Tarheeltalker

As I was saying….

At long last I have stumbled back to my blog, with the complete absence of popular demand. But that was good enough for several Republican nominees for President.

Now that I have resumed writing I am wondering what I have to say. One thing that I have learned about blogging came from an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Raj was encouraged to check out the blog of his new girlfriend and after much toil  and effort he was successful. After telling her how much difficulty he had she told him that the blog was a way for her to share thoughts, feelings etc but she never expected anyone else to read it. 

So here goes, again. 

April 16, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Like it or not, here it comes

Such a wonderful all-purpose phrase that I have used on numerous occasions. In this particular case, I believe the or nots are almost unanimous. The “it” refers to the state mandated changes that will begin in the North Carolina public schools, beginning with the 2012-2013 school year. As a caveat I will mention that the aforementioned it does not refer to the increase in school days from 180-185. Although it would have been traumatic for me back in the days of yore when public school and I had a love-hate relationship.( I loved to hate it.)

So what can it be that has teachers upset, on several levels, and is described as something that parents wont like, students wont like, “older” school principals wont like and school boards like ? Notice that there would hardly be anyone left to actually like this upcoming change.

I became aware of this from an article in the Daily Advance newspaper today in which Dept of  Public Instruction representative(1) Tamara Ishee-Berman warned local school board members of  the possibility of  public displeasure over what she called a method of learning math that focuses on problem solving skills and not doing math problems.

She provided an example where students at the N C School of Science and Math were told they would be city planners designing a new mass transit system for their town. She related that a key element of the new learning approach would involve students choosing what equations they needed to solve the problem without teacher imput. The method which she described as revolutionary would be used to teach middle school students.The method is also described as one that requires great initiative on the part of students.

So, here we have a radical new system which will admittedly be painful to be taught by teachers who will lack adequate learning time and will place added demands on principals and what result do we expect ?Hint, it wont be pretty. Just one more thought. Who had input into this program and were the potential pitfalls even considered. I am quite glad I do not have any  children in the public schools but alas I do have grandchildren that are there.

 

 

 

 

 

1  Footnote: Ms Ishee-Berman is regional lead at the N C Department of Public Instruction and has degrees from University of Massachusetts Boston and Harvard.

 

 

February 24, 2012 Posted by | education | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Name Calling or Am I Really a Freak?

Based on a couple of things I have recently read, I am a freak, hate intellectuals and am just  downright ignorant. I may be even worse than that since those characterizations come from  just two sources. A brief elaboration on the intellectual  comment. Not only do I hate intellectuals  but I probably don’t  even want to associate   with them since there is no room for them in the Republican Party, or so says Chris Matthews. Oops,  I wasn’t supposed to mention his name. Should I  not quote him as saying that Rick Perry is  a clown?

I realize that politicians have to accept a certain level of name calling as part of the territory but I so wish that those in the media who make their living with their words, could describe a candidate or office holder without the use of epithets.  This applies to both ends of the spectrum  since both are guilty of using this tactic and I just cannot stand it. It reminds me of  one of my  #1 pet peeves, tearing down another to make oneself look good.

I could probably be  called lots of things but I am relatively  certain that freak is not one of them. That was the name applied to Rep Louie Gohmert just a few weeks ago. and it has been amplified with the word crazy among others. And, since I  like the  congressman, while not always agreeing with him, guess I am a freak by association.

So, is there a cure  for this political name calling?  I really doubt it since the practice is time-honored in American politics as far back as he days of George Washington. In fact, the names used to describe some of our  earlier presidents were generally far more creative than those used today.

In fact, if I hear another conservative  called  Nazi, I think I might have a fit. What makes  this epithet so abhorrent to me is the person using the name has got to know better, He or she has to know what Nazis did and i daresay that none of those so described have done things to equal those.

So, the next time  you see fit to “attack”  a politician, try to use an appropriate word.

September 26, 2011 Posted by | Media | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What do you think of Food Lion?

Food Lion is the primary place for grocery shopping in our community. Almost every time I go there, I  maintain that I am not going back. To backtrack a bit, we have three Food Lion stores locally and one is not too bad, one is terrible and one is sort of in the middle. Of course, the most convenient one is the worst of the three. Admittedly, in a town our size, none of the three is that far nor are my other options, Wal-Mart (aka the evil place) and Farm Fresh.

So, my wife wonders, why do I continue to torture myself by returning to my worst option? Believe me, I wish that I knew. Other than  force of habit and proximity, there is no discernible reason.

I suppose I should at the least attempt to justify my somewhat negative feelings toward Food Lion before I mail back my MVP card, ironically one of my smaller peeves. I have come to believe that customer service is either a misnomer at Food Lion or that they just do not care. There are often too few checkout lines open and those that are  often do not have  someone available to bag one’s  groceries.  Cashiers routinely come very close to completely  ignoring the customer or they  carry on a running conversation with  someone nearby, often a non-customer.

I suppose that a case could be made that the things are irritating to me reflect the fact that my  first job was in a grocery store and if my memory serves me correctly we were held to a higher standard. But my wife is also irritated from time to time though not as regularly as I seem to be.

I have wondered if the behavior at Food Lion reflects the fact that they feel they are either the only available choice or the default choice, in a  sense, for most shoppers. Perhaps that is why that purchased the locations of a former grocery store here in town to prevent their being occupied by a competitor. Ironically, one of these sites has finally been sold and the other is on the market. This action came after along period of vacancy for these buildings.

And to help in my decision, one of other shopping options gives us old folks a small discount  at certain times. Seems that it is time to move on.

September 13, 2011 Posted by | economy, Shopping | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Bone to pick with Michael Wilbon

A USPS van on Cambridge Street in Harvard Squa...

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I am a regular viewer of the ESPN show, Pardon the Interruption or PTI as it is known.The program is co-hosted by Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser. The program consists of the aforementioned gentlemen good naturedly  arguing and/or discussing sports and sports related issues. I have long enjoyed the show and  in particular those times when their discussions meshed sports and non sports issues. Of course, there is an inherent risk in that approach.One could actually postulate on issues well beyond one’s expertise.

From my point of view that is exactly what took place on a segment that aired  on either Thursday or Friday of last week. The segment was set up with the question about what person one would like to see on a postage stamp. Mr Wilbon launched his answer with a boisterous comment that “stamps are irrelevant.”  At that point, I no longer  cared about the rest of their ” discussion” since Mr Wilbon had ( in my mind) cast aspersions on my profession.

As  a letter carrier, stamps are an integral part of what I do and I heard his statement as yet another example of  bashing the postal service and sort of dismissing us completely.  Dismissing the postal service dismisses its employees as well.

From my perspective, we are not  totally outmoded and outdated and ready for the scrap heap. Try this thought on for size. People often complain about so-called junk mail, particularly if it is unsolicited. There is an analogy in the internet world known as spam. Which of these two, if opened, can potentially ruin your computer and potentially compromise your identity? Hint, it isn’t a letter.

A more learned source puts it this way.  A recent study in the Journal of Marketing  discovered that mail  is the most effective means of direct advertising and is even considered less intrusive. Truly amazing, huh?

Just one last thought. This comes from  a recent Verizon commercial that actually  gave me  a warm feeling. A person dashes to their mailbox  at the end of the driveway and upon opening the door discovers a box from Verizon with their  eagerly  anticipated cellphone. It is hard to top the excitement of receiving that long-awaited or even expected letter or package in one’s mailbox. For me it sure beats that unexpected email.

September 9, 2011 Posted by | Media | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Vespa crabo and friends

Those who know would call our title subject a hornet, which along with its associate the verspula germanica or wasp; is one of the little known objects of Hurricane Irene”s wrath. And even though I am one of those who had incurred their wrath at various times ( since I suffer from  a pronounced allergic reaction to their stings) I feel a duty to come to their defense.

We in North Carolina suffered significant damage from Irene although ours was not as widespread as that in some northeastern states. Hard to tell that to the residents of Hatteras though. One species that was significantly affected was those of the stinging variety. The combination of wind and water wreaked havoc on their nests and in the words of  the N C Division of Public Health may have caused them to be very aggressive as  a result. That’s a real no brainer, huh?

Come on, if your nest  was waterlogged and then blown several hundred  feet from its preferred location, you might be in a bad mood also. So, for a while give these guys  a wide berth and please, if at all possible, avoid using the Raid.

September 4, 2011 Posted by | Weather | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Shaping Young Minds…..Again

It’s that time of year again. Untold numbers of  children and young people are returning to the hallowed halls of public education. There are those, of course, with the means and/or opportunity to pursue another path; private or religious schools or home schooling. But the majority will trudge back to endure or enjoy the public school process, as my wife and I and our children did.

It seemed like a good time to write again about education as my younger grandson entered the “system” as a kindergarten student just yesterday. He was somewhat excited at the idea ahead of time which gave me pause as to whether we were actually related.

My public education years, which numbered only 12 since there was no mandated public kindergarten in those pre-historic days, would never be described with the words excited or eagerly anticipating. I have tried to find a suitable descriptive phrase and remembered  a Paul Simon lyric from “Kodachrome.” It goes like this. “When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.” Now, admittedly  that is not totally correct since I did have a wonderful English teacher my senior year whom I was privileged to get to know as a friend and neighbor. Alas, she was the exception.

Were I  to divide my 12 years into 2 segments; one being elementary and the other combining junior  and senior high; the former rates considerably higher than the latter but mainly by comparison. But, to close  on  a somewhat more positive note, the above referenced grandson now has three school days under his belt and still “loves” school and his teacher. That is the good news. The not so good news is that his bus riding experience has been utterly chaotic all  three days and in  a different way each day. Certainly hope that his school and who ever else is responsible for this gets their act together and soon! At this point, I  will refrain from mentioning the names of the school or school system, with my hope being that things change for the better.

September 3, 2011 Posted by | education, Family | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Waiting for Irene

As most of the country knows, we on the east coast are waiting for the arrival of Hurricane Irene. She has already stirred up things prior to her arrival here and so we wait with bated breath, I guess. The weather people, both on air and online have been talking for what seems like an eternity. Where will it go, how fast is it moving, has it changed directions and so on. There is a need for information and I  am thankful we have access to more of that commodity than in years past. But, at times I have  been like one of the people living on my mail route who told me she just had to get outside and get away from the near constant coverage. And, a memo to the  weather people , screaming and gesticulating about what may happen provided no better info than a calm, reasoned approach. The aim is to not create panic, is it?

We have just about completed our storm prep. The water and the batteries and appropriate food  have  been acquired. The cars have fuel and we have a bit of $ on hand, just in case. I am waiting to fill up the tub with water, trying to squeeze in one more shower.

It was interesting to note the ongoing preparations today as I went about  my duties. There are only a few businesses with boarded up windows, 10 that I saw, and almost no residences that took this approach. I guess the most interesting and almost amusing thing I learned was about coffee. When a power outage is anticipated, one should make a  pot of coffee the night before and then heat it one cup at a time by using a match. Great idea for coffee fans such as myself.

So, now we wait and as I do, a verse comes to mind that became meaningful to me in 2003, during Hurricane Isabel.

Thou dost rule the swelling of  the sea; When its waves rise, Thou dost still them.  Psalm 89:9

To all those in the projected path,

Shalom.

August 26, 2011 Posted by | Weather | , , , , | 3 Comments

The greatest celebrity couple ever

… or they will be when, not if, they  get together.

Celebrities fascinate many of us. Even those of us, like myself, who profess not to be as interested, take notice from time to time. And, face it, they are important to the good of the country. After all, how would  People and Us magazines stay in business not to mention Entertainment Tonight, TMZ, the late night talk shows and innumerable blogs and websites.

Of course, our fascination is nothing new, but with the myriad ways to disseminate celebrity information it sure seems that way. So I  wonder in my weaker moments who are the greatest  celebrities? Bear in mind, this is totally unscientific and probably reflects some of my own biases( I know you are completely shocked by that!)  both pro and con.

For my purposes, I drew very random and  totally meaningless, almost, criteria. Who are the greatest celebrity couples? Well, there was Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, a childhood favorite. There was Marilyn Monroe and fill in the blank ( probably Joe DiMaggio). We have had Elizabeth  Taylor and Richard Burton and in the minds of many the elite of the elite, Mr Pitt and Ms Jolie.

But I believe that the Couple of  couples has yet to pair up, that is with each other. They are very famous of course and each has and still has, high-profile relationships. They are of course Jennifer Aniston and George Clooney. Each is beginning to age, he better than she, I think. Just think of the headlines and star power and she could finally have revenge on Brad Pitt for dumping her. Perfect! There is one minute problem. People Magazine has a picture portfolio of Ms Aniston  that numbers  504  images while Mr Clooney  has only 280. Perhaps, that would need to be addressed.

August 21, 2011 Posted by | Entertainment, Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anonymity

I remember well a scene from the first Mission Impossible  movie in which Tom Cruise (aka Ethan Hunt) meets “Job”   wonderfully played by Vanessa Redgrave, and asks about the name Job. She  responds that ” anonymity … is like a  warm blanket.” Been  thinking about that quote a lot recently in the context of  blog/article comments made on the internet.

Most of the comments that I read are made by a person under a name other than their own. ( I know, so is my blog.) It is interesting to notice the screen names that people choose and speculate about why they were chosen. My thought has long been that these names are often used as a cover to make comments or observations that the person would never make using his/her own name. But, you might say that one uses a screen name to keep one’s identity from falling into the wrong hands, so to speak. I think that is only true in a minority of  instances. My reasoning goes thusly. The comments on polarizing figures or issues such as President Obama or Rush Limbaugh or Michele Bachmann or healthcare or any number of others are filled with such vitriol that one is almost embarrassed to one’ s self identified with them.

Even when I read comments that mirror my own, I am chagrined to note the level of anger that is involved. I can make comments ( and so can you)  about a political figure or issue without becoming tarred with my own brush and still be effective.

It is amusing to note that newspapers  and I suppose magazines have long-held to the policy of  rarely if ever publishing an anonymous comment and I like that. The few  times that I have written  in response to a newspaper article  were not situations where I  minded being identified.

In the wild, wild west of the internet the rules, such as they are much different. Makes me wonder if I need to rename my blog?

August 21, 2011 Posted by | Media | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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