Tango music at the library

The Athens Tango Project will play at the Athens-Clarke County Library on October 1 at 3:00 p.m. This is from the monthly series called Live! @the Library sponsored by Friends of the Athens-Clarke County Library, and this particular concert kicks of Hispanic Heritage Month.


Comprehensive Plan Community Meeting

October 2 is the date for Athens-Clarke County community meeting focused on "needs and opportunities" as our local government develops a new Comprehensive Plan for 2018. This is the local document required by the state for addressing planning and development in our community. The meeting will solicit public input and will be held at Cornerstone Church at 7:00 p.m. Please find more information on the calendar item "Comprehensive Plan -- Community Meeting" on athensclarkecounty.com.


Power outages in Athens

Five Points is dark. The traffic lights and all business lights (including Waffle House, Golden Pantry, and Earth Fare) are dark. The only lights are at the fire station and from all the headlights of cars. There is a lot of traffic going through here. I can only suppose people are trying to go to other places that have power because where else would you be going when the governor advised everybody to stay off the roads? Anyway, I'm glad I had extra batteries for my radio so I can sit in the dark and listen to commercials.


County information on Irma

The Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County will be posting information about the coming storm from Hurricane Irma at the following link:



Irma coming to Athens

Accuweather.com is reporting that on Monday Athens will have winds of 40 mph with gusts up to 83 mph. It also looks like we will get a couple inches of rain or more. Based on all our recent storm experience, I'm guessing we will have a lot of power outages and roads blocked with fallen trees. How rare is it to have tropical storms this far inland?


Magnolia tree gone

A couple days ago I saw a crew cutting down a magnolia tree at the Varsity at Broad and Milledge (the tree closest to the corner). It appeared that some of the branches had brown leaves, so I assume that this tree was in bad health. It is always sad to lose one of the large trees that makes up the familiar landscape around us. (North Campus has lost a lot of trees in the past few years.) I remember reading that these magnolia trees were preserved when the Varsity was built -- does anyone remember the history of this location?


High school memories from Prince Avenue

Martha DeBeaugrine wrote a fascinating piece in Flagpole about her memories of Athens High School on Prince Avenue, the predecessor to Clarke Central High School on Milledge Avenue. She explains that the main building has been demolished and that the site is now occupied by Wendy's and Captain D's between Finley Street and Hill Street. The first time I ever saw the photo accompanying this article, I felt sad that such a grand building (formerly a courthouse) was gone and replaced with fast food buildings. Anyway, I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with Ms. DeBeaugrine for a couple years when we were neighbors, and I appreciated the time she shared with my family talking about various topics.


Rock concert at the library

Athens is such a music town that we have rock bands play at the library. The psychedelic surf rock band Outersea will be playing on Sunday, September 10 at 3:00 p.m. at the Athens-Clarke County Library in the Appleton Auditorium. The band is comprised of current or former members of Maximum Busy Muscle, Grape Soda, Hot Fudge, and Dark Meat. This is part of the monthly concert series Live! @ the Library, and admission is free.


WUGA-FM on the air for 30 years

Today was the 30th anniversary of WUGA-FM going on air. This is the University of Georgia's public radio station affiliated with National Public Radio. You NPR geeks already know all about it, but I found some interesting details in the following article:

"WUGA-FM celebrates 30 years on the air" from Columns on August 21. (Did you know they wanted the callsign WLLL?)

The station currently broadcasts on 91.7 and 94.5 MHz.

Traffic cone art on North Pope Street

Quasi Cone

I never quite understood what this was about. It appeared to be a traffic cone, but it was solid material. I just felt like sharing it here. I saw this in 2013 on North Pope Street.


Milledge Avenue traffic signals

Contractors have been installing new video detection systems for traffic signals along Milledge Avenue this month. I saw a lot of this equipment being installed along South Milledge over a week ago. Video detection has replaced a lot of the loop detectors (metal detectors) used in pavement over the past few years for Athens' traffic lights.

I am not sure about all the capabilities of this new system, but I suspect it monitors traffic flow to some extent in addition to the mere presence of stopped vehicles waiting to enter an intersection. For example, when southbound traffic on Milledge backs up all the way to Broad Street, westbound cars on Broad waiting to turn left on Milledge are not given a green arrow. Does anyone have more details on how this system works?


Celeste Headlee at the library

Celeste Headlee is scheduled to visit the Athens-Clarke County library on October 6 at 7:00 p.m. to talk about her new book, We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter. This book addresses an erosion of conversation skills in our society that leave us more divided and less connected, setting forth suggestions such as "be there or go elsewhere," "check your bias," and "hide your phone." It explains scientific research about how our brains work and how we communicate, and  it follows up with strategies for better communication with an emphasis on empathy. Headlee is the host of "On Second Thought" from Georgia Public Broadcasting and has been a journalist for public radio since 1999.


Eclipse viewing at Gamma Phi Beta

The ladies cheered for me as I ran up the walkway toward the Gamma Phi Beta house, and I felt like cheering, too, because I had just been offered the use of solar viewing glasses at the peak of darkness during our 99% solar eclipse. I had not expected to get a chance to get such a good direct look at the sun during the most magical moment of our eclipse, but I had all the luck to be in the right place at the right time.

I'm a bus driver for the University of Georgia. (If that is news for you, then read this article on why I left law practice to become a bus driver.) August 21 was just another workday, and with so many part time student workers marking themselves as "unavailable," I expected to be at work driving around, so I had no idea if I would be in a place where I could park my bus to take a look. Besides, I had not found any solar viewing glasses, so I did not think I would get to look at the sun. I did see an Athens Transit driver put on a pair of glasses and look up while her bus was at a service stop, so of course I felt a little left out.

Before the eclipse, I heard on our two-way radio that Sanford Drive at the stadium was full of pedestrians going to the eclipse viewing party. As I made my trips on the Milledge Avenue Route, I picked up passengers carrying solar glasses, and many of them had no backpacks, which indicated they were not going to class. One passenger asked me "Are you excited?", so I explained how I didn't know what to expect to see today. She told me that she had gotten a tip on solar glasses being available at a particular store in town and bought a pair before they sold out.

I knew about how to view the sun through a pinhole projection, but I saw how the trees really make the best images. What I had heard was really true -- you can see crescents everywhere while the sun is partially eclipsed. The photo below was a sidewalk near Jackson Street and Peabody Hall:

Crescents of the eclipsed sun appearing on South Jackson Street


Fall semester traffic

I can understand why traffic is so bad when fall semester begins at UGA. Students are finding their way around, buying textbooks, doing other shopping, and making whatever other preparations they need for a new academic year.

But why does it take over a month to lighten up to a normal amount of traffic? Why does it not lighten up once students get their textbooks and settle into a routine? One idea I've had is that perhaps a lot of freshmen and transfer students eventually learn that driving so much is not worthwhile due to the time it takes with so much traffic and so they eventually learn to reduce their trips and become more efficient. Another has posited that perhaps students drive less and walk more when the weather cools off.

What do you think?

Charles Ivie steps down as Watkinsville mayor; cites health

Charles Ivie steps down as Watkinsville mayor; cites health: Watkinsville Mayor Charles Ivie announced Monday that he was resigning immediately as the city’s top elected official due to health issues.

Oconee crackdown on distracted driving spurs ‘staggering’ number of stops

Oconee crackdown on distracted driving spurs ‘staggering’ number of stops: Oconee County Sheriff’s deputies and Georgia State Patrol troopers went looking for distracted drivers Friday morning and the number of cars they stopped surprised even them.


North Campus image

The sign is different. This is the corner of Broad and Jackson. I just noticed.

Die, Mommie, Die!

The Town and Gown Players are performing the comic melodrama Die, Mommie, Die! tonight through Sunday night. If I can get this straight, the story is about a pop-singer mother who murders her film-producer husband and the daughter who wants to avenge his death by killing the mother. The son of the family slips the mother some LSD to get her to admit the murder, and this works, but the "mother" also admits she is actually their aunt who had previously killed their real mother. And then the story just gets more twisted.

The performances are August 10, 11, and 12 at 8:00 p.m. and August 13 at 2:00 p.m. with a ticket price of $5.00. More information on Die, Mommie, Die! can be found on the Town and Gown Players website, though I don't know where to find an explanation for the unusual spelling of "mommy" in the play's title.


Milledge Avenue alert

Sorority and fraternity recruitment begins today, so stay off Milledge Avenue unless you (1) work there, (2) live there, or (3) have ample leisure time to watch college students crossing the road and admire UGA's fleet of transit busses.


Kindred spirits

A slice of life from downtown Athens today, as reported by Lynn:
Who would have thought that the simple reading of a new book and a lavender cup of latte from Jittery Joe’s would have landed me the experience I had this morning? This encounter has consumed my mind all day and I want to share my story. 
In order to enjoy my coffee and to be able to focus on my reading, I walked around downtown until I found a park bench with the smallest amount of sun shining on it so I wouldn’t sweat and melt down into my shoes. 
Edward, whom I would meet in a few moments, was charging his cell phone while sending text messages to his family and friends. 
His friend, George, whom I would also meet very soon, was outside laughing and talking about how he had a jelly bean in his pocket (that he carried around) because he didn’t like jelly beans. Edward, his friend, was trying to guess the flavor George might like (or what candy in general his friend would enjoy if not a jelly bean). The guys were having so much fun, I couldn’t help but listen to them laugh and cut up. They were so positive and full of life! 
I stopped reading my book and walked over to introduce myself and George went inside Subway to do whatever it is that he does in there. Edward began looking around in his backpack for sandwiches to give his friend to eat. Both, I would learn, are homeless! 
Edward and I chatted a bit and I learned that he was invited to Harvard University years ago to work on his MBA. He decided to become a firefighter and is recently retired from that job. His eyes sparkle with enthusiasm when sharing his story! 
George, when invited out of Subway to come join us, was encouraged by his friend Edward to sing for me so that I could learn of his musical talents. He began singing Josh Grobin’s song, “You raise me up,” and sang it loud enough for many of those walking by to hear and enjoy. 
The nice thing about this encounter with Edward and with George is that I have recently been homeless and I understand what it is like to have absolutely nothing. No food, no clothes, no way of bathing, etc. What the three of us shared in common was our ability to choose happiness and to roll with the punches. 
We all agreed that life will pull you down at times. Life will also be good to you at other times. One of our “good times” today was sharing our moments together and living in the moment created just for the three of us to connect and become friends.


Commissioner silent as car insurance rates soar

Ralph Hudgens had been, will be and is always awful as Insurance Commissioner

Commissioner silent as car insurance rates soar

A few observations

 Driving back home the other day after work I happened to pull up behind a pickup truck. I noticed, dangling from the hitch receiver on that truck, a plastic replica of testicles. What the hell? When I got home I hit the internet and discovered these are called Truck Nuts. Outside of demonstrating very poor taste in decor, what is this trying to say? What meaning is intended?

I listen to a lot of radio. I have always been a radio junkie. Here lately, and this is particularly true of NPR, I have noticed that when the interviewer asks the interviewee a question, the response more often than not, starts with SOOO. Interviewer--What lead you to attempt to unicycle across the country? Interviewee -- So I was sitting in my recliner wondering what I could do to combat global warming...
I find it tedious.

I go to a lot of UGA baseball games, have been for years. I noticed years ago that the Dipping Dots cart pronounces that Dipping Dots are the 'Ice Cream of the Future'. When does that future arrive? I have yet to see Dipping Dots in a grocery store along with the old fashioned and terribly obsolete Blue Bell ice cream.



Retail stuff

Big Moe's Outlet: I just noticed this store open at 3190 Atlanta Highway, the shopping center with Ingle's and Big Lots. It appears to be a furniture store. Does anyone know much about it?

Ingle's: The Ingle's grocery store is a mystery to me -- why is it such a ghost town? The parking lot is mostly empty most of the time, they have about two registers open, and the customers are sparse. Is there simply too much competition in the area? Is the produce department inadequate? Are the prices too high?

Does anyone follow this blog anymore?


Priest: How about an amnesty for Trump voters?

The tire amnesty held in Oconee County recently gave me an idea.

Citizens were allowed to drop off old tires at recycling centers without paying a fee. The county lost a little revenue, but the amnesty reduced the number of illegal tire dumps and the mosquitoes breeding there. It’s a trade-off.

We need something like that for Trump voters: a face-saving way for them to say – finally – “I made a mistake” without being roundly pelted with harsh volleys of “We told you so!” and “What were you thinking?”

Half of us sure would love to put Trump voters through a gauntlet of recrimination. But it would be better to all come to terms with the frightening nature of a pinball president careening through the White House stopping to tweet – ding! ding! – then watching Fox News – ding! ding! – and onward, heedlessly.

Let’s declare an amnesty period so that we can – together – address the many problems we face in the world.

--Pat Priest

Priest: How about an amnesty for Trump voters?

Why is North Avenue divided?

I've never really stopped to think about how unique North Avenue is at its southern end where it's divided under the railroad trestle. I have thought about the awkwardness of its intersection with Dougherty Street and Thomas Street, though.


North Campus mishap

Eclipse viewing events

Athens will experience a 99.1% solar eclipse on August 21. Here are some places to gather for viewing:


Gospel choir at ACC Library

Voices of Truth, the gospel choir directed by James R. Smith, will perform at the Athens-Clarke County Library on Sunday, June 4 at 3:00 p.m. This choir is known for contemporary gospel, traditional hymns, spirituals, and beautiful anthems, and Smith has kept this group going for about 38 years. This is free admission, folks.


Oconee County Observations: Oconee County Planning Commission Recommends Speci...

Oconee County Observations: Oconee County Planning Commission Recommends Speci...: Lacks Business License Twelve-year-old Jack Senyitko gave a flawless presentation to the Oconee County Planning Commission on Monday night...

Happenings in Winterville

Did you know that the Marigold Festival is this Saturday? The parade is at 10:00 a.m., and there is music all day. Check it out because anybody who's anybody is going to be there.


Four Athens teams up with Athens Technical College

Technology incubator Four Athens has now teamed up with Athens Technical College in its provision of coding and web software classes. The college's Economic Development Services division has found that it overlaps with the mission of Four Athens in providing software and web development skills for entrepreneurs and IT professionals. The first class to be offered by the partnership is Web Fundamentals this Saturday at 9:00 a.m.; see "Beginner Classes" for more information.


Broken duck feeder

Last summer one side of this duck feeder at Memorial Park stopped working. Now the other side is broken. Both sides will accept a quarter but not rotate. So apparently someone who works for ACC Leisure Services is happy to collect the quarters without having to replace the food, unless the capacity for quarters is large enough that no one has tended to it in a long time. The duck feeders are a great idea since the ducks used to have angel wing syndrome out here, but it isn't going to work if the feeders aren't going to be maintained.


Witnesses sought

From the ACCPD: This morning the ACCPD worked a vehicle crash with injuires at Five Points involving a dump truck and a scooter. We are asking that anyone who may have seen this occur please contact us at 706-208-1718 at ext. 233