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PHOTO B* BILL FAVEK
THESE IMMATURE WHH E IBISES photographed in a Shallotlc
residential neighborhood may have become separated from their
nest during Saturday's storm.
HufAr/ And Puffin'
BY HILL FAVKR
Oncc again wc cxpcricncc the mighty forcc of nature in terms of a
winter storm Wc watch the weather maps and the fronts rolling across
the country and cxpcct some wind and rain and
colder temperatures. Wc bccomc so accustomed to
the routines, it takes us by real surprise when a
t mighty storm dumps its fury on us.
With hurricanes, wc get can do all sorts of
preparing with watches and warnings and cvacua
tion plans. Wc track their progress and guess their
? H. ?; directions arid impacts.
But with the kind of winter storm wc experi
enced last weekend, it was more of a surprise.
Someone suggested it was equal to a "Category 2"
FAVFR hurricane and was much more widespread than a
hurricanc would have been.
At any rate, nature came "huffin' and puffin' and trying to blow our
houses down." Wc had a good deal of damage, but oncc again, wc can
give our thanks for being spared a worse disaster.
Roofs and shingles can be fixed and siding can be restored. Decks
and steps can be rebuilt and houses moved where necessary. Sand will
come in with the spring and summer waves and restore some of the
dunes. No doubt, we'll oncc again plant some beach grass!
We'll soon forget the howling winds and nights without electricity
and they'll only be recalled when the next storm comes our way and wc
arc waiting to see what will happen then.
Such phenomena remind us of how powerful the forces of nature
still can be, even with our technology and scicntific manipulations.
Such things help us put our lives in perspective in determining what re
ally is important to us. Perhaps these may be some of the reasons these
events happen to us ? to help increase our awareness and understand
ing of what we can try to control and what we cannot control. The "huf
fin' and puffin'" we just experienced can help us in many ways, if wc
will let it!
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Schools Can Improve
To ihc editor:
weakness, and none of the oihcr
goals can be achieved without im
When teachers arc allowed to
teach to the greatest satisfaction of
parents instead of to administration,
tcachcrs will suddenly become a
whole lot more competent. They
won't need "lead teachers," only ad
ministrators who can be consulted
for suggestions and backups to dis
Slate and federal educational cri
teria are bunk. Achievement may
occasionally be compared to other
schools as a guide, perhaps, but ulti
mately it must be the parents who
set the standards, put into usable lo
cal form by administrators after they
have listened to parents.
Karl E. Brandt
Our education officials have just
re-arranged the mirTOrs and placed a
mere handful of parents on a com
mittee, and this is ali billed as a seri
ous, almost revolutionary step for
The crowning oft-repeated state
ment by Superintendent (Ralph)
Johnston this time: "...parents must
be involved in the schools...."
The reasons why the mirrors
show nothing new is because (1) the
criteria to be considered come from
the state; (2) educators don't listen
to parents anyway, and (3) parents
arc not informed about what the
school program is.
I wonder how many years it will
take before the big political educa
tion establishment recognizes that
the parents' children arc the "con
sumers" of the product attempt, and
that teachers in reality work for the
parents' satisfaction of what is done
for the children and not for the state.
Laws require manufacturers and
food processors to itemize the con
tents of their products, and mislabel
ing is frowned upon.
But parents don't get any real idea
of the curriculum planned for their
Now if Superintendent Johnston
really wants parental involvement in
the schools, the first revolutionary
turn would be to require teachers to
deliver to parents before each school
year a synopsis of ihe range of
knowledge the student is expected to
absorb, a list of the reading and oth
er content materials of the instruc
tion, and a list of the intangible
habits or character-building trails the
instruction intends to inculcate at the
Beyond which the teacher should
be relieved of making out so many
reports to the administration and
state and provide parents every four
weeks with a detailed report on the
progress of the child according to
the synopsis delivered.
Now these things would really
pave the way for parent-teacher co
And the state criteria should be
abandoned and instead local admin
istrators ought to listen to parents for
a change and construct improve
ments and methods hased upon what
parents perceive as needed.
Improvement in public service
never proceeds from the top down
but from the bottom up.
If education politicians had been
listening to parents, children would
not have to suffer all these sex edu
cation, AIDS, self-esteem and val
ues programs which detract from
In fact, the silliest aspcct of the
"identified" ten goals for improve
ment is the absence of reading abili
Parents know this is the chic!
To the editor:
I am going to tell you about a
man who came up with the idea and
built the Museum of Coastal Car
olina at Ocean Isle.
Stuart Ingram is my friendly and
funny neighbor. 1 have known him
and his wife for the past three years.
He is a resident in Charlotte but
loves to live at Ocean Isle. He is an
intelligent man who graduated from
Duke University. He has a wonder
ful sense of humor.
Stuart and his wife, Louise, had a
wild animal collection which they
gave to Discovery Place in Char
lotte. He was dreaming about build
ing a museum tor years, and finally
his dreams cam true three years ago.
It is amazing. Since the museum
opened, they have drawn a lot of
visitors. They also put up a donation
box to help build a large addition.
Stuart made a plan to build another
room behind the Reef Room, a
Green Swamp Room. The construc
tion workers arc still working on the
room, but he hopes he will have the
donations to open it soon.
I am telling you about my funny
neighbor because he always has
good ideas and knows how to
achieve them. He also planned a
first annual Christmas parade at
Ocean Isle last year. I will never for
get this man.
I believe everybody should come
visit the Museum of Coastal Car
olina because it is an interesting mu
seum. I will never forget the beauti
ful name of the museum. It is the
best museum I have ever gone to.
You would learn many interesting
things about the coast of North Car
olina and our local wildlife. If you
haven't already been, be sure to visit
our great museum.
Ocean Isle Beach
EDITOR'S NOTE: Kuihryn llol
combe is an eixhth-xriuUr at Shiil
lotte Middle School.
Murphy Runs Rampant In The Garden
Remember Murphy's Law? It
goes something like this: If any
thing can go wrong, it will, anil at
the worst possible time.
Well, in a recent magazine arti
cle I read the author humorously re
called her own list of Murphy's
Laws of Gardening.
Only, for some reason (perhaps
a future article in another maga
zine?) she's left out some of the
most widely-accepted laws of the
I've been polling fellow garden
ers, both the serious and puttcring
about types, and we've come up
with sonic of our own Murphy's
Laws of Gardening. William Man
ning, whose garden is at the edge of
the Green Swamp, says his No. 1
law is, "If the bugs don't get it, the
But then, he also remembers the
time a deer accidentally discovered
his supcrswcet. yellow-fleshed wa
termelons. On his or her way to
some other tempting crop, the deer
crushed a ripening melon, sampled,
and stayed to gorge on the entire
My sister Carol, whose acre-size
garden in Winnabow is surrounded
by woodlands on two sides, has
wildlife talcs to tell as well. It
seems at her house this law pre
vails: The raccoons claim any crop
the deer don't beat them to.
As soon as her peas sprout, it
never fails: They're dipped clean
Local raccoons must post a
night watchcoon at midsummer or
else they have an internal clock.
They always know when it's the
Fourth of July, time for the com
silks to begin to turn. The patch is
stripped clean overnight. Every car
hits either been picked, or stripped
back to check for ripeness and re
Compared to my tiny patch of
garden, Carol's garden lcx)ks like a
commercial truck operation. She
plants so much there ought to be
plenty for her family, the neighbors
and all of the critters and bugs that
come to dinner.
For small-scale gaidenCis like
myself, uninvited guests wreak
more havoc, bccausc usually there's
nothing left at all in their wake.
Like the lime the Army worms
marched through my garden one
Tuesday while I was al work.
Some general laws:
?J ust as soon as you spray bug
powder on the vegetables, a hard
?Start canning tomatoes and a
long-lost relative stops to visit, or
your sister calls?long distance and
? Transplant a tender vegetable
the day alter the latest hard Trost
we've ever had and, sure enough,
there will come a hard Trost, or bet
ter yet, a hailstorm.
?Return Trom a long weekend
in the mountains to Tind that you
were on a vacation exchange and
didn't know it. Apparently every
Japanese beetle west ot Raleigh
camc to stay at the coast while you
were gone, and really enjoyed the
hospitality, cspccially the canna
?Remember the mini-can
taloupes you tried growing in a pot
on the deck last summer. Nothing
happened and you dumped the dirt,
seeds and all in the compost bin.
Guess what? The cantaloupes just
came up in the Tront Rower bed and
they're looking good. Pretty good
germination rate for year-old seed.
?Everyone said slugs were
drawn to beer. What they didn't say
was that, after reveling through the
night with your "trap" cup of beer,
they would then wipe out an entire
row of cabbages.
?Wildflowers seemed like such
a good idea, and the blossoms were
so pretty that first year. Nothing on
the package said that "wild" equates
to "spreads like a weed".
?The garden catalog "secret
grab bag" guarantees items worth
twice the value paid. You open up
the S15 box to find...the same items
that were in last year's SI0 box.
?Rcsccding your lawn in the
spring is a sure-fire way to guaran
tee a rainy spell?and a new lawn
for your neighbor down the street
after the gullywashers finally stop.
Maybe you've shared some sim
ilarly delightful experiences, and
come up with a few "Murphy's
Laws of Gardening" of your own. If
for any reason you think this panel
has committed a serious error of
omission, please write immediately
with your additions to the list.
You'll rcccivc a free T-shirt, or
some other, equally appropriate gift.
But don't expect to share the by
line when our book is published.
Big Brother Knows Best?
BY KARKN A. MORRISON
Buried in ihc rhetoric surrounding
President Clinton's plans for the
budget and health care reform is an
interesting notion. Call it "Big
Brother knows best."
This philosophy surfaced in com
ments from Budget Director Leon
Panetui. He said they arc consider
ing higher taxes on cigarettes and al
cohol to pay for their health care
package, because by having large
taxes on these products, you could
"prevent the kind of behavior" that
adds to health care costs in this
Well. Not only can wc rely on
government to protect us from
womb to tomb, wc can rest safe in
the knowledge that our government
is now going to use its tax authority
to help us make the "right" choices
along the way. Thank goodness.
Granted, the types of "sin" taxes
that the Clinton Administration is
talking about are considered fair
game, given their current non-polili
cally correct status. Most groups arc
too busy fighting tax threats in their
own backyards to give much atten
tion to these types of taxes. And,
many have all too readily accepted
the notion that the government does
need more money, and if it comes
out of the other guy's pocket, maybe
that will give the tax hawks enough
nourishment to divert their attention.
But before wc give in too easily,
let's lake a closer look at where this
lax philosophy could lead us. Rather
than feeling safer because wc are
getting this unexpected "govern
ment" service, wc should lament the
loss of freedom and the erosion of
individual rights this represents.
Panctta argues thai alcohol and
tobacco help cause health problems,
so the government ought to do what
it can to discourage these "bad
health habits" (as Clinton himself
described them), and those who con
sume those products ought to pay
more to the government so it can
provide health care for everyone.
Even if wc accept that argument
as is, why stop there? After all, lots
of other products and activities im
pact our health as well. Think back
over the past few years just how
many types of foods have joined the
"anti" list. Bacon. Red meal. Butter.
Eggs. Coffee. Fast food. The list
goes on and on. Fat, found in many
foods, has been found to lead to
many health problems. Why not
raise taxes on, say, hamburgers? Just
think what a service the government
could provide for American by
charging an extra dollar for every
fast food cheeseburger we buy.
Follow this path of using taxes to
make us healthier, and it quickly be
comes sick. A California psycholo
gist noted recently that marriage has
a greater impact on a man's mortali
ty than smoking does. (Married men
live longer.) Docs that mean that we
should have a hefty tax on single
men, simply because their lifestyle
is not as healthy as men who arc
If you still hold a fondness for
taxing "sinful" products, whose
standards of morality shall we ac
cept? This kind of moral judgment
should have no place in the making
of tax policy, because its potential
for abuse is too great.
You might be comfortable with
today's definition of "sinful" prod
ucts, but once we give that decision
making-right to the government,
someone will be looking over our
shoulders to see what kind of unwise
or unpopular personal food/1 ifestyle
choices are being made which could
be tapped for revenue.
We arc giving away more ground
here than we realize. We are losing
our freedoms. One well-known Wall
Streeter seems to agree. Joseph Ros
enburg, whom the Washington Post
calls "one of Wall Street's most suc
cessful traders," strongly opposes
Clinton's program. He calls it a "tax
program with a lot of spending ini
tiatives," which will prove to be
harmful for economic recovery.
But what bothers Rosenburg most
is the plan's impact on freedom. "1
feel terrible about all this, not only
as an investment manager, but as an
American citizen. We arc looking at
an era of less personal freedom
rather than more. Philosophically, I
value personal freedom above all
Rosenburg is not the only
American with that concern. The
Clinton plan will give the govern
ment greater controls over the indi
vidual's right to live his life the way
he sees fit, a notion that was popular
among our founding fathers. This
idea is one Americans care strongly
about. A national poll conducted late
last year by the National Association
to Protect Individual Rights (NAPIR)
found that Americans feel their indi
vidual rights have eroded during
their lifetimes, and that their chil
dren would enjoy fewer rights dur
ing their lives.
The need lo protect our individual
rights was ranked right up there with
concerns about creating good jobs,
improving education and fighting
crime and drugs.
Our precious rights arc too impor
tant to let them slip away, no matter
how much our new leaders claim
that higher taxes will lead to better
health. So tell President Clinton we
appreciate the sincere concern for
our well-being, but we've grown up
enough to make our own choices
now. And while those choices might
not please the politically correct,
they feel right to us.
Finally, if Washington is so wor
ried about the issue of health, maybe
they ought to worry less about yours
and mine, and more about that of the
Karen Morrison is president of
the National Association to Protect
Individual Rights, a nonprofit, non
partisan public interest organiza
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...To All BEMC Members
"Thank You" for your patience,
concern, and understanding
during our power outage this past
Saturday and Sunday.