Friday, October 31, 2014

Book availability and signings

My new books is available online through Menasha Ridge Press and other online retailers like Amazon and Books-A-Million

A limited number of books are currently in stock at Vulcan Park.
Supplies should be arriving at other bookstores and outfitters soon.

Copies will be available November 1 & 2 - Moss Rock Festival
I plan to be at Moss Rock Festival Sunday afternoon from 1 to 3:30 at the Fresh Air Family Tent. The Festival is held at The Preserve, near the Boulder Fields trailhead of Moss Rock Preserve. Several hikes at Moss Rock Preserve are in the book, and it should be a great weekend for exploring one of the regions best and most convenient hiking destinations.

November 9 - Little Professor book signing - 12-2 p.m.
Come out for Sunday brunch and pick up a copy

November 16 - Red Mountain Park
Friends of Red Mountain Park hike - 2 p.m. Will be helping lead a hike featuring Scot Duncan, Birmingham-Southern biology professor. Duncan will lead an expedition seeking out the remnant stands of longleaf pines in the park. Scot was extremely helpful in helping me with the book. He is the primary author of the TrekBirmingham website and of the fabulous book, Southern Wonder: Alabama's Surprising Biodoversity.

November 19 - Church Street Coffee and Books 
Book signing - 7 p.m.

Reviving A Southern Industry, From Cotton Field To Clothing Rack : NPR

From NPR: A story about cool Alabama Farm to Closet clothing experiment.



Reviving A Southern Industry, From Cotton Field To Clothing Rack : NPR: Keeping Cotton Local

Hanback is one of about 30 people who work at The Factory, home to Alabama Chanin, the fashion and lifestyle company founded by Natalie Chanin. The site includes a cafe, workshop and the company's flagship store.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My first book

It's Here!

Five-Star Trails Birmingham

by Thomas Spencer

Five-Star Trails Birmingham
by Thomas Spencer
ISBN:
978-0897325141
Menasha Ridge Press
$15.95


Connect with
Menasha Ridge Press:

Hi, friends:

Over the last year, I've been working with Menasha Ridge Press to author my first book, Five-Star Trails Birminghama guide to the best hiking trails in the city and surrounding region. I'm excited to say I just got word from the publisher that the guidebook has shipped from the printer and is on its way to bookshops and outfitters.
The hikes described in Five-Star Trails: Birmingham cover the major hiking venues in the central city and suburbs as well as exploring diverse offerings from Appalachian mountain climbs to strolls on the banks of the Cahaba River as it broadens to snake through the Coastal Plain. You can visit old growth forest in the Sipsey Wilderness or hike down into the “Grand Canyon of the East” at Little River Canyon. And that's only the start. Across this landscape, you’ll find a level of diversity of plant and animal species, some rare and endangered, that rivals anywhere in the North America.

- Thomas Spencer

Help me spread the word?


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Sunday, October 19, 2014

36-year-old Alabama Red Hills salamander discovered at the Cincinnati Zoo | AL.com

Ben Raines story on Red Hills Salamander at the Cincinati Zoo: 36-year-old Alabama Red Hills salamander discovered at the Cincinnati Zoo | AL.com: Captive salamanders tend to live longer than their wild counterparts, with reports of a number of 25-year-old specimens of various species. But a 36-year-old salamander? That's got the amphibian experts excited.

"That is awesome that salamander is still alive," said J.J. Apodaca, one of a small handful of scientists specializing in the endangered Red Hills salamander, Phaeognathus hubrichti, which is one of the rarest creatures in Alabama, and the nation.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A First Visit to Remy's Dog Park at Red Mountain Park

I didn't get the dog park thing.
Now, I do.
When I was growing up, dogs roamed.
As parents, my wife and I resisted the idea of a dog, despite the begging of the children. I couldn't abide the modern suburban existence of a dog: only getting out to walk on the leash under the hand of the master, the master reduced to picking up poop and fretting whenever the dog escaped confinement.
 But we finally broke down and got a wonderful affectionate, older dog. The drawbacks are there but are outweighed by unmitigated affection Pa-Ching brings to the family.
Still, I find the leash walking thing unsatisfying. I want him to be free. And I don't want my arm jerked out of socket.
So, on a recent Saturday we packed up to make our first visit to Remy's Dog Park at Red Mountain Park, a large, fenced, off-leash park which offers both open sunny space and shady woods. No leash, no worries, full-stride running, and unmediated dog socialization.
It was liberating. For me, my son, and our dog.
I now get the dog park thing.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Rolling on the Chief Ladiga Trail

My son James and I recently biked and camp on the Chief Ladiga Trail from Piedmont to Cedartown, Ga. It's one of the prettiest sectoins of the the paved rail-trail (also known as the Silver Comet) which runs 100 miles from Anniston to the outskirts of Atlanta. It was a beautiful ride and the scenery only going to get better as the leaves change in the coming weeks. It's a gentle grade, generally uphill to the state line and downhill to Cedartown. But no matter how gentle the grade, 50 miles is a tough ride for the uninitiated. But James pumped the whole way, without complaint. To find out more, check out Chief Ladiga Trail information here and Georgia's trail website for the Silver Comet.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Civil Rights Movement Is Going in Reverse in Alabama | New Republic

The Civil Rights Movement Is Going in Reverse in Alabama | New Republic



This is a piece in the New Republic about the increasing racial polarization of political parties in Alabama. It's an unfortunate outcome but one that is almost inevitable as a result of two interests that seem to be conflicting but wind up being complementary. First, there is the desire to maximize the political representation and office holding for blacks in Alabama. Second, there is the ascendancy of a conservative Republican Party in the state. Both end up wanting racially-identifiable, safe districts. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

In-depth wonky studies on health benefits of urban vegetation and green space

Health benefits of urban vegetation and green space: Research roundup Journalist's Resource: Research for Reporting, from Harvard Shorenstein Center:



From one of the studies:

Individuals have both lower mental distress and higher well being when living in urban areas with more green space. Although effects at the individual level were small, the potential cumulative benefit at the community level highlights the importance of policies to protect and promote urban green spaces for well-being.”

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Watch Muscle Shoals Online | Netflix

The Muscle Shoals Documentary is now on Netflix. 
Available other places as well. 
Watch now. 
Watch Muscle Shoals Online | Netflix

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Pageant King of Alabama - NYTimes.com

New York Times on Andalusia lawyer who's become the a top beauty pageant consultant.



The Pageant King of Alabama - NYTimes.com: For this, he charges $125 an hour. And hundreds of aspiring beauty queens pay up. They call, text, Skype, even drive to his home in Andalusia, Ala., because Alverson is one of the most successful beauty-pageant coaches in America today.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Steel Magnolia -- National Geographic Traveler

National Geographic Traveler stops in Birmingham:





Steel Magnolia -- National Geographic Traveler: I’ve found a modern city that has retained its pace and charm, one with many of the accoutrements and attitudes of the New South but without the shiny facelessness common to too many cities around the region. You can do a billion-dollar banking deal in Birmingham. But you can also still eat at Niki’s.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Saw's BBQ in Homewood is No. 1 on Paula Deen magazine's list of 10 best barbecue places in America | AL.com

Via al.com's Bob Carlton:



Saw's BBQ in Homewood is No. 1 on Paula Deen magazine's list of 10 best barbecue places in America | AL.com: Saw's BBQ is No. 1 with Paula Deen, y'all.

The popular Homewood barbecue joint tops the list of "The Best Barbecue Across America" that appears in the July-August issue of Cooking with Paula Deen magazine, which is available on newsstands now.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Alabama Second "tightest" state

Washington Post piece on academic paper which looks at the contrasting views among the various states and how they are shaped.



"How “tightness” vs “looseness” explains the U.S. political map: Professors Jesse R. Harrington and Michele J. Gelfand studied "the degree to which social entities are 'tight' (have many strongly enforced rules and little tolerance for deviance) Aversus 'loose' (have few strongly enforced rules and greater tolerance for deviance)" and then produced a ranking of each state from tightest to loosest. (Among the various characteristics they used to define "tight" or "loose" included the use of corporal punishment in schools, the rate of executions, access to alcohol and the legality of same sex unions. You can read the full paper here.)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Rotary Trail in Context

In case you've been wondering what is happening in the Railroad Cut along First Avenue South, the Rotary Trail is in now under construction.



In case you missed it, here is a nice update of the project in context. It was written by Phillip Ratliff for B-Metro.



Excerpt:

In the coming months, a cadre of funders and designers will transform the cut into a gorgeous, and hopefully thriving, pedestrian pathway.

Birmingham’s Rotary Club chapter is spearheading the project, which has an estimated cost of $3.5 million, through a competitive process marking their centennial. When completed (it has an estimated completion date of spring 2015), the Rotary Trail, as it will be called, will anchor new development and provide a crucial segment in the city’s extensive network of bike lanes and pedestrian walkways.