Tarheeltalker

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

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

What does 128 have to do with 45?

At first glance one would think that the two numbers have very little in common. And I wish that they did not. But  in the world of  NASCAR star  Kyle Busch they have very much in common. It  seems that just a few day ago that Mr Busch was clocked by some North Carolina sheriffs deputies ( probably in either Cabarrus, Iredell or Mecklenburg counties) at a  speed of 128 mph in  a   45   mph speed zone.  Just ponder those numbers for a  moment and then wonder what speed you were driving when you got  a speeding  ticket.  I   am certain that almost all of us would be in that category.

Busch, who was driving  a borrowed Lexus  at  the time, has made the   obligatory  apology and stated that he showed poor judgment. Duh!

Ever since  I  first  heard about that this I have been quite perturbed. One of those levels is  thinking about what could have happened had just a little something gone wrong, major traffic accident or traffic fatality come  quickly to mind. And the second  thought is what consequences will there be?

After having talked to  a few people  today I feel very disheartened  about their being any consequences at all that really mean anything. Take his driver’s license, he can still drive a racecar since he doesn’t need it. Levy  a large fine, say $150,000. To a professional athlete of his stature that doesn’t mean much. Remedial driving course, public service announcement about the evils of speeding, right.

And think about these last two items. What if you were caught speeding at just twice the legal limit, not almost three times. What do you think might happen to the next speeder caught in whichever county Busch was caught? Bet that the person’s lawyer will have a field day.

Oh and as for this damaging him in the eyes of fans, not very likely.

May 26, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Sports | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May 8,1886

One hundred twenty-five years ago today, in Atlanta, Ga, a momentous event took place. The after effects are still with us in ways that could never have been envisioned by James S  Pemberton or the customers of  Jacobs Pharmacy. For those untold millions whose thirst has been quenched by a ” Co-Cola” as my wife famously said after the birth of our first child, and Mello- Yello lovers everywhere, it should almost be  a holiday. Yep, it was the day in which the first Coke was served.

I don’t really care much about the secret formula or if somebody has actually published  it somewhere. I have very little interest  in knowing that   the beverage actually had cocaine for a time. I just know that there have been many times that nothing but a Coke would satisfy or quench  my thirst as jingles have proclaimed. It has settled my stomach many times, has smoothed the way for many a hot dog and hamburger and still does. In the interest of disclosure I  would be remiss if I failed to mention that Mello-Yello shares the top spot now. But it is  a Coke product, of course.

It is interesting that an NC native, the home state of Pepsi, would be such a loyal  Coke consumer, but there you have it. I well remember in my hometown of Leaksville, NC as it was known then, watching the Coke bottles go round and round at a bottler? or distributor and thinking how cool that was.

But in the interest of history as I remember it I recall that while living in Columbus, Ga in the late 70’s and early to mid 80’s that there was  the John S Pemberton house located on  a brick paved street near the Chattahoochee River where I often indulged my then affinity for running. There was a  plaque on the grounds identifying that house as being that of one John S Pemberton who concocted the formula for Coke and then rushed off to the big city.

Actually he probably refined the formula  after moving to Atlanta where the product was not well received until being bought by Asa Chandler with the rest being history. Ironically for me, Dr Pemberton,  a pharmacist by trade, was actually born in North Carolina and buried in Columbus. Finally I have an NC connection for Coke. Have to go now, it is time for  a Mello-Yello!

May 8, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Food | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spinning a Yarn-Textile Style

 

My Dad explaining his job as a warper tender-from 1940s or 50s

The majority of my working life was spent  in the textile industry, although not actually in the plant. However, during  a span of several years. I worked next to 2 of our plants and visited the plants from time to time.

As is the case with almost all the textile industry in the United States, my company ( Fieldcrest Mills to Fieldcrest Cannon to Pillowtex)  is no more, having bit the dust in 2003 via the bankruptcy courts. The plants were scattered all over the southeastern U. S. but primarily in North Carolina, are no more.

This is still a bit poignant for me since  several my family members were employed at the company at one time or another, including my parents who were production workers in the Fieldcrest Mills Blanket Mill for  many years.

What is quite interesting to me is  that  the company is gone but the brand names live on, having ben purchased by various entities. One in particular  that comes readily to mind is Royal Velvet. I suppose that it would be correct to say that it was the flagship brand of the Bed and Bath Division. The towels sold under the Royal Velvet name were made in  aslant located in the small Virginia town of Fieldale. To say that this was a quality product would be a bit of an understatement. We are still using Royal Velvet products that were  purchased a number of years ago. The irony to me is that to get a towel equal in quality today, one would be required to spend a significant amount of money. The same holds true for bedding products( sheets, comforters, etc) .

Now, about all the former textile giants have in common is bankruptcy and imploded plants. But, as do many others, I remember some of those days when cotton went from the Card Room  to the Spinning Room to Yarn Preparation ( where my parents worked)  and finally to the Weave Room where a recognizable product surfaced.

It is in truth an industry that is gone but that will always be with us.

March 7, 2011 Posted by | Business, Family, History | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dope Wagons and Bottles of Milk

One of the best perks of growing a bit older is reminiscing about days gone by and of course, emphasizing how much better it was then. This thought struck me today in a brief  conversation I had with an older customer on my mail route. And since last weekend when we traveled to my hometown and talked a  bit about days gone by, the past has been very present with me.

Let me hasten to add that there are no illegal substances referred to in the title of this post. Just wanted to clarify that.

Both of my parents were long time  employees of what was then Fieldcrest Mills, Inc, an Eden,Nc based textile manufacturer. Both were production employes in  what was  known simply as the Blanket Mill. She was  a spooler hand and he was a warper tender. Their careers began around  the 1930’s or 40’s and in those days there were no canteens  or break rooms as we know today to take a few moments for  a soft drink or cup of coffee. If my memory is at least partly accurate, the snacks/drinks etc were delivered by a pushcart that made its rounds through the  plant. Again, this next is my recollection of what I was told. The carts were known as dope wagons since they also distributed a variety of headache remedies, a virtual necessity.  Or they might have been called by that name since  a Coke was  at one time known as  a “dope.”Cant prove but I  bet that Goodys, a Richard Petty favorite,  was a popular choice. I actually  have a  hazy memory of touring the plant as a child and being overwhelmed by the pungent aromas coming from the bleachery department.

Part deux of the title  is from a delightful memory I have of home delivery of our  milk by the Pet Milk  man. The empty glass bottles were placed on the porch the night  before I think with  a note “ordering” the milk /juice to be delivered that morning. For many years I thought that Pet was the only milk available . To this day however, I believe that  milk  should  be available only in glass bottles simply because it is  a”proven” fact that it tastes better.

February 28, 2011 Posted by | Culture, History | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Going Back Home

Thomas Wolfe 1937 4

Image via Wikipedia

Asheville native Thomas Wolfe once wrote that you can’t go home again. I have wondered about that phrase. After all, one can almost always go home again unless there are extraordinary circumstances that prevent that from happening. But, after this past weekend I think I have a better grasp on what he meant.

My wife and I have different hometowns and at this time in our lives we live in hers, having lived in my hometown of Eden,NC  on two separate occasions.

For many reasons, some valid and some  not , we have not been to Eden  in over 20 years. As is often the case we returned under difficult circumstances; the  sudden death of a relative. One of my sisters lost her husband quite suddenly last Wednesday and were drawn home again, at least it was home in my case.

I  have tried to put the trip into some type of perspective, knowing all the while that the trip was not about me, but rather being there for my sister. My wife and I talked   a bit about going back as we traveled, particularly as we  drew closer. The main artery for us is NC Hwy 14 into town and  I was predictably astounded at what I observed. There were businesses galore that we did not know,and could scarcely believe that were there. They had a Cookout, for goodness sake. Old businesses were gone, others inexplicably remained. The hospital ( Morehead Memorial) seemed to be stretching its tentacles everywhere as if it were the only game in town and maybe it is.

Going down main street, Washington,was, as in most small towns sorta sad.  Alas,vacancies seemed to outnumber stores. But, even more surreal was arriving at my home church, Bethel Baptist. The church sanctuary was the venue for the receiving line prior to the funeral. This was a place where I had not set foot since probably 1970. Really, really strange.

Predictably, I  did   not know most of those paying their respects, but every now and then, a familiar face emerged and once again the past became the present and quite nicely I might add.

The service itself was not really a funeral but more of a celebration of what had transpired in my brother in laws life and really my sister’s as well. She was that crucial figure, largely unseen that made a lot of what he did possible. There was as much laughter as tears, largely due to the common bond of Christian faith shared by the members of my family.

The church’s pastor, Darrell Boles, was one whom I knew by word due to my sisters and their spouses, two of whom faithfully attend. I was so very pleased to met him and get to know him for myself. From this point of view he is the right man in   the right place at the right time. I would be remiss if I did not mention  the caring  but professional job done by Fair Funeral Home under the direction of Neil Fair.

So, we went “home” again and I think I learned once again that it’s not so much the  place but those people who are there and were once there that really provide that  unique aura that is no where else.

To all who were there,

Shalom.

February 21, 2011 Posted by | Family, Life and Death | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Am I insane?

I have heard it said that a sign of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting  a different result. Based solely on that criteria I may be crazier than I  sometimes seem to be. I shall attempt to illustrate my situation by virtue of three examples, two of which can be grouped together.

          Exhibit A

From time to time while delivering mail, I will stop at a fast food establishment for some refreshment. Today was one of those days. My mistake, alas,  was in the place I chose. Hardee’s  and  I have not had a very good relationship in recent years primarily due to the excruciatingly service that seems to be their trademark . And so it was today. Here I am,the only customer  in the building and I waited almost 5 minutes, finally departing with no beverage. Having had these experiences several times, it begs the question, why do I continue to subject myself to this?  See title.

Exhibits B & C

Our next two examples fall into the same category. In our little town of Elizabeth City one is frequently encouraged, nay admonished to shop at home. The  multiple benfits to the local economy are extolled, etc. However, although I agree with this sentiment to  a point, I have had two instances  withinh the last severral days that  are changing my opinion, On the verge of runbning out of  ink on our computer printer, we went to  our local Office Max only to discover that they had every kind of Dell ink cartridge imaginable save the one we needed. Wal-Mart, same result, Ordered it from Dell, got it in 2 days. The secpnd example concerned my faothful companion, The World Almanac and Book of Facts, which I have bought the last few years. Lo, and behold, no one locally seems to have it, Yet another, aarrgh!!!

So, do my behaviors indicate a  problem severe enough to require me to never shop again? Or, do I resort exclusively to the online world( except for food)? Yet another unfathomable dilemma.

January 29, 2011 Posted by | Business, Culture | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Sad Sign of the Times

Barrier island in the Outer Banks, North Carolina.

Image via Wikipedia

Spent a little time on the Outer Banks of North Carolina the last couple of days.In the spirit of the Administration’s “summer of recovery”  I did my small part at stimulating the economy. While driving around I saw a sign that encapsulated the ongoing economic problems that we face. The sign was  located at a real estate office, a Century 21 branch  I believe. Typically these advertise featured homes or land that are for sale. This particular sign said ” Bank owned homes tour.”

My interpretation of that based on homes tours with which I  am familiar presumes that this office has enough foreclosed homes available to comprise a tour all their own. Very sad thing to contemplate. Unfortunately, it goes along with  a  USA Today article yesterday captioned ” Nothing but awful economic news.”  I read another article , actually from two sources that reported foreclosure filings  in July topped 300,000 for the 17th consecutive month. ( Actual forclosures are running a little over 85,000 a month.)

Alas, the recovery seems to an elusive thing indeed. But, on  a ( maybe) brighter note, the Department of Energy has a new category to chart the success of the economic stimulus. Along with the millions of jobs created or saved they will publish a  new number, “lives touched, ” presumably by the economic stimulus. So, hang in there, you  may yet fit into a category.

August 22, 2010 Posted by | economy | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Politics and Football

I have heard it said many times by announcers and commentators  that in a football game, particularly  professional football, that a holding penalty could be called on virtually every play. But of course it isn’t or  a game would never be completed  or nothing of consequence would happen.

I wonder if it’s a bit like that in  politics. For our purposes, the officials  would be the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, chaired by California Democrat Zoe Lofgren. Said committee is also known as the House Ethics Committee. No doubt there are members of Congress, past and present ( Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay,etc) who call it by other names. The committee is composed of 10 members, equally divided by party. Bet it’s not the committee of choice for many members.

The committee is very visible these days due to the “charges” brought against New York Democrat Charles Rangel and California Democrat Maxine Waters. From what I hear and read, the charges against Rep. Rangel are the more severe. In fact, the President has even implied that it would be a good thing if Mr Rangel just quietly stepped aside. Thus far, that has not happened although he did relinquish his position as Chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. Perhaps the negotiations are still ongoing between Mr Rangel’s representatives and those of the Committee. Meanwhile, he continues to be on the ballot for the fall elections. In fact, there is  a big event scheduled for August 11, ostensibly to celebrate his 80th birthday, which actually was June 11. But the event’s real purpose is that of fund-raiser.

Generally, his name on the ballot was tantamount to re-election since he won in 2008 with  about 80% of the vote. He actually has some challengers this time, one of whom has an interesting pedigree,  one Adam Clayton Powell, IV.

Anyway, one last interesting piece of information. There are already people saying that the charges against  both Rangel and Waters are racist and that the  Republicans better not try to use this in the fall elections, an accusation of racism before the fact, I guess. One of the leading proponents of this is that paragon of journalistic objectivity, Keith Olbermann. So, Mr Olbermann, a question or two. Remember that the President has indicated resignation for Mr Rangel would probably be the best choice and also that one of the Ethics Committee members is Congressional Black Caucus member and my congressman, G K Butterfield.

I don’t necessarily believe the charges are racist in nature, but are based more in actions that perhaps were not the ideal. But we shall soon see, if the  charges proceed further.

August 8, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments