Monday, December 24, 2007

Top 10 Carols: No. 1

No. 1: Once in Royal David's City.

This has always been one of my favorites, but it soared to the top of the charts last Christmas, when my 12-year-old daughter was asked to open both Christmas Eve services at our church by singing the first two verses of this carol a capella at the back of the church.

Talk about goosebumps!

She'll be reprising that contribution to the service again this year -- actually in about 90 minutes.

As the time for the star of Bethlehem draws nigh, I'd like to wish you all a joyous Christmas season.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Weather update: Not looking good

It's ALMOST time to write off Christmas snow in these parts.

The saying in weather is "the trend is your friend" -- that is, follow the trend to find out what is going to happen.

Well, the trend is for the Christmas storm to be sheared out -- to essentially have all its energy sucked up by the system behind it.

By the time THAT system is ready to roll through, our cold air is long gone -- which means we see rain the couple days after Christmas.

Is there time for this to change -- yes, but it's unlikely.


Chance of White Christmas: 1 in 200 (down from 1 in 40)
Reasoning: No model support for a storm, despite a favorable setup

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Afternoon weather update: It's a puzzle

First, this would be a good time to remind you that I don't know what the heck I'm talking about. By that I mean, I have no meteorological training, other than what I've picked up. What I can do for you, though, is aggregate the opinions of the many real mets who frequent message boards and forum across the Internet and also illustrate through maps available on public web sites what is going on.

Having said that, there is much interest in the met community about this potential system for a couple of reasons:

1) It's a possible Christmas snow which is exciting to most everybody
2) There is higher than normal uncertainty with how the models are depicting the current pattern.

Right now the best way to describe the propsect of a Christmas snow is that there are pieces to the puzzle laying on a table -- the question is, will they get put together?

Right now, all of the pieces are shown in all of the models -- but none of them have the puzzle complete --- the Euro develops the storm too late, offshore, but has cold air in place. The UK model is better on precip but iffy on temps. And the GFS, well, it's just all over the place -- no storm at all one run, then too warm, then too suppressed.

There is an excellent chance we get a big fat nothing from this system or a cold rain, or a passing flurry.

But for now, the best I can tell you is this: We can't rule out a White Christmas. And to be able to say that on Dec. 20 is reason for optimism.

Still ...
Chances of White Christmas: 1 in 40 (down from 1 in 30)
Reasoning: Continued model uncertainty and the failure of any one model to latch on to a strong, snowy solution.

Quick Thursday AM update: Anything goes

We are now faced with an array of model solutions regarding a potential Christmas snow, which is neither unexpected or, necessarily bad. It would be unprecedented for models to pick up on an event like this 7 days out and show the same solution over and over until the storm hit.

Let's break it down.

The overnight Euro, delays the development of the storm until it has almost already passed us to the south and east. Then it pops a strong low off the coast, but probably too late for us to get much.

Last night's GFS showed a nice swath of precip -- around .75 inches liquid equivalent -- over our are, but weakened the high pressure to our north just enough to give us only a cold rain.

Then, this morning's GFS weakened the storm itself, shearing it out and giving us only flurries, drizzle or maybe a dusting of snow.

The main point, though, is that the players are in place for an event -- high pressure to our north and some sort of southern disturbance. Will everything be timed just right for snow? If I knew that, I'd be making a lot more money than I am right now.

But as long as those players are on the field, there is still a chance for a ... well, touchdown!

Remember, the potential event is still 5 full days away, so a LOT can happen with the models in that span.

I'll update again early this afternoon after the noon model runs are complete.

Chances of Christmas snow: 1 in 30 (flat from 1 in 30 yesterday afternoon)
Reasoning: General model agreement on some sort of even with basic pieces in place for a winter storm.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Afternoon weather update: Model madness

The two models that showed a snowstorm for Christmas Day are now world's apart from each other.

In one corner, the European model -- most trusted in the medium range (3-7 days). It backed up last nights run with another appealing solution today -- a major snow storm for the southeast and lower mid-Atlantic -- particularly eastern portions of the state, where a major snowfall is projected.

We would still get in on the act with 2-6 inches of snow, according to this run.

But before you dust off the sleds, the noon run of the GFS model has a very different, if not somewhat bizarre solution. Instead of tracking low pressure along the Gulf Coast and across southern Ga. off the S.C. coast, it takes the low in an unusual NNE direction from lower Mississippi up into Kentucky!

Obviously, this is no good for snow - we stay well on the warm side of the low. While it might bring some welcomed rain, White Christmas would have wait.

By the way, anybody know when the last measureable snowfall fell in Charlotte (more than a trace?).

60 years ago!

At the end of each post I will update my odds of the storm happening. As we get closer, if an event is more imminent, I will make those odds more detailed. And don't forget, for an e-mail alert on these columns, write to

Odds of measureable snowfall: 1 in 30 (down from 1 in 25)
Reasoning: Now only one model showing the storm

Two models show white Christmas!

Brace yourselves!

Abruptly, two runs of two different models popped up with a Christmas Day snowstorm for the Carolinas.

Here is a sequence of maps from the early morning run of the GFS model, the main model used by American forecasters:

Wee hours Christmas morning
Dawn Christmas morning
Early Christmas afternoon
Christmas night

That's about 1 inch of liquid precip, which would equate to 10 inches of snow.

As you can see, temps are marginal, but would be mostly or all snow to the N.C./S.C. line.

The European model -- which most consider the best medium range model -- shows a slightly later developing system that doesn't really become potent until it gets to our east -- bringing us much less precip, but with colder temps -- still, some sort of wintry precip. This isn't a bad thing, necessarily, because the model trends this year have been to bring systems north and west as the event draws nearer.

1) This is not in a model "sweet spot" -- 7 days out is still a LONG way meteorologically and MUCH could change (in fact, one could argue that the last thing you want 7 days out is to see a storm for your area)
2) The models have not been performing well in the medium range in the last few weeks. The big storm for the interior northeast last week was originally projected to pass hundreds of miles south and east of where it eventually tracked
3) It never snows on Christmas.

I would give this a 1 in 25 chance of verifying, but that's better than 0 out of 25, right? It will be fun to track over the coming days.

Now, a couple of things -- if you would like to receive e-mail alerts ON JUST WINTER WEATHER, I will be offering that for free. So, you'll receive an e-mail whenever I make a signficant update to my blog that is weather related. If you would like this, please e-mail our Webmaster Erik Regans at Put WEATHER UPDATES in the extent line.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Friday winter weather threat?

The chances for a White Christmas are slim and none (again) this year, but in the shorter term, one of the short range models has a very near miss for us that bears watching.

Check out these two model maps from the NAM model run of this afternoon:

For the wee hours Friday morning.
For around dawn Friday morning.
For Friday afternoon.

As you can see the precip just brushes our area and the air is JUST cold enough to support some sort of light winter mix of some kind.

If those two trended closer together, we could see a minor winter event.

There isn't much other model support for this and I'd say the odds are very low, but it's at least worth tracking.

Top 10 Carols: No. 2

No. 2: Silent Night

The top 2 on the list are both personal for me.

My strongest memory from childhood when it comes to the Christmas Eve service is the lights being doused after communion and the congregation singing silent night by candlelight.

It still gives me chills to think about it.

The current-day tune was written by Franz Gruber with words by Josef Morh, a German priest. Even in America, the German version "Stille Nacht" is sung.

The song was sung simultaneously in English and German by troops during the Christmas truce of 1914, as it was one of the few carols that soldiers on both sides of the front line knew.

Here is version of the song in German as sung by a boys choir.

Anybody want to guess what No. 1 is? You might be surprised!

The list so far:
No. 2: Silent Night
No. 3: O Come all ye Faithful
No. 4: Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
No. 5: Angels we have heard on high
No. 6: Some children see him
No. 7: O come o come emmanuel
No. 8: In the bleak midwinter
No. 9: Lo, how a rose e'er blooming
No. 10: Go tell it on the mountain

Monday, December 17, 2007

Top 10 Carols: No. 3

No. 3: O Come all ye Faithful

This famous hymn is also known by its Latin name "Adeste Fideles." As is the case with many carols, the origin is unclear. The first time the current lyrics and hymn are known to have been paired together is the middle 18th century.

Some believe the hymn has Portuguese origins, although that is unclear.

Whatever the case, this is often the processional or recessional hymn at many Christmas Eve services.

Here's a great version by American Idol runner up Katherine McPhee.

Only 2 to go! Any guesses????

No. 3: O Come all ye Faithful
No. 4: Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
No. 5: Angels we have heard on high
No. 6: Some children see him
No. 7: O come o come emmanuel
No. 8: In the bleak midwinter
No. 9: Lo, how a rose e'er blooming
No. 10: Go tell it on the mountain

Friday, December 14, 2007

Top 10 Carols: No. 4

No. 4: Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

Now we're getting to the big boys -- the hymns that if they aren't listed in the Christmas Eve church bulletin, you feel like you were cheated.

Hark the herald angels sing was written by John Wesley's brother Charles, according to Wikipedia.

I was interested to learn that Wesley at one point envisioned the lyrics to be sung to the tune of the Easter hymn "Christ the Lord is risen today" If that's the same as the modern hymn "Jesus Christ is Risen Today," then I tried to match the lyrics of "Hark" to that tune and it works!

The tune most often used today was derived from a Mendelssohn arrangement in the 19th century.

I was also interested to find out that "Hark" is the recessional hymn for the annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols in King's College Chapel, Cambridge.

I graduated from the University of the South in Sewanee, an Episcopal school which holds a very close version of Lessons and Carols every December.

The list so far:
No. 4: Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
No. 5: Angels we have heard on high
No. 6: Some children see him
No. 7: O come o come emmanuel
No. 8: In the bleak midwinter
No. 9: Lo, how a rose e'er blooming
No. 10: Go tell it on the mountain

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Top 10 Carols: No. 5 (also, weather update)

First, on the weather, the weekend storm will still be big for folks in the northeast, but there is a double whammy of bad news for us -- first, no snow. Second, the chances of a good soaking rain are also lower -- we may get caught in a "dry slot" and could see just some light rain, rather than the heavy event we need. Also, a hint of some storminess in about 10-12 days (!!!!), but too soon to tell on that.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled countdown.

No. 5: Angels we have heard on high

Also, simply known as "Gloria," the words to this song are based on a French carol, Les Anges dans nos Campagnes (literally, The Angels in our Countryside).

Obviously, the carol is known for the melodic, drawn out "Gloria," chorus.

For me, this is one of the biggies often sung on Christmas Eve.

Here is a version by Josh Groban, who my co-worker Donna Roddy says is the bomb.

The list so far:
No. 5: Angels we have heard on high
No. 6: Some children see him
No. 7: O come o come emmanuel
No. 8: In the bleak midwinter
No. 9: Lo, how a rose e'er blooming
No. 10: Go tell it on the mountain

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Top 10 Carols: No. 6

No. 6: Some children see him

This may be the most obscure song on the list. I first heard it on James Taylor's Christmas album released in the last couple of years.

It is a carol about the vision of Jesus by different races of children.

It ends with this stanza:

The children in each different place
will see the baby Jesus' face
like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,
and filled with holy light.
O lay aside each earthly thing
and with thy heart as offering,
come worship now the infant King.'
Tis love that's born tonight!

Upon further research, however, I came upon a fascinating story.

The song was written by Alfred Burt, part of a family of Episcopal priests. The Burts began a tradition of sending out Christmas Cards with originally composed carols included. Here is the collection ("Some children see him" is from 1951).

Here is a You Tube version of the song by Kenny Loggins.

The list so far:

No. 6: Some children see him
No. 7: O come o come emmanuel
No. 8: In the bleak midwinter
No. 9: Lo, how a rose e'er blooming
No. 10: Go tell it on the mountain

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Weekend storm update

Well, for one shining moment, this weekend looked like "the big one." Check out yesterday afternoon's run of the GFS.

That's a big ice to snow event -- almost two inches of liquid -- if all snow, it would be measured in feet, not inches

But alas, that was simply the start of a strong trend, moving the system north with every model run -- now, the GFS and the European model show us with all rain.

Is there time for a trend back to the south? Yes, but it usually doesn't work that way -- our storms almost always trend north to get us, not south.

Still, I'll keep an eye on it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Top 10 Carols: No. 7

No. 7: O come, O come Emmanuel

Technically, this is an advent hymn, but we seem to skip over Advent for Christmas these days anyway, so what the heck.

According to Wikipedia, it is unclear from what period this hymn and its lyrics originate - perhaps as far back as the 8th century.

I was intrigued by this passage on Wikipedia:

"Performance variations exist today over the rhythm of the music. Many performances pause on the last syllable of "Emmanuel", in both the verse and the chorus, however often performances omit these pauses to give a greater sense of understanding to the chorus "Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel". If a pause is included, the meaning is lost as an audible comma is heard between "Emmanuel" and "shall come to thee..."."

I've always noticed this about the song -- I prefer to the pause NOT to be used in the chorus but I DO like it used in the verses.

Couldn't find much on-line. Here is a You Tube version by Whitney Houston that's not bad -- although the photographic slide show is superfluous.

The list so far:

No. 10: Go tell it on the mountain
No. 9: Lo, how a rose e'er blooming
No. 8: In the bleak midwinter
No. 7: O come, O come Emmanuel

Sunday, December 09, 2007

First legit snow threat

As some of you may know, I started a paid e-mail column on winter weather a couple years back.

It hasn't snowed since.

So, instead of taking people's money for nothing, I'm going to provide that service for free on this blog until there is evidence it will snow again here ... ever.

My column generally gives a heads up to potential winter weather events and summarizes the views of meteorologists (I'm certainly not one) who write an analyze on various web sites.

As you might have read from an earlier column, the OVERALL patterns this year is very hostile to snow. But, just like we can NOT see snow from a great pattern, we can also get a good snow even from a lousy pattern, if everything comes together.

The last couple runs of a computer model called the GFS does just that.

This is the model's forecast map for next Saturday afternoon. And here is the map for Sunday evening. If it verified, that's a 1-3 inch snow. And here is the European model from a similar time frame -- warmer, but wetter.

Now, 7 days off is forever and this will change a million times, but at least it's something to track, which is more than we've had thus far this season.

Stay tuned!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Top 10 Carols: No. 8

No. 8 is: "In the bleak midwinter."

Ironically, a friend of mine e-mail me yesterday that he was following the countdown and offered that James Taylor's version of "In the bleak midwinter" was particularly good. I agree and have it on I-tunes.

The last verse of the song is particularly moving:
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

I found this version of the song on You Tube, sung by the Lichefield Cathedral Choir.

So far:
No. 10: Go tell it on the mountain
No. 9: Lo, how a rose e'er blooming
No. 8: In the bleak midwinter

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Top 10 Carols: No. 9

Coming in at No. 9, is the hauntingly beautiful "Lo how a rose e'er blooming"

If you aren't familiar with it, here is a version (press "play") by low brass instruments.

Here are the lyrics:
Lo, how a Rose e'er blooming from tender stem hath sprung,
Of Jesse's lineage coming, as saints of old have sung.
It came, a flow'ret bright, amid the cold of winter,when half-spent was the night.

Isaiah t'was foretold it, the Rose I have in mind.
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God's love aright, she bore to us a Savior,when half-spent was the night.

Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
dispel in glorious splendor the darkness everywhere.
True man, yet very God, from sin and death he saves us,and lightens every load.

It's certainly not as cheery a tune as some standbys, but truly a mesmerizing piece of music.

So far:
No. 10: Go tell it on the mountain
No. 9: Lo how a rose e'er blooming
No. 8: Friday

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Skip's Top 10 Christmas carols -- today, No. 10

For the next 10 days, I will regale you with my top 10 Christmas carols. I'm trying to hold this list to actual carols (so, the Grinch theme and Grandma got runover by a Raindeer will not be on the list).

You may be surprised by a couple of these and I'm sure everybody will have a different order.

As the series goes on, feel free to comment on carols you do or don't like.

No. 10: "Go tell it on the mountain"

I like this carol mainly because it's uplifting and asks us to participate in sharing the Nativity rather than simply experiencing it ourselves.

According to Wikipedia, this was orginally an African-American spiritual.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Winter outlook

In a word: Yuck!

If you don't like snow, then the winter of 2007-08 is shaping up to be right up your alley.

We are in what is being called a "moderate" La Nina event. La Nina and El Nino refer to ocean temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. Moderate to strong La Ninas are notoriously bad for winter weather in the east, especially the southeast.

The general pattern for us during this types of winters is warm and dry. Plus, the current drought tends to enhance that tendancy. A stubborn ridge of high pressure over the southeast or the southeastern Atlantic tends to send storms through the middle of the country rather than up the east coast.

This means any cold air we see is only a glancing blow.

Anyway, modeling looks benign through mid- to late-December.

Only ray of hope: There is some recent data that shows the La Nina might be weakening. Weak La Ninas teleconnect much better to a colder, stormier winter for us, so it's something to keep an eye on.

So, overall, it won't be mild every day, but cold air intrusions should be limited in severity and duration.

While even in the worst pattern we can still see things come together for snow, it looks like our best chances will be later in the season.

Not a pretty picture for snow lovers, but it's the cold (?) hard truth!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rich richer? Poor poorer?

How many times have you heard a Democratic candidate for president claim the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer?

It's just not true, as this column by Thomas Sowell explains.

Yet, when the national media covers these debates and speeches and such, these untruths will go unchallenged and unquestioned.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Parents of UNC students -- beware

This article in this month's Carolina Journal paints a scary picture of the kind of indoctrination being practice by far too many college professors.

Also, read how this conservative UNC student found her grades suddenly improved when she started espousing anti-conservative rhetoric.

It's a shame that the open-mindedness and inclusiveness that used to be a halmark of liberalism is being replaced by a type of brainwashing and intolerance that is really just plan scary.

From bogus "hate" speech codes (which are really just designed to suppress other-than-far-left-wing thought) to professors (see link further down in this blog) who essentially espouse that all white men are racist, college campuses have become, astonishingly, havens for the worst kind of intolerance in America.

The far left -- the new far right.

John "Give me a break!" Stossel on "global warming"

Great column by John Stossel of ABC's 20/20 on climate change.

Key points:
1) Simply saying the "debate is over" on the causes and extent of global warming doesn't make it so
2) Just because the earth is warming doesn't mean humans caused it or that it is even a bad thing
3) There is zero reason to believe the government is capable of doing anything to help this situation
4) Humans ability to REVERSE global warming is in serious doubt.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Have a kid in college?

Want him or her to grow up something other than a Marxist?

Disagree that all white males are racist?

Then read this.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Star Car the talk of the trades

The Star Car is receiving plenty of attention from newspaper/Web site trade publications.

Here are some links:

Editor and Publisher
IFRA Newsplex blog
The "Indiepub" blog, a technology blog
Blogue MediaBiz, a French Web site (hope they're not trashing us and I just don't know the language)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Shelby attorney quoted story on Irish Business web site

I received a Google News alert e-mail that referred to an Irish business Web site.

Low and behold it's Shelby attorney O. Max Gardner III being quoted in the story.

Small world, getting smaller.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Environmentalist propaganda (redundancy?) on Duke Power plant

An e-mail is making its way around the county regarding Duke Power's new coal-fired power plant which is working its way through the regulatory process.

One of the cruxes of the e-mail is that the new plant will increase mercury emissions which is going to adversely impact the health of women and babies. In fact, the name of the slide show is:
"The Cliffside Coal-Fired Power Plant Expansion Proposed by Duke Energy Will Have a Detrimental Effect on the Environment and Public Health of North Carolina"

There is one problem with the title when it comes to public health. Nobody knows if it's true.

Here is a summary of the sequence of assertions made in the power point -- see if you can find what's missing.

1) Coal plants burn mercury -- 40 percent of U.S. mercury emissions come from these facilities.
2) Mercury ends up in water
3) Fish, living the water, ingest the mercury
4) Some N.C. fish have mercury
5) People eat fish
6) High levels of mercury in fetuses and children can be harmful
7) Mercury poisoning in adults can cause major health problems
8) An estimated 8 percent of child-bearing-age women in the U.S. have unsafe levels of mercury, according to an EPA researcher.
9) The amount of mercury emitted by the new plant will result in an increase of total mercury emissions.

Did you find what's missing?

Maybe asking these three questions of the environmentalists would help:
1) Please point to one documented case -- not an estimate, projection or guess, a documented case -- in North Carolina where a child suffered health problems because of mercury poisoning from a coal-fired power plant.
2) Please point to the documented study that shows that the mercury found in area fish or water can be directly tied to emissions from coal-fired power plants.
3) Isn't it true that the "unsafe" level of mercury concentration that 8 percent of women who are childbearing age allegedly carry is actually 10 times lower than the minimum safe levels mentioned in the exact same EPA study?

What missing is this -- there is no direct evidence that mercury from power plants adversely affects anybody's health. None. Zip. Zero.

Yes, coal plants emit mercury. Yes, mercury CAN be bad for you (but in much larger quantities than anyone is every likely to consume).

No, we don't know where the mercury comes from that fish (and then humans) ingest.

Remember, 60 percent of mercury comes emissions in the U.S. come from other sources. From the state's health department web site: "Mercury is also released into the air, water and land when fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) are burned; when municipal solid waste or medical waste is incinerated; during forest fires; and during some manufacturing processes."

AND, mercury also exists naturally: "Mercury is a metal that occurs naturally at low levels in rock, soil and water throughout North Carolina."

Even if you believe, however, that the mercury comes from these plants, the science on what levels of mercury is actually harmful is flimsy.

This article from the Cato Institute addresses that point and puts in perspective these types of scare tactics. Please take the time to read it.

Here's the cold hard reality -- there are a lot of good, well-intentioned people who care deeply about clean air and clean water and healthy children.

Then there are the fringe, radical environmentalists who are for those things that we are all for, but who are truly fueled by a hatred for capitalism, industry and progress. They will distort and contrive and deceive and, mostly, scare people into opposing things that really bring no danger at all and all sorts of benefit (do you realize how many people will be employed in building this facility and what it will do to our county's tax base when it is finished -- do environmentalists even think about the number of people who will be able afford, say, better pre-natal care for their children, providing infinitely more benefits than any threat the plant poses from mercury, because of this plant).

I also love how these e-mail are sent out the day of (in this case) or the day before some deadline. Much like Al Gore and "global warming" they don't want to have a debate, they simply want to scare people into acting before they've thought through the issue.

Gore likes to intimidate those who would dare disagree with his apocalyptic view of global warming by saying: "The issue is settled."

He doesn't scare me. And neither does this power plant.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Greatest play in college football history

You think "The Play" by Cal was great?

You think Boise St. over Oklahoma last year was great?

Doug Flutie vs. Miami?

Georgia's Lindsey Scott vs. Florida? ("Run Linsdey!")

LSU's Bluegrass Miracle?

They are ALL great, but not the greatest.

Here it is -- Trinity vs. Milsaps.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Check out this radar (time sensitive, 1:45 p.m.)

Here is the link to a radar scroll.
Notice the "training" of precip right up into Cleveland County. We might hit the jackpot from this rain system.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Major rains forecast through weekend

This is a precipitation forecast map for the period Tuesday morning until Sunday morning. You can also find this map here at the National Weather Service's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. Yes, it's true, NWS forecasters say we will receive between 3 and 6 inches of rain during the next five days. Sounds great, but I'll believe it when I see it!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Know anybody who is "work hot?"

Check out this glossary of new teen slang terms from the Boston Globe.

My favorites:

Flossin': Showing off.
Check your vitals: To do a sweep of e-mail and other essential websites.
Money: cabbage, chalupas, cheddar, Gouda, paper, Kraft singles (for dollar bills).
Work hot: A person who may or may not be attractive, but is the best-looking person at your workplace.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Mom's overture

Had this You Tube clip e-mailed to me.

The lyrics ring pretty true ......

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Think universal health care is a good thing?

You won't if you do any research. This column by 20/20's John Stossel shines a light on the "great" systems in Canada and England that folks like Michael Moore, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton want to bring to America.

Why anybody would think the government could do a better job with health care than the private sector is beyond me.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

True drought relief?

If you buy this map from the National Weather Service, Friday could be a gloriously wet, rainy day. The remnants of surprise, quick-developing Hurricane Humberto is to "blame." Cross your fingers!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Awesome view

This is a late afternoon satellite picture of Dean.

Should be Category 4 soon -- still headed for Yucatan and/or Texas.
Very powerful -- somebody's going to get hurt .... bad.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dean getting his act together

Hurricane Dean is strengthening quickly.

If you have ANY interests in the Caribbean over the next few days OR in Cancun/Yucatan peninsula of Mexico into next week OR northern Mexico/Southern Texas and the entire western Gulf Coast late next week.
Here are the latest computer models -- of note is the GFDL track (in blue), which goes "through the goalpoast" into the Gulf of Mexico.
Also of note, most models show that Dean will become an extremely powerful hurricane. Some show it itensifying such that the surface pressure drops below 900 mb, which would be Katrina-esque.
There is nothing other than land to weaken this storm -- upper level conditions are perfect for strengthening and it is moving through bath-water warm seas so whereever first landfall is .......

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dean alert!

Hurricane forecasters are loathe to predict where storms may go beyond 3-5 days, but as a weather fanatic, I can tell you that there is strong model consensus that Tropical Storm Dean will plow through our just north of the Caribbean and either strike the Southeast Coast or enter the Gulf Of Mexico. Here is the 12z run of the GFS model which shows Dean emerging into the Gulf by Tuesday of next week. Other models shows the storm hitting Florida, then re-emerging into the Gulf. The southernmost projections shows the storm perhaps grazing the Yucatan and then striking Texas.

Here is an array of model runs, but only out to 5 days.

Bottom line: If you have travel plans in the Caribbean this weekend, you should watch Dean like a hawk.

And if you have travel plans anywhere on the east coast or Gulf coast the following week into the weekend of Aug. 24, you should keep a wary eye on the tropics.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The intelligentsia exposed

In some of my rantings against the global warming propaganda machine, I've argued that the hysteria generated on this topic is a product of the hard-left academia-types who will say or do anything to further their agenda of undermining capitalism and the free market system.

Left-wingers (and others) often scoff at this, saying "how much power do a bunch of professors really have?" and "there are tons of conservatives on college campuses."

This study absolutely should silence those scoffers.

As it turns out, college professors and others in the education field have contributed more money to federal politics than the oil industry and drugmakers, with a nearly unanimous goal of putting a Democrat in the White House.

These professors and such wield tremendous power and are unabashedly using to to advance a far-left agenda.

As a colleague of mine asked: You have to wonder while reading this why the heck schools/nonprofit institutions, some of which get state tax dollars, are donating to any political candidate.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Driving while intexticated

This new type of "DWI" is claiming lives across the country. Here is a story about a fatal crash in New York that may have been a result of this new phenomenon -- young people trying to read and answer text messages as they drive.

Here is a story a Minneapolis TV station did on this subject.

If you are the parent of a text-messaging teen (or if are one yourself), you should address this TODAY.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Monday, July 09, 2007


This is one of those videos that will probably be viewed a gazillion times -- a news report on a very unique way to serve fish.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Fascinating opinion

This opinion from the N.C. Court of Appeals is interesting in two respects. First, because it provides new protection for the media when it comes to court-imposed gag orders.

But the really juicy part is the tiff between the trial court and the appeals court. In the end, the appeals court issued a rare "admonishment" of the trial court for this comments.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Star featured on UK Web site

We probably haven't done a good enough job "tooting our horn" over the press The Star has received nationally and internationally over our Web site and print product innovations.

Here is a story from a journalism site in England on our work.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Global warming brainwashing ...

As many of you know, I have serious concerns about the validity of some of the "science" on global warming.

But what REALLY concerns me is the shameless indoctrination on the subject.

To wit, here is a story from Canada on the blatant brainwashing being perpetrated by the education establishment there.

Not good at all.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Dry stretch

As you can see by this forecast, it will be bone dry in our area for at least the next 8 days.

Recent rains have helped, but we're still behind.....

Monday, May 07, 2007

Attn: Shelby Middle School carpoolers

Many mornings, I have the morning carpool for my children and others at Shelby Middle School. These are sixth-graders, so we go past the school, take a right and drop the children off there.

Sometimes, the line stretches around the corner, causing a small delay of 1-2 minutes.

It's amazing to me, though, to see parents simply drive around this line, bypassing those who are waiting their turn, and then knife in at the front.

When I was a kid, we called that cutting in line!

Why is this any different?

Shelby Middle parents, help me out -- what am I missing?!?!?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Remembering John Cline

It was probably four years ago, on the sidewalk in front of Ichabod's restaurant in Shelby.
Our family was together and we ran into John Cline, longtime member of the Cleveland County Sanitary District.

My wife Dina had been the district's lawyer some years back and that's how I had first gotten to know John. It was a friendship that blossomed. He came by often to visit me at The Star. More on those priceless times later.

On this day, though, in uptown Shelby, something unusual happened. My youngest son Will was just a toddler, which meant he was shy and even downright frightened of strangers. Bless his heart, but John Cline wasn't exactly the kind of person you'd expect to break through that type of fear -- well into his 80s with a weathered face and sharp features.

But he gave it a shot. Smiling and cooing with Will as Dina held him and we all talked.

Then it happened. Little arms that had clutched so tightly to mommy suddenly loosened that grip, then let go, then reached out for John. As our jaws dropped, his countenance brightened in a way words can't describe. He held Will like he would his own son. We talked some more and eventually, but reluctantly, he handed Will back to his mommy and we all went our ways.

"John Cline is here to see you"
If I'm being totally honest, there were a few times those weren't necessarily the words I wanted to hear. There is no one in this county that came to see me more often than John and sometimes those calls came in the middle of breaking news or just minutes before an important meeting.

Yet, I could never say no to a John visit. And no matter how busy, when our time was through, I was richer for the visit.

John cared about a lot of things and a lot of people. He was a rock-ribbed Republican. I tried to Google up the origin of the term "rock-ribbed Republican." No luck. Maybe it was invented by or for John. His involvement in party politics at the highest levels was a source of great pride.

He cared deeply about the upper end of Cleveland County. Some of that love translated to resentment of "the city," meaning Shelby. Hearing his views helped me gain perspective on that endless debate which rages anywhere rural and urban cultures cross.

John treasured his service on the sanitary district board. His life was consumed by the current efforts to bring a reservoir to Upper Cleveland. I (and undoubtedly many others) would teasingly start out conversations with John: "So, how's it coming on the new John Cline Lake?" He would wave off the title, but the strong glint in his eye would reveal his love affair with the project and his investment in its success. He and district manager Butch Smith were always working on some angle to try and speed up the reservoir process. He could barely contain his impatience with the federal red tape that brought the process to a crawl.

And I can't leave out an important passion of John's -- The Star. He devoured the paper daily. Often, he would call to commend me on an editorial view or story. He was always lobbying -- in John's ever-so-effective and courteous way -- for more coverage of the district. He would do it like this: "Skip, you think we can get a reporter up to our next meeting. It's going to be real important." How could I say no?

The hat
John was a figure. Not in the sense of "public figure" but in the sense of having a true presence. His hat was as much a fixture on his head as the one worn by legendary Alabama Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. Yet, he would remove the hat when he came and sat in my office, the ultimate display of courtesy and respect. I hope that hat finds its way into the formal remembrance of John.

Even as a Republican in a Democratic county, he was impossible not to like. At Chamber meetings, when John was introduced, he always elicited smiles from the group. He was just a nice man, always bringing me books of interest and offering me produce and such.

John's service in World War II was an integral part of who he was. Often he would say to me "I don't like to talk about that very much," when his service would come up in conversation. When something 60 years past is too painful for a man like John Cline to talk about, it must have been worse than anything I could imagine.

And finally, John's faith was his source of all this goodness. He was deeply involved in his church, often telling me about transitions to new pastors and such. John and I also talked occasionally of his family, but I will leave those observations to those closer to his kin.

And so, our visits at The Star would end. John would get up and offer a firm handshake. Then, without fail, he would turn to me and smile and say "How's that Will doin'?" Four years later, and the World War II veteran well into his 80s remembered that day he held my toddler as freshly as if it had happened a few minutes prior. He would ask for the latest picture of Will and marveled at the speed at which he had grown.

Only at the word of his passing do I finally get it.

My little Will sensed what so many of us had felt over the years -- John Cline was just somebody you enjoyed being close to.

Farewell GOP

Terrific column by my colleague Steve Greenhut at the Orange County Register. For Steve, it appears, it's no longer good enough to say "Got to stick with those Republicans because they're at least better than Democrats."

These days, you can barely tell the two apart.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Duke "scandal" post mortem

I wrote this article way back in April about the use of the word "scandal."

Funny how things turn out....

Monday, April 09, 2007

Is global warming even bad?

This is a terrific article from Newsweek. The idea that global warming is a bad thing is based on the arrogant assumption that our current-day temperatures are ideal. Given the ever-changing nature of the earth's climate, this is an absurd assumption which this column does an excellent job of debunking.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Compelling read from Iraq

I know there's lots of talk about not enough "good news" from Iraq, but stories like this from today's New York Times make those complaints ring hollow -- you wont find any opinion or slant in this article, just strong narrative describing horrific conditions. Very sad.

Monday, April 02, 2007

My dad, the writer

As this story in The (Lakeland Fla.) Ledger details, my father has been published.

Now, if everyone who reads this blog will just go out and buy 100 copies each .....

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More global warming common sense

This devastating column by Thomas Sowell is a must read if you have fallen for the radical environmentalist/far left campus elitists' propaganda on global warming.

Folks, these people have an agenda and aren't going to let the facts get in the way of their thesis.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Star featured in Washington Post

I think our move away from the paragraph was a little oversold, but otherwise, it's flattering to be mentioned in a major publication such as this.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Brenda Sue, cont.

Megan Ward was interviewed by a local radio station on the Brenda Sue case. You can check it out on Click on the "podcast" tab in the "interactive features" section.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Brenda Sue

Hard to believe how this story has captured the imagination of the community. I hope everyone read our editorial on this case earlier in the week.

I've had a few calls complaining that we have "convicted" Mr. Price in this case. Of course, we have not done that, but I understand how the strong play we've given the story might leave that impression.

No way getting around it, though, this is one of the biggest arrests in the county's history.

If you have any question or comments on our coverage, leave them here or e-mail me at

Monday, February 05, 2007

Global warming caused by man?

You may think this is no longer a question, but a fact.

Yet, the intelligensia has become so left-lurching on college campuses (where most so-called research is currently conducted) that I am dubious of any claims generated from this arena.

Which is why when I stumbled on this column today, I wasn't surprised one bit.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Major winter storm Thursday

Looks like we're going to get hit pretty hard Thursday.

Best guess:
2-3 inches of snow
.25-.4 inches of ice on top.

That should be enough to bring down some trees, as well as the obvious travel problems.

The forecast could turn snowier if temps don't start climbing faster in what's left of this afternoon.

Here is a nice Google map plotting temps. As of this writing (1:30 p.m.) Shelby's airport is at 35F with Crest Middle reporting 33F. The high today was supposed to be 40.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Thanks for the thanks

Been overwhelmed on kind words from folks about my new position as publisher of The Star (effective March 1). I will keep blogging, though -- it's crucial to our business's success that we keep communicating across all sorts of media and mediums.

Anyway, I'll get back to my regularly scheduled blogging now that the hubbub of the last few weeks has passed.

Thanks again,

Thursday, January 11, 2007

This is going to be ugly

We should all be sympathizing with the folks in Oklahoma, who are about to endure a vicious ice storm.

Here is a link to some of the warnings up for the Oklahoma City area.

Please take note of this excerpt:


Remember, our bad ice storms of the past few years were caused by about 1/2 inch of ice -- can you imagine three times that amount?!?!?

Not good.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Political correctness continues to run amok

This story really speaks for itself and is, I'm afraid, quite a statement on how political correctness has infected media coverage.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Materialism Christ-like?

I thought this was an excellent column by Tibor Machan.

He touches on the oft-overlooked point that participating in a free market is the most compassionate thing one can do for fellow man.

Keeping market conditions such that profits are high and, hence, employment is too serves the well-being of other men and women as much as anything we can do.

That's not to say we should purchase in excess or shirk our responsibilities to serve the poor, but to say that materialism is selfish is really to ignore basic realities of economics.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Covering a tragedy

We do lots of things at The Star that I love -- covering elections, sports, big weather stories, conducting investigations.

Covering tragedies is not on the list.

Covering tragedies involving people close to me or my friends or family is definitely not on the list.

Yet, it's part of the job, so we have worked hard over the weekend to cover the Chitty plane crash thoroughly yet sensitively.

I thought you'd be interested in a walkthrough of how it happened.

I was first called at home sometime in the mid-afternoon by our reporter on duty Sunday, Cherish Wilson.

She told me about the crash (normally, a small plane crash in Charlotte would merit only passing coverage in The Star), then dropped the bombshell -- she had received a tip that Jim Chitty and his wife were on board.

When my wife was an attorney doing title work, she crossed paths with Jim, so she knew where he fit into to the family trees of Shelby. That gave me some folks whom I could call that I knew very well -- this was important to me because I don't like to "spring" the news on unsuspecting family members unless they know who I am.

Anyway, while the folks I called couldn't give me immediate confirmation, after some calling around they basically said: "We're hearing what you're hearing."

Initially, the only discussion was of two people on the flight.

Soon, we received confirmation that the plane was indeed registered to Chitty.

It wasn't until late in the afternoon that we started hearing that there were possibly four passengers on board.

We contacted the funeral home which put us in touch with a relative in Wilmington who also confirmed that he was told by Charlotte police that four people perished.

Final confirmation of this fact didn't come from the NTSB until about 11 p.m.

In the meantime, we had lots of conversations with folks who had second- or third-hand knowledge of possible conversations between Chitty and the Charlotte control tower. As of yet, we have not been able to confirm those well enough to put them into print. Suffice to say, the consensus of these accounts is that there was some indication of trouble, but we'll have to wait for the preliminary report, which should come out next week.

We also chose our pictures for the paper judiciously. Some images published by other outlets showed personal effects and even clothes up in trees. We felt like those were not appropriate and added nothing to the story. I was also alarmed at some of the insensitive language used to describe the scene by at least one Charlotte TV outlet.

Anyway, if you have any questions or concerns about our coverage, please let me know through this blog or by e-mail to

In the meantime, my thoughts and prayers go out to the Chitty family. We have a place on the orange bar at for you to leave a message to them.