Category: Huntsville

Ancient Fire, Forever Sacred


My first patient was already in the chair at around 8:05 yesterday morning when an electronic sensor at the Monroe Street substation near the downtown library detected a problem with the transformer and proceeded to shut down the power to approximately 20,000 customers, from Monte Sano Mountain in the east, to Research Park in the west and south to Airport Road.

But I didn’t know that at the time. When the power shut down, I’d been microwaving my morning vitamin drink, a staple during the winter months when I’m daily assaulted by the medical dictionary’s worth of viruses that my patients exhale into the office air.… Read the rest

The Fish House–The Place Where Dreams Come True

Marvin the Goldfish is like a Timex watch–he just keeps going and going and going…

His spirit I mean. The body itself is still in a sandwich baggy, buried deep in our freezer somewhere between the ground beef and the ice cream. That is, unless Eyegal got him mixed up with the frozen tilapia.

Final arrangements are incomplete, but ongoing. More on that shortly.

You may recall the readers who reached out to us in our time of Marvin-mourning with a very kind offer of a replacement goldfish. Yes, I know, it goes without saying that Marvin is irreplaceable, but it was still awfully nice of them.… Read the rest

Pisces Panegyric Plucks Huntsville’s Heartstrings

Out of all the columns that I’ve written this year for The Huntsville Times, the tribute to Marvin has apparently struck the biggest chord.

One of my patients said his wife cried when she read it. Another reader wrote to me and said “you really outdid yourself this time” and that it was “the best thing you’ve written all year.”

Yesterday I received this email from a reader:

We really enjoyed reading your column and are astounded at the longevity of your fish!

Should you be interested in choosing a free goldfish to replace poor old Marvin, please contact Trevor Cole, owner of Across the Pond (

Read the rest

Permit Me A Moment For Marvin, 1995-2008

Marvin the Goldfish spent 13 years swimming itty-bitty laps inside the fish tank on our bathroom counter. That translates to approximately 120 human years; not as old as Methuselah, but long enough to make me wonder what was in those fortified fish flakes he enjoyed so much.

And here’s the rest.

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Speed Voting


Wow, I’ve heard of term limits before, but never time limits.

Has anybody else seen anything like this?

I doubt it was enforced, but I had my sample ballot filled out and it still took me probably close to 3 minutes. It made me wonder if older folks who might be a little slow with their eye-brain-hand coordination and wearing who knows what strength of OTC reading glasses might not have a little trouble beating 4 minutes.

When the volunteer checked me in she said that she couldn’t find my name and asked me if I’d moved. She always comes to the first Michael “X” on the list and stops.… Read the rest

Parker v. Parker: “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”

The race for the Alabama 5th Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Bud Cramer has been one of the nastiest that I’ve witnessed in a long time. The two candidates, Republican Wayne Parker and Democrat Parker Griffith, have spent considerably more time and money slinging mud and impugning the other’s character than they have actually talking about themselves, their qualifications and exactly how they plan to help their constituents once they’re in office (Update: please see my correction to this paragraph in the comments section).

Just how bad has it been? So bad that even the editorial board at the Huntsville Times is fed up and has refused to endorse either candidate.… Read the rest

A Ping From Beijing

I just received a ping from Beijing.

Politburo? Chinese secret police? Margaret Hoelzer?

Nope. Just THT‘s intrepid man-on-the-ground in Beijing, Mark McCarter:

Mike…Thanks for making my coverage part of your site, and for the nice plugs.

All the best…Mark

My pleasure, Mark; you’ve done a great job over there. I hope all that beach volleyball hasn’t stressed you out too much.

Give my regards to LeBron and Kobe, wouldya?

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She Lived Up To Her Name

“I thank God for how far I came to be here and to have the opportunity. It’s OK. I wouldn’t trade it. If it didn’t hurt this bad, I didn’t care that much, so, yeah, it’s still worth it. I’m glad I got the chance.”

–Nigerian sprinter and former Huntsvillian Olutoyin Augustus after failing to qualify for the semifinals in the women’s 100-meter hurdles

Toyin, we understand how you feel, but please remember this: We are not disappointed in you at all.

You lived up to your name.

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Small World, Eh?

It turns out Margaret Hoelzer isn’t the only athlete with North Alabama ties competing in Beijing.

Toyin Augustus is a Nigerian 100 meter hurdler who prepped at and ran track for Grissom High School (Number One and Three’s alma mater) prior to competing at Penn State.

Also, Julianne Kirchner is a 50 meter freestyle swimmer from the Marshall Islands whose parents grew up in North Alabama and attended UNA.

(UPDATE 8/16: You can read how her race went here).

Why the Marshall Islands? Julianne (age 16) has lived most of her life on Kwajalein Island, and if you’re from Huntsville, you probably know at least one rocket scientist in your circle who has spent some time in that distant atoll.… Read the rest