Congratulations, Representative Erickson

To say the very least, the race to fill Beaufort County's House Distrct 124 has been full of ... interesting moments. Last night, that race end, and the seat vacated by now-Senator Catherine Ceips will be filled by Beaufort County Republican Shannon Ericskon.

Final reports have her winning over Randy Bates by an eight-point margin. Congratulations!!!

District 124 sprawls across some of the best of the Lowcountry, starting along both sides of the Beaufort River, then running across Ladys and St. Helena Islands, down to Hunting and Fripp Islands. It's a really great place, and looks like their new Representative will be a really great lady.

We at the Blogland wish her the best of luck in the House, but before that, we'd recommend a little vacation. She's certainly earned it.

FITS gets (it right)

On the heels of pissing off a bunch of you when I defended Wesley Donehue, I'm probably going to piss off the rest of you when I say something nice about Sic Willie. But I'm going to do it anyway ... after all, I'm not on anyone's ballot tomorrow in the special elections in Aiken and Beaufort.

A couple of postings in the last couple of days on Sic Willie's blogsite hit the nail on the head about the GOP's loss of fiscal fortitude:

That’s why we were surprised to hear that the former Treasurer for Moore’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign, Bill Hixon, is running as a Republican in tomorrow’s special election to fill Moore’s vacated Senate seat.

In case any fiscal conservatives out there are wondering why their GOP-controlled government is spending money twice as fast as the rest of the country, appointing Democrats to the Supreme Court and the powerful State Budget & Control Board and presiding over the nation’s worst education system and most antiquated state government, well, here’s your answer.

This isn’t rocket science, people.

If S.C. Republicans keep electing Democrats in their GOP primaries, they shouldn’t be surprised when those Democrats turn around once they’re in office and start spending money like it’s going out of style.

- Wake Up, SCGOP

... and another:

Greenspan says he urged the Bush administration to veto wasteful spending bills passed by a GOP-controlled Congress, but got no love. Wonder what Greenspan would say about Republicans here in the Palmetto State, who have jacked state spending by 41% over the last three years? Republican legislators writing budgets for the so-called “most Republican state in the nation” have behaved ten times as badly as their Democratic predecessors, as state spending in South Carolina has doubled the national average over the last three years.

- "Alan Greenspan gets it"

Converse Chellis: The Real Killer?

Those who thought the General Assembly’s vote to appoint Converse Chellis to the Treasurer’s office meant the end of a series of criticisms and accusations were proven wrong as startling new accusations were leveled against Chellis by OJ Simpson.

In a Columbia press conference, Simpson accused Chellis of being the “real killer” who had been the focus of over a decade of what Simpson described an “intensive global search effort”. According to Simpson, this effort had taken him to “hundreds of golf courses, topless resorts, and upscale night-clubs around the world”.

Simpson appeared relieved at the press conference. “Now they can leave me alone,” he said. “But make no mistake about it, you b****es better shut up, because you know I’m not afraid to put a woman in the morg … uh, I meant her place … no, uh … dammit, forget I even said that. I’m just glad to find someone that some people love to pick on, so they might spend less time running my name into the dirt.”

Chellis’ response was brief: “Sorry I can’t talk right now, but I’m kind of busy doing my job.”

According to one legislator: “Gee, we’d like to say we’re real sorry about electing the guy, but you know, we were in a hurry to find some money for another green bean museum about that time. It’s hard to think about who you’re electing when you’re trying to buy your own re-election.”

“This is exciting news,” said one Chellis critic. “With Simpson getting into the game, it means I don’t have to spend so much time criticizing Chellis.”

Meanwhile, other unsubstantiated reports were being investigated into Chellis being the Antichrist.

Wild Weekend at the Blogland

It's another wild weekend in the Blogland, with a house full of girls here for an overnighter, while I try to get in the obligatory 8-10 hours of study time for school. We're likely going to see more amazing creations like the evil tooth fairy come out of tonight.

Yep, a single professional on Saturday night with a bunch of kids ... more proof that while I've got a million and one things to say about everything under the sun, I really don't have a darn clue ... and proof that some of my ranting anonymous critics might be more right about me being a jerk with women than they think.

In any event, whether you're doing better at love than I am, hitting the books, working on your car or yard, or just drinking 'til you drop, be good at what you're doing and make it a great weekend out there ... or else the evil tooth fairy might come see you too.

Power Phrases: Take ownership & avoid generalizations

As a professional communicator, I rely on resources to help improve what I do, as well as share with co-workers to help give them some food for thought. Today, I share some insights as to what to say, and what not to say, from Meryl Runion's SpeakStrong email newsletter:

PowerPhrase of the Week :

We have a policy of putting our patients first. I didn't follow my policy that day. Jay was frustrated when her doctor had his assistant call her rather than return her call himself. When
Jay complained to the assistant, the assistant was defensive and indignant.

Jay was on the phone with me, telling me she was ready to change doctors when call waiting signaled. It was the doctor, who said, We have a policy of putting our patients first. By having my assistant call you, I didn’t follow my policy that day. She was blaming and shaming to you, and I apologize for that. I will get you in if you’d still like to see me.

Jay is his patient for life now.

Bonus PowerPhrase:

I want a widget that lists for five pesos.

It's about how an abstract communicator made her point with a concrete one. Read it here:

Poison Phrase of the Week:

Kids can be so loud and obnoxious. Patty doesn’t like kids. That’s fine, but when most of your friends have them, there’s no point in constantly reminding everyone who has them when you get the families together.

Patty’s husband was tickling seven-year-old Daniel in the back seat of the car, and Daniel was laughing loudly. That’s when Patty said, Kids can be so loud and obnoxious.

It’s one thing to bring up an issue you want addressed. It’s another to complain about behavior that comes with the territory using a blanket condemnation.

Megadeth is coming. Just shut up and go

Megadeth is on the road, touring in support of their great new hard-rockin' album United Abominations. One of their stops will be in Myrtle Beach at the House of Blues on Friday, October 5th.

These guys ROCK, and any band with the sense enough to tell the UN off can't be all that bad (Ted Nugent must've secretly written that song).

So quit making excuses. You know you want to go. So shut up and go.

Defending Donehue

It's not every day someone you know becomes a front page national news story, even in the Blogland.

By now, far more people know the name of my friend Wesley Donehue than they did yesterday. Especially outside of South Carolina. All thanks to a parody website that he was involved with.

I've gotten to know him well over the years ... a couple of times, we butted heads on opposing campaigns, but I grew to respect the guy. I'm sure I was the last person he expected to see at his mother's funeral, but when you come to respect a person, even when you don't always agree with them, you do what has to be done.

On that day, there wasn't anywhere else I needed to be more than right there to let him know he had my prayers and my support. Today is another one of those occasions, and again, I'm standing beside the guy.

Having done my fair share of parody and satire here in the Blogland, I know all too well that one man's joke is another's "vicious, misleading attack". A lot of political satire has at least some basis in fact and reality, and that's what I saw on the site for what little time it was up there.

I could understand the position of the Thompson campaign, but just as well I could understand how he thought he was trying to make a point, and have some fun too. Come on, guys, this site was too over the top for anyone but a total moron to take as a primary source of information ... right?

My first rule of politics is simple: "If it ain't fun, I'm going home." In this, he abided by this essential rule wonderfully.

As to his being considered amatuerish in what he did, I can assure you that as easily as this website was traced, and as skilled as he and his partners are, if they'd wanted to hide the website, it could have been done easily. I remember when I did the website. It took a couple of weeks before they tracked it back to its original owner. One of those sites was one that took a piece out of Wesley's tail when we were supporting opposing candidates, but he got over it. It took him a couple of weeks to figure out it was me, and I had to help him figure out it was me.

The bottom line was this: if he was trying to hide who was behind the site, he could never have been found. He knows how to do it, and if he didn't, he could have asked me.

So this evening, I ask all of you to stop taking this stuff so seriously and give the guy a break. Even if the other side didn't get the joke, he trying to have a little fun ... and I'm sure before it's over, some of the Thompson people, probably without authorization, are going to have a little fun with Romney and/or other candidates.

Big deal. Those who work on campaigns often rely on these kind of stunts as a sort-of coping mechanism to relieve the boredom and the long hours that come with working in that field. I've been there, so I know what it's like. Some of the people I've played prank/counter-prank with have become good friends. Mr. Donehue is one of them.

It's going to be a long few months, so there's no point getting all bent out of shape about something so small and trival in the grand scheme of things. Let's back off the guy, refocus ourselves on the issues (and the next prank), get out there and get to work for the candidates of our choice (if we have one ... I still don't).

9/11 in the blogosphere, 2007

A short recap on some of how yesterday was remembered in the SC blogosphere ...

Thomas Burnett: A Hero of 9/11

Last year, the Blogland was one of thousands of bloggers who took part in Project 2996, to memorialize randomly-selected individuals who were lost in the terrorist attacks committed on our nation on September 11, 2001. This year, that tradition is continued with a tribute to Thomas Burnett.

Throughout our nation's history, there have been those places where our nation's enemies faced our nation's private citizens, who, armed with great courage and a determination to confront evil, courageously answered the call to duty. In places like the Alamo, Kings Mountain, and
Wake Island, private citizens, forced into action by the agression of America's enemies, made courageous stands.

On September 10, 2001, little did we know that a similar stand would soon take place in the skies over Pennsylvania, by a small group of airline passengers, including one Mr. Thomas Burnett. While much remains unknown about what happened on that plane, what is certain is that determined and fanatical terrorists with years of training met the courage of free Americans.

Thomas Burnett was husband and father of three daughters (Madison, Halley, and Anna Clare), and the senior Vice-President for a medical R&D company. A high school quarterback who led his team to state championships, he graduated from the University of Minnesota. So concerned about looking out for his family, he gave up parachuting and insisted that his wife should always fly on a separate flight, so a crash would not leave their children without both parents.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, he boarded a plane designated Flight 93 to return home from a business trip to New Jersey. For this, he was marked for death by America's enemies. But little did they know that Burnett and others would turn the tables on them.

When visitors travel to visit his company's headquarters, they will find it on Tom Burnett Lane.

President Ronald Reagan once warned "that there should be no place on Earth where terrorists can rest and train and practice their deadly skills." Thanks to Burnett and others, those terrorists found that their well-planned plot had become a trap from which they could not escape. Reagan's warning to terrorists became reality, thanks to those unprepared and untrained Americans, who armed with little more than courage and determination, fought back and prevailed.

No doubt there are hundreds, if not thousands, who were marked for death at Flight 93's ultimate destination. Thanks to Burnett and others, that murderous mission was a failure. On this day, and many others, we should remember and honor the courageous of Mr. Thomas Burnett, along with those many others we've lost on that day, and those we've lost since.

To learn more about Mr. Burnett, please visit these websites:>

9/11: Will you remember?

On Tuesday, many will commemorate the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks upon New York City and Washington, D.C., as well as honor the heroic martyrs who answered the call to duty on Flight 93 who foiled the planned third attack, and at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

It's a date we won't forget, and we hope you won't either.

Tomorrow, we ask you to join us in remembering and honoring those lost and those they left behind, as well as those who answered the call of duty on that day.

Whether it's a few moments of silent prayer, a memorial on your own blog, or whatever works for you, please do your part to make sure they will be remembered, and that the painful lessons of that day are not forgotten.

Thomas Ravenel: Good bye and good luck

Anyone who is serious about recovering from addiction has a long and difficult road to travel. Thomas Ravenel's fall from grace may have been humbling, but we hope in the end, it leads to recovery and healing.

There is lesson in how Thomas has survived what has come at him, while remaining committed to recovery. If he can, then perhaps others in far less challenging situations can do so, and we certainly hope that others can learn from his ordeal and take on their addictions.

In walking down the long road to recovery, Thomas Ravenel, a Blogland reader, has our best wishes and prayers.

If you're reading this Thomas, good luck and godspeed.

Rock stars really do die young?

For some reason, we weren't terribly surprised at this news:

LONDON (Reuters) - Rock stars -- notorious for their "crash and burn" lifestyles -- really are more likely than other people to die before reaching old age.

A study of more than 1,000 mainly British and North American artists, spanning the era from Elvis Presley to rapper Eminem, found they were two to three times more likely to suffer a premature death than the general population.

Between 1956 and 2005 there were 100 deaths among the 1,064 musicians examined by researchers at the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University.

As well as Presley, the toll of those dying before their time included Doors singer Jim Morrison, guitar hero Jimi Hendrix, T Rex star Marc Bolan and Nirvana's Kurt Cobain.

More than a quarter of all the deaths were related to drugs or alcohol abuse, said the study in the Journal of Epidemial Community Health.

"The paper clearly describes a population of rock and pop stars who are at a disproportionate risk of alcohol and drug related deaths," said Mark Bellis, lead author of the study.

Rock stars more likely to die prematurely, Yahoo/Reuters

... in what was another NOT-shocking conclusing, Bellis "raised questions about the suitability of using rock stars for public health messages such as anti-drug campaigns when their own lifestyle was so dangerous."

We're sure all of you are absolutely amazed at this news. We know stuff like this is just soooo hard to believe, right?

Next, we'd like to see a study of death and rap stars, as well as one on death and easy listening performers.

Risk Communication and the Blogland

One of the new twists in the Blogland that you'll notice is some sharing of my research and related information in the field of risk communication. Risk communication explores how risks are communicated, and how such messages are received and understood by the intended audiences. This can include safety, public safety, hurricanes, and all sorts of risks and hazards.

Risk communication is a branch of the communication discipline which I've become drawn to. Why? Because it has direct applications in my work, and allows me to take my research from academia and use it for the direct benefit of those who work with me in the construction industry.

... and because understanding problems, and working towards solving them, is such a refreshing change from the BS that is commonly associated with the political process.

Risk communication draws from a lot of areas of communication research, including organizational communication, intercultural and interpersonal communication, as well as public relations. It goes beyond the scientific assessment of risks (much of which we already know) and asks how to promote the kind of true understanding which can help to diminish the threats posed by hazards.

In fact, not only have I enjoyed my explorations into this field, but I've gotten some attention for my research and this may be the area which I draw upon for my thesis work. For which I must thank Dr. Amanda Ruth at the college for introducing me to this area in her Risk Communication class from this spring.

Watch for me to share research and findings, both from myself and others, in this field here on this blog. For those of you who may work in hazardous occupations, you are certainly welcome to take my work and apply it to your workplace. I'll have several postings on this and related subject material over the next few Wednesdays, so please stay tuned ...

August 2007: The month in review

With summer ending and school back in, party time is over for a lot of us, but here in the Blogland, we had lots of fun with our readers. As we always do, it's time to take a look back and see what happened here in the Blogland:

Berkeley County got a new State Senator. Paul Campbell will fill the seat vacated when Senator Bill Mescher passed away in the spring. He's got some big shoes to fill, but we think he's up to the job (and we understand he's one of our readers).

South Carolina got a new State Treasurer. Converse Chellis will finish up the last three years of Thomas Ravenel's term. While my aborted bid for Treasurer did well, with me tying the Governor's candidate, it wasn't good enough. However, there were some wild rumors that I may have been paid off to quit ... no comment.

The Blogland turned two and my little one turned nine ... Ted Kennedy expressed concern that someone was left trapped, unable to escape and left for dead ... it was a strange month in the Blogland, indeed (but what month isn't?)

To make it even stranger, a review of Iron Maiden's most recent album, which I wrote in September of last year, was my third most-read posting of the month.

But the most important thing of all was that you took the time to read, and occasionally speak out, which is always appreciated. Here are the ten-most read and discussed postings of August 2007:

Ten most-discussed August postings:

1) Converse Chellis, our new State Treasurer
2) Ted Kennedy to hold hearings on those trapped and left to die
3) What kind of a weapon are you?
4) High tide for SC Senate Democrats?
5) Power Phrases: Improve your communication skills
6) Let the Crybabies work
7) State Treasurer candidate passes drug test
8) Paul Campbell for the State Senate - Vote tomorrow
9) Capps to quit Treasurer's race and endorse Chellis
10) U.S. Group - rolling in Bamberg

As always, the ten most-read August postings differed from the most-commented:

1) High tide for SC Senate Democrats?
2) State Treasurer candidate passes drug test
3) Sleaze and Payoffs in the race for Treasurer?
4) Capps to quit Treasurer's race and endorse Chellis
5) Paul Campbell for the State Senate - Vote tomorrow
6) Congratulations to Berkeley's Senator Campbell
7) Midlands Republican to seek Presidential nomination
8) Converse Chellis for State Treasurer - endorsement posting
9) Converse Chellis, our new State Treasurer - congratulatory posting
10) Simpsonizing Rick Beltram

So that's what got you tuned in or turned on this month. Stay tuned and keep speaking out!

Weekend movie watching: Reno911

If you're bored and want to watch something mindless but somewhat cheesy, then this weekend, go rent a copy of Reno911: The Movie. It's our recommended light weekend viewing in the Blogland.

Four lanes open in Newberry, two weeks early.

When several dozen people descended on a roadside in Newberry to open a newly-widened State Highway 121 on Friday, there was one problem that kept the dignitaries from taking part in opening the new lanes: the new lanes had already been opened - several weeks ahead of schedule.

Representatives from U.S. Group, the contractor in charge of the project, the SCDOT, local governments, and two statewide elected officials: Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom and Secretary of State Mark Hammond, shared praise for all involved on the project, as well as several other Newberry projects completed by U.S. Group in recent years, as well as for all the partners involved.

Once they were done speaking, guests were treated to a barbeque luncheon, with desserts provided by a resident along the highway who donated the desserts to thank the company for cooperating with the community during the course of the project.

“This is a great example of public-private partnerships,” said Eckstrom. “Government knew when to back off, and in doing so, picked an outstanding company to see the job through, for both the community and taxpayers. On this project and others, U.S. Group has set a high standard for their industry that will be hard to beat.”

Hammond, who played football when he was a student at Newberry College, joked that the widening as a “good sign that Newberry College football is really catching on. Now they need four lanes to handle the traffic to see our games.”

Newberry County Council Chairman Henry Summers pointed out that Newberry had been fortunate to receive this much in the way of construction projects, noting that while traffic had increased by forty percent in recent years, the amount of road capacity had only increased by six percent. “Anyone going through Newberry can see that this company and the SCDOT have left their mark on our community,” he said. “Our roads are safer, travel is easier, and there are more prospects for economic development.”

U.S. Group President Embree Griner thanked the community, SCDOT personnel, subcontractors, local government representatives and his own employees. “These projects didn’t succeed on their own,” he told the audience. “They succeeded because we were able to partner and keep our eye on the goal, and then make sure whatever we did would take us there.”

Special thanks goes to Paige Cooper and Sticky Fingers for prompt and quality service, and for Hugh Edwards, the Project Manager, for emceeing the event.