Archive for August, 2008

They’ll rip ‘em to shreds

August 29, 2008

And you’ll be glad they did — because you’ll be guarding yourself against identity thieves.

That’s if you choose to participate in an upcoming free Shred-A-Thon. It’s being held from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 12 (a Friday) at Boone Trail Center on Boone Trail Extension.

There, you’ll be able to destroy any personal papers that you no longer need but that shredded-docs.jpgyou’ve been hanging onto because you didn’t want to just throw them away. This might include old bank statements, bills and check stubs or even all those credit solicitations that you get in the mail. Don’t worry if they’re loaded with paper clips or staples. The industrial shredder will make make short work of that stuff.

The event is being sponsored by the Airman and Family Readiness Center at Pope Air Force Base, Proshred and N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper.

If you can’t make the Shred-A-Thon, not to worry. There are other free or cheap options in the area for mangling your documents far beyond the piecing-together skills of even the most determined identity thief. And those options are always available.

Meanwhile, not sure which financial records to keep and which to throw away (after shredding)? Check these suggestions from


Not just the “facts”

August 28, 2008


Today’s column includes info about how you can expunge felonies from your record (note: generally, you can’t); how to get presidential campaign gear locally; and some facts about actor and martial artist Chuck Norris — though not the really fun “facts” about him.

I also told T.T. how to view local obituaries from the 19th-century conflict that he calls the War Between the States and that I (and most people) call the Civil War.

The short answer: Scroll through lots of microfilm. It’ll strain your eyes. I looked through a bit of the microfilm of the then-weekly Fayetteville Observer from January 1864 and it’s a challenge. Not only are the words tiny and the focus occasionally fuzzy, but the reproduced image wasn’t exactly crystal clear to start with. Frankly, it can be hard to read in places.

You can photocopy the screen image off the microfilm reader but… yikes. Let’s just say the quality of the image doesn’t improve with this next generation of reproduction.

Nevertheless, if you can deal with these problems, you’ll find this a fascinating window into that time in history.

I thought I’d copy here the item about one soldier’s death so you (and maybe T.T.) can see. I guess you can call it an obit, though it’s clearly the text of a letter written by a comrade of the dead soldier. The item ran in the Observer on Jan. 4, 1864, which was six months after the soldier’s death. That’s probably an indication of how slowly news could travel back then.

The item was on the front page, but it wasn’t highlighted. The paper’s front page was a hodgepodge of news. This item was sandwiched among items about the war’s costs, reports of other deaths, a Confederate tax notice, and an item about new books, among other things.

Here it is:


Killed instantly, in the battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, prviate Lloyd West, a member of Co. H, 20th N.C. Reg’t. He was the son of Mr. Lloyd West of Sampson county, N.C., and enlisted in the above company with five of his brothers on the 7th of September 1862. He shared all the dangers and hardships to which his company was exposed, and by his peculiarly pleasant manner, strict integrity, love of truth and unflinching courage he won the admiration and esteem of his companions, and placed his name on the roll of honor to be preserved by the Government to declare to all posterity his gallantry. It was his greatest pride to do his duty, however humble that duty was. On being asked by his Captain to accept a non-commissioned appointment he replied “that if his Captain wished it he would accept, but that he preferred the position of a private.” Oh, may he be happy through all eternity in heaven, where all is purity. No more can the call of drum and fife call him to duty, or the rifle’s crack or cannon’s thunder invite him to honor. The Company sympathize most deeply with his bereaved father, brothers and sisters.


Weather or not…

August 27, 2008

When the sky went dark this morning and the thunder kept pounding overhead, I posted an update on my Facebook account saying I heard the Balrog coming. (I watched some LOTR last weekend for the billionth time.)

weather-radar.JPGNow, after a spate of bright sun and scorching temps, it’s gray and pouring rain again. I don’t hear the Balrog this time — but I am checking the weather radar. If you’re in the mind for all kinds of weather update links (not to steal any… thunder from Chick Jacobs), check this post I made back in June. It includes links to local weather radars — and the Balrog. OK, not really on the Balrog. That’s below \/.

Hole lot of info

August 27, 2008

Today’s column mentions the Web site for the state’s general statutes, where, if you’ve nc-flag.gifgot time, patience and a computer with decent memory, you can read the state’s laws at your leisure.

If you’d like to check ’em out, go here.

If you’re particularly interested in the law mentioned in the column — it has to do with whether you can pay insurance premiums with a credit card — go here.

wire.jpgMeanwhile, R.N. asked about the last of the six versions of the song “Way Down in the Hole” that were used during the five seasons of the HBO series “The Wire.” Five of the versions were each an opening theme for a particular season. The sixth was used during the montage near the end of the series finale.

If you’re curious about them (or just love one or more of them), here they are.

Season 1: The Blind Boys of Alabama

Season 2: Tom Waits (the song’s author)

Season 3: The Neville Brothers

Season 4: DoMaJe

Season 5 opening theme: Steve Earle

Season 5 finale montage: The Blind Boys of Alabama again (an extended version of the first season’s song)

Amateur hour

August 26, 2008

olympic-rings.pngShould the Olympics be restricted to amateurs?

Today’s column discusses some of the difficulties surrounding this pro-am debate, which has been going on for eons — or, at least, decades.

If the games were so restricted, we’d have missed out on some of the most amazing performances that Beijing had to offer.


The most glaring example: Swimmer Michael Phelps. He’s been a professional swimmer since age 16. He isn’t employed by a team or paid with prize winnings. Instead, he earns his living — and a lot more besides — through corporate sponsorships and by endorsing products for advertisers eager to bask in and perhaps profit off of his reflected glory.

Phelps has been a millionaire since age 18 and, while he attended the University of Michigan, couldn’t compete on their swim team because of his professional status.

After the Athens Olympics, where he earned six gold medals and two bronzes, Phelps upped his endorsement earning power to $5 mil a year.


Now, eight more gold medals later and with superstar status that’s been trumpeted to the world, he’s figured to earn at least $30 million a year.

And he’s just 23. Sure, you may be over his extreme coronation as Mega Super Wowee Zowee Olympian Of All Time, but would you really block this professional athlete from competing in the London games in 2012?

I’ll post a few of Phelps pre-Beijing ads on the jump page, in case you want to check ’em out. Just click on the link below.


Torch song 30

August 10, 2008

I’m going to let y’all enjoy the current games. But first here’s a rundown of the Olympic moments I’ve posted:

A look at bits of past opening ceremonies.


Derartu Tulu of Ethiopia and Elana Meyer of South Africa display the true Olympic spirit in 1992. —>

williams.jpg<—Percy Williams, the surprising winner of the 100m and 200m fujimoto1.jpgdashes in 1928

Shun Fujimoto, the Japanese gymnast who continued competing in 1976 even after breaking his kneecap —>


<— Dick Fosbury, father of the Flop and winner of the high jump in 1968


Larry Lemieux puts sportsmanship and humanity above his chance at a medal in his sailing race in 1988 —>


<—South Korea’s boxing team suffers a self-inflected black eye in 1988


Steve Redgrave of the U.K. bags a gold medal in rowing in 2000 — his fifth in five different Olympics —>


<— Diving great Greg Louganis of the U.S. hits his head on the board during competition in 1988 — then goes on to win


A story of weight-lifting at the 1980 games —>


<— U.S. gymnast Keri Strug behaves magnificently under pressure — and in pain — at the 1996 games in Atlanta


Takeichi Nishi of Japan wins gold in equestrian jumping in 1932 — but that’s not the whole of his story —>


<— Discus hurler supreme Al Oerter of the U.S. wins and wins and wins again (and again)

cathy-freeman.jpgAussie sprinter Cathy Freeman stares down — and runs down — the pressure in 2000 —>


<— The real Chariots of Fire guys at the 1928 games

spitz11.jpgMark Spitz swims into the history books in 1972 —>

Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner topples Goliath in 2000

nadia-1.jpg<— Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci introduces the world to perfection in 1976dave-wottle.jpg

I still can’t believe Dave Wottle won this race in 1972 —>

In 1956, cold war tensions between Hungary and the Soviet Union boil over during water polowilma-rudolph.jpg

Wilma Rudolph overcomes all kinds of odds to win gold three times in 1960 —>

johnson.jpgSally Robbins of Australia rows into a scandal in 2004

<— U.S. sprinter Michael Johnson actually appears to breeze past his opponents on his way to gold — and new records — in 1996

There actually were summer games in 1980, even though the U.S. didn’t go

olga-korbut.jpg<— Russian gymnast Olga Korbut wows the judges and charms the masses in 1972moussambani.jpg

The agonizing and perhaps heroic swim of Eric Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea in 2000 —>

A worldwide icon who won a gold medal in 1960 lights the Olympic flame in 1996

owens-medal.jpg<— Jesse Owens blows that whole idea about Aryan supremacy out of the water — and off the track — in 1936redmond.jpg

Runner Derek Redmond — and his dad — in a race we won’t ever easily forget (and not just because Visa won’t let us) —>

Torch song 29

August 9, 2008

How about those opening ceremonies in Beijing? Wow! Here’s what the final “run” to the torch looked like and the lighting of it. Pretty. Darn. Spectactular.

And here’s a view of how the lighting of the torch and the fireworks afterwards looked from outside the Bird’s Nest. (Pretty cool as well.)

Today’s Olympic moment is a whole bunch of moments — bits of opening ceremonies from past games. Enjoy!

2004, Athens: Back to the beginning.

2000, Sydney: Horsing around.

1996, Atlanta: Faster, Higher, Stronger, sung by Jessye Norman. (I covered the torch lighting in a previous post.)

1992, Barcelona: The torch is lit by a perfectly launched flaming arrow. Imagine the pressure on that guy!

1988, Seoul: Parachutists form the Olympic rings in the sky.

1984, Los Angeles: “Jet Man” jet-packs in and a choir sings welcome.

1980, Moscow: Just click here.

1976, Montreal: The nations’ athletes march in and the flame is lit by a pair of Canadian athletes — a French-speaking 16-year-old boy and a 15-year-old English-speaking girl, who apparently nurtured a flame of their own — years later, they married!

1972, Munich: Those games started well. If only they could have ended happily, too.

1968, Mexico City

1964, Tokyo: Hirohitio opens the games

1960, Rome

Note: I couldn’t find any vid of the 1956 opening ceremonies in Melbourne.

1952, Helsinki

1948, London: The first post WW2 games.

Note: There were no games in 1944 or 1940.

1936, Berlin: Frightening.

Torch song 28

August 7, 2008

At the ’92 games in Barcelona, Derartu Tulu of Ethiopia ran into the history books.


One reason: She won the 10,000 meters.

Another: She was the first black African woman to earn any kind of medal.


And: After the race, she and the second-place finisher in the race, Elana Meyer of South Africa, embraced and held hands as they ran a victory lap together. In those nascent post-apartheid days, it was a powerful sight to see the black African woman and the white African woman coming together with ease and joy.

Today’s Olympic moment is that race — and its aftermath.

Torch song 27

August 5, 2008

“He was just some guy from Vancouver.”

He was just some guy from Vancouver who could run the pants off the competition. That was 19-year-old Percy Williams at the 1928 games in Amsterdam, where the skinny, previously unknown guy from Vancouver who’d suffered rheumatic fever when he was 15 won gold medals in both the 100 meters and the 200 meters. Indeed.


Today’s Olympic moment is a look back at Williams.

I know it’s hot but…

August 4, 2008

…I don’t think my poor bald cardinal wants to shed even more of his feathers.

Sadly, though, he has. He just visited our bird feeder and he’s now looking sort of spotty feather-wise on one side of his once-handsome red breast. And he has never (or, at least, hasn’t yet) grown back his head feathers. Poor fella.