Tarheeltalker

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

To infinity and where?

For Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear, the answer was of course beyond. But for the real life NASA, the answer is  something else entirely. Seems that  NASA Administrator Charles Bolden gave an interview last month to  Al Jazeera( have no idea why)  and told them what the mission of NASA really is.

Let me backtrack just a bit. Bolden told the Arabic network that the President had told him there were three  things on which he wanted him to focus at NASA.  Play the children’s game and see if you can tell which of the three does not fit  with the  other two.

Number one was  for children to be re-inspired to focus on science and math. Number two was the  expansion of our international relationships ( presumably as they relate to space) and number three was-  drum roll please-  to improve relations with the Muslim world and that furthermore  it was his    “foremost”  mission. In that context, Bolden was tasked to reach out and engage  with the Muslim world and to make them feel good about their historic contributions in the area  of math and science. ( History will tell you that those contributions were a rather long time in the past.) Somewhat strangely, Bolden resisted attempts to call his mission diplomacy. His quote was “It’s not  a diplomatic anything.”

Shortly after Bolden’s comments created  a predictable firestorm, both the White House and NASA backed him up, to a point, maintaining that improving relations with the Muslim world is a part of NASA’s mission, but not foremost. Seems to me that is confusion between the idea of co-operation and improving relations. Besides, Obama has been working rather hard at that Muslim outreach thing ever since last June in Cairo.

I did have one unanswered question. When Bolden was tasked to reach out to the Muslim world, that did include France, right?

July 10, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gulf Coast Shenanigans

” Otherwise, how are things, was an oft used phrase by the  late, legendary Paul Harvey. Incidentally, he seems to be one of those folks that cannot  be adequately replaced. I often wonder  what his take would be on this or that major news event.

But today I am using the phrase as an intro to a BP update. No, quite unfortunately the oil spill  has not been contained, although a few small good things have occurred and more could have occurred with a bit more co-operation/communication?

BP CEO Tony Heyward, their point man in dealing with the crisis on site, appeared before  members  of Congress and  the  questioning was anything but friendly. He did not help himself either by some  of his comments which appeared at times to be a bit insensitive. Given the nature of the Congressional beast, hearings and questioning were inevitable. I’m just not certain what worthwhile purpose the hearings have at this point. Maybe a little extra face time on C-Span or the major networks. Or a few good headlines like senators grill BP  executive or something like that. Obama even weighed in again saying he wishes he could fire Heyward. Real productive move.

I would rather the president work more closely with Louisiana Gov Bobby Jindal who really seems to be working hard on this thing as he should. But, yet one of his major efforts was actually stopped for a time the other  day by whom? Why, none other than the U S Coast Guard, from whence  came Admiral Thad Allen. Certainly the Admiral or his boss ( hint Barack H …..) had nothing to do with  stopping the oil removing barges from their task. As recently as Tuesday, they were hard at work. On Wednesday, they sat idle and remained so for over a day. Why? Jindal isn’t sure. He said that every time  he talked to  a Coast Guard representative, he got a different answer. And  Coast Guard spokesman, Lt Cmdr Dan  Lauer said they were all in this together since the real enemy was the oil. Chew on this, the Coast Guard had to confirm there were fire extinguishes and life vests on board  and then were having trouble reaching the people who built the barges. ( Not sure the relevance there, but what ever.) Jindal cannot overrule the Coast Guard although  he attempted to reach the White House with his concerns. Finally after what have seemed like an eternity to the Governor the barges were back at work.

Does this seem at all similar with  the feds refusal of international help for weeks before finally accepting the proffered Dutch assistance this week? Sure does to me. Do you see the spectre of politics at work anywhere? Just wondering. Han g in there Governor Jindal and keep the pressure on!

Just another week in the Gulf.

June 18, 2010 Posted by | Energy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Talking Schools

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about a trip made by several people affiliated with our local system and took issue with the cost-$14,000- and what I saw as a lack of communication about the trip. Apparently, others had similar and maybe stronger feelings. An administrator with the Elizabeth City Pasquotank schools has felt the need to launch a defense. I’m not sure if her defense relates more to the trip or the local system in general.

The administrator in question is Linda F Ward. She is the director of federal programs and elementary education for the local system. She wrote quite  a lengthy response in our local paper on April 29 entitled, “Cost of Fla trip justified by local education needs.” Some might even call her article a bit of a diatribe as she calls out the local paper for attacking and degrading the local schools and longs for the day when the paper “really supports our  school system.”

I read her article carefully and have reread much of its content. I did not learn much about the trip itself, the rationale for partnering with the Schlechty Center and nothing about the partnership itself. I actually learned about Schlechty by going to their website. Ms Ward defends school system employees with gusto. Out of the 1,079 who work for the system she says that most  are committed to the system. Isn’t that a comfort? That statement was just one of several things she wrote that actually raised more questions than it answered. Try this quote. “My parents taught me long ago to stand up for what is right and what I believe in.” While that is admirable, she failed to explain what she meant in the context of  our school system. What exactly did she mean by what is right ? Nor did she identify in what she believes.

She talks much about the system’s improvement after years of struggle, saying that it is finally on track with” strong leadership, a clear direction and a focus on students.” Naturally I am going to ask some questions. Has the leadership been lacking  and why has the focus not always been on students? By her own admission she has been in the system for 25 years. Has  she just now become part of the strengthened leadership?  I don’t really know.

I don’t necessarily mean to be to critical of Ms Ward. I t’s good that someone  finally made an attempt to justify the trip. But it leaves with the same feeling that I have had many times before with a number of school systems with which we have interacted as parents. The systems are  quite lacking at communicating with the public . They invariably fall   short of explaining what they do and why they do it. And let us not forget  to mention the  large sums of money that flow through our educational systems. We as a society spend a  lot  of money on education. A little more transparency from the recipients would be nice. By the way, a little less jargon would help. Thanks.

May 8, 2010 Posted by | education | , , , , | Leave a comment

What in the World

Just recently, I have reconnected with World magazine after an absence of  awhile. The magazine has changed its frequency and format but not who it is. Take a look sometime and see what you think.

In my just received first issue and  found a delightful section named The Buzz/Quick Takes.Quick Takes is  a portion of The Buzz that has a number of pithy articles that seem to have a somewhat quirky perspective on things. I do love quirky perspectives.

Just wanted to share one from the United Kingdom which is somewhat well known known for quirky things. We are all familiar with laws against job discrimination based on race, age or sexual orientation. Used well, these are good things. ( However as a member of the older set, I am convinced that age bias is alive and well.)

Seems that the British have a government employment agency known as Jobcentre Plus which is  apart of the Department for  Work and Pensions( funny sounding title, that)  which is the country’s biggest public service delivery department.

Seems that an individual named Nicole Marmo, presumably an employer, submitted an ad to Jobcentre in an attempt to hire employees for cleaning positions. Her ad specified only “reliable” and ” hard working” employees. Wonder of wonders, the ad was refused because it was discriminatory against unreliable people.

So, after all this time, I finally learn that the unreliable and lazy employee  or potential  employee has a voice. Wonder if Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis has heard about this? We can only hope not.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Culture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just For Fun

Climate change news has been much in the news of late. All the ferocious winter weather has been claimed by those who are devoted to the gospel of man-made climate change and by those who are not. Our favorite environmentalist, algore, has even written a poem. You can read it  here, if you like.

In that spirit, I have composed  a little missive of my own, in honor of the goracle.

The Ballad of algore

The climate is changing

The temps  they are rising

Polar bears are losing their ice

Is there anyone who knows what to do?

An unassuming man, all dressed in tan

Said, “I can show you the way”

The Nobel Committee said huzzah

We shall give you a large prize

So people will notice you more

Yes, he has  quite  a large house in Tennessee

So he needs  more energy than you and me

Some call him a prophet

Far ahead of his time

I think maybe he wants to relieve you of your last dime

Ladies and gentlemen, climate guru extraordinaire- algore

February 18, 2010 Posted by | Culture, Weather | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Too Much Media, He Says

It appears that even in his role as president-elect,  Obama is getting tired of the glaring light of the media. A few words of advice, get used to it, cause it’s only gonna get worse.

While on vacation in Hawaii, Obama has had rather large doses of what seem to him, to be suffocating press coverage. They ate here, they went there, they did this etc. He grew so frustrated that he even ditched the pool reporters at one point . Just think, wait until he begins his term of office.  I assume that he is aware that the major each have a White House correspondent , maybe not . Slightly over 4 years ago, he was the junior senator from Illinois  and now, he is soon to be The Man, The Big O etc.

Alas, no more impromptu lunches and his barber of 15 years must come to him rather than vice versa. What a shame – the bubble is closing in to the extent that Obama will soon have to give up his Blackberry . Oh the sacrifices that he is making to be our president .

Never thought I would be a media cheerleader, but do your duty  watchdogs of the press. Ever watchful and ever vigilant .

December 29, 2008 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

What in the World

What is happening around us these days . The economy is struggling with foreclosures and repossessions and the like although oil prices and in tandem gasoline prices are declining – yeay . The Olympics are coming on 8-08-08 , such an interesting date to begin . As an aside, the Chinese are saying that they are going to control the rain so as not to interfere with the events ( more on the Games later ). On August 1 , El Rushbo celebrates 20 years on the airwaves . And finally , President Obama has been traveling overseas , Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Germany and France among others . He isnt president yet you say; from much of what I am reading he sounds like he is and folks over there are acting as if it were so . Examples of comments from the German and French media : Der Spiegel ,”Germany meets the Superstar “, Obamania, Rockbama , president in waiting, president in people’s hearts . Perhaps some of his own comments are worth a listen- citizen of the world, remake the world, etc. It has been very interesting to observe his trip with all the media fanfare and all the highpowered network people interviewing Mr Obama . A couple of telling comments referred to the crowd of 200,000 in Berlin as being the largest of his campaign and another that wondered why his most significant foreign policy speech was taking place overseas . I also thought it somewhat interesting that 1/2 of the cost of the Berlin appearance, about $400,000, was paid by Germany . Wonder how this will play in Peoria and Syracuse and Charlotte and Boise . Stay tuned .

July 25, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment