AL cat.JPG (79701 bytes)
A library cat.
AL Reform.JPG (197005 bytes)
It's RE-Form!
     Alabama was one of the initial states granted computers and training from TRI (later to become a section of the Gates Foundation).  After the installs were finished we realized there was a small problem.  Remember the Y2K bug?  Man, I sure do!  I was convinced the electricity would end, nobody would have food after a week and all my neighbors would be murderously jealous of my stock of baked beans.  Fortunately, the experts, the chickens, the paranoids, the Internet and I were all  wrong.  Whew!  I've never been so happy to be wrong in my life.  I feel bad about asking my girlfriend to go with me on all those trips to Sam's club to buy dehydrated potatoes.

     Anyway, we were basically finished with Alabama in the Summer of 1999.  However, after doing some testing back in the office we realized that if we didn't go back and make some major fixes to every machine we had installed in that state those poor libraries all over Alabama would be in a tight spot.  I mean, their computers would just not work after 12/31/99.  Therefore, off we went to Alabama!  I felt like an elite non profit technological shock trooper bravely charging into the wilds of rural Alabama; two or three Libraries a day; install, fix, reconnect, bip, bap, boom, whoosh!  In and out, baby!  I saw a huge portion of the state real fast.  I saw pig pens in the front yard or a cabin one day when I got lost.  I ate deep fried everything and drank wonderful sweet tea every day.  You know they only know how to make sweet tea properly  in the South, right?  Oh man oh man, it is wonderful! 

     There is an interesting concept that relates to much of what I saw in very rural Alabama.  During my travels it became more and more apparent that an effective gauge for your depth of immersion into rural town life lies in the local dogs and how they behave.  Here's how it works:  If you see a dog with no obvious owner roaming down the main street of the town, you are in the sticks.  If you see two, three or four dogs on that main street just roaming around, well you just worked your way deeper into the country.  When you see three dogs piled up on each other satiating their carnal doggy desires together (well the third dog was sideways, so like Mick Jagger he couldn't get no satisfaction), well my friend you had better have a good reason to be in that town or you may have taken an ill fated wrong turn.

     All jokes aside, I found Alabama to be friendly and even very pretty at times.  It certainly didn't live up to many of the stereotypes I had about the deep south.  There is a protective air amongst the people of the smallest towns, but usually if you are kind and respectful and hard working they will take you in and laugh and joke with you.  Not always, but usually.  It's not perfect, but I'd live there before I would live a lot of other places.  Besides, did you know that Huntsville has the largest concentration per capita of PhDs and is home to a very cool Space & Rocket museum?  See, Alabama has plenty to offer.  Not the least of which is fully Y2K compliant Public Access Gates computers in most of their Public Libraries. 

There were a lot of Libraries to visit during these two unusual and busy trips to Alabama.  Include in the list of Libraries where I worked are: Reform, Aliceville, Carrolton, Gordo, Tuscaloosa (two branches),  Carbon Hill, Cordova, Dora, Sumiton, Double Springs, Haleyville, Autaugaville,  Billingsley, Marbury, West Blocton, Clanton, Jemison, Maplesville, Thorsby, Greensboro, Kennedy, Vernon, Millport, Sullignet, Marion,  Montevallo and Calera.  Yep, I've been to rural Alabama and you know, it wasn't the way I would have guessed it to be.  I had a reason to be there so most folks were pretty nice once they realized what I was doing.

Music memories:  Beck-Midnight Vultures, Prince-Rave In2 The Joy Fantasic.