Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Christmas list

This is an editorial that appeared in Wednesday's Star. Feel free to add items to the list or to tell about how you "check off" one of the items on this list.

As the Christmas season cranks up, Santa is busy working on that infamous list. Mr. Claus’ string of “to dos” involves children’s behavior and their requests for toys.
But, with just under four weeks until Christmas, we offer you our own list of suggested Christmas activities.
Feel free to cut this out and check off the things that you do and then, if you wish, share with us your experiences. You can do that at Editor Skip Foster’s blog at where he will have a post on this editorial.
Now, on to the list!

Adopt a Salvation Army Angel
We’ve all heard the claims of non-profits that “90 percent” of what is donated goes to the people in need. With Angel tree adoptions, however, you know that the entire gift goes to a needy child.
We can’t think of a more direct way to positively impact a child’s life than this.

Go caroling
When’s the last time you did this? Many churches have caroling at avnursing home or other facility. Much like a shiny toy can brighten up a child’s day, a heartfelt carol can send the spirits of a homebound senior citizen soaring.

Read the Nativity
For all the talk about the “reason for the season,” when is the last time you sat down, by yourself or as a family, and actually read the Gospel account of Jesus’ birth. Make it a Christmas Eve event or part of the season on some other day. You won’t regret it.

Go to a different church
We can’t remember a place in Scripture where Jesus refers to denominations. What a great time to enjoy the traditions of a different style or form of worship. Some denominations call this time of year Advent, a season of expectation and hope. The current movement in our community to bring people of different faiths, cultures and races together surely brings a smile to God’s face. Even if it’s simply going to another church’s cantata, find a time to experience this holy season in a new way.

Eschew trinkets
Don’t you get tired of buying those same $10 gifts for an endless list of co-workers, teachers, pseudo-neighbors and the like? Why not consolidate that buying power into providing something truly valuable, such as a part of a meal at the homeless shelter or clothing for a church closet. We don’t want to suggest you do anything that would hurt the economy like simply hoarding what you own, but instead, send a form note to all those folks who get “trinkets” for Christmas and tell them you made a donation in their name to a worthy cause.

Make up
Almost everybody has a damaged relationship. What better time to swallow hard and make amends. Maybe you’re still hurt, but if forgiveness were easy, it wouldn’t be so important. Reconciliation might be the best gift you give or receive this Christmas.

Exercise three times a week
Huh? Why exercise? It’s cold, it’s dark, and it’s so busy! We say, find a way. There is no getting around the stress of this season. Taking time to keep your body in shape will be another gift to yourself and those with whom you interact.

Have fun
Seems silly to say in what is supposed to be the season of joy. Yet, so often, going to get the Christmas tree or having a holiday party turns into work, not fun. Relax and enjoy the season!

You’ll notice that these items have boxes beside them. Hopefully you will be able to check off all of them. If so, we promise that your Christmas season will be brighter than ever.

Friday, November 17, 2006


I'm going to write a column for the weekend on "scalping." I just don't understand why it's illegal for tickets to sporting and entertainment events, but legal for just about anything else.

I bring this up because of our story today on people waiting in line for the new Playstation 3. Many of them freely admitted they are buying the new "toys" just so they can resell them on E-bay at a profit. That is, they are going to scalp the Playstations -- why is this legal, when doing the exact same thing for football tickets isn't?

My question to all of you is this -- what are some other commonly "scalped" things? Antique furniture, sports memorabilia ... what else?


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

GWU perspective on Bobby Knight

Alan Ford did a great job tracking down GWU coach Rick Scruggs and putting together an interesting story on the Bobby Knight flap.

I went over to a Texas Tech message board and posted a link to our story. As you will see, Red Raider fans were very appreciative.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Urgent: Rabies emergency

We will be posting a breaking news in the next few minutes about a serious rabies problem in Cleveland County.

There is a missing black kitten with white paws and a white triangle under its neck which was given away in August at a yard sale at 855. E. Stagecoach Trail.

The man who bought the cat said he lived 5 miles east of that location and that he bought the cat for his brother's farm.

The cat's name was Socks.

Today, it was confirmed that one of Socks' siblings had rabies and has exposed at least 14 people.

The Health Department is urgently trying to locate Socks for fear that it has rabies and other humans or animals have been exposed.

If you know ANYTHING about this situation, please call the Health Department (484-5200), the Animal Shelter (481-9884) or county communications (484-4822).

And please pass along this message to as many people as you can.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Two early races to watch nationally

Two Indiana house seats will be a good indicator of how the night is going for Democrats and Republicans -- if Republicans Chocola (Dist. 2) and Sodrel (Dist. 9)lose, the Democrats will surely win enough seats to control the House. If those are too close to call initially or actually go Republican, the rumors of GOP demise may have been exaggerated.

About the Wednesday Star

Well, I'm a little bored right now, believe it or not. I'll rue posting that at about 9 p.m. tonight!

Thought you'd be interested in how we put together the Wednesday-after-the-election newspaper.


We'll actually invert the news and sports deadlines tonight -- usually sports is last "off the floor" for obvious reasons (scores, etc.). Tonight, though, sports will finish much earlier than usual -- about 10:30 p.m. instead of midnight.

Our news deadline will be such that the press can start at 1:30 a.m. This is an hour later than usual. Hopefully, the weather will clear and delivery conditions will be good for our fine carrier force.

Our front page for tomorrow is already designed. While the headline obviously have not been written, I know that we'll be playing the sheriff and commissioner races on the front, regardless of what happens. Then, I'll have one more spot to rotate in the most important race.

At the top of the page, will be a list of the winners of all the important races, including who has control of the General Assembly and Congress.

We'll "bust" our left hand rail Wednesday (in newsroom lingo, that means we'll get rid of it) and run an election rail instead.

Inside, there will be an open full page (open means no ads) with more stories from other races, a full page precinct chart (we left it out one year and you screamed, so it's back!) and a full page full color graphic from AP showing U.S. House/Senate/Gov. races.

Further inside the paper, you'll find more stories of local, state and national interest.

It's a huge day for us -- a Lifestyles reporter, obit clerk, special projects editor and others from outside their normal areas of responsibilities will all be working -- it's probably the only day of the year that everybody in the newsroom is working at the same time.

Hope you find what you need!

Monday, November 06, 2006


OK, the election is finally upon us.


I always forget how much I hate these campaigns -- so often, they're not about real issues, but about personalities and petty attacks. The "nuts" on either side spinning up all their conspiracy theories are particularly onerous and contribute nothing to the process but hate and division. I hope they're proud of themselves.

The "horse race" part of election is a little fun, though. In that spirit, here are my predictions on how the races will turn out.

While things are changing, it's just tough for Republicans to get elected to county-wide offices in Cleveland County. Claudia Glenn has campaigned hard, but I don't think it will be enough.

Mitzi McGraw-Johnson (D) 56 percent
Claudia Glenn (R) 44 percent

This one has gotten nasty. Colin McWhirter is banking on a big win in Lincoln County and then a push in Cleveland. Rick Shaffer is hoping for the inverse. Both have worked hard in this race.

Rick Shaffer (D) 52 percent
Colin McWhirter (R) 48 percent

While it's easy to say this race has been ugly as well, the truth is, my expectations were so low, they have not been "met." That is, it could have been worse. I think Don Allen has effectively attacked the Hamrick administration and will pull the upset.

Don Allen (R) 51 percent
Raymond Hamrick (D) 49 percent

N.C. House Dist. 110 and 112
Debbie Clary (R) and Bob England (D), respectively, cruise to easy wins.
N.C. House Dist. 111
Nice late surge by Betsy Fonvielle, but it won't quite be enough to overcome the incumbent. Look for closer margin than expected, though.
Tim Moore (R) 53 percent
Betsy Fonvielle (D) 47 percent

N.C. Senate Dist. 46
My gut tells me this could be the closest race on election night. The tie goes to the incumbant.
Walter Dalton (D) 51
Wes Westmoreland 49 (R)

County commissioner
I'll be honest, this is a total guess. One refrain I've heard alot this year: It's so nice to have four qualified candidates. By the way, the percentages are too confusing on these multi-seat races, so I'm just picking the winners:

Jo Boggs (D)
Bill Chambless (R)

Control of U.S. House and Senate
Late surge by GOP (Kerry gaffe) will allow it to hold Senate at 51-49 while losing 18 house seats and, hence, control of that body.

Control of N.C. House and Senate
Democrats hold on to both easily.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Court of Appeals/Supreme Court races

If you're like me, the state judges races are almost an exercise in futility -- who are these people? What do they stand for?

Here is a guide you might consider using to cast your ballots -- it's a column written by First Amendment attorney John Bussian in the North Carolina Press association monthly newsletter (John's column is on Page 3).

Bussian offers recommendation based on the candidates' stances on open government issues.

Please consider using this a voting guide for these important positions.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Too funny

I saw this picture on The Drudge Report.

It speaks for itself.

Tee hee.