Saturday, November 07, 2009

A Saturday With Randy

Join me on this Saturday. The video is a bit crappy, since my little six-year-old Gateway camera does pretty good on still shots, but video is sorely lacking. But it is better than nothing. Maybe someday I'll get one of those cool HD pocket video cameras.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Google Maps Screw Up

Google Maps has a major screw up. I noticed this when I was looking at Interstate 79 where it crosses from Pennsylvania to West Virginia near Morgantown. Look at this labels Pennsylvania as Tennessee. Tennessee & West Virginia do not even share a border at all. The mighty Google is not infallible after all!

Poor Little Laika

Fifty-two years ago today, November 3, 1957, the evil commies launched poor little Laika to her death by putting her in space with no plan to get her back. She succumbed to heat and stress hours into her space flight. She was the first living thing to be sent into space.

The cage is very small
A tiny silver ball
That makes you a hero
The moment you step inside
The world is watching you
What youre about to do
Will live on forever
Even though youll be dead
And gone
Buckle up
Were about to turn the engines on.


Hello from Sputnik 2
I am receiving you
Thanks for the dog food
Im somewhere above you now
Guess what Malashenkov?
I took the collar off
Im holding my own leash
And walking myself outside
This door
I dont think
I want to be a good dog anymore.

Now Im floating free
And the moons with me
And its bright enough
To light the dark

And its so high up here
And the stars so clear -
Are they close enough?
Will they hear me bark from here?

Moscow to Sputnik 2
I think were losing you
Your life signs are fading
We cant really say that were
Its a shame
There is always something that gets compromised

Now Im floating free
And the moons with me
And its bright enough
To light the dark

And its so high up here
And the stars so clear -
Are they close enough?
Will they hear me bark from here?

Charlotte's Rough Economic Ride May Not Be Over

It has been a year since the implosion of Charlotte-based Wachovia ended up with that banking giant being absorbed into Wells Fargo. Now two more blows may be in the offing. Bank of America, whose name is on everything from their Uptown Charlotte headquarters building to the Carolina Panthers' stadium, is seeking a new CEO. News Talk 1110 WBT is reporting that 98 percent of BoA's business comes from divisions headquartered elsewhere. What's more, the heads of those divisions have no ties to The Queen City. Add to that, the fact that CEO Ken Lewis is stepping down, and it is feared that a new CEO will move the corporate nerve center out of town.

Then today, US Airways CEO, Doug Parker, was in town just a few days after announcing a major downsizing of both routes and personnel. Service is being scaled back, and some cities like Colorado Springs and Wichita, will be eliminated from the airlines flights altogether. There will also be 1000 jobs around the country vaporized by the restructuring. As I have mentioned in the past, US Airways holds a near monopoly on air travel into and out of Charlotte, with other carriers holding a small share of the traffic.

Mecklenburg County has a current official unemployment rate of over 11%. If worst case scenarios become reality for these two major employers, Charlotte and the entire Metrolina region may have an even deeper hole to dig out of. This is a very nice city. It would be a shame to see this occur. As other cities without a great amount of economic diversity, Charlotte's crown as a major banking center may end up being its undoing.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Sky Was Angry, My Friends!

Yesterday afternoon and evening, I was traveling back to Colorado from Charlotte. Even though there was a significant line of bad weather stretching from north to south from the Great Lakes to around Alabama, the plane ride was pretty smooth. This time, I had to change planes in Kansas City. Coming out of Charlotte's Douglas International Airport, there are not many choices than US Airways. This comes from its days as a hub for one of US Airways' predecessor carriers, Piedmont Airlines. So I had a flight on that airline which was a code share with United. At Kansas City International, I had to change over to a real United flight on to Denver.

I used to fly in and out of Kansas City with some regularity back in the late 1980s when I worked for Sprint. I used to like their terminal buildings, which are shaped like the letter "C", and you can get out of the car right next to your gate. No concourses to deal with. But in this post 9/11 world, that proves to be not such a good arrangement. The reason? That is because each airline has their own little area walled off by its gates. This means that in transferring from...oh, let's say US Airways to United have to leave the secure area for the former carrier and then go through the second carrier's security. You have to do the whole routine of shoes off, laptop out, and throw away your water bottle, even though you just got off a flight in a security-sterile environment.

But that wasn't the worst of it. The flight from Kansas City to Denver was one of the three most turbulent flights I have ever had. Not #1, but not far behind. You are totally helpless in that situation. All you can do is ride it out. You can't turn back, you can't get out, and you can only endure. At least I made it home for the weekend. Monday morning it's back to Charlotte. My suitcase full of dirty clothes back in North Carolina also awaits my return to wash them. Still, it should be a very good week ahead. Lots going on at work, and the deadlines continue to loom large.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lexington Barbeque Festival

Today is the 26th Annual Lexington Barbeque Festival in Lexington, North Carolina. It is a huge street festival that takes up about 2o or so blocks of downtown Lexington, the self-proclaimed "Barbeque Capital of the World". Here are a few photos from earlier this afternoon.

First, if you feel the swine flu coming on, you may need one of these shirts.

I never heard of a collard sandwich before. The couple in the picture must have thought I wanted their picture, since they stopped to pose. Then a guy walked in front of them.

1927 Pontiac

1949 Ford in cherry condition

Grill & hood ornament of a Hudson Terraplane auto

General Johnson and The Chairmen of the Board did a great set of Carolina Shag Beach Music

Wish they all could be Carolina girls...NOT!

Amazing sand sculpture of a haunted house

Davidson Covnty Covrt Hovse...faux Latin gives it a real touch of faux class

It is a barbeque festival after let's partake!

Two buns on top when you open up, and under the foil, red slaw and barbeque pig! MMMmmmm!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Quintessential Carolina Barbeque Joint

Yesterday, some delicious Carolina barbeque was the lunch pick of the day. Off to find Gary's Barbeque, a quintessential barbeque joint in China Grove, North Carolina. The barbeque pork plate was some slow smoked, chopped pork; a baked potato, the distinctive red Carolina barbeque slaw, a slice of tomato, and three delicious hush puppies. The sauces available were a sweet and smoky sauce of about a ketchup consistency. Very good. There was also a vinegar-based sauce that was very thin by comparison, but oh so tasty. To drink the North Carolina favorite soft drink, Cheerwine, was perfect with the barbeque. Cheerwine tastes something like a cherry Dr Pepper, but not quite. We were too full to order dessert, but our waitress brought out a generous "taste" of their homemade banana pudding.

This is my kind of place. I am not a fan of chain restaurants if I have a local eatery available.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

You Want Sweet Tea, Shugah?

I can tell that I am in The South. Since I have been back in Charlotte, I have never seen so many biscuits. Yes, I do love biscuits, but they are in great abundance here, and with most every meal. You want fried food? No problem! As for ordering tea, the default here is "Sweet Tea", and man is it ever sweet. They sugar it up 'til it is very sweet. If I get it, I try to mix unsweetened tea to cut the sweetness down.

Oh yes, speaking of sugar, one must get used to it. The female waitstaff at just about every restaurant will call you "shugah", sweetie, or honey. I do declare, such Southern charm. :-)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte, North Carolina was once my home, but the changes are dramatic since I left 37 years ago. I have always wanted to come back for a visit, but I never dreamed of coming back here to live. Life sure throws some strange curve balls, and we will just have to see how this one plays out.

In any case, The Queen City is quite a lovely place. Unlike the open prairie of Colorado's Front Range, where you can see for miles; Charlotte seems like a forest. Trees everywhere, which seems so strange to me. Since I left, Charlotte became a major banking center, home to Bank of America (formerly NationsBank, formerly NCNB, formerly North Carolina National Bank), and Wachovia (now part of Wells Fargo). Since we taxpayers have had to bail out these big banks, I feel like I own part of these majestic building that stand tall into the North Carolina skies. The top photo shows the base of BoA's headquarters at the main intersection of "Uptown Charlotte", the city's central business district. The streets are Trade & Tryon, and there are interesting statues on each corner facing into the middle of the intersection.

The next picture is a piece of public art that is across from BoA, and is a huge disk-shaped sculpture. Finally we have a directional sign in Uptown, pointing people to various points of interest.

I'm Baaack!

Greetings to all. After a six week long hiatus, I figured I would write a short post before getting back into the swing of things here. I have been, and continue to be quite busy. I am currently working a project for a company in North Carolina, and am under enormous pressure to get a product delivered by the first part of December. So these musings will be from 700 feet above sea level rather than my previous 6000 feet. The difference is amazing. Last night in Douglas County, Colorado, it was snowing and in the teens for a low. Here in the Carolina Piedmont region, it was clear and 77 degrees, a 60 degree spread!

Last night, I had a crazy notion to drive over to the high school where I graduated back in 1971 to watch a football game. Well, it turns out it was their 50-year anniversary homecoming. The poor little school they played had just a few people there, no band, and they got clobbered. Felt kind of sorry for them, but I suppose that is why they were chosen as the opponent for homecoming...gotta have a win for the alumni!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Baptist Pastor Prays for Obama to Die & Go To Hell

There are very disturbing people in America today. Hate groups are on the rise. I thought we had gotten past most of this type of behavior. I am a strong advocate of free speech and the First Amendment, but this type of extremism could lead us to violence by inciting those on the edge of sanity to return us to an era of assassinations like in the 1960s. Even these type of lunatics have rabid followers. This man has very serious issues.

If I may quote from the book this man purports to teach:

"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence."

1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NKJV)