Sudden travel

I have to make a sudden trip South for a funeral. This is not a handy weekend for it, and I’ve spent a lot of time in the last 48 hours on the US Airways website. I must say its easy to navigate – the seat-choosing function is positively elegant!

Originally Rochester > Charlotte > Chattanooga.

Now, thank you Winter, Rochester > Boston > Charlotte > Chattanooga, and so much later-arriving in Chattanooga that the Tinklers won’t be at the visiting hours for Mr. Baker. We’ll still make the funeral Monday in Nashville, so long as US Airways holds up its side of the bargain!

Mount Vernon

Between bouts of uncling, I visited Mt Vernon for the first time in about 35 years. I listened to Ron Chernow’s Washington, a Life this fall, so I was well-prepared to see it this time. The book is long, but I recommend it. Washington really did want to be a farmer more than anything, and we wouldn’t leave him alone.

Baylor School Semiotic Fail

I just dropped #1 Niece off for a day of camp at the Baylor School (we’re McCallie people, but McCallie doesn’t offer girls camps and GPS’s camps are too early for my sister to send her down here to the grandparents).

Baylor painted big red paws on the drive in to campus (shades of Clemson and Auburn).

However, if their mascot is supposed to be a predator, shouldn’t the paw prints be headed OUT the drive towards prey rather than IN, as though the big cat is slinking home?

Just wondering!

Thanks, Lyndhurst Foundation! And all you Coke drinkers out there!

Someday we’ll be able to walk easily from the Dam to Lookout Mountain — Lyndhurst ponies up $1.4 million to extend the Tennessee Riverpark from Ross’s Landing to St Elmo.
Here’s the county website.
Here’s a flickr set I made in January of 2009 when I walked the current length, from Chickamauga Dam to Ross’s Landing — heavy on the Jim Collins sculptures.
I love the Riverwalk — it’s an ingredient in what happens when Chattanoogans my age who no longer live here get together. We always end up saying something like “It’s not like it used to be,” but mean that in the nicest way possible.

Welcome to Georgia, the Road Block State!

That’s what the signs at the state line should say.

Last year, the Georgia State Patrol held 9,800 roadblocks across the state, an average of 26 a day, with about 37,000 man-hours invested in the checkpoints.

In comparison, the Tennessee Highway Patrol held 563 roadblocks, an average of fewer than two a day. The Alabama Highway Patrol more than tripled in the last five years the number of roadblocks it holds, and it fell between Tennessee and Georgia with 2,487 roadblocks in 2010.

In addition to roadblocks held by state police, local law enforcement agencies in Georgia reported holding 9,423 roadblocks to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety under a voluntary reporting system. About two-thirds of local agencies reported their numbers.

Altogether, Georgia law enforcement agencies reported holding more than 80,000 roadblocks over the last four years.

Some people call Georgia’s roadblock numbers shocking, a violation of individual rights that cannot be justified by the need to check for driving violations or drunken drivers.

Law enforcement officials say the roadblocks are part of the state’s successful highway safety program. The proof can be shown by the decrease in traffic fatalities, dropping from 1,729 fatalities in 2005 to 1,284 in 2009, they say.

I figure it’s revenue generation. Kinda like speeding or stop light cameras, but getting the State Patrolmen up out of their car seats.

Whew! Hot!

I’m delighted to see some high 80s coming in the 10-day forecast — it has been very hot in Chattanooga for someone now accustomed to the cool breezes off Seneca Lake!
For those following along at home, Aged Parent Patrol is going pretty well . . . my father is improving in lots of ways. I need to go make him walk around some. The visiting physical therapist made him do more yesterday than I imagined he could do, so I need to go push a little harder!

Smooth River

Even though it was already getting hot, I took a morning walk. As I was crossing the Walnut Street Bridge I spotted a school of standing paddlers. There’s a shop on the riverfront that rents these things — and this must be the result!
Later I headed over to the hospital. My father is visibly improving. I hope the same can be said for his blood chemistry!

Home for the Holidays…

Well, not really.
I’m in Chattanooga, but I’m on Aged Parent Patrol.
I sorted a LOT of photos from this semester today while we waited between the doctor’s visit and the actual discharge — but forgot to ask for the WiFi password at the front desk so I didn’t post any. Give me a bit!

Systemic underemployment and economic development

Home for the holidays! I’m reading the local paper coverage of two distribution facilities Amazon is building in the area – one in town and one in an adjacent county. Both are taking advantage of I-75, a nearby junction with I-24 and I-59, and a regional airport. They’re also taking advantage of a supply of seasonal workers.

For Hamilton and Bradley counties, the result is a $139 million investment, more than 1,400 full-time jobs and more than 2,000 seasonal slots, according to the world’s No. 1 Internet retailer.
The Amazon announcement represents this year’s biggest job addition by any new business to Tennessee, according to the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development.

Yes, they figure they can more than double their employment seasonally. That sounds good until you think about the implication — there are that many people looking for extra jobs or part time jobs. Later in the article:

Around some Amazon facilities, “work campers” live in recreational vehicles while they perform seasonal jobs for the Internet giant. Fred Kiga, director of policy for Amazon who finalized the tax incentives for the company earlier this month, said the company doesn’t expect to have such labor issues in Southeast Tennessee.

And, of course, to land this deal, the city is giving Amazon the property and discounting their property taxes by about 75% (they will still pay the schools portion, about 27%). A big Volkswagen facility, now this — some kinds of jobs seem to be coming to Chattanooga. But some of the ingredients in the decision-making still worry me.