GARY D. GADDY
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Thursday, January 3, 2008
America's best anti-poverty program

HEAD UP TOWARDS HILLSBOROUGH (just about up to I-85), or over towards Durham (just across I-40), and you will find something quite interesting. It is a privately owned, nationally operated anti-poverty program. It's called Wal-Mart.

During the last two Christmas seasons I did some extensive research into the consumer base of Wal-Mart. As a member of the Durham Civitan Club, I stood for two hours ringing the bell in front of a red Salvation Army kettle at the main entrance to the Wal-Mart at New Hope Commons.

Based on superficial observation (which is where I get a great portion of my most valid and reliable data), the majority of Wal-Mart's clientele are not rich. Based on the people going in, Durham Wal-Mart shoppers are like a fancy mocha drink from Starbucks: a rich swirl of browns and blacks mixed with fluffs of white.

Based on the shopping carts coming out, the poorer you look, the more you buy.

This parade confused me. I could understand why the few seemingly well-to-do were coming to shop there: to exploit the oppressed Wal-Mart employees here and the sweatshop workers overseas by buying under-priced goods. What I couldn't understand is why the poor people were coming to shop there, or for that matter why the employees that I have seen working there for years continue to do so. Haven't they gotten the memo about how evil Wal-Mart is? Apparently not.

Well, we can certainly understand that. Most of these people are poor, ignorant and uneducated. They wouldn't know a low price when they see one, would they? And of course they wouldn't recognize a bad job if it was offered to them. That may be why they apply for these jobs, take them and keep them. That may explain why when one Wal-Mart opened in 2004 in Arizona, 8,000 people applied for 525 jobs. Such stories abound.

Besides ignorant poor people, who else thinks Wal-Mart is good for the poor? Economists. Jerry Hausman and Ephraim Leibtag did a study showing that consumers benefit from having a Wal-Mart in their area, as its competitive pressure makes food and consumer goods as a whole cheaper, with low income households benefiting the most.

Also, Jason Furman, an economist who advised the Kerry/Edwards campaign, estimates that Wal-Mart's discounting on food alone saves American shoppers at least $50 billion a year, and possibly five times that much across all retail goods it sells. Using federal anti-poverty programs as a point of reference, in 2005, food stamps were worth $33 billion, and the earned-income tax credit was worth $40 billion.

While making a multi-billion dollar profit, earned solely from freely offered consumer dollars, Wal-Mart may do more for the poor than the federal government does using tax dollars it extracts from us. It's a pretty nifty trick what private enterprise, entrepreneurial initiative and accumulated capital can do. You can call it the greedy search for filthy lucre; I call it the miracle of the free market.

But what about the poor exploited workers in China? I've been to places, such as Cameroon in West Africa, where the workers weren't being exploited by companies supplying goods to Wal-Mart -- they just wish they were.

Even the liberal economist and columnist Paul Krugman says that "bad jobs at bad wages are better than no jobs at all" -- which is the real "choice" for most "sweatshop" laborers in the Third World. Many of these Third World peons would no doubt be Ivy League economics professors or New York Times columnists if they could, but those options just don't seem to be open to them, so they work in crummy factories at poor wages -- just like many Americans did 50 to 100 years ago, as they built the American dream.

Is everything Wal-Mart does wonderful? Hardly. They look out for themselves not everyone else. Is outsourcing good for everybody? Nope, at least not in the short run. But globalization wasn't started by Wal-Mart (actually I think it was Marco Polo) and it can no more be stopped than the incoming ocean tide. And it is unequivocally good for the world as a whole in the long run.

So, Chapel Hillians, and Carrborundians as well, you are now free to shop at Wal-Mart -- and you don't have to feel bad about it. You can even feel good about helping poor people because, well, you will be.

If you just can't bring yourself to feel like that, despite all logic and evidence, then one day succumb to the temptation to selfishly hang on to some of your money by shopping at Wal-Mart -- if it's Christmas time -- you can just drop some of the bucks you save in the Salvation Army kettle. We'll both feel better.

 

Gary D. Gaddy, a regular Wal-Mart shopper, uses investments in big box retailers to support his writing habit.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday January 3, 2008.

Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:00 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2008 10:15 AM EST
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Thursday, December 27, 2007
Dean Dome collapses from "jersey fatigue"

CHAPEL HILL -- The roof of the Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center collapsed last night causing major damage to the facility where the University of North Carolina plays its men's home basketball games. No casualties were reported.

A team of consulting structural engineers from NC State University, who examined the collapsed structure, believe that the event was the result of what they termed "jersey fatigue."

Dr. Rajiv Shakendra said "the final straw was the addition of the large replica of the jersey worn by Robert Bower 'Buzz' Peterson to the rafters."  [Editor's note: Peterson's jersey was being hung to honor him as the North Carolina high school basketball player of the year in 1981, a notable achievement given his future college roommate, Michael Jordan, graduated from high school in North Carolina in the same year.]

There were, by one count, at least 135 jerseys and banners hanging from the rafters of the Dean Dome, Mike Knobler of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last spring. But even he had not seen this coming. "I recognized the quantity but had never fully realized the weight of these jerseys. Of course, everyone knew that it was burden to carry the name 'Jordan' or 'Rosenbluth' on your back but until this event no one had even thought to actually measure it," said Knobler.

"After we started looking more closely we realized that the weights were far more significant than we had ever thought," said UNC Athletic Director Dick Baddour. "Consider for moment Hubert Davis. His senior year he had to carry the entire Tar Heel team, not to mention the Davis family moniker, on his back. When you're hauling Uncle Walter's good name and reputation with you at all times, the 2653 pounds of the rest of the squad doesn't mean squat. And, if you're ready for this, Davis' jersey isn't retired -- or even honored."

How the UNC men's basketball team will cope, right at the beginning of the Atlantic Coast Conference season, without it's regular home court is unclear at this point, although several alternative venues have been eliminated already.

Negotiations with Duke University to use Cameroon Indoor Stadium fell apart after UNC officials discovered that the building has neither heat nor air conditioning and that male Ram's Club members would have to urinate in sink-like structures in its antiquated bathrooms.

Negotiations with NC State and the Carolina Hurricanes to use the RBC Center came to a halt after State offered to let UNC use it, but said, "due to logistical considerations" that the Tar Heels would have to play on the ice of the hockey rink. The UNC players were reported to have been excited about "more sliding and less running," but Roy Williams nixed the idea. Said Williams, "It's the galldurnest notion I ever heard. Only place I want ice at a basketball game in my dang Coca Cola."

Clemson University had offered use of Littlejohn Coliseum free of charge, but quickly retracted when informed by the ACC that a victory over the Tar Heels in Littlejohn would not constitute breaking the Tar Heels' 78-year-long home-winning streak against the Tigers. UNC's 52 consecutive home wins over Clemson ties the NCAA record for the longest home winning streak over one opponent. Clemson has never won a men's basketball game in Chapel Hill.

North Carolina also briefly considered refurbishing Woollen Gym, where the 1957 team played during its national championship season. But, with a seating capacity of 4500, according UNC economist Elbert Stoops, demand for seats would push the market price for one ticket to single game to $185,000. And, according to Prof. Stoops, "the scalpers' prices for the Duke game would be more, way more."

Currently, the men's basketball program is talking with the women's basketball program about using Carmichael Auditorium for practice and home games. The primary snag at this point is women's coach Sylvia Hatchell's concerns that having her team exposed to the "languid pace of the men's team's play" would be counterproductive for her squad as it might "slow 'em down."

 

Gary D. Gaddy used play basketball in Woollen Gym two or three times a week -- before he started thinking more about his knees and ankles than he did about guarding his man.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday December 27, 2007. 

Copyright   2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:32 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2008 10:24 AM EST
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Thursday, December 20, 2007
Claus arrested in "Baby Jesus plot"

CHAPEL HILL -- On Wednesday, following the culmination of a months-long racketeering investigation, agents from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation arrested Santa "Knicky" Claus on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.

In the middle of the Christmas shopping rush, Claus was led away in handcuffs from the center of University Mall, where just moments earlier he had been taking Christmas gift requests from a long line of small children. SBI spokesperson Alicia Malencort said the arrest was the result of a lengthy investigation, coordinated with the FBI, into a plot to commit murder by the Claus organization.

Using wiretaps authorized under the Rico statutes which target organized crime activities, the SBI had determined that Claus, who heads the Claus family syndicate, had taken out a contract, said to be well in excess of one million dollars, on the life of the Baby Jesus.

Also arrested at the same time were Claus family associates, elves as they are called on the street, Bernard "Shorty" Kiskowitz, Elmo "Slinky" Kruger and an individual known as DJ 2Pop4Shure.

The Claus family, noted the SBI, gets a substantial part of its income from kickbacks from retailers based on holiday sales. As a result, they had become very concerned about the efforts that Jesus and his associates had been mounting to reduce the emphasis on the gift-giving and gift-getting aspect of the holiday, and their plans to make it a smaller celebration focused on friends, neighbors, families, and, ultimately, Jesus.

Discussions of the planned hit were caught on tape from a wire that investigators had put on one of Santa's closest associates, Gregor Grimbalski, an elf known to insiders as Grimy. On one part of a transcript obtained by CBS investigative reporter Karolina Borkesson, Claus is reported to have said "that little Jesus has gotta go," then adding, "You's gotta rub him to a smudge. That'll take the Christ outta Christmas."

Some observers had seen an escalation in the simmering conflict coming as the turf wars between the Claus and Jesus families became increasingly acrimonious following Claus and company moves into arenas that were traditionally Jesus' exclusive venue. Especially contentious were public Christmas displays, now frequently termed Winter Holiday displays, where rotund Santa figures as well as sleighs with multiple reindeer had hidden, or even replaced, the Baby Jesus and his attending angels.

The planned hit was to be disguised as part of a faux reality TV series "Survivor: The Mall." The episode entitled "Christmas Story Redux" was to re-enact the biblical story of the early years of Jesus' life. The scheme had the hit man dressed as one of King Herod's henchmen -- only this time they would get to the child before he was shuttled across the border to a foreign land.

The daylight assassination was slated to take place in Washington, D.C. A living crèche, or manager scene, was to be set up on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, and just as the justices of the court came out to remove it, the hit man, dressed in a long black robe, would strike.

A special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Graham Dunn, said he never seen a plot this intricate or bold, noting that the entire event was to be captured live on film by the culprits. FBI analyst Eugene Poole speculates that the recording of the hit would have later been sold to a major network for broadcast, presumably to enormous ratings.

According to sources at INTERPOL, the international criminal police coordinating organization, Claus, who also goes by Nick Santorum, has been implicated but never charged in the operation of a large multinational smuggling ring in which Chinese toys were distributed around the world outside normal taxes and tariffs thus abrogating the GATT world trade framework.

Daniel Baruch, an attorney representing the estranged Mrs. Claus, née Kristina Kringle, said of his client, "Kris had no part in any alleged plot to kill the Baby Jesus or any other child for that matter. I can’t speak for Mr. Santorum."

News of the Claus arrest sent the New York Stock Exchange into tailspin as analysts revised earnings estimates for a host of retailers downward. Especially hard hit were Toys-R-Us, Best Buy and Hickory Farms, each of which lost more than 30 percent of value in just hours.

 

Gary D. Gaddy stopped believing in Santa Claus at about age five.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday December 20, 2007.

Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:56 AM EST
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Thursday, December 13, 2007
Honky's: "Just like eating at home"

AMONG THE PLETHORA OF ETHNIC RESTAURANTS in the greater Chapel Hill/Carrboro area, one would be hard pressed to find even a sliver of space that hasn't long ago been filled, but Bill and Betty Witman have done just that in opening Honky's. Located on Franklin Street in former site of the colorful "Wicked Burrito," Honky's stands as the region's first fully Caucasian restaurant.

Honky's, as their logo says, is "just like eating at home." Its creative fusion of North Carolina and Ohio foods will meet the area’s twin culinary deficiencies: authentic non-ethnic North Carolina home cooking which the majority of Chapel Hillians who hail from other parts of the globe have never experienced and Yankee comfort foods which the many northern transplants continually long for but up until now have not been able to find except on Christmas vacation back in Cincinnati.
_________________________________

            Honky’s
            Caucasian
            214 West Franklin
            Chapel Hill
            Price: Moderate
            Rating: ***** (out of 5)

_________________________________

You may be thinking, so this is "a white bread restaurant"? I share your excitement. No chewable baguettes at Honky's, just an "open loaf" of Wonder® Bread.

Honky's serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. To give Honky's a full and fair test, I tried all in one day -- and I wasn't disappointed.

Honky's features a literal "Variety Pak" of cereals for breakfast -- served right from the miniature boxes. Children love them (but so do Mom and Dad!) Also available singly are Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, Cheerios and Wheaties. I had a bowl of Life, the featured selection of the day, lightly dusted with Dixie Crystals and splashed with cool half-cup of Carnation. You don't have to be Mikey to love it!

Rather than offering the mundane and over-worked "fresh, not-from-from-concentrate" orange juice served almost universally at area eateries, Honky's features Bluebird orange juice "right from the can." It'll take you straight back to a sticky summer's morning at Grandma's house!

For lunch I had the signature Honky's special: the Grilled Cheese Samich. Lightly basted with Blue Bonnet, the slices of sandwich white were cooked in a double-heated press grill which left the processed American cheese food oozing from between the flattened and precisely browned toast. Delectable! Ovaltine® in a chilled glass of two-percent Coble set it off perfectly.

At a neighboring table they ordered an American classic, a Franco-American classic, in fact: spaghetti and meatballs. The sauce was microwaved to a boil and the smell nearly irresistible. I know already what I’ll get next time!

Dinner is served "family style." The entrees are meatloaf and a nightly chicken special. The night I was there it was boiled. And when Honky's says boiled, they mean boiled, boiled until the meat was falling off the bone. The vegetables du jour were Del Monte's green beans and Green Giant® corn niblets. Cooked to mush just the way you remember them.

And every dinner comes with a bottomless basket of Nabisco Saltines. You know, no meal at Honky's would be complete without crackers.

Dinner is, of course, "All You Can Eat." Or, as Betty says, "It’s 'More Than You Should Eat!'

Honky's is perfect if you're on what Uncle Bob used to call a "Seafood Diet" -- where if you "see food," you eat it.

Honky's desserts are prepared by Food Lion. The chocolate chocolate cake was still slightly frozen, the way I love it. Topped with a heaping dollop of Cool Whip, it is to die for!

And speaking of things to love, Glen and Ann Smith, who shared the table with me, were just delightful company -- very well mannered and they didn't practice the "board-house reach" either!

With a hostess like Betty Witman, I guess I shouldn't be astounded at the civility of the clientele. Betty is a retired pediatrician whose people-skills are only exceeded by her deft touch in the kitchen. Betty says years of practice at minor surgery "really help when wielding a kitchen knife."

Bill mans the cash register. Bill retired from his work as a certified public accountant specializing in managing medical practices. Behind his gruff exterior, Bill is, as you might expect, a teddy bear. Bill says his only regret in making the career change is that he has had to give up golf, tennis and fishing to make time for balancing the register drawer each night. As Bill points out, "You can't use a computer to count cash."

I give Honky's FIVE STARS!! (But only because our rating system won't let me give SIX!!!)

Honky's is open daily from 6:30 am to 8:00 pm. The associated Honky's Catering specializes in supplying home-cooked food for church covered-dish potluck dinners.

 

Gary D. Gaddy, who is himself of the Caucasian persuasion, eats out way too much.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday December 13, 2007.

Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:42 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 2:34 PM EDT
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Meet Time's 2006 Person of the Year: Me!

(Special to GaryGaddy.com, a column not heretofore published, but now, with newly lowered standards, available for public perusal, in a not-so-subtle bid to get Time to repeat me as Man of the Year.)

AS A RELATIVELY NEW COLUMNIST I feel I need to introduce myself. (If you have already heard of me, please ignore what you have heard previously.)

If you not have seen the end-of-the-year issue of Time magazine, you may not know yet: I am Time's 2006 Person of the Year. I am sure that you are less astounded by this than I am. I never see these things coming. (The one time I did see it coming -- when I won the prize as the best history student in the sixth grade at Forest Hills Elementary School -- it never came. Henry Swanson told me I won, because he saw the initials "GG" beside the listing of "History" on Mrs. Duncan’s copy of the Award Ceremony program. Good data, bad analysis: that goofy Gail Goodson won.)

Some people have said they don't believe that I am Time's 2006 Person of the Year, including several who say they have seen the Person of the Year issue. OK, Time didn't put my name on the cover, but, duh, they did put my picture on it. Look for yourself. Hold the picture on this column up to the Time cover and compare: the same distinguished, graying hair, the same wry but charming smile, the same classically crooked nose from that bicycle accident in seventh grade. Even Narcissus would have to concede that that's me. Anyway, I'm not going to let the willfully blind keep me from basking in the warm glow of my limelight.

This had been a good year for me, even before the Person of the Year award. No detached retinas. (I had had one in 2004 and one in 2005 so I projected at least one in 2006, but I was wrong.) No major arrests or outstanding warrants against me (as far as I know.) Only had a loaded gun pointed at me once. I won a major award at my tennis club (Hollow Rock Racquet and Swim Club's Most Mediocre Tennis Player.) Finally, I became a regular columnist at the Chapel Hill Herald.

Why did I win Time's 2006 Person of the Year? I can only speculate as Time gave little justification for me as their choice. Perhaps they thought it was obvious. I think it was because I symbolize everything that is America in 2006. I am Biedermann. (For those of you not clever enough to have a degree in the modern foreign language of German, Biedermann is Everyman auf Deutsch.)

So, how am I Everyman? Politically, I am confused -- like almost all Americans, except for those few who are very certain and very certainly wrong. Like most Americans, I would like to throw all the bums out.

Physically, I am the very image of America: of average height and shrinking, of average weight and growing. Intellectually, I'm smack in the middle: half the people know they're dumber than me; half think they're smarter.

I know you're thinking, "Well, you're not average in ego, buster!" That is certainly true now that I am Time's 2006 Person of the Year, but you must understand that I must be measured against my peers, of whom there are very few. Compared to, say, Steve Spurrier, Terrell Owens, Donald Rumsfeld or Donald Trump, even my critics would have to agree I am of a quite average ego. So, I am Biederman with a capital "B."

But why this year?

I think Time realized that 2006 might be the last time in long time that a well-to-do white male could be awarded anything, much less a Person of the Year award. (Though I can follow the trends they see, not to mention the very real prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency, I think they are wrong, if for no other reason than I fully expect to be the first person to repeat as Time's Person of the Year.)

But enough of these questions, which are just quandaries to contemplate, nothing that should be allowed to diminish for a moment the radiance coming off my award. Sometimes blessings like this come and you never know why, even when you know you have done nothing to deserve them. The way my wife feels, I'm sure, every day.

For those of you who did not win Time's 2006 Person of the Year (all 6,613,284,045 of you!), I would like to encourage you not to give up on your dreams even if the statistical probabilities say you should, like when, for example, the statistics say each of you can expect to wait 3.3065 billion years before you become Person of the Year.

And for those of you who have not had the chance to congratulate me yet, the line forms at the rear.

 

Gary D. Gaddy, Time magazine's 2006 Person of the Year, would like to thank his parents, Inez and Clifford Gaddy, without whom he would not have been possible.

A version of this article was previously not run anywhere.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:49 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 9:59 AM EST
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Thursday, December 6, 2007
Revisiting the presidential candidates

SEVERAL MONTHS AGO, resting comfortably in my Orange County estate, I did a survey of the leading as well as lagging candidates for president of the United States. After some thought and reflection, I now realize I was completely wrong about all of them. Before the farmers of Iowa tell you whom to support, let me present my revised opinions.

Starting with Hillary Clinton, as her neckline plunged her prospects, as well as the web hits on her photos, surged. I realize now that if she could just get a man, any man, even Bill, to actually hit on her, her election prospects would go out of sight, as is indicated by the impact of significant others of insignificant other candidates. (See below, Kucinich, Dennis, wife of.)

Earlier in the campaign, I had thought that John Edwards might be a little too namby pamby for the office of president (due to his penchant for pricy hair styling). After finding out that Edwards sits on the board of a the hedge fund that was foreclosing on homes hit by Katrina, I now realize that he may have what it takes to be president.

Joe Biden, I now see, is handicapped by the standard debate format -- you know, too many candidates, not enough time. Biden is not a sound-bite kind of guy, being steeped in the United States Senate where bloviation is called deliberation, and elder statesman is the preferred term to describe a gasbag.

Barack Obama's staunch anti-Iraq war stance had made some question him as commander in chief of the greatest military in the world. But Obama's announced planned invasion of Pakistan has elevated him in those same skeptics who now see that even if he is dovish on going to war with our enemies, this is more than compensated for by his being hawkish on war with our allies.

After seeing the diminutive 60-year-old Dennis Kucinich's attractive 29-year-old wife, I, along with an entire nation of men, have had our eyes opened -- really, really wide. It is now obvious that Kucinich does have presidential stature -- she’s close to six-foot tall! His marriage has many of us asking, "So, how’s this vegan thing work anyway?" (And to answer the other question that came immediately to many of you when you first saw the lovely red-headed Mrs. Kucinich together with her husband: Yes, he is older than her father.)

Bill Richardson has made a big mistake -- actively courting the Hispanic vote. Previously, no one, including his wife, realized that he was of Hispanic extraction. Given a pre-electoral mood swing during the next session of Congress, this current governor of New Mexico will find himself in Old Mexico, where he would also be the best qualified candidate for president.

As soon as I can find anything out about Chris Dodd, I will give you my revised opinion on his prospects.

Now let us consider the Republican candidates starting with Rudy Giuliani. The numbers say that Giuliani should be a shoo-in. The numbers, of course, being nine and eleven. Given that middle America likes its presidents warm and fuzzy (consider, as cases in point, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, ignoring, if you would, Richard Nixon), Giuliani will have trouble in the heartland. Giuliani is about as huggable as fellow New Yorker Leona Hemsley – and she’s dead.

Seeing that it took Mitt Romney an estimated five million dollars to finish first in the Iowa Straw Poll with 4516 votes, it is obvious he is a hopeless candidate, as it will take him almost seven trillion dollars to get as many votes as George Bush got in 2004 -- which is more money than Romney has.

Ever since former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee finished second in the Iowa Straw Poll, where the three leading national candidates did not compete, it is apparent that he is now the front runner. (He did barely spend a nickel.) His prospects are now good but somewhat muted by the fact that he does not support tarring and feathering illegal immigrants before running them across the border on a rail.

I previously thought Newt Gingrich and John McCain were toast, it's now clear they are burnt toast.

This brings us to Fred Thompson, whose wife is a mere 25 years younger than he. As a U.S. senator, and more importantly, a major Hollywood actor, he really should have been able to do better than that. (See above, Kucinich, Dennis, wife of.) With this spousal age-related revelation, his persona, charisma and star power fall into question. This is nothing, however, that a Nevada quickie divorce and subsequent third marriage to an even cuter chick couldn't fix.

 

Gary D. Gaddy, coming out of a caucus system, was a delegate to the Virginia Democrat gubernatorial nominating convention in 1977 -- but at the moment he can't for the life of him remember his candidate's name.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday December 6, 2007.

Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:09 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2007 10:16 AM EST
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Thursday, November 29, 2007
Jesus: I am not coming back

CHAPEL HILL – Just as the Christmas shopping season was beginning, a damper has come down on the holiday’s festive spirit, as Jesus announced Wednesday that he is canceling his previously scheduled return to earth.

In a surprisingly candid and informal statement to an invited assembly of world leaders and journalists at Memorial Hall on the University of North Carolina campus, Jesus detailed his reasoning behind this momentous decision.

"I’m not coming back," Jesus began. "I'm sorry. I know I promised I would return but have any of you really looked at the state of the world lately? Tell the truth now; would you leave heaven to come to this? Didn't think so.

"Last time I came to earth I invested 33 solid years and what did I get? Crucified. I mean literally crucified. At some point you've got to cut your losses, don't you think?

"I'm pretty good about keeping my commitments. At least I think so. But can't a guy get a little reciprocity every now and then? If even a couple of you would keep maybe one commandment for part of one day every once in a while, I'd be at least tempted to come back.

"But, give me a break, since I left, you guys are about one for a hundred and fifty quadrillion -- and I'm talking about the people who actually try.

"I'm just not coming back," Jesus said as he despondently walked away from the podium to end his announcement.

A convocation of the National Council of Churches in consultation with the Jesus Seminar declared that they were not at all surprised to hear Jesus was not returning. "We never believed he was returning to begin with," said Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, the NCC's General Secretary.

Dr. Bart A. Ehrrman, a professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, expanded on this view. "Textual analysis had shown that Jesus' so-called promises to return were not the authentic words of Jesus. A careful analysis of the extant texts shows that the only thing it is certain that Jesus did say was 'Lo.' After that it's mythology, wishful thinking and ex post facto theology put into his mouth."

Not everyone was so callous in their assessment. Bertrand Russell IV, a fifth-generation atheist from New York City who attended the press conference, was impressed by the uncontrived honesty of Jesus' declaration. "I really liked the guy. I had always thought of God as aloof and distant but this guy is really quite down to earth. I'm seriously considering becoming a believer now that I know it's not just a cheap ticket out of Armageddon."

Orthodox Jews who are still expecting the first coming of the Messiah were somewhat daunted by Jesus' announcement. Rabbi Simon Hirschfeld spoke for many when he said, "Maybe he's still coming the first time even if he's not coming back again. Oy vey, what if we missed him and the bus just isn't coming back to this station?"

Fundamentalist believers, however, remained unwavering in their faith. "I don't care what ‘Jesus’ said, if it ain't in the King James Version, I won't receive it, I don't believe it, and that's the way I'm gonna leave it," said the Reverend Moran Lofquist, executive director of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America.

Although he admitted to being temporarily shaken, author Timothy LaHaye says he now plans a new book series: "Really Left Behind."

Among major world religious figures, only the noted evangelist Billy Graham seemed completely nonplussed by Jesus' decision. "I figure I'm going to Jesus myself any day now. What do I care if he comes back when I'm in heaven? Seems like that's y'all's problem, not mine."

 

PETA volunteers to assist in fundraiser

HILLSBOROUGH – In a compromise that has everybody smiling, volunteers from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have agreed to take the place of the donkeys in the the C.W. Stanford Middle School Booster Club's re-scheduled donkey basketball fundraiser that had been cancelled earlier in response to PETA protests.

"It's the perfect solution," said PETA spokesperson, Alma Snock. According to Snock, PETA members are "used to abuse" while participating in PETA events. "Compared to disrupting research at a cancer lab, this will be a piece of cake," said Snock.

A Stanford booster club spokeswoman, who asked to be unnamed, said that PETA "donkeys" will be more manageable for school faculty and staff, who will be riding the "donkeys" as they play a game of basketball, "as they are more used to dealing with little jackasses anyway," adding, "and we expect attendance to be standing room only."

Delicious Tofu Pups® vegan hot dogs and smooth, creamy Silk® Soymilk will be available as refreshments.

 

Gary D. Gaddy once regularly attended Bible studies at the Maranatha! House in Greenville, S.C.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday November 29, 2007.

Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:49 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, December 20, 2007 11:15 AM EST
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Thursday, November 22, 2007
Candid yams contain truth serum

RALEIGH – A team of scientists from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina announced today a discovery that may explain why so many Thanksgiving dinners go downhill so fast and end so unpleasantly.

The team of biologists and chemists determined that yams (Dioscorea species) -- which are often very mistakenly called sweetpotatoes (Ipomoea batatas) -- contain a precursor to truth serum (sodium pentothal). This chemical (sodium quattrothal) reacts with agents in the toasted marshmallows, a sweet confection of a spongy consistency traditionally used as a topping on holiday yam sidedish preparations. In the heat of an oven, the chemicals in each combine to form the complete truth serum molecule.

When consumed in sufficient quantities, a generous second helping is usually enough, the sodium pentothal takes effect. The honest comments then follow. These moments of candidness, say UNC’s sociologists who observed over 200 Thanksgiving dinners in their natural setting, lead directly to the sticky messes that followed.

"Every dinner we observed ended when Uncle Pete stormed out of the house, after Cousin Suzanne told a story about that summer at Grandma's house, and the 'wellhouse incident'," said UNC's noted social psychologist, Darko Milosovic. This happened consistently when candid yams were served but never, during any of the almost 100 family holiday dinners observed, when sweetpotato casserole was served instead.

NC State nutritionist Gordon Flattus said that though the two vegetables are visually similar, the yam has more natural sugar (and, thus, calories) and less vitamins A and C (both antioxidants). So, sweetpotatoes are the better choice nutritionally -- and socially.

A social environmental impact study of cost of candid yam sidedishes (as compared to a baseline of sweetpotato casserole) showed that candid yams have social costs of $6.6 billion per year in the U.S. alone.

Obesity and its attendant medical woes, such as diabetes and heart disease, caused $1.6 billion of these costs. The bigger costs, heretofore unmeasured, related to domestic violence (including number of police calls, days in jail and prison, and criminal court costs) amounted to $2.2 billion per year.

But, in a finding that surprised even the multi-disciplinary research team, the costs of civil litigation amounted to $2.8 billion per year. Many of these costs had not been noted before as they are lagged, often by years, and so didn't appear in the more typical short-term study.

The team's legal expert, UNC’s Stephen B. Gruber, said the obvious libel and divorce suits were a factor, the biggest impacts came from previously unnoted contentious will caveats and the extended time that estates stayed open in the candid-yam families.

"Among the candid-yam families, many estates with larger pools of heirs were completely drained of their resources before the multiple suits, claims, caveats and counterclaims were settled," said attorney Gruber.

In the end, in most cases, only the lawyers got any money, said Gruber.

Earlier family studies research had attributed holiday discord to excess consumption of alcoholic beverages, especially mulled wine, spiked eggnog and, among families of Scandanavian descent, glögg.

However, these ethyl-based theories were never fully accepted as they failed to account for the holiday blowups among AA members and conservative Baptists. Candid yams, the team pointed out, do.

According to noted food historian, Waverly Root, the historic shift from sweetpotatoes to yams in confectionary desserts and sidedishes pre-dates the meteoric rise in non-personal injury lawsuits by the same 8- to 10-year lag found in the NCSU/UNC study.

 

My name is Gary D. Gaddy and I approved the preceding announcement. Paid for by the Committee to Elect Gaddy Official Town Dunce.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 22, 2007.

Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:47 AM EST
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Monday, November 12, 2007
Energy independence in eight years

ONE OF THE CURRENT CROP OF PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES says that he will bring energy independence to the United States "by the end of his second term." Believe it or not, the candidate is a Republican.

Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, says the first thing he will do as President is send Congress a comprehensive plan for energy independence -- and that we will achieve energy independence by the end of his second term.

Huckabee says energy independence is vital to achieving success both in the war on terror and in the global economy, aiding both our security and our prosperity. To achieve it, he says, we will have to explore and conserve, and pursue all avenues of alternative energy: nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen, clean coal, biodiesel and biomass.

The man makes sense to me, even if he does set very ambitious goals. As the richest and most technologically advanced society in the history of the world, who says we can't? Who says we shouldn't try?

How would we do it? Here are some of my suggestions. We start with tax incentives for cost-effective conservation. Then by applying the technology we have now and accelerating that which is now under development, including cost-effective fuel cells that could provide pollution- and carbon-free power. The government would provide much greater direct and indirect incentives for such research.

The government would mandate – for itself – technologies it wants to bring to consumers. For example, every vehicle the government purchases should be a hybrid. I am generally for free markets operating unfettered but "sin" taxes on activities with social costs (like pollution that leads to disease) and tax breaks for activities with social benefits (like energy savings that lead to less pollution and energy independence) make social sense.

If you say it can't be done that fast, consider this: Brazil is close to energy independent -- now. How? Brazil makes ethanol for about $1 a gallon, according to the World Bank. Ethanol accounts for about 20% of Brazil's transport fuel market. Gasoline use has actually declined since the late 1970s. Making these changes wasn't free, but it was affordable for Brazil, so you might think it would be for us as well.

France produces its electricity almost without any fossil fuel. How? Nuclear power. France launched a nuclear program dating back to 1973 and the "oil crisis." France's 59 nuclear plants now generate 78% of its electricity, and it is the world's largest net exporter of electricity due to its very low generation costs

Iceland is moving towards a total "hydrogen economy." How? Using geothermal energy, which currently produces about 26% of that country's electricity, and meets the heating and hot water requirements for around 87% of the nation's housing. Recently an MIT panel said that the thermal energy in the Earth's hard rock crust could supply a substantial portion of U.S. electricity needs, probably at competitive prices and with minimal environmental impact.

Hydroelectricity now supplies about 19% of world electric power. Some estimate the world’s potential for hydroelectric power generation to be three times the current installed base. The U.S. is said to have exploited only half its hydro potential

Estonia's current shale oil shale accounts for about 95% of its electrical generation. Total world resources of oil shale are thought to be enough to yield about three trillion U.S. barrels of oil. The U.S. accounts for 62% of world resources.

Research into effective methods of sequestering carbon dioxide could produce "clean coal," a mineral resource we also have in great abundance.

When I visited Sicily last fall, large parts of the island were covered with wind farms. Many places in America could be too. Solar water heaters sat on nearly every roof there. Many parts of the southern U.S. could look that way too.

We are just one governmental nudge away from photo-voltaic technology in the form of roof shingles being economically feasible. Every house could provide much of its own power with its roof.

The medians of American highways could be growing plants which can be converted in fuel.

And the list of solutions could go, not the least of which is nuclear fusion which offers the possibility of virtually unlimited energy -- even if in the distant future.

David Brooks, a sensible conservative and a fan of Huckabee, says that Huckabee "vows, absurdly, to make the U.S. energy independent within eight years." Well, perhaps absurdly. But, consider that on May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy presented this challenge to America: Let’s send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. Just in case you have forgotten, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped on the lunar surface.

 

Gary D. Gaddy helped build a solar-heated house in 1973 and co-founded a solar and energy conservation company in 1977.

A version of this article was published in the News & Observer (Raleigh) on Monday November 12, 2007. Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:23 AM EST
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2007 7:28 AM EST
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Thursday, November 8, 2007
18 holes leading to golf addiction

IT IS VERY CLEAR THAT GOLF IS ADDICTIVE, very addictive -- on the same order of addictiveness as crack or heroin -- though perhaps a little more expensive. I know because I live in a family riddled with golf addicts. My dad, God bless his soul, is the clearest example.

When other people in casual conversation tell me that their father is a "golf addict," I carefully and kindly correct them.

"Compared my dad," I say, "your dad ain't addicted to nothin', pipsqueak."

My father, Clifford Garland Gaddy, Sr., M.D., may well be America’s leading golf addict. The following actual incident from his life should make this incontrovertible.

My father attended Wake Forest College, whose most famous alumnus is, not coincidentally, Arnold Palmer. In support of the school, at age 78, Dad entered the Brian Piccolo Classic charity golf tournament, which operated sort of like a walk-a-thon where you played as many holes as you could in one day. Sandra and I pledged $5 a hole. Thirty six times five. I figured we'd owe $180.

My dad played 100 holes of golf. His average score per round was in the low 80s, believe it or not.

But that’s not the kicker. My dear mother had driven the cart for him. After 100 holes, there was still light, so he said, "Inez, would you like to play some?" She said yes. So, he played 18 more holes with her "for fun."

That’s 118 holes in one day. That’s $590 that we owed. My dad raised a lot of money from the friends and family he suckered into enabling him.

Do understand that the tragedy of my father’s golf addled life need not be a life lived in vain. To avoid the rough life that he has had to endure, simply avoid the many traps that he has fallen into.

Avoid these 18 holes, and get control of your golf addiction!

Hole 1. Don't deny it. You're addicted and you can't do anything about it. My dad thinks he just plays because he enjoys it.

Hole 2. Don't hide your addiction. When you start playing night golf with lighted balls, you know you're in trouble.

Hole 3. Don't try to get better thinking then you can quit. Think that "being really good" has helped Tiger Woods beat the habit? Golf school is not rehab.

Hole 4. Don't buy new equipment. And by new, I mean new to you. Play It Again Sports is a trap akin to a pot bunker at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

Hole 5: Don't put a "Putter Boy" weather vane on the roof of your house -- even if your darling wife would let you.

Hole 6: Don't collect those little midget golf pencils. Seriously.

Hole 7: Don't go to medical school. (Don't go to law school either. When my wife attended law school at Duke, the law school had a staff golf pro.)

Hole 8: Don't become a doctor. Before the advent of the beeper, the golf course was one of the few places where you could escape from saving lives.

Hole 9: Don’t attend medical conventions at golf resorts. The tax write-off you take for "medical education" will only mean more money for more Big Berthas.

Hole 10: Don't gamble when you play. Your winnings will only mean more money for more Big Berthas.

Hole 11: Don't use orange balls to play in the snow (no matter how many golfing days are taken away from you in Danville, Virginia by snowy conditions -- usually about one a year.)

Hole 12: "One-club" tournaments are not a way to "cut back." It's no less golf just because you use a single club than it is when you have cart full of them. Ditto on "hickory-stick" tournaments.

Hole 13: Don't enter charity tournaments. (See above). Face it, your chip shots are not feeding the hungry, they're feeding your addiction.

Hole 14: Don't buy a condo on a golf course in Pinehurst.

Hole 15: When on vacation at Pinehurst, don't spend your time watching the Golf Channel.

Hole 16: When on vacation at Wild Dunes, don't spend all your time looking out the window watching people hit balls into the sand traps on the 18th green of the Ocean Course.

Hole 17: Don't build a golf course in your backyard. My dad built a 9-hole par-three course in his backyard. It didn't cut down on golf, just on travel time.

Hole 18: Don't get a patent on a "golf-related device." My father is the inventor of the "Weed Wedge," which "helps improve your wedge shot while removing weeds from your lawn and garden."

 

Gary D. Gaddy's father won the Senior Division with the best net score at the One Club World Championship in 1987, and once had two holes-in-one in a single nine-hole round on his par-three backyard course.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday November 8, 2007. Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:15 AM EST
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Thursday, November 1, 2007
A sketchy portrait of Tom Bordeaux

This article is re-printed in advance from the upcoming Hollow Rock Racquet and Swim Club Newsletter from its soon-to-be cancelled occasional Member Spotlight series.

THIS MONTH'S "MEMBER SPOTLIGHT' shines its unforgiving glow on the large figure of one Tom Bordeaux. This is a subject that begs to be written about -- literally.

During an ecologically correct car-pooled ride back from a USTA 7.5 combo league tennis match, following the thorough beat-down we had administered, yet again, to the fine senior gentlemen of the Governor's Club, somehow the conversation moved to my newspaper column. Our driver and teammate, Tom Bordeaux, asked, "What do you write about?" My answer was my standard response, "Whatever I want to, mostly stupid stuff."

Then I added, "I could write about you, Tom." His response was something along the lines of: "Good, go ahead and do that."

Here is it is: Mr. J. Tom Bordeaux, Jr. in the Member Spotlight.

When I think "State graduate," I think Tom Bordeaux. He's a walking NC State stereotype. He has State logo on his hardhat.

He's a kind of novelty at Hollow Rock Racquet and Swim Club where UNC and Duke grads abound. He may be the result of our club's diversity policy; I don't know. During even a brief introductory conversation, you will quickly recognize that Tom is neither a Duke nor Carolina alum -- he does something useful for a living.

State grads, you see, can't think abstractly like we liberally and elitely educated folk can. If you don't include various types and sub-types of surgeons (which comprise approximately 57% of all adult Hollow Rock members), I'm not sure anybody with a Duke or UNC degree can operate even a bottle opener -- with the clear exception, of course, of elaborate de-corking devices used on Beaujolais nouveau. Tom, on the other hand, builds big buildings and stuff like that.

Tom also plays tennis. He has played on teams I played on and on teams I played against. I'd rather have him on my side of the net than on the other. (But, please note, both can be quite dangerous.) Every ball Tom hits is a rocket. Subtlety is not his specialty.

You know that TV commercial where tennis star Andy Roddick supposedly hits a serve so hard it burrows into the clay court? That, of course, was faked; Roddick never did that. They used a video of one of Tom's overheads.

Tom has a lovely wife Karen who also plays tennis. Once I played with Tom against Karen and another male. This was not fair -- Karen is clearly better than I am. Inspired by my partner Tom's slugging style at one point I clobbered, inadvertently, I'm sure, an overhead right into Karen's stomach. As you may know if you play mixed doubles, for some reason, women don't like this. Their husbands, generally, like it even less.

I was ready for Tom to kill me with his bare hands, or perhaps his racquet, whichever came first. In an immediate attempt to pre-empt a bloody demise, I began to apologize to Karen. Tom said, "Stop!" Then, with a glare in his eye, he said, "If you get chance to do it again, do it! She would." Before the match was over I realized the wisdom and perspicuity of his words.

Following evening matches at Hollow Rock, the men usually sit around and drink dollar beers. Not too many, of course. We talk about matters of substance and import. Once, after making an observation of depth and acuity on some concern of essential value to the fate of the world, Tom had this observation. "Gaddy, you're full of . . ." finishing the sentence with a noun common in popular usage referencing an agricultural by-product that they study apparently at great length and in great depth at the North Carolina State University.

A simple response from me would have been, "Yes." Instead, I said, "How do you mean that?" This, unfortunately, ended the conversation.

Tom's degree at State College is in civil engineering so I'm hoping that he will still be civil after he reads this.

AUTHOR'S DISCLAIMER (under the advice of the author's spouse and legal counsel): Nothing in the above should be construed to be a general diminishment of the North Carolina State University (hereafter and heretofore referred to as "State College"), or taken to unnecessarily derogate its current or former students, faculty, staff, alumni or its teams' fans.

 

Gary D. Gaddy, who before his untimely demise held a graduate degree from UNC, really did play on a Hollow Rock team with Mr. Bordeaux, who is, according to a spokesman with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, currently a "person of interest."

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday November 1, 2007.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 7:52 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2007 8:09 AM EDT
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Thursday, October 25, 2007
Fighting Gobblers under attack

THIS IS WHAT GENEROUSLY DONATING YOUR TIME AND ENERGY to edifying the denizens of Orange County will get you. After defending the honor and dignity of North Carolina and its great university against the lowly usurpers of South Carolina, here come people previously from the Commonwealth of Virginia getting peeved, or at least that's how I interpreted the attitude conveyed by the following missive, because I didn't insult their team too.

To provide some context, Robyn, and her husband Dave, are graduates of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, a land-grant college originally named Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College, serving their state, the nation, the world and, perhaps, the Universe.

Robyn, who spells her name with a "y", is also a graduate of E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg, Virginia, archrival of my beloved alma mater, George Washington High School of Danville, Virginia, which Glass used to regularly schedule for Homecoming, if you know what I mean.

Last Thursday, my column referred to the Gamecocks of South Carolina as the "Evil Chickens of S.C."

 

The next day I received this email.

Subject: fowl mascots

After reading your column yesterday, I find myself grateful that you opted to avoid a wide-ranging mascot discussion ... it seems you might have lumped Va Tech with the chickens.

Robyn

 

So, I responded:

Subject: Re: Fowl Mascots

Robyn,

You are correct that a free-ranging discussion of fowl mascots would have skewered the team formerly known as the VT Turkeys.

Glad somebody is reading my column -- even if it is only to see if those they know and love have been libeled.

Gary

 

 

Her response:

Subject: Re: fowl mascots

"Free-ranging" ... I get it. Though I must make it clear that Fighting Gobblers are not turkeys.

Robyn

 

So, I responded:

Robyn,

You are in serious poultry denial. You may want to see an ornithologist.

Gary

 

After she failed to respond in kind, I added this:

Robyn,

See below. This should end this fowl discussion.

Gary

 

Fighting Gobblers

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Fighting Gobblers is the original name for the sports teams of Virginia Tech.

Origins

Virginia Tech's first mascot/nickname was the "Gobblers". Around 1908, Tech students and opponent athletes began referring to student athletes as "Gobblers" because of the way they "gobbled" their ample servings of food.

Whatever the origins, the name was already popular when in 1913 Floyd "Hard Times" Meade, a local orphan resident, had a large turkey pull a decorated cart before football games. Meade paraded the mascot around the stadium during the game, and even trained it to gobble on command. This tradition continued after another "turkey trainer" took over in 1924.

From then on, fans and sportswriters associated the gobbler with Tech's athletic teams, and for many years the school's official name for its sports teams was the "Fighting Gobblers." In 1936, a costumed Gobbler joined the live gobbler for at least one game. The use of a live turkey mascot continued well into the 1950s.

In the late 1970s, a new football coach, upon hearing that the Gobbler mascot was based on athletes gobbling their food down, began promoting the "Hokie" nickname and even removed the gobble from the scoreboard. Though the term Hokies was widely used, the official designation was only changed in the mid-1980s. Coach Frank Beamer had the scoreboard gobble reinstalled.

Hokies is the official name of Virginia Tech's sports teams. Fans, students, and alumni of Virginia Tech are also referred to as Hokies. The Hokie Bird, is modeled on a large turkey, has been the official sport mascot of Virginia Tech since 1961.

See also: Virginia Tech Hokies

 

So, then came this response: 

Subject: Re: fowl mascots

Wow -- thanks for the update. I guess you can tell I left the campus in the early 70s.

Robyn

 

My final note to Robyn, and the Hokie Nation at large: If a Gobbler is not a turkey, why have opponents' marching bands over the years regularly serenaded visiting Fighting Gobbler teams with renditions of "Turkey in the Straw"? Your team can "officially" change its name but it cannot change its heritage, tradition or its intimate connection to its university’s esteemed poultry science curriculum.

Embrace your inner bird. Meditate upon this wisdom as you watch your top-ten Gobblers scratch it out with second-ranked Boston College tonight: "It’s difficult to soar with the eagles, when you’re working with turkeys!"

 

Gary D. Gaddy attended the Homecoming Game at E.C. Glass H.S. in the fall of 1967, which his Cardinals won handily, leading, as he remembers it, by 35-0 at halftime when all the despondent but nattily dressed Hilltopper fans went home, and once personally assisted in a 4-H egg-grading competition at Virginia Tech.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday October 25, 2007. Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:35 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2007 8:03 AM EDT
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Thursday, October 18, 2007
A Southern sibling rivalry

MANY NORTHERN TRANSPLANTS SEEM CONFOUNDED by this Carolina/Carolina thing that surfaced as a result of a football game between the respective universities of North Carolina and South Carolina. (Please note, the word used here is respective, not respected, as only one of these institutions is.) It is a sibling rivalry.

In any such rivalry, it is important, very important, that the big brother (North Carolina) keep the little brother (South Carolina) in his place, really in his place. Just like my older brother needed (and still does need) to beat me in any competitive contest of any kind any time anywhere, North Carolina needs to whoop up on South Carolina on a regular basis.

Where an official and formal competitive venue does not exist, North Carolina gives South Carolina noogies just to keep them in their appointed place -- which is beneath North Carolina. Look at a map.

Northern transplants (Yankees we like to call them) should beware of jumping into this fray, even to help us Tar Heels. This is a family feud and we really don't need your assistance, thank you very much. A clear analogy would be me, my brother and Rocky Zimmerman. Now my oldest brother used to bop on me and my younger brother on a semi-regular basis (somewhat less so since he has turned 60 -- but it could still happen).

A favored technique of his was the frog. For those of you not versed in the puerile pugilistic arts, the frog is a punch delivered, usually to the upper arm, with a clenched fist made by extending the second knuckle of the middle finger outward to a point. When the pain subsides, the bruise remains to remind the lessers, such as me, who was the big brother, and who was not.

Rocky Zimmerman was, for a while, the mythic bully of our neighborhood. Once, for some reason I don't remember, he punched me in the stomach. I ran home crying.

My oldest brother was generally considered the neighborhood nerd. He was an egghead. He wore glasses.

A couple of days after my run-in with Rocky, in the midst of some collective neighborhood game, my oldest brother conveniently got into a dispute with him. He punched Rocky in the stomach. The myth of Rocky Zimmerman was undone in one moment, as he ran home crying. The neighborhood never feared him again. He never touched me again.

While North Carolina takes every occasion presented to it to deride South Carolina, it will still unleash a serious frogging on any outsider who has the temerity to pick on its poor, pathetic, podunk and knuckleheaded little brother. Historical case in point: the Civil War.

So, Yanks, just observe as I detail a few of the many reasons that North Carolina and UNC have for feeling a cut above South Carolina and USC.

North Carolina's state capital is named after the Englishman Sir Walter Raleigh (1552–1618), famed as a writer, poet, courtier and explorer, who established the first English settlement in the New World on Roanoke Island in present-day North Carolina. South Carolina's state capital is named after Chris Columbus (1451–1506) who discovered San Salvador Island.

For UNC, it is sufficient that USC (the piddling one in Columbia not the real one in LA) has the insolence to call itself "Carolina," even though UNC had been around for 13 years when USC got going. Get a clue, guys: first come, first served.

Further, any school which voluntarily selects a chicken as its mascot really should not expect too much respect from the rest of the world. Although a wider discussion of the inappropriateness of the school's choice of mascot will be by-passed in light of the various sensitivities of our readers, we will note that it celebrates the illegal, immoral and tasteless sport of chicken fighting. Gamecocks, indeed.

UNC's football coach, Butch Davis, is universally admired as a decent, caring and humble coach who builds character and lives as well as football teams. South Carolina's coach is Steve Spurrier. (And although the Evil Chickens of S.C. nipped the Tar Heels this time, Mr. Superior shouldn’t be looking back, as Satchel Paige might say, ‘cause someone might be gainin' on him.)

In the interest of mercy, we won't mention basketball.

A further point of favorable comparison of N.C. over S.C. (as if anyone who has ever set foot in both places would need any convincing): Have you ever tasted the concoction they call barbecue? Mustard-based sauce? May God help the sick people down there who are in want of some serious aesthetic re-education.

And, finally, there is a reason that South of the Border is south of the border.

 

Pedro says that Gary D. Gaddy has stopped at South of the Border just outside beautiful Dillon, South Carolina, more times than he would like to admit.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday October 18, 2007.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:10 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2007 8:09 AM EDT
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Thursday, October 11, 2007
Poor excuses for Duke football

BEFORE THE FOOTBALL SEASON STARTED, USA Today handicapped the ACC championship race. They gave the odds for Duke winning at 500 million to one. Of course, USA Today is noted for their overly rosy view of life. This is a case in point.

Some of you may be thinking: "Really?  I didn't know Duke had a football team." They do.

Who actually does not appear to know that Duke has football team? Duke students. Students who camp out for months to see the Duke men's basketball team play Monmouth can't find the football stadium on any Saturday all fall. (For those of you unacquainted with Duke campus geography, you can spit out the window of Cameron Indoor Stadium and hit Wallace Wade -- which many at Duke do on a regular basis.)

I have gone to every Duke-UNC game for the past twelve years. I especially enjoy watching while completely surrounded by baby-blue clad Tar Heel partisans, by which, of course, I mean in Durham. Every year there have more Tar Heel than Blue Devil fans at these Duke "home" games. One year, I swear, there were no Duke students who weren't on the field or wearing skirts (i.e., the Duke cheerleaders).

We have friends, who shall remain nameless, who tailgate at Duke home games -- then go home without ever watching the game. How's that for fan support? (Correct answer: Not good.)

To make a poor excuse for these poor excuses for fans: Duke University consistently fields one of the worst teams in Division 1-A football, at one point this season being the nation-leading losers of 22 games in a row. The team has lost its last 20 games against ACC opponents.

Duke actually has been good, very good, at football -- in the past.

In 1938 under Coach Wallace Wade, Duke shut out all their regular season opponents and reached the national championship game. Duke "went" to another Rose Bowl in 1942, one held at Duke's home stadium following Pearl Harbor.

Duke won six of the first ten ACC football championships from 1953 to 1962 under Coach Bill Murray.

But since 1994 Duke has not had a winning season, and has had only three such seasons in the last 20 years.

As national championship poll watchers are aware, it's not easy going undefeated. Well, statistically, it’s not easy to play an entire season without winning a game either. Duke has done it four times in the last eleven seasons.

But guess what? One of the reasons Duke's win-loss results are so excruciatingly bad is fan support – or, more precisely, the lack there of. For a number of years over the past 15, Duke has actually put a competitive team on the field; they just couldn't win the close games. What possibly could have made the difference? How about, maybe, a crowd cheering for them? Fans can't change the outcome of team blown out 45-3, but they can make a difference in a 14-13 loss.

Podunk little Wake Forest's ACC championship last year was the feel-good story in college football -- to everyone except Duke University. The Deacon football program exposes the Blue Devil excuses. Nothing that Duke administrators or fans could offer as a sensible rationale for Duke’s pathetic on-field results holds up in the light of the performance of Wake's team. For example, the size of the school or its potential fan base, or the depth of its donors pockets, these are all in lesser supply at Wake than they are at Duke. And Wake also has tough academic standards.

Wake won't win the ACC every year, I am sorry to report. Last year, even the most partisan analysts would admit, was something of a fluke. But it wasn't in this sense: the team was given a chance by the support of their school, from their president to their fans, to win.

And, by the way, the early season 14-13 loss by Duke last year? That was at Wake Forest, where 26,000 fans showed up.

The same odds maker who put Duke at 500 million to one to win the ACC this year put Wake at seven to one. I used to be a statistician so I can tell you confidently, that's a lot better odds.

If you don't believe that fan support is that bad, Duke plays "at home" against Virginia Tech this Saturday. The Hokies won't really need the help but the "Twelfth Man" will be wearing maroon and orange.

 

 

Gary D. Gaddy is a Tar Heel fan who is sympathetic to the Blue Devil football team as he has two nieces and a nephew who are the great grandchildren of Coach Bill Murray.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday October 11, 2007.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:09 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, November 6, 2010 8:58 AM EDT
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Thursday, October 4, 2007
Prophets, prophecy and me

A THOUGHT KEEPS PLAGUING ME:  Could it be true that Dr. H. Mitchell Simpson, Ph.D., senior pastor of University Baptist, has called me a prophet? Unfortunately, it is reported by normally reliable sources that he did. Maybe even in public

I thought it was error enough when the state of North Carolina called me a "Statistician III" when I worked as, get ready for this, the Coordinator of Statistical Consulting for the Howard W. Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

I was not, am not and, I can say with a high degree of confidence, never will be a "statistician," which point I can easily prove: I never took a single statistics course for credit. Ain't startin' now.

Further, in my view, statistician is parallel to engineer: someone who designs things. So, for example, an automotive engineer designs automobiles. Likewise, a statistician creates new statistical tests. I taught driver's ed.

But to the current point: I am not, I am relieved to report, a prophet. The last time I made a prediction that I was completely confident would come to pass was when I picked the Wildcats to win in the Kentucky versus Arizona game in my NCAA basketball championship bracket. Fortunately for me, the game didn't get cancelled.

I am not sure that the dear and kindly intentioned Dr. Simpson knew exactly what he was saying when he called me a prophet. I am concerned that he may have been tossing back a little too much of the communion grape juice.

This is what the Bible says about the presumptuous prophet, which is what I would be if I were a prophet, I presume. "But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die." (Deuteronomy 18:20)

Seriously, the Chapel Hill Herald does not pay me enough (or anything, for that matter) to justify my dying for my craft. Just to set Dr. Simpson straight (and God, as well, if necessary), when I quote God (or Jesus), I'm just kidding. I haven't actually heard directly from God (or Jesus). I just make the stuff up.

The way I figure it, I was made in the image of God. I have a sense of humor, so God must have one too. Just to be on the safe side, my jokes are never making fun of God. I assume, like everybody I know, He generally thinks my jokes are funny -- as long as they are about someone else.

Likewise, when I make up words and put them in the mouths of Roy Williams or Dean Smith, I want to make it clear that I am not speaking "in the name of other gods." I don't even really know who "other gods" are (although I vaguely remember something about Ahura Mazda from a Religions of the World class I took my sophomore year in at the highly esteemed and formerly marginally Baptist Furman University.)

In any case, Roy and Dean could not be considered "other gods" -- they are the primary deities here in Chapel Hill.

Anyway, if this "compliment" was Dr. Simpson’s way of fishing for an offer of my ghostwriting services to him, sorry, it ain’t gonna work. Communing with the spirits of the dead is what got ol’ King Saul in trouble with God, so I ain’t goin’ there.

* * * *

Speaking of prophetic voices

The world is just a little less today than it was just a few days ago. The print edition of the Weekly World News passed from this earth with its last hardcopy issue being sold last month. Nestled among the tabloids at the grocery store checkout, the Weekly World News never received its due as cutting edge journalism, as the harbinger of the future of news.

Before Janet Cooke of the Washington Post had her Pulitzer revoked, before Jason Blair fabricated story after story for the New York Times, before Dan Rather could be the dupee and would-be duper by passing along transparently phony documents over at CBS News, the WWN was there making up news from whole cloth.

Sophisticated readers and highly educated journalists like me mourn its passing.

While the WWN continues in its online format, I am sure we all agree that reading phony news on the web is just not as satisfying as it is when you are staining your fingers while reading ink on paper.

 

Gary D. Gaddy has twice attended University Baptist Church, once to see the "Cotton Patch Gospel" and once for the memorial service for John Lotz, who, if he wasn't a prophet, was one of the great evangelists ever to live in Chapel Hill.

A version of this article appeared in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday October 4, 2007.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 2:53 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 10:05 AM EST
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Thursday, September 27, 2007
Espousing free speech in academe

RECENTLY, THE BANNER OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH was raised high across academe, including on our very own Chapel Hill campus, in defense of Duke Law professor Erwin Chemerinsky. And, in the end, he got his deanship in California.

But espousing free speech for people who think the way we do is not really espousing free speech. Does anybody actually think that liberals are more likely to be denied academic jobs because of their political views? Anybody?

So, who should UNC academics be defending? I think they should be fighting for the un-liberal evangelists who were recently evicted from the Pit, the University of North Carolina campus equivalent of Hyde Park in London.

I'm not a big fan of the Pit preachers, in general, because as they preach sin and repentance while challenging passers-by with their version of Christianity they tend to be abrasive, abusive and thus more likely to keep people from Jesus than draw them to him.

I think that evangelical Christians who don't believe that "Satan says that God loves everyone" (as one of the Pit preachers' signs reportedly said) have more reason to wish such preachers would go away than the atheists, Satanists and LGBTIQ folks. Their preaching style is so generally offensive that it pushes many more people away from the Gospel than it pulls to it, creating sympathy for groups and behaviors that many might otherwise find problematic.

But, you know what? Speech is only free when the speech that we hate is just as free as the speech we love.

To the best I can figure the only thing that happened in the Pit the day the evangelists were evicted is that a loud shouting match took place. During my 14 years on the UNC campus, vociferous shouting matches between some of the more provocative Pit preachers and their audiences were practically a daily occurrence. I never saw anyone "led off campus."

I taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for four years, a place more liberal, if such be possible, than UNC-Chapel Hill. A place that was second only, at one time in the 1960's, to the University of California at Berkeley as the head of the "free speech" movement.

By the time I got to Madison in the 1980's, the worm had turned --180 degrees. The primary speech concern was "hate speech," that is, speech that offended some particular demographic group.

The ultimate solution at UW was a speech code. The way a speech code works is this: White supremacists, for example, could promote any idea they like as long as it was not something anyone found offensive, like, say, white supremacy.

Why a speech code was necessary is beyond me. There was already an informal "speech beats speech" policy in effect. I am sure you are thinking: That's the way it should be. The free exchange of ideas and, in the end, the best ideas will win out. Good ideas trump bad ones. Solid rational arguments triumph over flimsy fallacious ones. Truth defeats lies. Sorry. That's not how it worked.

During that time period in Madison, controversial speakers with offensive philosophies (that is to say, any conservative) were simply shouted down. Not questioned and found wanting. Not out debated. Not presented with points they could not refute. Simply shouted down. Not given a chance to even present their own ideas -- which may have been silly, stupid, puerile, inane, evil or just plain wrong (in someone's opinion) -- not that we would ever know because we never got to hear them.

UNC Campus Police would have made life for the pre-speech-code goons of Madison much easier. Now, it is apparent, to silence any public voice all that UNC "students" have to do is start a shouting match. Campus cops will do the rest.

My question: Why weren't the "students" who were shouting with the evangelists also led off campus? UNC is a public university, last I heard. If there was a shouting match that had to be stopped, how was it determined who was at fault?

The evangelists were "escorted" off campus "for the safety of all those involved," said a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, quoted in the Daily Tar Heel. One of the evangelists was quoted as saying that "there was no threat to security." It seems he should know whether he is safe or not.

Here’s an idea. Let’s let the Pit preachers preach, loudly if they like. Let’s let those who disagree with them argue with them if they like, loudly if it suits them. Let’s take the Department of Public Safety off the "silence speech we don’t like" beat.

Question: If the next anti-war rally in the Pit draws loud counter protesters, will campus police escort the anti-war ralliers off campus? Just wondering.

 

Gary D. Gaddy listens to Stephanie Miller and Rush Limbaugh; both tend to shout.

A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thrusday, September 27, 2007.  Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 11:34 AM EDT
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Thursday, September 20, 2007
Mixed results at the state championships

IT HAS BEEN SAID that 90% of life is just showing up -- but that's not always true. I held a job working for the state once and based my observations, if not my behavior, sometimes just showing up is 100%. But, generally, in tennis, just showing up won't get you much at all.

On the other hand, when you're the only team in your league, just showing up means you win the league and get to go to the State Championships.

On occasion, life is fair, so our reward was commensurate with our effort. The championships were in Durham. Our first matches were held at Hollow Rock, meaning last Friday Sandra and I had to travel nine-tenths of a mile to "go to the North Carolina Senior 7.0 Mixed Doubles State Championship."

Once there the reality of being "in the State Championship" struck us in the face like a crisp Roger Federer backhand. Our team had played in an "adult league," since there were no other senior teams (senior being defined, at the youngest, as turning 50 during 2007). We weren't ready for real "seniors."

One fellow my wife and I played (I'll call him Ken -- because that’s his name) was supposedly a senior. My best guess is that he actually was a senior -- in high school. He had muscles like Barry Bonds – a product no doubt of the healthy mountain air. Further, he wore a red tennis outfit. I don't need to tell you this, we all know it intuitively, but no senior male is going to wear a red tennis outfit. To top it off, Ken was left-handed and played that way. He and his supposedly 3.0-rated partner beat us left handily 6-4 and 6-2.

The other match my wife and I played was more typical of our challenges. Our opponents, Steve and Carol Berg, were a very pleasant married couple from Wilmington. Being the hale fellow well met that I am, I bantered casually with them before the match. I said, "I know wagering on a match is illegal but how about if the winner pays for the losers' marriage counseling?" They laughed. I wasn't joking.

We lost the first seven points of the match. It looked to be blowout of bagelesque proportions. But I know my wife is a notoriously slow starter but a great finisher in doubles of all sorts. We won the next eight games, winning the first set 6-1 and were sitting at 2-0 in the second. Then we (by which I mean me) let up a little, they stepped up a little and we lost the second set 4-6. Tie-breaker time, time to separate the cream from the skim milk: we lost 5-10.

My wife was not available to play with me on Saturday. (She had a case appearing before the North Carolina Court of Appeals on the following Tuesday morning so, of course, it was essential that she be at Reno Sharpe's Store deep in Chatham County to play bluegrass on her banjo with a bunch of 80-year-old farmers.) I paired with our team captain West (with a "t") Dupuis. She played great. I did OK (that is, great for stretches and brain-dead at others).

Tiring of winning the first set, then losing the second, then blowing the tie breaker, we tried a different strategy that had worked previously for West and me. Namely, we were to get destroyed in the first set, get behind in the second then come back, and, finally, win the third-set tie breaker.

West and I didn't get destroyed but we did lose the first set 3-6 to our formidable opponents from Lake Norman. Then we edged them in a tie-breaker to win the second 7-6. And we got ahead in the third-set 10-point tie breaker 6-3, were tied at 8-8, and then lost 8-10, when my ground stroke went six inches long. Two points from my personal goal: winning one measly match. Very disheartening.

But little did I know that one of our opponents would be the one who most needed comfort. When we congratulated them at the net at match's end, our female opponent (I'll call her Meredith -- because that's her name) sullenly said, "I didn't enjoy this at all." Graciousness personified. I said, "It could have been worse."

Poor Meredith had to win all three of her matches in tie breakers!

As a team we did accomplish two goals that I had set for the team beforehand. The team won one match, thanks to a great effort by West and Greg Schulwitz. Our team didn't finish last. We finished 10th out of 12 teams -- which is not bad at all for a team that finished dead last in its own league.

 

Gary D. Gaddy, inexplicably, actually has gone to two state tennis championships in two consecutive seasons.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday September 20, 2007.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 1:53 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, August 23, 2010 7:03 AM EDT
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Thursday, September 13, 2007
Still watching "The Man Watching"

THIS IS DEFINITELY IT, Coach Dorrance.  After two decades as a fan, you had convinced me there was no need to pay attention to home openers. Then I open up the paper and find out we lost. Have you no sense of tradition? We had never lost a home opener in the history of the program. What made you think this would be a good time to lose one?

I'm so mad I'm not talking to you anymore -- except maybe to yell at you from the stands.

* * * *

Many irate readers (OK, all of my readers -- both of whom happen to be irate) have written to ask me when I am going to apologize for my (and these are their words) "shameless and disgusting treatment of UNC women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance" ("Get onboard with FireAnsonDorrance.com," September 5, 2006.) After a year's reflection, the answer in brief: Never. I have nothing to apologize for.

"They" say, "Don't you feel just a little embarrassed about beginning to call for the firing of a coach five games into a season in which he won a national championship?" First of all, I did not begin calling for his firing five games into the season. I began formulating my thoughts immediately after he lost the first game of the season. The primitive paper-and-ink technology employed by the Paxton Media Group should be blamed for the delay.

No, I am not going to apologize to Dorrance. I'm going to ask Dorrance to apologize to me. And, boy, does he ever have lots to apologize for.

Fans, such as I, were really annoyed at having to watch freshmen play last season. I know they are energetic and enthusiastic and all that, but they are not nearly as disciplined and precise as the seniors you used to play. They make us nervous.

Starting five freshmen (and six to begin the second half) for the national championship game borders on a sick torture of loyal fans like me. You really need to get some older players -- and don't think we have the patience to wait while you "develop your youthful talent." UCLA, Notre Dame and Florida State all had some nice players, who weren't, I might add, freshmen. You could get some of them.

We really would like players with simpler, shorter and more pronounceable names. We long for the days of Mia Hamm. Three simple syllables. Yael Averbuch? What kind of name is that? Oh, it's great to score a goal four seconds into the game for an NCAA record for all-genders, all-divisions and all that, but it took the announcers the rest of the half to get her name right -- if they ever did.

And Casey Nogueira? College Cup All-Tournament Team and First-Team Freshman All-America sound good, but what are they worth to me if I can't brag to my friends about her because I can't even say her name?

More goals need to be scored. At every level of soccer fans want more scoring. I know, I know, "The Tar Heel women are one of the highest scoring teams in all of soccer." Well, goody for them! What about the teams your teams play against? Wouldn't it be nice if they scored every now and then, too?

While some dimwit fans, of whom there are many, enjoy always watching their team win in a blowout, the real fans, like me, prefer some hard-fought contests that we win in the end. The point is if the other team scored more it would make the games more interesting. I really do hate leaving before halftime because the match is "over."

My advice: maybe instead of just standing on the sidelines with your arms crossed watching, you could actually coach every once in while -- instruct some of your players to get red cards, for example, so we could play nine or ten against eleven. Then I wouldn't have to re-score the game in my head by counting the other team’s goal kicks versus Tar Heel goals just to make the games seem competitive.

But please, please don't misunderstand me, I'm not offering permission to the Heels to lose "every now and then" to add drama to the games -- I really don't need that. And I hope that wasn’t what you were up to with that "home opener loss."

Finally, I tire of reading of you winning "another coach-of-the-year award." If you had any versatility, any range, any creativity, you could come up with something else you could win so I, and other dedicated fans, would have something more to read about besides "another coach-of-the-year award."

Gary D. Gaddy once ran into Anson Dorrance in "Play It Again Sports." He didn't recognize him.

This article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday September 13, 2007. Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 9:19 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, November 11, 2007 9:13 AM EST
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Thursday, September 6, 2007
Celebrating Club Nova's community

I HAVE HAD THE PRIVILEGE of being part of several exceptional communities. One of the more remarkable is Club Nova. In case you have never heard of Club Nova, it is, in technical terms, a psycho-social rehabilitation clubhouse for people with severe and persistent mental illness. That doesn't make it sound like that much fun, does it? Well, it is.

Despite having "illness" prominently listed in its mission, Club Nova is a very healthy place. Club Nova focuses on members' strengths and potential rather than their illnesses. Club Nova is, among many other good things, a loving, caring and accepting place.

What makes Club Nova a great clubhouse? That's simple -- community. When you belong to a club, any club, you are a member. If the club really works like it should, it belongs to you. Club Nova works like that. Club Nova is a community of members: club members, staff members and board members who belong to Club Nova and to whom Club Nova also belongs.

The people Club Nova serves are club members -- not its patients, its clients or even consumers of its services. That distinction is especially significant for the members, since in large part at some point they have been disenfranchised by larger society.

Many people know Club Nova from the pretty purple Club Nova Thrift Shop on West Main Street in Carrboro. The Thrift Shop operates as a place where club members can help develop or re-capture job skills, where the public can see Club Nova at work while finding remarkable bargains in everyday items -- and at the same time support the work of the clubhouse, just like the volunteers who work alongside the club members there do.

The clubhouse is the little white house next door. While Club Nova has a clubhouse, it is not a building; it is an organization of people. It's a membership club. And like with American Express, membership has its privileges. Club Nova follows the successful clubhouse model pioneered by Fountain House in New York City.

Part of that model is what is called a Clubhouse Community Bill of Rights. These rights are simple, and sometimes mystifying to those who don't understand the devastating impact that mental illness can have on a life. These rights are to a Place to Come, Meaningful Work, Meaningful Relationships and a Place to Return.

Where mental illness has so displaced someone that he has no place to go, a place to come is essential. Where mental illness has destroyed someone's job, career and even prospects for work, a place where she can do meaningful work and reacquire lost job skills is key to regaining independence. Where mental illness may have broken social ties and even family bonds, meaningful relationships with club staff and other club members fill the gap in a person's life. And, when an episode of mental illness strikes again, for a member to know that he has a place to which he can return gives hope.

The people who are part of Club Nova make it the therapeutic community that it is. Like in any family, love starts at the top. From Club Nova's executive director Karen Dunn to the newest staff member to the long standing members each help make it a healing place by caring for each other

Perhaps you may think that my praises of Club Nova are a little over the top. But consider this, according to someone who may be the best positioned individual in the world to make such a judgment, Ralph Bilby, Program Director of the International Center for Clubhouse Development: "Club Nova has long been on the short list of the best clubhouse programs in the world."

Or you could take the word of former Carrboro mayor Mike Nelson, who says, "Club Nova makes Carrboro a better place to live." Carrboro understands that you don't make a place better by excluding those who don't quite conform to social norms but by including them.

Founded in 1987 to address the needs of Orange County citizens living with mental illness, Club Nova has done just that for 20 years, providing a holistic, caring environment designed to promote rehabilitation and reintegration of people with mental illness into the community. So now it's time to celebrate.

Friends, supporters and neighbors, please join Club Nova for our Grand 20th Anniversary Celebration on Friday Sept. 7 at the Carrboro Century Center. Entertainment starts at 9:30 p.m. with music by Jay Miller, Lise Uyanik and friends to follow. Put on your dancing shoes, and come dance with us to celebrate 20 years of community. It should be fun.

For more information, call Club Nova at 968-6682 or email Jessica at jjerald@clubnova.org.

 

Gary D. Gaddy serves on the board of Club Nova.

This article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday August 30, 2007. Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 1:25 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2007 1:30 PM EDT
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Thursday, August 30, 2007
One long day at Trinity School

FADED AND JADED AS I AM after teaching all sorts of things at all sorts of levels to all sorts of ages for the past 40 years (I have done everything from managing a daycare center to teaching law school faculty), I pretty much got cured of my cynicism – in one long day.

Several years ago I decided to offer to be a substitute teacher at Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill as a way of paying them back for helping out my nephew who had attended Trinity the year before.

Mark is a bright kid, a really bright kid. I first met him at age five. The question I asked myself then was not, "Will he win a Nobel Prize?" but "I wonder which one?" At four and five Mark would have his mother read him science books, especially, biology and botany, that, she says, she didn’t understand. Other kids at his age ask for "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish."

As smart as Mark was, and is, he was a round peg in square hole all through school.

Mark came to Durham for the Hill Center, whose programs "for students with learning differences" are half day, so he needed a "home school" for the other part of the day. He ended up in Trinity School mostly because in was where he could get in at a late date, and they worked to help get him qualified.

The Hill Center was very good for Mark; Trinity was course changing.

As he said to his mother one day after he had been at Trinity for a few weeks, "I didn’t know that teachers could be nice." His time at Trinity was clearly the best school experience he had ever had -- educationally, socially and spiritually.

* * * *

Then one night at 8 p.m. I get called by a teacher at Trinity School asking if I could sub for a fifth grade class the next day. My immediate thought/prayer: "Dear Lord, what have I gotten myself into?" The answer was to come.

The next morning I woke early, after a night of fitful sleep, and headed to Trinity, just off Erwin Road, just few minutes from my house. I wore a tie. The other fifth grade teacher showed me the classroom, gave me the day’s lesson plans and told me she would be in the classroom next door if I needed her. I tried to figure out how to knock a hole in the wall so we could communicate continuously.

I did my best to understand what the day’s schedule was – but mostly I depended on eleven-year olds to tell what we were supposed to do next. Believe it or not, they did.

We did some serious math. We did a stint of spelling. Then they went out to recess and ran around and played games happily without any assistance from me. Later we studied ancient Roman history and culture. I read to them during lunch – and they listened.

At one point, I definitely realized I was not in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro school system. The schedule read: "10:00–10:20 – Prayer." My fearful thought was: "Oh no, I’m going to have to pray out loud for 20 minutes?"

In a moment of inspiration, I asked, "So, the schedule says, ‘Prayer,’ how does that work?" Two girls quickly answered, "Today’s our day to lead prayer!" And they did. The students each made prayer requests and then they prayed sincere and heartfelt prayers, mostly for their fellow students and their families.

Now, I don’t want to candy-coat my experience. It was largely unsuccessful in one respect. As hard as I worked, as much as I tried, nothing, nothing I could do would cure them of being 11 years old. They’re just like that. They were as full of energy at the end of the day as they were to begin it.

The worst experience of the whole day was when another teacher, rightfully, had to ask me to quiet my class. They were being too enthusiastic in asking questions.

As I lined them up for dismissal, at least 10 minutes before I should have, one of the girls ran up to me with arm extended and her palm raised, and said, "Stop! Stay right there!" Then she ran back to a group of students who were in a tight circle.

I’m standing there -- and I’m worn out -- and I’m mystified. When they break their huddle they deliver this cheer: "Thank you for being our teacher today, Dr. Gaddy!!!"

Does that give you any idea why I love Trinity School?

 

Gary D. Gaddy really is a sometime substitute at the Trinity School, though, he is, as you might expect, on the very bottom of the sub list.

This article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday August 30, 2007.  Copyright  2007  Gary D. Gaddy


Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:59 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2007 7:15 AM EDT
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