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Why I think the next American Revolution will start in North Carolina January 27, 2014

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First of all the people in North Carolina aren’t happy with their legislators. I don’t live there but have relatives there and I can understand the unhappiness. To the point where they have regular Moral Monday protests at the NC State House.

Then there’s the marches over the alleged suicide of Jesus Huerta in Durham, NC. To the point where police are definitely running scared.

You even have the protestors in Durham calling for defending themselves. It’s going to get VERY interesting if the Durham PD doesn’t come clean about the circumstances behind Huerta’s death. I mean come on, kid is cuffed behind his back. How does, in the words of the medical examiner, the kid take out a gun and shoot himself in the mouth with an exit wound at the back of his skull???? That’s a definite one for the physics books. And what’s even more suspicious is that the in car video system was TURNED OFF or at least that’s the excuse the PD gave and I’ve got a bridge I can sell you.

 

Yet another remarkable week in the fight for Marriage Equality November 9, 2013

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So this week saw legislators in Illinois and Hawaii finally do the right thing and approve marriage equality in those states. That brings the number of states to 16 and 32% of the states. Population wise it bring a huge swath into the fold.

For example the entire Northeastern U.S. which includes Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut as well as New York and New Jersey.

Then there’s California, Washington State and more that I’ve probably missed. But the thing is a majority of them are high population. Just New England, New York and New Jersey comprise 42 million people. And if we go with the assumption made by the bigots that we’re only 2% of the population that means there are 847,600 gay and lesbian people in those states. However I’d say it’s close to 5% so 2,100,000 of us.

As I have said before, we have no passed the tipping point where equality will be the law of the entire land sooner than later. Whether by legislative action  or in states where no legislative relief is possible, through the judiciary.

Take for example North Carolina. They have  a Constitutional ban on same marriage equality. But those bans rarely stand the test of the judiciary. And I recall seeing videos of gay couples going into clerks offices in North Carolina  to obtain a marriage license and being rebuffed. Now think about this for a moment, why would these couples be doing this if it weren’t documentation for a challenge to the amendment? Granted the video has more value than a court case – but it is still a central component of a legal challenge.

 

 

A USPS Gripe June 20, 2013

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So every time we ship a package to Keyron’s mom in North Carolina it’s always hit or miss. For example – the most recent package was shipped on the 17th with an expected date of the 19th. Ok, two days on Priority Mail is not a problem.

And the package flowed just fine through the local post offices. We dropped it at Weybosset Hill Station (02903) at 3:56PM, it processed out through the main Turnkey Station (02904) on the 17th and transited toward Raleigh, NC. But it took 2 days to get to Raleigh? Really?

I don’t think the delay was here in Providence, but I think Raleigh must have delayed processing it. So what should have taken two days took FOUR days. I know the postal service in the south is slow ass anyhow. I recall participating in mail studies. They’d share the results with participants and the southern U.S. always came in DEAD LAST!

But one oddity – it took TWO whole days to get from Providence, RI to Raleigh, NC. Now I know you can drive it in 12 hours. And if it flies there is an airport near Raleigh, RDU. That’s only a couple hours flight time.

So the only theory that springs to mind is that there wasn’t enough mail volume to go from Providence, RI to Columbia, NC (via Raleigh, NC).

And then I pondered more and realized – when we’d shipped before and it got there in 2 or 3 days it was always around major holidays like Christmas, or Mothers Day, etc. So the mail volume to points far had to be up there. But ship in a seasonal lull and be prepared to wait.

 

Some driving observations on our recent trip May 30, 2012

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A few things occurred during our recent trip to North Carolina that stand out and deserve a post of their own.

I’ll number them for easy reference:

1) Drove down using the new EZ-Pass. Because it’s portable between vehicles I had it backwards and it wouldn’t register. Flipping it around worked. Now here is another tangent – we don’t even NEED little RFID packs to ID for tolls anymore. Simply change the EZ Pass to be based on machine readable license plates. Problem solved – and you can apply it to ANY vehicle, just go to the EZ Pass web site and plug in the registration number and off you go. But I do note that many states are now doing EZ Pass Only Lanes. These don’t even tell you if the pass was read, you just fly through at 45 to 50 MPH. I love it!

2) Related to the above point I noted something. States that charge tolls tend to have the WORST roadways. I offer as example the New Jersey Turnpike and I-95 through Connecticut. The former is rutted, pock marked, and generally unpleasant to drive on, whereas the latter has highways that have a glass like surface that is a joy to drive on. No hum, drone, bump, all gone. This is the crux of my complaint about tolls: If the money collected actually paid for maintenance, replacement and improvement of the roadways it would be one thing, but that it doesn’t says legislators steal, yes I said it, steal the money from tolls for other purposes.

3) Drivers in Rhode Island and Virginia have something in common. Neither of them can drive worth a damn. The worst traffic jams going down were in Virginia. They were due mostly to gawk factor. For example, a police cruiser with cars pulled over causes a massive traffic jam. And then an accident like we saw where a minivan apparently went through a thicket of trees and came out stuffed with foliage. That backed traffic up for 15 miles. A bit of advice – just move along.

4) Cops – they are completely predictable. Mostly because a lot of cops are dumb as a box of rocks (mostly the local yokels), and the other because on long stretches of road you realize it’s impossible to patrol all of it.

4A) If you are going to speed, always try to get a vehicle in front of you that is moving faster that way they become the target for law enforcement attention and not you. So while you’re doing 85MPH, let some idiot doing 90MPh get out ahead. He’ll get pulled over first.

4B) This is the interesting part. If you haven’t seen it I suggest you watch this clip. The passenger compartment stays intact but just watch and remember this next time you’re humming along at 70MPH, 80MPH etc.

Yes that is correct. The passenger compartment may survive but rapid deceleration from 102 feet per second to 0 feet per second will make your internal organs want to leap out of your body. Not good.

So with that point in mind remember the rule of the road that you leave one car length for every 10MPH of speed. With modern vehicles with anti-lock and anti-skid you can probably get down to maybe half that. But leave space for other to merge in. And a tip, when merging in to a lane at speed, punch the accelerator pedal. Eek every last foot pound of torque out of that engine because nothing annoys more than when you’re moving at 80MPH and leaving plenty of space and some dick wad moves in doing 65MPH. Get up to speed then move in or have a car that can accelerate instantly. If you can do neither, stay the fuck out of the left lane!

It’s interesting, I mentioned this little fact to the girl at the car rental place. She had a look of shock on her face when I told her about rapid deceleration.

4C) Think like a cop. Get to know the local schedules etc. Plus if you drive by an accident scene with 4 or 5 cruisers on scene, that’s likely the entire complement for a 50 mile stretch of road.

4D) If you are going to speed, be smart about it. Look for obvious hiding spots. And if you see a cop in the median and you’re speeding just back off the gas, don’t jack on the brakes. This is especially true if you’re in a pack of cars doing roughly the same speed.

5) The most polite drivers between Rhode Island and North Carolina are the latter. For example, if you’re in the left lane and you come upon a slower moving vehicle, without having to flash your high beams, they move right and let you pass. Imagine that!

6) One of the more idiotic things is a DUI Checkpoint. Cops in podunk towns don’t get proper traffic control training and so handle it badly. RI did away with check points back in 1989. But we still get plenty of DUI’s in the state. I think cell service is so ubiquitous that people will narc on you. Plus some towns here have more roving patrols so they catch more people. Part of it is driven by FHA rules for highways. It’s also responsible for primary seat belt laws out there too. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that seat belts save lives. But here in RI we have a primary seat belt law that started as secondary, but no helmet law for motorcyclists!

7) The worst roads on the eastern seaboard are in RI.

When spell check doesn’t help you (NC Marriage Vote) April 22, 2012

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So apparently Tami Fitzgerald of the North Carolina Values Coalition wrote an op-ed for the Herald Sun.

In her concluding paragraphs she said the following, green highlight indicates where spell check failed her:

It appears that Ms. Fitzgerald doesn’t proof-read her Op-Ed’s. And nobody at the Herald Sun bothered either.

Could it be a Freudian slip on Fitzgerald’s part? Or just laziness?

One other note, as I stated above she’s the Executive Director of North Carolina Values Coalition

Her linkedin page indicates a typical Repug. Not Republican put Repugnant. She thinks her Christian values trump those of everyone else it seems.

And judging by the google search I did on her name, she’s a one woman fount of bigotry!

And glory be, North Carolina’s Central Voter Registration System (CVRS) lets you get the skinny on anyone just knowing their first and last name:

Full Name: TAMI T FITZGERALD
Street Address: 109 CARPATHIAN WAY
City: RALEIGH
Zip Code: 27615
County: WAKE
Gender: Female
Race: White
Ethnicity: Not Hispanic or Not Latino
Voter Reg. Number: 000010095816
Registration Date: 01/01/1991

The house

You can even give her a call if you wish, let her know about her gaffe and about her bigotry:

Tami L Fitzgerald

(919) 846-8880

109 Carpathian Way

Raleigh, NC 27615-1612
Age: 50-54
Associated: Craig Q Fitzgerald, Jordan Fitzgerald, Paige Fitzgerald, Austin G Fitzgerald

Party: REPUBLICAN
Precinct: PRECINCT 02-06
Eligible To Vote?: Yes

Now interestingly I note Tami L and Tami T – both tie to the 109 Carpathain Way address. So it’s her.

I do have a dog in this fight as I have family in North Carolina. So it proves once again the lesson, never, ever piss off I.T. people – we know how to scrub databases.

Where I’ve been December 29, 2008

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If you look closely at my flickr tags you may deduce that we visited North Carolina for the holiday again.

Last year was a “just because” year. This year it was to see our new nephew Camorre (I think that I have the correct spelling now!)

Interested

Interested

He’s a cute baby and pretty far along on the development curve. He’s already got the ability to hold his head up easily, he’s starting with vocalizations and a bit of babble as well as beginning to get his first set of teeth at the tender age of 3.5 months old.

Aunt Selma has had some setbacks but for 94 she’s still with it. And while Uncle Book may be losing his eyesight, he’s still sharp.

Selma

Selma

Uncle Book

Uncle Book

I got to meet a few more members of Keyron’s family. For example in this photo we see Norma, Keyron, Marie and Keyron’s Mom.

Family

Family

I like Norma. She reminds me very much of my aunt Carol. I guess it’s the fact that she’s free with her speech, very open and just a very sweet person to be around.

Marie is also pretty cool too. And Mom/Ma/Mama and I get along just fine. I love Keyron’s family, but as I said to them and they confirmed, I’ve gotten to meet the good ones. Haven’t met the bad members yet and I doubt I ever will.

Our holiday trip to North Carolina December 27, 2007

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For the holidays we decided to travel to see Keyron’s family (My in-laws, not technically but as much as one can have such a thing.)

We flew down on U.S. Airways from Providence-PVD to Washington National-DCA (I refuse to call it by it’s given name since Reagan was a horrible president too.) and from there to Norfolk-ORF. The flight into ORF was a half hour late which meant we missed our
party there but we got the car rental and the GPS unit (Nicknamed Miss Navigator) and started out.

What we found out was that there has been a lot of construction both roadways and buildings along U.S. 17 through Virginia and North Carolina, so much so that Miss Navigator didn’t know very much about the new bypasses to U.S. 17. We muddled through though. The area is changing but not fast enough for my tastes. It’s funny, it’s taken Providence close to 25 years to get to the point it is at now, I suspect Elizabeth City (E-City) will go through the same thing.

Miss Navigator was able to find Keyron’s mom’s place though, in Edenton, NC. During our stay we went through Pasquotank (Pronounced as spelled), Perquimans (Which I pronounced Perkimans, not Per-kwimans.), and Chowan (Ch-ow-in was my pronunciation, but it’s actually Ch-oh-w-ah-n) counties, or from Elizabeth City to Gum Neck in Tyrrel County.

Elizabeth City is interesting. It’s experiencing some pretty heavy growth. It’s such a large land mass that there’s literally only one high rise (all of 10 floors) and that’s the old folks home in downtown E-City. But the downtown has promise, it’s very cute and reminds me of what Providence once was. The population of the city is a bit over 40,000 people, and the murder rate thus far this year was 4 people. If you extrapolate, it’s the same murder rate as Providence with 17 murders for 173,000 people.

Now there is one thing that made me absolutely fall in love with North Carolina. One night we’re returning from visiting Keyron’s brother Cory in E-City and we’re driving along U.S. 17 to Edenton. I noticed the view in my rear view was pitch black and the half-moon so big you could almost touch it. So I pulled over for a better look. Unfortunately I didn’t have the camera with me because that would have made the mother of all photos now that I’ve figured out how to keep the shutter open for more than a sixteenth of a second, granted it’s a max of 4 seconds but I can work with that.

What I saw left me stunned. I haven’t seen a night sky view like this in many years. You don’t even need any binoculars or telescopes to resolve so many stars, you can even see the thread of the Milky Way. Spent a good 30 or 40 minutes there without seeing any other cars and identifying as many constellations as I could. It gets better, I was able to take the clearest picture of the late afternoon moon that I’ve ever seen.

Unfortunately that was the only clear night we had. I really want to go back during late spring. It’d be awesome, especially in Gum Neck because it’s so remote.

One foggy night as we were returning to Edenton, I caught site of a rather large deer in the middle of the road and stopped about 250 feet from the deer. It looked at me and then took off running. A few days later we saw the mangled carcass of a deer in the middle lane of U.S. 17. It took the highway patrol the better part of two days to move it off to the side of the road. And then every day we looked at that dead deer on our way to E-City. Of course our friend Gina did a road trip to North Carolina and counted 22 dead deer on the side of the road in a 20 mile stretch. Having grown up in New England I’d always heard stories of people hitting deer with their cars but as much as I have driven through New England I’ve never SEEN a deer in the road. In North Carolina you not only have deer but bears, wild turkeys, and a whole assortment of fauna that this city boy has never seen. The flora seems to consist mostly of pine trees.

It was really nice to meet all the people Keyron has always told me about. I’d never really understood how nice, welcoming and gracious they were.

Vandora was the first one I met Vandora and Keyron. That whole family is sweet as can be, they welcomed me into their home. I now understand why Keyron loves her so much. Vandora by the way is Michelle’s aunt. Michelle is Keyron’s brother Cory’s girlfriend. She’s also sister to Michelle’s mom Jean, someone whom I shall reserve my opinion about. I also met Peggy who I’m not clear but there’s a striking family resemblance to Van so I’m assuming its another sister. Then there was Sheree who’s got her M.D. and is doing her residency but still has a, how shall I put this gently, still believes in the Jesus thing. I’ve noted that many doctors have a firm belief which shocks me as their profession is steeped in science and empirical observation, the very things that would challenge faith.

The Jesus his sidekick God thing is big in North Carolina. Several gospel stations on the radio dial and the ubiquitous “I’m in the book. -God” billboards. And did I mention that there’s a church of some sort every mile or so. It’s about the only entertainment available in most counties. Keyron’s mom is a believer too, but I realized something. She and I came to the same basic conclusions about respect and love, hers from the Bible, mine from living life. Anyhow, I’ll write more on that subject later as this post is rapidly becoming my opus on North Carolina.

Back to people next up was Gail Ward. Gail was one the 4H people that Keyron ran across while he was there 15 years ago. She’s a very eclectic character and her husband has the most absolutely amazing collection of salt water tropical fish I’ve ever seen. Not to mention the fact that she lives right on the waterfront and the views from that side of her home are absolutely stunning.
Keyron and Gail

While at Gail’s place we got the 411 on all the people that Keyron knew in 4H, who turned out to be gay, who married who, etc.

Speaking of 4H, I got to meet Travis, the one Keyron always told me about. Travis is very enthusiastic about agriculture, so much to the point that one feels the immense need to get away from him within about five minutes of talking to him. In ohter words it’s either get away or kill and Keyron’s mom validated my assessment.

Then of course there’s Vera. Keyron, his mom and I went to visit her but she wasn’t home. As we’re getting ready to turn out the highway we see her pull in so we turned around and spent a couple of hours there. Vera is a salt of the earth type who loves everyone. Vera is also a riot but a very loving person I truly wish her the Keyron and Verabest.

While in E-City was visited the Museum of the Albermarle. It doesn’t have a whole lot of exhibits, the majority of what it does have can be seen on my flickr site. It does have a lot of promise though. I hope to check it out again in a few years, hopefully by then the squabbling over exhibits and acquisitions will have died down.

Also checked out a little restaurant and pub called Thumpers. Best damned crab cakes I’ve ever had and Keyron’s sea food platter was excellent too, again pix are on my flickr site.

By about the third day I didn’t need Miss Navigator as much. I was learning how to get onto U.S. 17 and around and about. The speed limits on 17 vary widely, from a low of 35MPH in E-City to twice that as you’re going from Chowan to Tyrrel county. The funny thing is I didn’t see many police from Wednesday to Sunday, and then Christmas day I saw Edenton PD, Chowan Sherrifs, E-City PD, and even NC Highway police. Otherwise people sped like demons, so did I.

The distances between points of interest are bewildering to this northern city boy, where everything I need is within a 15 minute WALKING distance. Down there it’s a minimum 30 miles between E-City and Edenton. And along the roadways there are North Carolina tourism signs that state “A million miles away is just down the road.” My response is that you have to DRIVE a million miles to get there. When we got the rental, a 2007 Dodge Caliber it had a bit under 200 miles on it. When we returned it, the car had close to 2,000 miles on it.

One highlight was hearing Keyron’s brothers hip-hop recordings. Cory is very good, and I’d like to see him promote his recordings because the guy has talent. One of his recordings is really catchy, now he just has to press it on cdbaby and get it into some clubs.

Overall it was a very pleasant trip. It let me see the people Keyron always talks about and get to know them a little bit. It also lead me to understand why Keyron left North Carolina.

Finally the trip home was a pain in the ass. It took 13 hours and 41 minutes to get from Norfolk, VA to Providence, RI and required some creative re-routing take place.

While driving to the airport I pretty much predicted what was going to happen and sure enough, Murphy was in full effect. It was very rainy and windy which meant not a lot would be flying in or out of Norfolk. Sure enough, air traffic control delayed a lot of flights.

Coming back we flew United. United is shit, plain and simple. The first flight from Norfolk to Dulles was delayed by close to an hour due to mechanical issues. This in turn caused us to miss our connecting flight to Providence. The weather wasn’t being very cooperative either. The issue with United is lack of maintenance personnel. I was chatting with a gentleman who also missed his connecting flight. Turns out he’d taught at Brown university during the time I was working there too. Both he and I agree that air travel is dying a slow painful death and that subsidies should be shifted away from air travel and into rail as has been done in Europe. Leave the airlines the international routes.

We finally get on stand-by for a Boston bound flight, I figure it’s a 9PM flight, we can take the MBTA commuter back to Providence since it’s last run is 11:59PM. The stand-by tickets say it’s gate C14. Around 8:45PM I ask the gate agent how it looks to get on th e flight and he tells me it isn’t good. By this time Keyron is getting very upset and so talks to another United rep who tells us they’ve been announcing the gate change which we NEVER heard and it’s now on D-18 and hurry, it’s about to leave and there are seats available. We get to D-18 and get our boarding passes at 9:15PM. I figured we were going to make it and jokingly said to Keyron that we wouldn’t get home until after midnight.

Turns out my prediction was right on the money. We were scheduled to go out on flight 898 to Boston and it was supposed to leave Dulles at 9:36PM. We began getting updates saying maintenance was being performed on the 737-300. After 10:30PM we found out that it was the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), the device that provides the power to spin up the jet engines on the aircraft. A part had to be flown in from Chicago to resolve the issue and we were finally allowed to board at 10:45PM. Didn’t take off until after 11:00PM.

Luckily were were able to get in touch with Gina and she picked us up at Logan and drove us down to Providence. As a nice gesture I filled the now empty tank on her car. Got home around 2:30 in the morning.

In order to get us on the Boston flight they had to fake route us through Manchester, NH. What that did was cause us to get to Boston and our luggage to get to Manchester. They say we’ll have it back tomorrow as it is in fact in Manchester and I sure hope our luggage had a nice trip.

Later this afternoon I called United’s baggage handling operation since their web site said it couldn’t find out luggage. Hmm, early Thursday morning their baggage agent at Logan (BOS) told us it was in Manchester, NH. Talking to a representative confirmed my thought that the luggage was on a truck heading down from Manchester and that it would be delivered between 6PM and 12AM tonight.

The luggage was delivered at precisely 12:00AM on Friday.

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