Waterways Cleaner after Big Sweep

Over 200 volunteers who participated in the 19th annual NC Big Sweep in Orange County on Saturday, Nov. 4 picked up more than 5,600 pounds of bottles, cans, tires, fast food containers and wrappers, cigarette butts, and construction debris from 15.8 miles along Chapel Hill greenways, streams, and roads. Volunteers helping in the Orange County portion of Eno River State Park hauled an additional 4,200 pounds of trash from 5.8 miles of the river and its banks, including two washing machines and car parts.

Groups who helped remove litter included students from Chapel Hill High School, UNC groups, scouts, and residents of three Chapel Hill Public Housing communities.

Collecting and properly disposing of the trash took the Town of Chapel Hill’s Landscaping staff a full day.

Litter stems from a number of causes — gravity, wind, water, human carelessness, and destruction of evidence, such as when the police may be about to stop a car with open beer bottles. “We can’t control gravity, wind and water,” says Wendy Smith, event organizer and Stormwater Management Environmental Education Coordinator. “And there are some people whose behavior will not change. But we can try to reduce litter by picking it up quickly, as litter begets more litter. We can also make more people aware that litter hurts. The economy and morale are hurt when communities are trashed; it hurts when there are traffic accidents due to large items in the roads; it hurts wildlife as they ingest toxic litter like cigarette butts, or get injured by sharp objects or entanglement. Trash pollutes our waterways with debris, bacteria and chemicals.”

Historical Jewish Minstral Songs

From Reboot Stereophonic



Reboot Stereophonic, the acclaimed non-profit record label committed to exhuming lost music from America’s attics, is proud to announce the release of its latest album exploring pop’s buried roots, JEWFACE. The world’s first and only anthology of Jewish minstrel songs, JEWFACE includes “COHEN OWES ME 97 DOLLARS”, “UNDER THE MATZOS TREE”, “I’M A YIDDISH COWBOY” and other long lost hits that took vaudeville stages by storm at the turn of the 20th century.

This CD was also reviewed in the NY Times

Trip to Nashville… and back

We took a trip on Thursday to Nashville for the day. Our client is located in Music City, so it is theoretically an easy trip via Southwest direct flights to go down and back in a day. This is less disruptive to my family life and my work life.

When we delayed about 30-40 minutes on the way out on a 6:30 am flight, it was not a big deal. But the return… that was another story. After a full day working, we got to the airport about 7:00 for our 8:00 flight. It turned out the plane was coming in from snow-covered Denver and our flight was scheduled to leave at 11:00 (central time). That meant we had about 4 hours to kill in the airport.

A nearly empty airport concourse

I managed to sleep on the floor in airport. Having woken up at 4:30 in the morning, it was no problem to fall asleep. While I was asleep, my collegue, Katie, made friends with a single mom traveling with two small children. Apparently this woman had a few too many on the flight in, and she was having some trouble handling her kids. The World Series was on, so we were able to see the Cardinals win Game 4 and take a 3-1 lead.

Since this single mom needed help with her kids, we concocted a way too elaborate scheme where we were family members, and we could pre-board on this Southwest flight. By the time we got on the plane, it was around 11:45, and the Southwest folks we not very likely to question the make up of “our family.”

When the plane finally landed in Raleigh, the two girls were fast asleep and their mom didn’t know how she was going to get the girls and all their stuff off the plane. We helped gather the girls and their things, said goodbye.

The ultimate measurement of a long day is when you put your parking ticket in the machine to pay for parking before driving out of the parking lot. My ticket registered 20 hours 36 minutes. That’s a long day. By the time I got home it was about 2:40am.

Life Connections

It recently occurred to me that the title of this blog relates to an incident in my past. I remember is like it was yesterday…

Blurry Fade

I entered my 4th Grade classroom and written on the blackboard (nowadays it is white) was “The Trial of the Southeast Six.” As we all came into the classroom and took our seats, we tried to figure out what it meant. It took many hints from our teacher before we discovered that a cluster of six desks were in the southeast corner of the room. That was where I sat.

The day before, several of the people in our group had been talking and not paying attention. It was my teacher’s approach that we could turn this into a learning opportunity rather than a discipline opportunity. It was the 70s after all. I was not one of the people misbehaving, but I was in this group nonetheless. It was a case of guilt by association.

Anyway, each one of us had a criminal type quoted nickname for the trial. It was New York afterall. And my nickname was “Papercut.” Several days before this incident I had gotten a papercut while looking something up in an encyclopedia, and my reaction was memorable enough to my teacher to make it my nickname.

I don’t remember anyone else’s nickname. I don’t really remember the substance of the trial, but I do remember the result. The Southeast Six were split up and cast to the four corners of the room.

Deep Fried What?

As our memories of the fair fade, the hot topic of conversation is still Deep Fried Coca-Cola. We never did find it, so we didn’t get to try it. Our friend Brian Long, State Fair spokesman, not only tried it, but also was interviewed about it on Australian radio.

Morning radio hosts are the same everywhere, so they were poking fun at the fair and its visitors. If it had been a US radio program, I would say they are making fun of the South, but since the hosts are Australian, they really seem to be making fun of all Americans.

Listen here.

Trip to New York

Chrysler Building

This past weekend I took a trip to New York City for a family event. It was a bit of a disjointed trip, so this post may seem to ramble a bit. It was the first time I traveled with carry-ons only for an overnight trip since the latest ban from the TSA. I went out to the drugstore to get pint-size, I mean 3-oz travel size, toiletries. I later asked on this trip how could I take anything other than a quick shower since I had small toiletries.

I spent Saturday at the re-opened Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). While much of the work was familiar, since I have been to the musuem many times over the years, there is always something new to see in great work. I continue to be in awe of Monet’s Water Lilies. And some works just have more power in person, like Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings and Van Gogh’s Starry Night. To be able to see the brush strokes up close is pretty cool.

It was a chilly morning, but the Sculture Garden is quite a respite from the city rising around it.

Picasso’s Goat Framed by Calder

As I traveled around New York City, whether by taxi, train or on foot, I noticed that the city hasn’t really changed. While many things about the modern world have changed since I lived in New York (late 70s and early 90s), there is too much infrastucture in the city for it to change rapidly. Sure, every business has a web address printed on the door, but the streets and buildings are still the same. There is always lots of construction and many new buildings going up, but in general, it is still the same place.

I enjoyed a Sabrett Kosher hot dog from a street vendor. These are unlike any hot dogs in the world. Add mustard and onions (a unique concoction of cooked onions in a tomato based sauce) for a flavor that mixes memory with texture and taste. And I only dropped a couple onions on my pants as I walked and ate. I also had a Black and White cookie (another link), another NYC original.

I walked to Grand Central Station to take the train to my sister’s house. Even jaded New Yorkers were interested in the commercial they were filming in the cavernous station. Movie lights were everywhere, lighting up bits of the background, as well as two large balloon fill lights hanging overhead.

That night we had a good NY Italian meal and I spent some time with my nephews and niece. It was too bad my kids were unable to come, as they don’t get to see their cousins that often.

Sunday morning was the unveiling ceremony for my grandfather’s gravestone. Jewish traditions require a second trip to the cemetary to dedicate the carved gravestone. It is another time to hold the memory of your loved ones in your heart. As the rabbi said, through the memories of their life, the departed will live on.

Grandparent’s Gravestone

After the service, we gathered at Dougie’s, a Kosher barbeque restaurant for lunch before my flight home.