Wednesday, December 1, 2010

More Bans From Our Friends In Government

Yesterday was yet another bizarre day in annals of government intervention into free choice. Two bans were imposed by the state of North Carolina, and the one common thread is both have a tie to what many consider to be "sins". This concept is so entrenched that taxes on tobacco and alcohol, especially in the South, have often been referred to as "sin taxes".

The first new prohibition (pun intended) was on legal moonshine, particularly the 190 proof product made by Everclear. Moonshine, especially the illegal variety is ubiquitous in many parts of rural America, and I'd be lying if I said I've never sampled some smooth "applejack" in my day. That said, a libation that is 95% alcohol really holds no appeal to me, and the one "grain" party I attended at UVA back in the 70's was not my cup of tea.

The rationale for the state ABC board banning the product was eerily similar to Kill Devil Hill's smoking ban. Why? Because the action was taken to protect the youth. It all started with the Mecklenburg County ABC Board, according to a stroy on WRAL-TV's website:

WCNC-TV in Charlotte first reported the change after the Mecklenburg County ABC Board found much of the pure grain alcohol was being sold at stores close to college campuses. Mecklenburg board chief executive Paul Stroup calls the product dangerous, with no redeeming social value.

Unless these are grad students, then similar to KDH, we have a case of illegal activities undertaken by underage participants. In this situation, its booze, in KDH it was smoking. So the state jumps in and under ther guise of protecting kids also makes the drink unavailable to a fifty-year old. Strangely, the 151-proof version of Everclear will still be offered. I see little difference in the two products--students, if drinking, will simply consume more of the 151 proof Everclear in order to achieve whatever effect they are seeking from the consumption of grain alcohol. Studies already reveal that "lite" beer drinkers and cigarette smokers merely compensate for the lower alcohol and nicotine content by consuming more of the "lite" product.

The real problem here is underage drinking of any kind. If North Carolina believes a 20- year old can't handle beer, wine, or vodka, the consumption of legal moonshine should be of no greater or lesser concern. And given how easy it is to obtain illegal grain, it seems more reasonable to offer a legal alternative where the purity and contents are known and controlled. College kids are resourceful. They will find homemade versions if the legal product is banned.

And today, a ban goes into effect on video sweepstakes and poker games that operate on the Internet. The games are often played on machines in "Internet Cafes" and in many bars. Unlike online gambling, these are not skill games--the outcomes are predetermined based on mathematical formulas and the player has absolutely no control over the outcome. Governor Perdue signed the law banning the games in July.

With the state operating a lottery, replete with billboards and TV commercials reminding us we "can't win if we don't play", the sheer hypocricy of this bill is alarming. Gambling is either an evil that needs to be illegal, or its a choice available to adults. Operation by the state doesn't remove the moral issues, nor does the accrual of "profits" to government coffers instead of private sector profits. If Perdue really thought these games were bad, she'd abololish the North Carolina lottery, or at the least, curtail the huge ad campaign that encourages poor people to bet on a huge jackpot they have virtually no chance of winning.

The state lottery was born in scandal involving the hiring of a paid lobbyist for one of the companies that supply the lottery hardware--the same company that won the state contract. Add to that the fact that the state has already raided these funds, which were supposed to benefit education exclusively by merely shifting general funds formerly earmarked for education to other programs and substituting the lottery proceeds for the state's contribution to education and one is left with little faith in public sector legalized gambling.

And don't believe this is merely a moral issue for the state. As WRAL reported, Perdue's logic for the ban was revealing.

"I think, if you have video sweepstakes, whether it's video poker or video machines in general, we really do need to have some kind of concentrated, organized, unified system of regulation where they are under a set of standards, rules and regulations where we can be sure no one is profiteering from it," she said.

State lawmakers considered regulation. They even talked about letting the North Carolina Education Lottery take over the games as a way to raise revenue.

"Perdue said as things stand now, the sweepstakes cafes are "uncontrollable."

So, we need to ban 'em for some reason. Unless the state takes them over, where the games will then be free of corruption and "profiteering". Because if the state owns the revenue stream, we all know profits will never be part of the plan!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Another Change

As most of you know, my efforts have been heavily concentrated towards the Outer Banks Voice, a 50-50 venture between Rob Morris and myself. The Voice is growing by leaps and bounds and has started to garner some commercial advertising success.

Even though The Voice is an e-paper with unlimited "space", we do have limitations on sections, article length and content as the site can't be so large as to make browsing a chore. We want The Voice to be comprehensive, like any print newspaper, but not unwieldy.

This means that from time to time, articles, pictures and other information get "cut" from the Voice, even stuff I write. And some activities, such as charitable events, need more exposure more often than what we can provide on The Voice.

So consider this "The Voice" backup, especially for things of interest to me. We'll link stories to the Voice Facebook page, and if it catches on here, it might find it's way back to the Voice which I suspect will enjoy a much wider readership.

So stay tuned as my blog morphs once again!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Raising money for a good cause--First Flight Rotary

Be there..or be square. And call or write me if you need tickets...


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shine That Light

Sometimes I look at local blogs and just have to wonder. Over at EOD, a lot of discussion takes place about beach nourishment (mostly anti), which is fine. A lot more discussion occurs, however, from the writer and readers who post comments on the blog about how other writers are slanted in their approach, or refuse to expose both sides. Click on the image and read the comments from the author that appear below.

Interestingly, this graphic appears on the right hand side of EOD's blog site. Note the comments below the graph and the parts of the graph marked in red by the EOD editor.

Now, click below to see the mentioned survey in greater detail

Now, let's talk about sunlight, disinfectant, and fair coverage.

EOD draws our attention to the fact there were 1338 respondents, and only 55 listed beach nourishment as important. Sounds pretty scant. Yet, he fails to point out the numbers at the top of the survey: 172. That was the number of respondents choosing the top answers to the question--- and there was a tie between affordable/workforce housing and replacing the Bonner Bridge. So even the two number 1 questions garnered only 12.8% each of the total respondents votes. Aside from the fact respondent answers were all over the board, the fact of the matter is, not a single question came close to collecting a significant level of support. If we take EOD at its word, that the raw numbers speak truth, then we must also conclude Dare County residents don't care about affordable housing, replacing the bridge to Hatteras, more beach accesses, or even property taxes (5.6% of the respondents), another issue EOD seems to believe should have the entire population fired up.

In fact, beach nourishment support ranked 9th among the 37 total possible answers, which placed support in the top 25% of the respondents concern. Indeed, support for nourishment bested traffic congestion, traffic infrastructure needs, schools, and drug and alchohol abuse.

Another red mark missing from EOD's graphic is a red mark around the number of the 1338 respondents who checked off "No beach nourishment". I'll give EOD the benefit on the doubt that these were people who opposed beach noruishment since the other question, answered by 55 people, clearly says "Beach nourishment-support". So, while only 55 supported, only 17 voted no. That's 1.2% of the total, and 70% fewer than those who expressed support.

The reality, of course, is that this survey says nothing about anything. There are far too few respondents (over 700 skipped the question altogether), and far too many choices for anyone to glean one single insight into what the survehy takers thought important. Even I can't believe beach nourishment support outranks traffic problems.

That is the only conclusion any balanced assessment of this survey could muster. But, if we are going to claim these numbers mean something, then it is only fair to point out to the readers all of the facts; the small number of supporters for any possible answer to the question relative to the sample size, the actual ranking of beach nourishment support relative to all the possible answers, and the incredibly low number of respondents and even lower ranking of those opposed to nourishment.

Light is a great disenfectant, but it all depends upon where one shines it. Or, in this case, doesn't.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Greystone Project--"Piping Mad"

Clink on the link for a short video from the Greystone Project. I have not been able to discover much about this group, but according to their Facebook page, they are planning a national roll out of a full length documentary "Weathering the Storm" regarding the actions of environmental groups and Federal judge Terrence Boyle.

This short mini-documentary is being circulated as a teaser. It's quite compelling, but I will have to reserve final judgment when the full-length version is released. I am not sure if the numbers cited by business owners were as bad in 2010 as they were whenever this video was shot. Likewise, I am not convinced all of the shots of local businesses 'for sale' or 'closed' are directly related to the plover issue and the closures.

On the other hand, the entire debate is not really about economics, in spite of some web sites, message threads, and even blogger attempts to make it so. It has more to do with the politicization of science, the incestuous relationship between government agencies and those self-same scientists, wise use of our tax dollars, the actual benefit to the plover after all is said and done.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dare County Orders Mandatory In-Vacuation

With skies expected to clear by late Friday, Dare County authorities have ordered tourists forced to evacuate on Wednesday and Thursday to return to the northern beaches. While the order has not been expanded to Hatteras Island, county personnel stated they expect all tourists who left Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores, Duck and Manteo to be back on the beach by 4PM today.

A tourist bureau spokesman reminded evacuated guests that they "had signed binding contracts" which, under a penumbra our attorney's assure is quite enforceable, also contracted tourists to spend money at local stores and restaurants. "We expect those guests to honor the last 36 hours of their commitment to Dare County with their wallets".

Our Virginia Beach bureau reports that Dare County "Tourism Truancy" patrol officers were already rousting former Dare tourists who found refuge in Virginia Beach from bars and nightspots starting around midnight, when it became apparent Earl would not do much damage to the northern part of the county. The ex-pat tourists were held under secure guard at a central Virginia Beach hotel and will be escorted to their cars and back to our beaches starting at 1PM today.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

OBX Hurricane Prepardness-A Local's Tips

Outer Bankers pride themselves on taking approaching hurricanes in stride. Currently, a well developed Category 4 is on the way. Here is a mental and actual checklist OBXers go through as a storm approaches.

  • Is Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel here yet? This doesn't indicate a big one is imminent, but local females enjoy seeking out the "weather stud" while he is working. In fact, if Cantore is here, it's a good bet the storm will be minor.
On the other hand, if some lesser known and expendable Weather Channel person shows up, most of us evacuate.

  • OBX males ask, at these times, why is there no Fox Weather Channel sending correspondents that look like their News channel reporters and anchors.
  • Is the onrushing hurricane liberal, conservative, or religious? This must be determined quickly. A left leaning hurricane is bad news, as it moves west (obviously trying to find California) and leaves behind it a mass of destruction allowing politicians to bestow newly minted billions on the local economy. Right-leaning hurricanes move east, costing the taxpayers nothing. Religious hurricanes heed the call of the Rev. Pat Robertson and smite some other town, most likely one that recognizes gay marriages or allows dancing. On rare occasions, a "centrist" hurricane makes landfall, leaving everyone feeling empty.
Once we have gone through the above assessments and arrive at the conclusion a hurricane is on the way, one swings into the preparedness stage:

House Protection:

OBXers use a variety of protection devices, including plywood, wood shutters, and in my case, prefabricated panels. As you can see from this picture, it is important that your panels be safely stacked in a corner of each deck, preferably opposite of the prevailing hurricane wind. Make sure they are well secured, like these are, with multiple bungee cords or other restraining devices. Otherwise, they might damage a neighbor's house, or worse, blow away.

If you believe you have gotten your money's worth from the five consecutive annual 15% increases in your wind and hail premiums, you might want to install your protective devices. Otherwise, place tarp over objets d'art, widescreen TV's, your fishing citations and leave the panels stacked where they are. Your check from the insurance Gods will arrive. Someday. Maybe. It's the only chance you'll ever get some of that money back.


You need to store some potable water.

Looks good to me. Check.

Lay in supplies. Outer Bankers understand what is important. See how empty the Harris-Teeter lot is 48 hours from the projected brush-by?

Now, see where the real line is?

Don't laugh. As electrical service may be interrupted, bread, which is composed of cereal grains makes for an easy meal. Beer, on the other hand, includes many of the same grains, plus water, supplying two vital live-giving resources at one time.

Fruits are also important to your diet, and will keep without refrigeration, if no other option is available. White fruits, by the way, don't taste as good when warm.

As are ingredients for bourbon steak (cooked on a grill, of course), rum cakes (baked in a gas oven) and tequila over glass (no cooking required). No need to rough it just because the power grid has failed.

And of course, your freezer will keep food for several days without power-- if you refrain from opening it often or for extended periods of time. Fatty foods such as these can be cooked on a grill, maintain body weight and slow down the circulation of blood, making your heart beat much slower in times of stress.

Finally, dried vegetable and plant matter has a long shelf life. These can be chewed, smoked (but not during the storm as they burn too quickly in 100 mph winds). Keep some handy.

And be safe.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Punks on Parade

Long ago I grew weary of "local" newscasts. As a well-versed friend stated recently, television stations don't even bother to call these programs "news"--they now refer to them as 'shows'. I have been following one reporter around on two OBX related stories and found both of the so-called investigations to be lacking on so many levels I can't really critique the efforts properly. And it's not just one station. All four Hampton Roads outlets offer up more sensationalism than news. Worse, they have now begun tying news "stories" into promotions for their network's prime time programs. For example, if CSI runs an episode on a person who stalks his murder victims on Facebook, we get an "expose" on the dangers of Facebook at 6PM--with a plug for the CSI program that night--and a follow up at 11.

So here I sit at 11:03 watching channel 3-WTKR. The headline story is about an 18- year old kid who broke into cars in his neighborhood. He was apprehended by an alert Virginia Beach police officer recently. The officer noticed him riding a bike in the wee morning hours carrying stuffed backpacks. Making a connection between prior break ins and the backpacks he stopped the young man and found his pack full of iPods and a laptop and other stolen material.

The thrust of the story was a jailhouse interview with the offender in order to shock us with the glaring admission that he wasn't a bit remorseful. No sir--his only comment was people should "lock their cars" and if they don't, apparently, to the crook go the spoils.

By showcasing his personality, providing him some PR, and splashing his name over the airwaves, TV-3 has given this punk exactly what he most desired--a platform to show off his arrogance and obvious lack of social adaptation. And some street cred among his peer group of equally punk-ish associates.

What he needs is to be ignored. And in my day, a good butt-whippin'. Channel 3 in particular seems obsessed with the idea of shocking us with stories that in reality are all-too-common in today's environment. Small town political disputes, youthful punks with bad manners, allegedly overpaid government and private sector officials--all of this is nothing new and nothing shocking. A few weeks ago the lead story on this channel was about a young woman who had " befriended" several sailors, wiped out their checking accounts, and now wanted to turn herself in. The channel picked up an interview from Alabama (where she had fled) conducted by a sister network affiliate, interviewed one sailor who lost his money (his face appropriately blacked out) and her promise to take a bus to Oregon and turn herself in (as Alabama had no reason to arrest her but Oregon apparently does). Women taking advantage of sailors and their money--a crime (or scam) that has been around since years were denoted by BC instead of AD. And yes, so has murder, but hustling sailors is not the stuff of a lead story even on a slow news day. Brandy, you're a fine girl, but....

And, as I finish the post at 11:19 PM, a breaking report of a teen arrested for assaulting a female jogger, with anchor Bianca Martinez noting the neighborhood had been "pretty much scared" since the incident occurred. Pretty much? My wife, who doesn't even know I am writing this blog mockingly repeated "Pretty much?". Go get 'em Bianca.

I doubt I will be perfect in my new journalistic career. But I hope I turn out to be "pretty much" better than the folks who qualify as anchors, reporters and investigators for our local TV stations. Because, quite frankly, I'd "pretty much" rather watch 'South Park' than the local TV news.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Original Rhondell's

Bill Deal passed away in 2003, and sometime co-vocalist Fat Ammons has his own gig, but various former members of Bill Deal and the Rhondel's are still playing that old beach music and sound fantastic under the name "The Original Rhondels". The two horn players on the far right were in the very original group and are on all of their three national hits: "May I", 'What Kind of Fool" and "I've Been Hurt".

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Memory--The Gigabytes are Failing

Now that I am approaching "double nickels" in terms of age, I am just starting to notice the subtle slips of mind that creep into your everyday existence. At first, it would manifest itself in things like looking for my sunglasses while I was already wearing them. Comparing notes with reluctant buddies, some much younger than myself, confirmed this happens to them also. I don't worry too much about losing my keys in the house, I've been a master of that art for decades--long before I could assign the cause as the advance of Father Time.

But now, more examples seem to creep into the mental dialog. I love music, have about 4500 tunes on my iPod and usually "can name that tune" or even the artist is less than 5 notes. Yet, twice in last two weeks I've struggled to remember the name of one of Fleetwood Mac's lead vocalists. The first time, I simply could not muster the name "Stevie Nicks" at all--I was forced to do a quick Wikipedia check on my cell. A week later, when one of songs came over the radio, I kept trying to make her Nikki Stevens, which I knew wasn't quite right.

A couple of times, I found myself--in a hurry and usually late for a meeting--talking on the cell phone, as business calls only arrive when one is in a hurry to be somewhere. And twice, while talking on the cell phone I caught myself frantically searching for the self-same cell phone throughout the house before I realized where it was--stuck in my ear.

Last night I was covering a story for the Voice at a restaurant. I use three cameras for stories depending upon how complex I think the photography required will be for the story. Since pictures are now stored on those little discs, I discovered early on that if I was working on a story with my laptop there was a good chance the memory card was also inserted into my computer. On occasion, I would leave the card in the laptop when I finished the story and discover I had no card when I was out in the field the next day. So I bought extra memory cards for each camera case to prevent a disaster.

So there I was at Mulligan's last night and ready to take pictures of the owners and the food- when I realized-the memory card was still in the camera from a story I wrote earlier that morning. Completely forgetting I had specifically prepared for such a contingency, I told Gus and Shannon (the co-operators of Mulligans) I needed to run home and get a card. Gus brought several cards from his office, none of which fit my Nikon. So, after 30 minutes of deciding what to do, just before I got up from my seat to make the short trip to the house, I remembered I had an extra card in the case. Sigh.

I am heading to Subway to get some sandwiches right now--the new one at MP 10.5. I hope I remember where my house is located after I pick them up.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Outer Banks Epicurean

Been awhile since I've posted as I have been devoting most of my time to The Voice. In fact, I wrote an article on Outer Banks Epicurean when it opened, which you can find here. I also joined their Wine Club, which for couples includes two Gourmet Dinners to Go, over and above the wholesale priced cases, wine by the bottle discounts and tastings. I picked up my first meal to go last night. The fee, around $200--- easily covers the 24 meals, which retail around $9 to $12 per entree.

Last night for our first selection we chose the beef ragout, over organic basamati rice and local veggies mixed in. I am not sure how the meal was spiced, it had a definite Asian touch, the beef was generously proportioned and the dish was fantastic. Our second choice was local shrimp over linguine with fresh finely chopped local tomatoes, basil and garlic. Again, OBE didn't skimp on the main event--those local least one was included in every bite. And again, an excellent, tasty treat.

Not included in the Gourmet2Go are the optional side dishes, but who could turn down tarragon-mustard deviled eggs topped with garlic (local) shrimp. Not me. Or my wife. Ate 'em all. I was hesitant that shrimp over a deviled egg would taste good, but it was a surprisingly good match.

The serving size was such that we did not finish our meals, leaving enough for one of us to combine the two into a leftover dinner tonight (Rose called dibs, and I took the spaghetti we made two days ago).

There are always three entrees, one of which is a vegan choice. Tonight for example, they are reprising the ragout, but added blackened local catch with shrimp butter over Pleasant Valley Heirloom grits and Robert's Ridge Off the Cob Sweet Corn. Locals know where the Robert's farms are in Currituck.

Learn more about OBE, including the Wine Club, dinners to go, meals made at your cottage and cooking and etiquette classes at their website

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Local Plants

The first flower can be found almost anywhere behind a dune line. The last two are in my yard. Muscadine is pesky, but the grapes are cultivated in eastern North Carolina for wine. Trumpet vines are easy to spot this time of year--look high in any green foliage on trees, especially hard woods and you'll likely spy a red or orange spot of color in them.


Muscadine Grapes

Trumpet Creeper

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gore-Al Warming

While claiming to advocate severe measures to reduce global warming, it appears Al Gore has been contradicting himself on a regular basis. The red spots represent areas where Al, through his sexual escapades, has been heating up the planet on a regular basis. Oregon is home to his "masseuse" , which is what I think they call those kind of girls now. LA is home to his alleged girlfriend and movie co-producer, Laurie David, who has denied the allegations.

The blue-red spots in Tennessee are not the results of Gore's use of carbon offsets, at least not in the typical sense. The red represents the carbon footprint of Gore's 10,000 square foot "house", while the blue represents a blast of cold coming from the master bedroom shortly after details of Gore's other activities surfaced.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Skeeter's Redux

My third "Asian" night at Skeeter's on Colington Road. This has to be the among the best kept OBX secrets among locals and the few tourists who have discovered this restaurant.

So tonight I sent in two orders of fried pork wontons. Scarfed them right down.

A third appetizer was described merely as "Asian scallops". I have no idea what the spices were, or the white sauce drizzled on each. I could tell they were pan seared, and perfectly executed. And the combination of spices and drizzle made them fall easily into the the Top 5 scallop dishes I have ever had the pleasure to consume.

I am serious need to visit, adopt, and support this restaurant. I've heard the same praises from those who prefer Wednesday Taco's or Friday Prime Rib. Give these guys the props they dserve!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Text Driving

My wife found this on one of her Facebook friends newsfeeds, and it was too good to pass up...Not sure the church of origin

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Plover Closures Extended to All of Hatteras

It was a sad sight to see as the last of Cape Hatteras' National Park Service personnel were carried out by truck as a Federal judge expanded the closure areas around piping plover nests. Under a bizarre clause in the judge's order regulating human and vehicular traffic on the island during nesting season, any act of vandalism committed against an enclosed wildlife area is met with ever-expanding restricted corridors, unless the culprits are apprehended. Thus far, numerous acts of vandalism have occurred with no arrests. Environmentalists accuse radicalized ORV drivers, while ORV drivers accuse environmentalists of committing the crimes in order to expand the restricted areas and create a negative opinion of ORV advocates.

As one can see from the map, the corridor has now expanded to such an extent that not only has the entire Cape Hatteras park at "the Point" been placed off limits to visitors and employees alike, the ban has now been extended over the entire island, Ocracoke Island and a sizable portion of the ocean and sound.

As this DOT picture demonstrates, the exodus of Hatteras residents, moving northward into Currituck created a rare Wednesday morning backup on the Wright Memorial Bridge.

Mayor Bob Oakes, noting the ban already borders Nags Head along the Oregon Inlet portion of the park, advised south Nags Head's residents and visitors to be ready to vacate the area if one more act of vandalism is recorded.

The question still remains--exactly who is responsible for all this vandalism? After many nights of reconnaissance, the OBJ staff uncovered this photo of the culprit, just before he and other accomplices pulled up a fence and destroyed signs.

For those who doubt the plover's ability to conduct such activity, it should be noted that the NPS has secreted videos of local piping plovers in the company of the following avian allies...a cunning group of birds known to be able to pull off the most incredible stunts through the use of MacGyver-like tactics and the copious use of hurling.

One plover we interviewed stated they weren't so much interested in ridding the region of humans for mating success as they were in flipping the newly acquired territory to other species. While refusing to confirm or deny, a group of Oyster Catchers and Terns soon-to-be evicted from Audubon land in Virginia are rumored to among the potential buyers for the valuable oceanfront real estate.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Amazon-Saving the Environment

I love the Russian "nesting dolls". An interesting concept of a very old school artisan craft, now long gone, (like old Swiss watch mechanism's or real German nutcrackers).

But Amazon takes the nesting "cake". The bottom box contained those air filled plastic shipping bladders, which were securing the smaller box. The smaller box contained yet more air bladder cushions which in turn held the very small camcorder battery on the inside.

A company named after a river that flows through some of the most ecologically important habitat on the planet should think a tad more about the waste in their shipping.

Sunday--Barnes Street

I bought a new DSLR in the spring for use in the Voice. I've been playing with the telephoto lenses and other add-ons just to get used to them. The waves last Sunday at Barnes Street in Nags Head were far-from-gnarly; in fact, mostly non-existent. I'd guess about 1-2 feet about the time I got there (around 5:30 PM). Even folks on those sponge-board "starter" surfboards had a difficult time getting a ride. But, once in a while, even a small wave had a long enough break to catch a reasonably long, if not life-threatening ride. [Click on image to get a larger image]

Skim boarders were giving it their best, but the small waves led to even smaller shore break. The new breed of skimmers (as opposed to my age group, some thirty years ago) likes to skim the shore then turn into the shore break. If the break is large enough, they can pull a U-turn and "surf" the skim back to shore on the break..or, if the shore break is really large and the water deeper, they will ride into the break, launch from the board and perform aerial somersaults and other acrobatics in the one foot deep water. Today, just skimming and a slow, boring fade away...but the water droplets on the pix are pretty cool!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pig Pickin'--Nags Head Surf Fishing Club

I've been out of town a lot lately, so the blog has really taken a back seat to The Voice. But last month, I did to get attend the annual Nags Head Surf Fishing Club meeting, which is always held at the Old Nags Head Cove clubhouse on the sound.

Ironically, the gatherig--part awards ceremony for the Member-Guest tournament held that day, part meeting, and mostly eating--does not feature fish on the dinner menu. Instead, for the past several years, Jimmy Jackson--a club member and resident of both Dare and Pasquotank counties has generously donated his time to slow-cook a whole pig over the course of the morning and most of the afternoon. For those who have never seen what this looks like, here are some pix, as well as the gorgeous view from the neighborhood's club house.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bobby Rollason -About Bonds & Friendship

At a remote hunting camp near Windsor, NC, where Bobby Rollason loved to hunt with his friends, a crowd gathered around a small tent, situated beneath a deer stand.

Three young Ft. Bragg soldiers flanked a table that held pictures, a wide screen TV, flowers, and the ashes of a fallen brother--Bobby Rollason.

Sherry Rollason, his wife opened the celebration--and that is what this was, a celebration of life. A formal funeral had been held in February when Bobby left us. This time, the focus was on giving Bobby a proper send off in a place he loved and spent much of his time.

About those bonds. I am not using the term in a strictly gender-based form. It transcends friendship and extends the bonds that link us so deeply that a kinship is felt even among people who have never met. And so it came that these three young U.S. Army soldiers made the drive from Ft. Bragg to Windsor, on a national holiday weekend--fittingly Memorial Day--to pay respects to a man who had served his county before they were born. They performed the ceremony with obvious pride, incredible care and dignity and true sincerity. An amazing bond that transcended a generation to bring these men together--the living and the fallen.

And then there was the hunting camp "brotherhood". Men from all walks of life, their wives and children. Some of those bonds that help start the camp began as localized friendships here and in other places. But as other men joined the camp the bond transcended mere friendship and became something else--a bond based on love of nature, a common interest in an ancient and honorable sport, and just plain fun--getting out into the woods, telling lies and stories, breaking bread together and having a good old time.

At the ceremony, an older couple unveiled a beautiful paining by the wife depicting a part of the camp with wild turkey in the field. It was hung from a tree and can be seen in the background of this photo. Sherry Rollason read poetry and passages of prose in an emotionally charged tribute to her husband. My friend, Jay Hart...every inch a "man's man" turned on a laptop and a widescreen TV powered from his vehicle. Here was this tough guy, stringing together two very tender and fitting country music songs and setting them to a string of photographs celebrating Bobby's life. From this unexpected source came a choreography so skillful that if the word "smile" was in the lyrics a picture of a smiling Bobby Rollason appeared at the self-same second. Who knew? An effort like that could only come from the heart--and the sense of brotherhood that tied these two men together. Grown men, well into their retirement years were crying. Men who had seen Vietnam and everything life throws at you over the decades.

Another bond came from the Masonic fraternity. In fact, because of the respect these young hunt club members had for Bobby, many desired to follow him into the Masonic family. Over the last two years of Bobby's life a half-dozen new men joined our lodge, most all of them coached by Rollason through the oral catechisms still required for advancement. Indeed, during my time here on the Outer Banks, I had worked more closely with Sherry--an appraiser who has always been on my top three list. But Bobby, desiring to bring his hunting brothers into a different brotherhood began to cross my path more often as he introduced more men into our lodge and made frequent appearances at our meetings.

From all of these, and other aspects of Bobby's life, the composition of the celebrants grew into an extended family. Wives and children of hunt club members. People from Windsor. Currituck. The Outer Banks.

I didn't know Bobby nearly as well as most of those gathered on this beautiful Saturday. But the presence of so many from three differing paths--the U.S. Army, an informal hunt club, and the Masonic fraternity--added to the normal friendships we make during life--says much about the person whose life we were celebrating. I wish I had been able to know him better during his time here.

After the ceremony we shared BBQ, fried chicken and all the accouterments of the simple Southern fare we all love. And there, in the form of a humble meal comes yet another bond--one tied to geography and the unique regional characteristics of northeastern North Carolina. The ring closes on itself and is indeed, eternal.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Audubon. Hypocrites?

Do we compete with the Outer Banks Sentinel? Sort of. But we at The Voice are friends with all other newspapers in the area, and Sandy Seamans and I have several links in the civic sector. Some time ago, even before I left banking, whispers were heard among Realtor's concerning Audubon's intention to sell their Currituck ocean front land to...developers. They did it once via a swap, and that gave us Pine Island and gave the Audubon some more soundside property.

Now they are selling the remainder of their ocean front in what was once a preserve. And, they are selling this land to developers. Not an invitation to beat up on developers; that is what they do. But surely a chance to maybe, for once, get the Outer Banks residents riled up about an interest group shutting down beaches on Hatteras and selling ocean front resort land to developers at ocean front prices (even if depressed from the good old days of 2002) one county north---because they say the land has no environmental value. A 1,000 foot corridor is needed to make a plover safe, but 9,000 of feet of beach (that's almost two miles) was worth trading away once, and selling now so that none remains. Right.

Multiple news sources are important to any society, even small towns. I neglected to follow this story up back in my blogging days, but Sandy did. So read it, and thank her. I already have.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rand Paul--Welcome to the Media Bias

I love my new Droid phone. One of its greatest features is three "home pages" you can scroll through at the slide of a finger that hold news widgets. Widget's are active mini-applications that look similar to large program icons which hold constantly updated information. My favorites are weather widgets (I have four) and news/sports (I have seven). The news widgets scroll new headlines all day.

I noticed within 48 hours of the libertarian leaning, Tea Party embracing Rand winning the Kentucky primary, the negative headlines began to appear. Rand was racist for questioning the reach of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He was a kook for asking Obama to basically stop using BP oil as a whipping boy for political expediency. (Apparently, Obama, after beating up on Bush over his lackluster Katrina performance has discovered that he can't solve a massive disaster by sheer personality either, so he has resorted to the very un-original tradition of beating up "Big Oil" for rhetorical points. Too bad it isn't helping the fish, birds, and residents).

The media loves this, and mark my words---a lot of effort will be expended on making sure a Tea Party politician never takes a seat in Washington. Now, it may turn out that Rand, like his father, will actually be a little kooky and may blow himself up. But I'm not surprised the negative media coverage started almost immediately. It's what we've come to expect.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bye Bye Arlen, Hello Paul

With the possible exception of Arlen Specter's defense of Clarence Thomas in the Supreme Court justice's nomination process, he never was much of a Republican. Or a Democrat. Instead, Specter was the epitome of what ails Washington, DC, our state capitals, and even local politics. A professional politician with the audacity to claim he switched parties so "he could continue to do good for the people of Pennsylvania", Specter appeared far more interested in holding on to his power base in the nation's capital.

His primary loss to Rep. Joe Sestack came in spite of a rousing endorsement from President Barak Obama coupled with a campaign rally appearance from the president. It appears members of both parties are finally in a mood to dump incumbents, especially those who have clung to power for decades.

Personally, I'd be happy to witness a new cadre of Republicans and Democrats, be they liberal, moderate, or conservative ride a wave into Washington this year. It would mark a sea change in American politics. In the past, voters tended to rebel against the party occupying the White House when things got tough. Now, they appear to have finally focused on where our problems actually lie--the members of both parties who occupy Congressional seats and tend to their own interests and those of special interests while disregarding the people's business.

Congratulations to Pennsylvania Democrats for choosing ideals over the status quo and rejecting the overblown rhetoric of their president.

Over in Kentucky, GOP primary voters performed the same dance. In this case, it wasn't an incumbent who lost, but the hand-picked successor of retiring Senator Jim Bunning, a former major league baseball player--the establishment GOP candidate.

Paul, a physician and the son of Texas GOP Rep. Ron Paul (a Republican congressman who once ran on the Libertarian ticket for President and has mounted two primary campaigns for the GOP presidential nod) ran with the open endorsement of the "Tea Party" movement in Kentucky--an association he embraced.

Whether or not Paul, who follows his father's libertarian instincts, can win a general election while maintaining ties to the Tea Party, is an open question. It is also an important issue for both Paul and the Tea Party groups, as the voting power of the new anti-tax movement will be put to the test in a relatively conservative state that is considered on the fringes of "southern" politics.

Either way, the establishment was dealt blows on both sides of the aisle. And that's important for the continued health of democracy in America.

Skeeter's--Colington Road

I will be writing a series of pieces for The Voice on local new, changed, or recently discovered OBX eateries. Realizing some of my readers don't scan our news site, I'll be adding mini-reviews here.

View Larger Map

First up is Skeeter's on Colington Road. This location has gone through a lot of iterations and owners in the past few years. Most of them have served up great food, but sadly, have failed. My suspicions are beach folks just don't wish to venture too far down Colington Road's windy curves to find a place to dine out. Too bad. Because Skeeter's is worth your while.

Owned by Anne and Gary High, with Anne doing the chef honors, Skeeter's offers great local style seafood and other menu items at a very affordable price. Even better, Anne, with the background to go with the cuisine, offers "Asian Night" every Thursday. The Thursday selections change from week to week. On my visit, it was egg rolls, shrimp toast, orange duck, crab Rangoon, pepper steak, pork rolls, and some killer shrimp fried rice. We went with a group of about ten, which is the only way to sample Asian food. By the end of the night, we had purchased almost every appetizer and entree on the menu--and loved every bite. The most expensive entree was only $12, and one can easily make a meal out of two or three of the reasonably priced appetizers and sides.

Our group is going back this week, and I plan to stop by on a regular menu night. Worth a visit, especially for our tourists. There is some beautiful scenery along Colington Road--lots of bridges, waters, streams and marsh. The outside eating area overlooks a quaint riparian water view where I've spied a Wood duck or two in the past.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

2010 Relay for Life Video Scenes Vol 2

These include the incredible "Cancer Survivor" birthday cakes submitted by many of the teams, including a short video of the three prize winners. Also a longer video of the cancer survivor walk. Survivors are the first to walk each year, typically with Queen's "We Are The Champions" playing. You can see my wife, Rose, with her pink Red Sox hat waving to the camera.

2010 Relay for Life Video Scenes Vol 1

First two videos include comments from Relay chair Bob Davis. Sorry about the wind noise!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Realy for Life 2010

People I know and love who will not mind my mentioning their names in conjunction with this cause:

Rose Lay: My wife. Survivor.
Ron Bennett: My former boss (and best boss ever) when I worked at Gateway Bank. Survivor.
Lori Hain: A business client and friend. Survivor.
Rhonda Lowman: Another friend and wife of one of my wife's partner's. Survivor.
Pat Eure: Wife of local artist Glenn Eure and a wonderful person in her own right. Survivor.
Sue Reynolds: Long time competitor and long time person I have never been able to catch up with in the lending game. Survivor.
Rufus Lay: My father, who died of prostate cancer.
Bob Davis: Max Media personality and one of the best people you will ever meet. Survivor.
The partner of my executive coach. Survivor.
My uncle Joe Abernathy who had leukemia and prostate cancer. Beat the leukemia, died of the prostate cancer.
Bro. John Schleter. A Masonic Lodge mentor of mine. Diagnosed with prostate cancer 27 years ago. Was pronounced cured at five years. Died 27 years later of prostate cancer.

And literally dozens of other friends, men and women, but the vast majority being women who have died, beaten, or are still fighting breast cancer. Men who fall to prostate cancer.

Relay in Dare and Currituck is tomorrow. You owe it to your fellow man and woman to be there. I've been going, raising money, and participating for close to fifteen years. This year, it's personal.

PLEASE come. PLEASE pledge your support with time, talents, or donations of money.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Friday Night on THE Island

Most people call the beach area of the Outer Banks an island, especially as we are classified a barrier island. In theory, ever since the inlets closed in Duck and points north, we're actually more of a skinny peninsula, or as a current popular bumper sticker states—a sandbar. In any event, the beach area has always been considered the place where the "action is", especially during the summer. Much of that has changed over time. The tacky but fun beach spots focused on beach music, rock music and even alternative tunes have gone. No more Casino, Carolinian, the Atlantis, or Mex-Econo. What dance/band places remain cater to a younger crowd and many of them spend more time fighting off noise complaints and attempting to fit into the "family beach" atmosphere the Outer Banks is currently utilizing as its model sales pitch. As I have aged, my desire to get out of the house on weekends remains-- yet my ability to enjoy what music is still available on the main beach has decreased. No knocks against the newer forms of music (some of which I like), but for the most part these are bands and crowds that belong to a younger generation.

Surprisingly, while the beach has waned as an entertainment venue for the 40+ crowd, Manteo has quietly evolved into something the older crowd can enjoy. First, and most importantly, the waterfront area features something the beach sadly lacks---a place where one can park their car and wander among restaurants, local shops open past six at night…and bands suited for my age group. A good place to start is Striper's, on Hwy 64/264, nestled into the Shallowbag condo and marina complex between McDonald's and Darrel's. A downstairs bar provides nice views, karaoke during the week, and acoustic bands on weekends. Upstairs, a private club exists where you can enjoy mixed drinks, but you have to become a member. Dinner there is pretty good, especially in the bar area for those more interested in music than fine dining. A full service restaurant t exists on the second floor.

Moving to the waterfront, three venues are within walking distance of one another—providing food, beer and wine (but no cocktails as liquor-by-the drink is still not legal in Manteo). The Full Moon and Poor Richard's both provide music at night, bar food, and in the case of Full Moon a full menu for those wishing finer dining. Full Moon also features NC & VA based microbrews on draft. Oretaga'z features a wine bar and southwestern fare.

And, unlike the beach area, which seems to have an aversion to any kind of outdoor celebrating or the closing of streets, Manteo has taken an opposite approach. From Dare Days to their art shows on the waterfront and the First Friday celebrations, which start around April and run through the summer---revelers and shoppers can enjoy outdoor bands of all manner, stores operating late at night, and the three aforementioned venues—all of which remain open after the street celebration is over.

This past Friday we spent most of our time at Poor Richard's. The band was a male/female duo from Richmond—Ominotago. Beau & Chelsea both play acoustic guitar, a bongo, and sing.

They harmonize well and Beau usually takes lead although I felt Chelsea displayed a far stronger and emotionally diverse range in her vocals. The band has several original tunes, some of which are quite catchy and radio play worthy. They also cover a wide range of music—from The Beatles to Sublime to Guess Who—but their interpretations are so far removed from the originals one is hard pressed to call them covers. What Joe Cocker did with covers on his vocals, Ominotago does with the musical arrangements as well as the vocals.

In any event, a fun night. First Friday is a great idea and something the stodgier beach towns should consider, especially in the shoulder seasons. And the existence of intimate food, drink and music venues close to one another is sadly missing from the beach area. I plan to spend more time in Manteo in the coming months.

The only drawback to such an excursion continues to be the relative lack of and incredibly high cost of taxi service in the area—especially where distances are involved. You have to drive to Manteo and then return to the beach in your own car, or plan on spending a small fortune on alternative transport. So concentrate on food and music and less on adult beverages if you make the trip.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Jazzfest 2010-NOLA

My daily update on Jazzfest this year will be on The Voice rather than here. However, videos and such that don't make the cut on the news site will featured here. So, here's three of them!

#1 is a video of one of many youthful (i.e., under 18 yrs old) bands that play for free all along Bourbon Street and the rest of the French Quarter. In this case, its a brass band.

#2 is what happens at JazzFest when one is under the influence of too many mild altering products, be it beer or other stuff. The band Government Mule was the inspiration.

And #3? A crowd of German tourists who come to JazzFest each year on "holiday". The Swedish flag is inexplicable, but their version of Oh Susannah...a hoot! The bar was Dominic's on Carondolet.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What Next?

And so Bike Week is over and after working almost every day at the Shrine food sale booth at Vertigo's, I found myself tired of beer, BBQ, Italian sausage, motorcycles, and even scantily clad women. In fact, I took no pictures of any women the last day, so those who despise the objectification of the fairer sex can take some solace.

The blog has taken a huge backseat and the daily visits reflect the results. I now have three jobs I juggle. It doesn't even come close to the money I made as a banker, and I am far more busy, but its a good stress rather than a bad one. My mortgage business would be lucrative for the second quarter if all the stuff I have originated might actually close. We are in the process of changing that business, so have been busy with the prep, including my umpteenth drug test and criminal background check. I have given more "samples" for drug tests in the past three years than I can count.

Most of my political stuff ends up on The Voice, but I am trying to find a way to balance the blog with the news site without depriving the money making side (The Voice) of content. And, I am trying to find a "voice" for the blog--now that I report on politics I have tempered the type of writing that my followers (where I was mostly preaching to the choir) liked.

Because I have been so busy..humor and satire, the other "draw" for this blog has taken a back seat.

What else? Selling ads for the Voice is a ton of work. I hope the community supports us by buying ads (the Voice is a quality product in my opinion) and readers show appreciation for a free, daily news source with video and other stuff the dead-tree press can't do by patronizing our advertisers and telling the businesses they patronize "Hey--I read the Voice and you should advertise there".

I have one more Econ class to take in the summer session at ECU--another graduate level course. And, I have two Pol Sci classes slated for Fall 2010 at COA and three for Spring, including my first Econ class I hope. So, busy is and will remain the word of the day.

Keep checking in. Sooner or later I'll get my blog mojo back in gear and figure out how to do split my time between the Voice and here. And thanks for keeping up!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

OBX Bike Week-Part 3

OK--the boring pix should be on The Voice, along with I hope-- some cool video from the burnout pit competition at Vertigo.

So, here's what I do best--bikes and girls...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

OBX Bike Week-Part 2--Support Good Causes

Two good causes for visitors at OBX Bike Week to help with. On Saturday morning, April 24 the Manteo Masonic Lodge on Hwy 64/264 (the main drag in Manteo) is having a pancake breakfast to raise money for our two charities; the Masonic Home for Children in Oxford, NC, and the Whitestone (Eastern Star/Masonic) Eldercare/Retirement Center in Greensboro, NC.
$5 gets you pancakes, sausage, fruit and juice. All proceeds go to the charity. Bikers welcomed, encouraged and begged to come. Hooter's is competing with us this year with their own pancake breakfast, so it may be a tough year. Take the old way through Manteo if you are on your way to Vertigo's rather than taking the new bridge. Times are 7-10AM.

EVERY day, the Dare County Shrine Club's Beach Bum unit is cooking up BBQ (we smoke the butts ourselves over a slow cooker--this ain't store bought BBQ), eastern NC style; grilled chicken breasts and Italian sausage subs. All sandwiches $4; proceeds to the Unit which in turn raises money and provides PR for the Shrine Children's Hospitals--we operate over 20 of these facilities for both burn and birth defect victims and no patients pay a penny--even if they have insurance. The Shriner tent is at the Vertigo stop on the Bike Week tour in Manns Harbor.

Help out and have some fgu

Sunday, April 18, 2010

OBX Bike Week 2010--Part 1

Views from Vertigo's Tattoo today (Manns Harbor, NC)