times we've fueled up since the hurricane.


ESPN GameDay Set for Myers Quad on Saturday

Tailgaters not welcome:

ESPN's College GameDay To Televise From UGA Honors Community Quad

"Museum" from University Theatre

To be performed beginning this week by University Theatre from the University of Georgia Department of Theatre and Film Studies, the play "Museum" by Tina Howe is a story of more than 40 characters in a museum on the last day of an exhibition of works from three contemporary artists. It combines social commentary, hilarity, and hijinks as artists, art lovers, art skeptics, students, and museum guards pass through the gallery. "Within 86 eighty-six minutes, 48 characters cross the stage and mercilessly poke fun at the human condition in general and snobbishness in particular," explains Kalina Bakalova, a doctoral student in the department. "If Mozart had been a TV producer, this is what a 'Candid Camera' segment on art might have looked like," wrote Michael Feingold in the Village Voice after seeing different productions of the play in 1978 and 2002.

University Theatre will present their production of "Museum" with over 19 performers. It follows the UGA Arts Festival which celebrated the new building for the Lamar Dodd School of Art, so this is great timing to explore the culture of visual arts.

The spiel:
"Museum" will open on Thursday, September 25 and run September 25-26, 30, and October 1-4 at 8:00 pm and September 28 and October 5 at 2:30 pm in the Cellar Theatre in the UGA Fine Arts Building on the corner of Lumpkin and Baldwin Streets.

Regular admission is $15; admission for students with I.D. is $12. Tickets may be purchased beginning Thursday, September 11 at the University Theatre box office located downstairs in the Fine Arts Bldg. at the corner of Lumpkin and Baldwin Sts. (hours: M-F, 12 – 5 pm) or at the theatre door beginning one hour prior to show time. Reservations may be made in advance by calling the University Theatre Box Office line at (706) 542-2838.


UGA Ethnobotanical garden tour

In conjunction with the Big Read Program (Athens' novel choice is Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya), a tour of the Latin American Ethnobotanical Garden located at the corner of Baldwin and Thomas Streets. This tour will take place Saturday October 4 @ 10:00 a.m.
Here is a description of what you can expect:
Led by Paul Duncan, associate director of the UGA Latin America & Caribbean Studies Institute, this tour will focus on the history and future of the garden and highlight a sample of medicinal plants traditionally used by the highland Maya of Chiapas, México. The garden now includes approximately 200 perennial species of plants native to Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
We have many events planned through October 26 that pertain to our chosen book. Please check out our calendar of events here: http://www.libs.uga.edu/bigread/calendar.pdf


You Want A Piece of Michael Phelps?

St. Joseph's School over on Prince Avenue is having a fall festival and silent auction this afternoon and evening. Probably the coolest items up for bid are Team USA swim caps autographed by Michael Phelps (you know, the guy that won some medals in Beijing) and UGA/Team USA Women's Head Swimming coach Jack Bauerle:

Michael Phelps Autograph
(Click on image for larger size)

Money raised for this auction will go to the school and the current capital campaign to build the new school over on Epps Bridge Road.

So if you want a piece of Michael Phelps, head on over to St. Joe's and make a bid or two!


Rabies shots, microchips & adoptions!

The students at Vet Med (with some corporate sponsors, of course!) are putting on a rabies vaccine and microchipping clinic this Saturday, Sept. 20, from noon to 4 p.m. Rabies shots are just $5 and the microchips are $20, which includes the $15 activation fee & lifetime address updates.

They also will have cats for adoption from the Gwinnett Co. Animal Control.

The clinic will be held in the parking lot behind the vet med building, accessible from East Campus Road. From East Campus Road, look for the sign for the Large Animal Teaching Hospital entrance & follow the signs posted for the clinic (the day of).

See you there!

More info & contact at their website http://www.vet.uga.edu/academic/life/Clubs/index.php


Georgia public libraries license plate

Cobbled together from a listserv and elsewhere:

"As many of you know, we have been trying for the past four years to get a car tag for Georgia Public Libraries. We need 1,000 people to sign up for one before the Department of Motor Vehicles will produce the car tag. So far, we only have 64 people signed up and the deadline is December 31, 2008! We need your help! The car tag is listed as “Georgia Center for the Book”. The application can be submitted online, mailed in, or completed at the county tag office. This is our last chance since “special interest car tags” will be severely limited after this year! Several libraries have links from their websites to information about the car tag."

Although I couldn't find info at the Athens Regional Lib site about this program (which should benefit all public libraries including ours), I did find the Troup-Harris library page complete with a graphic.

To learn more about how this program will help Georgia public libraries visit:


Film Screenings - Free!

This Thursday evening is the first of the Hispanic Heritage Month Film screenings, done this year is coordination with the Big Read (a community reading program). Laura Shedenhelm (UGA Libraries) will be showing two short documentaries related to curanderismo - a major subject in Bless Me, Ultima (the chosen book for the Big Read).

The films are: From Curandera to Chupacabra: The Stories of Rudolfo Anaya (26 minutes), and Curandero (27 mins.)

7:00 p.m., Thurs. September 18, 142 Student Learning Center.

More about the Libraries involvement in the Big Read and a schedule of events is located here:


H. C. "Coot" Smith Mini Park

Does anyone know the story of this sign?

Car show

The Madison County Takedown Club (the booster club for the MC High & Middle School Wrestling Team) will be hosting the third annual car show on Saturday, October 11. Registration is $25 and will begin at 10 AM and continue until 3 PM. All makes and models, classic to contemporary, cars, trucks, & motorcycles are invited!! Trophies will be given to the top 10 overall and top 3 motorcycles. There is no charge for spectators!

All proceeds benefit the Madison County High and Middle School Wrestling Team.


Does Raising Downtown Parking Prices Make Sense?

The Athens Banner-Herald has reported that the Athens Downtown Development Authority (ADDA) wants the county commission to raise parking prices downtown. The reasons given are to increase turnover at meters (so more people will come downtown) and to raise money for the ADDA. They also want to raise the price for parking decks and for the monthly lots.

Would somebody please go to the ADDA and slap them upside the head? Sorry to be so blunt, but if people are willing to walk an extra block or two, they can always find a metered space during the day.

There is something the ADDA needs to acknowledge. There is no compelling reason to go downtown during the day to shop. Most people would rather go elsewhere, not because of parking problems, but because they would rather pay less for comparable products. And do so without having to pay to park.

There is also a hidden burden here as many metered spaces are taken by people working in downtown businesses for minimum wage or less. Increasing the cost to the employees of these businesses results in a hidden tax.

Now, a couple of things they propose do make sense, sort of. Making people pay at meters after 6:00 PM, maybe until 11:00 PM, would make it easier to find a parking space when they want to go out for dinner downtown. But then you have to pay someone to walk around and enforce the fines. This person will likely have to deal with drunk, belligerent bar patrons. That would be fun to experience.

It also makes sense is to increase the amount of the fines for violations. Right now, it is cheaper to get a ticket than to feed a meter all day. If the ADDA really wanted to make money, they should recommend that meter parking violations really cost on football game days. Parking at a meter and getting a ticket is the cheapest way to park on game day. So why not make the game day fines $50-$100, with a boot? That will really help turnover and make some bucks.

The bottom line is that is not lack of parking that keeps people away from downtown during the day. It is lack of a compelling reason to come downtown. Raising the cost of parking will just be a disincentive.

Anyone else care to chime in?


North Georgia Folk Festival

Don't miss the 24th Annual North Georgia Folk Festival. The event is scheduled for Saturday, September 20 from 10:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.at Sandy Creek Park. Please call (706) 613-3631 or visit www.accleisureservices.com/special_events.shtml for more information.

Run for the dogs

This Saturday, September 13th, Canine Companions for Independence (a non-profit organization that trains and places assistance dogs with people with disabilities) is hosting their 6th annual Athens Run for the Dogs. Registration starts at 8:00am at Sandy Creek Park and all activities are completed by noon. Bring your dog(s) and enjoy the morning - 1 mile fun walk or roll for wheelchairs, a silent auction, fun dog related contests, a raffle and a 5k run. All details can be found at www.athensrunforthedogs.org. All proceeds help provide service dogs at no cost to the recipients. By registering in advance you'll receive a $5 savings. A shirt is provided for each registered runner/walker and a bandana for each dog. Please come out and support us with a fun morning in the park.
You can save $5 by registering today or tomorrow.


Athens UFO

I have seen the UFO that has been discussed in Athens recently here and here. I didn't see any of the movement that has been reported, but I did see the red light that repeatedly dimmed and brightened, and it seemed to stay fixed. I did see one instance of what looked like a falling flare dropped underneath, but it was rather faint. I was among other people behind The Grit tonight where one guy told me that he had seen it before but closer up, and the flare was like nothing he had seen before with multiple moving lights within it. Yes, this sight was unusual, but I won't begin to speculate what it may have been. It didn't leave much of an impression on me because of its distance and faintness, but it didn't fit the usual behavior of aircraft that I see at night.

Harley vs Hoover

This morning, as is my habit on the weekdays, I stopped by my parents house in Five Points to get their morning paper in and drop off some food I had cooked for them. It was about 7:15, still pretty early. Driving out of their side street, I had to wait for a passing motorcycle to pass by on Milledge Circle. It was some asshole on a Harley. I call him an asshole because at that early hour, he blasted by with his straight pipes, running 45 or 50 MPH up the road, in a residential area. It literally hurt my ears and I cannot imagine anyone being able to sleep through that racket. Maybe he likes to make noise to compensate for some under-endowement or maybe his momma didn't raise him right. Either way, this guy is a total jerk.
It reminded me of the old joke: What's the difference between a Harley and a Hoover?

The position of the dirtbag.


Drinking Liberally - Athens

[disclosure - I am one of the folks who started the Athens, GA chapter of DL and am also one of the 'co-hosts'. In further disclosure, it is pretty obvious that I am a top-notch procrastinator...]


September 5, 2008- Athens, GA – Could political change really be brewing up at the bar on your corner?

“Drinking Liberally” clubs are pouring across the country; creating welcoming social spaces around progressive politics and bringing together activists, newcomers and everyone in between. With a brand new chapter in Athens, Georgia, the club brings the energy of online social networks into the face-to-face world of old-style 19th century bar-room politicking.

“What better way to share your ideas than by sharing a pitcher?” asked Justin Krebs, one of the club's national founders and directors. “Politics shouldn't be reserved for rooms with fluorescent lighting – we need it in our everyday lives.” Inebriation isn't the end goal; engagement is. Organizers see these gatherings as an easy first step toward greater political involvement as Liberal Drinkers learn from each other, trade talking points and form bonds that become political fuel during this important election season. "A few months back I stumbled across the Drinking Liberally website, and I thought the local club concept was a great idea. I was surprised to see there was no Athens chapter, so I thought, why not start one?” explains Patrick Moore, co-founder of Drinking Liberally Athens. “My friends enjoy meeting at the bar and talking about politics anyway, and this could lead to real political networking and even opportunities for action.”

Drinking Liberally is building those bonds in many places where liberals really need a drink. “Too many people write off ‘red states,’ but our leaders in small towns, the South and traditionally conservative areas are some of our most active. They have to be,” explains National Organizer Katrina Baker. From one chapter formed in May of 2003 to 280 chapters by mid 2008, Drinking Liberally has given like-minded, left-leaners a much needed oasis...at the local watering hole, of course.

“Many progressives have found an online forum, but they are hungry – or thirsty – for a real community, for face-to-face interaction, local compatriots...and new friends. This gives them a safe step away from their computer,” says David Alpert, the national group's webmaster. Tom Bavis, co-founder of the new Athens chapter, agrees, “Despite Athens’ reputation for being a liberal town, the old cliché that you should never talk about politics in public is generally respected, so this group provides a unique avenue and a 'safe space' to discuss politics."

Drinking Liberally Athens meets the first and third Friday of every month at 6:30 pm at Little Kings Shuffle Club, 223 W. Hancock St., in downtown Athens. The next meeting is Friday, September 5th. If you’d like more information on Drinking Liberally Athens, visit www.DrinkingLiberally.org or e-mail athens@drinkingliberally.org.

Hope to see you there!


Women and Girls in Georgia Conference

The Institute for Women's Studies is hosting the second annual Women and Girls in Georgia Conference on October 24 & 25. This year's theme is Health and Well-Being and the keynote speaker, Dr. Susan F. Wood, professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at George Washington University, was the director of the Office of Women's Health at the FDA until she resigned in 2005 on principle over the continued delay in approving emergency over-the-counter contraception.

To see the full program and registration information visit our website: www.uga.edu/iws/WAGG


Athens Volunteer Expo 2008

The Athens Volunteer Expo will give members of the community the chance to learn about many nonprofit organizations to which they can donate their time and talents. It is being held at the Classic Center on Friday, September 26 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Organizations are invited to register, and the public is invited to attend. A dozen organizations are confirmed for the event so far. (Updated Sep. 10.)

Gustav is a jerk!

Gustav is a jerk!
Originally uploaded by Adrian P.
I suppose we're talking about the Hurricane Gustav here.

Notice this car has an Oconee County tag but is a liberal car. It's a hybrid with an "equal marriage" sticker. It shows Athens pride with its "ATH" sticker, though Oconee natives will bristle at calling Oconee County "Athens" and remind you they are separate places (never mind the shared metro area or overlapping ZIP code). I guess the yellow ribbon is the only thing keeping the car from losing its Oconee County parking permit.

Oconee Connector, Oconee County, GA

Insectival -- an insect festival

The Insects are back!
Come out to the Garden [State Botanical Garden] on Saturday, September 13, 2008 for a morning of creepy crawly fun. This year marks our 3rd annual butterfly release. Insectival starts at 9:30 am and the butterfly release is at 11:00 am.