Sunday, January 22, 2012

Streaking, Teaching, "Maybe" & Jordan

Musings on four subjects: streaking photos at East Carolina, teacher ratings in North Carolina, Mitt Romney’s “maybe” comment, and my UNC-CH graduate nephew’s attendance with me at the NC State-Boston College game last week:

Publishing photos of streakers:
The recent firing at East Carolina University of the student media advisor baffles me if the reason he was fired is because he didn’t stop the students at the student newspaper there to publish photos of a man who streaked at a home football game last fall. There has to be more than that to the story, though the University, without breaking any law, could give reason for his firing. That the now former media advisor will not allow public view of his personnel record is indication enough that there must be more to the firing than the photos of the naked man running across the football field.

In the early 1970s, The Technician, NC State University’s student newspaper, published photos of campus streakers—students in the buff except for tennis shoes running through campus as onlookers laughed at what they saw. No media advisor was let go after the first or second time photos were published. No reprimand was given to the newspaper editor for publishing photos.

Probably worse than those photos was one published in the April Fool’s edition in the spring of 1975 when the centerfold of the paper was a nude depiction of United States Senator Jesse Helms, lying on his side, his head propped up on his right hand. The picture didn’t show a completely nude senator Helms as a well-placed hat was present. And, obviously it wasn’t really Senator Helms but that of a student who posed for the photo in the basement of the University Student Center. The photo editor of The Technician pasted the face of Senator Helms over the student’s face. (That was the extent of Photoshop at the time.) No one was fired because of that. As a matter of fact, then Chancellor John T. Caldwell, without a doubt the best Chancellor ever at NC State University, found humor in the photo and the accompanying interview and article that said Senator Helms would replace the soon-to-retire Dr. Caldwell. He believed in free student expression, especially in The Technician.

From the first day that college students have written, edited and published student newspapers, some administrators unnecessarily have tried to control the content, but that should stop. Administrators need to back off; student newspaper editors and writers—while trying to maintain good judgment—should rebel against administrations that try to control what the students do. A good advisor should give advice but not make demands or censor the content. The flack over the photos at East Carolina University does little to enhance the University and a lot to destroy relationships between administrators and students, especially student newspaper editors.

NC State University’s Bottom 100 Professors
North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction now has a report card on teachers across the state. The report card was compiled based on evaluations by principals. This idea of rating teachers reminds me of another NC State University story from the early 1970s which involved the rating of professors yet it was done differently than how the North Carolina teachers are being rated.

The NC State faculty and administration wanted to find out how student felt about professors and instructors across the campus, so the students were asked to complete a survey which contained only multiple choice answers. When the survey was completed, a huge report was compiled. Remember, this was the early 1970s and the computer language of choice was FORTRAN so the data was put on punch cards and the NC State computing center in the basement of Nelson Hall ran the report, some four or five inches thick of continuous form paper.

A committee of faculty, staff, administrators and one student were given the report and met to discuss it. They were told not to share the report or the results with anyone. The student member of the committee stashed her copy in the trunk of her car and never produced it at meetings. No one questioned her possession of the report until the findings were published in The Technician, the student newspaper. It seems that the student with the report misplaced it into the hands of one of The Technciain's associate editors.

Printed in the newspaper was a listing of the Bottom 100 Professors at NC State University. The students at the newspaper combed the report to find the faculty listed in the last 100 positions in the report. The article explained this was the result of the students input with the survey and that it was the duty of the newspaper to warn fellow students of the bottom 100 professors on campus as rated by the students.

The list included many professors highly respected by peers across the campus, the state and the country. Several on the list had PhD degrees and were well-published. Some were Masters Degree holders. Some were distinguished professors, at least in the eyes of their peers and administrators. There was outrage on the campus from the faculty and the administration, but no one could dispute the list. The administration demanded to know how the newspaper obtained the list, but the students refused to reveal sources. When the smoke cleared, the administration decided to never again ask the students their opinions on the professors. Any such ratings would only be done by department heads and other higher ups on campus.

This brings me back to the NC Department of Public Instruction report which is laughable at best because it’s obviously self-serving. Principals are charged with hiring of teachers. And, a principal only reluctantly will give a bad public report to one of its hires. The NC Department of Public Instruction doesn't list the names of teachers, but it should. Possibly it could shame a few to get better or leave the system. Possibly it could encourage our educational leaders to weed out the bad teachers (if the NCAE will allow it) and hire good teachers.

Maybe? What was he thinking?
“Maybe” was Mitt Romney’s response when he was asked last week if he would release as many tax returns—eight—as his father, George, did in 1968 when he was running for President, trying to win the Republican Party’s nomination over eventual winner Richard Nixon who went on to defeat Hubert Humphrey in the general election that year and later resigned over a bunch of stupid stuff.

Actually, from a public relations viewpoint, Romney’s answer, in which he seemed to be trying to come across as humorous, was stupid at the very least. When it comes to his taxes, Romney is getting bad advice which hopefully doesn’t come from within his own mind. If that’s the case, Romney, who took a beating from Newt Gingrich in last Saturday’s Republican president primary in South Carolina, is not the person who should be the GOP nominee and definitely shouldn’t be president. You would think that a person who built a small fortune through hard work would have more “10 level thinking” as my mother-in-law and others say.

His battle with his taxes—the subject of intense pounding from his opponents even though exit polls show that’s not the reason for his distance second place finish in the Palmetto State—is a hindrance to his campaign. He made his bed; he wrestles with himself in it. He’s his own enemy, especially when he reveals paying a tax rate of about 15% on his income. Perception is reality in this case, and the general public perceives his 15% paid as his ability to shelter income when in reality he’s doing what the law allows.

As Ari Fleischer, former press secretary to President George W. Bush, suggested recently Romney needs to know what every line on his return means and should step forth and explain that he’s simply following the complicated United States tax code which includes too many ifs, ands and buts contributed by members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike. Releasing his tax returns for a several years should not do him harm in November, especially if released now…maybe. What may hurt him is if the reports of his wealth being stash in banks in the Cayman Islands are true and that he is sheltering his income and tax bill by doing that…maybe. It all depends on the appetite Americans will have for change in presidential leadership come November…maybe. If Romney is the nominee…maybe.

“Into the Wolves’ Den”
Last week, my nephew Jordan—Rogers not Pomeranz (I have a nephew Jordan on each side of my family)—attended the NC State-Boston College basketball game with me. It was in the RBC Center, the Wolfpack’s home away from home. The Jordan that went with me is a UNC-CH graduate and fan so it was a little unusual to have him there. I’d probably never invite him to the game when UNC-CH comes to NC State University to play a basketball game though I did invite his uncle, Rusty, another UNC-CH graduate and fan, to attend last fall’s fifth straight Wolfpack victory over UNC-CH in the football game played at Carter-Finley Stadium. Never say never.

Anyway, Jordan is a journalist of sorts with his own website, a pretty darn good one at that. He went home that evening and penned a post about his first basketball game experience at the RBC where he had previously attended a hockey game and a concert. His website is called: TheBlackFalcon.Net, where you can read about his experience “Into the Wolves’ Den” that night as well as a bunch of other good stuff he’s written, even a piece about Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried: "The GottFather"

Sunday, January 15, 2012

How long does an open bottle of wine last?

An avid reader of Actions and Reactions recently said he really enjoys when I pen about travels, especially in North Carolina, especially about stops at wineries and interesting places to dine. So, a couple of weeks ago, my wife, Nancy, and I set out on an overnight excursion, heading east on highway US 70. We had in mind a one night stay in Atlantic Beach in early January.

Our journey included two North Carolina wineries—both unknown to us though we can document exploring over 60 of the more than 100 wineries here—near the coast, watching the sunset at Harkers Island, enjoying two meals at the Ruddy Duck Tavern in Morehead City, and walking along the beach and through the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. We encountered interesting people and returned to Cary with some funny stories and some so-so wine.

Wine Selections At Lake Road Winery
It was about 11 a.m. on Friday, January 6 when we hit the road. Jill, our trusty GPS system, explained the drive to Lake Road Winery in Newport NC, would take about three hours. Jill, with a mind of her own, sometimes doesn’t get the directions correct, but she is usually spot on with travel time. After a stop for lunch at a Chick-fil-A in New Bern, we soon turned right off of US 70 and took off down a winding Lake Road, south and west of Havelock.

The proprietor and wine-maker, Mitchell Smith, was sitting at his desk, working on financials, completing reports for the federal and state governments. We didn’t want to interrupt his train of thought but he was excited to have a couple of visitors. “I’m tired of this stuff anyway,” he said, inviting us to join him at the tasting bar. “I’ve got to do that bookkeeping work twice. The feds require reporting by the gallon and the State requires it by the liters. It’s not surprising the two aren’t the same, but it makes me do a lot of figuring.”

For the next 75 minutes, Nancy and I tasted Lake Road Winery’s wines and enjoyed Mitchell Smith’s wit and wisdom about his venture that began in 2009. His wine is just okay, a mixture of the dry whites and reds along with sweet wines of the muscadine and fruit. His humor was dry and sweet.

“I was asked once ‘How long does an open bottle of wine last?’” Mitchell Smith came forth, explaining that he opens many bottles for tasting and sometimes finds visitors few and far between. It’s the red wines, left out on the counter but corked after opening, with which he’s most concerned. The drier wines such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Viognier are his favorites. He also enjoys blended wines and offers one: Croatan, a Bordeaux style that mixes Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. He came up with Croatan one evening at home, after pouring samples a particular Saturday afternoon. Since Lake Road Winery is open only Wednesday-Saturday, he gathered the opened bottles and carried them home. Shortly thereafter, the leftover reds were combined for his pleasure and a blend was born.

Mitchell Smith, who relies on advice from winemakers throughout NCs Yadkin Valley, doesn’t have any vineyards. He buys his grapes from North Carolina vineyards, and he crafts his wine on site. Most of his time is spent developing the dry varietals and not so much when it comes to wine made with muscadine grapes.“Muscadine,” he said, “that wine pretty much makes itself. You can’t mess it up.”

We made a small purchase, a bottle of Croatan, Viognier, and, though we are not sweet wine consumers, Rose Marie, described in his literature and on his website as “a sweet blend of red and white muscadine grapes produce a beautiful rosé color and a fruity and unique taste.” The Viognier didn’t make it back to Cary. It was pretty good later that evening as we toasted our trip with it using paper cups at the Hampton Inn& Suites in Salter Path.

We travel with no agenda, taking the roads less traveled and finding ourselves in places to which we have never been. From the Lake Road Winery, we made our way to and through Morehead City and then through Beaufort, continuing along rural eastern NC, in an area with many fishing villages. Eventually, we crossed the North River and turned right onto Harkers Island Road, leading us to Harkers Island, very unfamiliar territory.

We saw a mixture of pricy homes along with many shacks. In early January, there’s seemed to be not much happening. We drove and drove and drove to the end of the Island and eventually into Federal Park land and to where the Harkers Island Cape Lookout Ferry would have taken us to Cape Lookout if it had been running and if time permitted. With neither available, we found a spot from which to watch the sunset.
Sunset At Harkers Island

In the distance the lighthouse at Cape Lookout was on the horizon. We watched seagulls swoop across the water of the Atlantic Ocean looking for dinner. Sometimes, along the Atlantic coast, it’s easy to lose one’s bearings. Watching the sunset into the ocean on the east coast may seem odd, but that area of North Carolina’s coast runs East-West, and at that time of year, the sun dips right into the Atlantic late in the afternoon. It was beautiful and romantic.

Back-tracking was intended and enjoyable as we reviewed the day and glanced at Beaufort and Morehead City as we approached from the east. We drove across the Atlantic Beach Bridge, turning south on NC Highway 58 as we looked for the Hampton Inn. The drive across the bridge gave us another impressive site as darkness was settling in and a few lights along the coast popped on. The temperatures were pleasant, but we were one couple of a few taking advantage of low rates and peaceful settings. There was plenty of room at the Hampton as we arrived without a reservation and were able to check in immediately.

After tasting the Viognier, we were off to find dinner, looking for seafood. We considered several spots but decided to keep looking after we found restaurants on Atlantic Beach and in Morehead City with few patrons. Eventually we stumbled onto the Morehead City waterfront and Evans Street where we noticed a constant flow of people going into and coming out of the Ruddy Duck Tavern. That must be the place to eat, we decided.

It was the right choice for food and atmosphere if you enjoy a crowded and lively Friday night restaurant. The wait was about 45 minutes and we found two seats at the bar to pass the time. That’s where we found the entertainment. It came in the form of three women—late 40s, early 50s—who the female bartender described as “my three Friday night cougars.” Those women—all of dark roots and different shades of dirty blonde hair, all with the same haircut—seemed to be there with one man who was so attention deprived that he got loud and into the business of nearly everyone within earshot and some outside that distance.

We love to watch people, and we’re sure others are watching us, but we had a good time and, with the help of the bartender, we were seated in less time than we expected. Dinner included two tasty dishes: Fish Tacos made with substantial, fried flounder bites; and, the Asian special, fried shrimp tossed in a Thai Chili sauce and spread across a bed of rice and crunchy green beans. Both were delicious.

We enjoyed dinner so much that we returned Saturday for lunch. The atmosphere was a little less active but the place was packed by 12:30 that afternoon. We had one bowl of tomato bisque (average), Cajun Fish bites—substantial cuts of rock fish dusted in Cajun spices and fried—and a fried mahi-mahi sandwich. The fish bites and the sandwich gave us another delicious meal at the Ruddy Duck Tavern, which seems to want to fry all of its fish selections.

Saturday morning, after a cup of coffee, we walked for an hour on the treadmills at the hotel, waiting for the temperature to rise before taking a leisurely stroll across Highway 58 to the beach and to within a few feet of the waves as the water splashed about. We examined a few jelly fish and enjoyed the peace and serenity of the early morning sun and the cool breezes coming from the Atlantic Ocean.
Sunrise At Pine Knoll Shores

We made our way back to the hotel—which backs up to the Country Club of Crystal Coast—to clean up, dress, have a little breakfast, check out, and explore the area, especially the North Carolina Aquarium just a mile or so away. Our room faced the golf course, another nice and peaceful setting as far as I’m concerned. I pushed back the curtains and gazed at the links below, thinking about playing. A few golfers made their way from tee to green and to the next tee. I noticed a single, a man, driving his cart from a green to the next tee. As he got out of his cart and headed towards his clubs (I thought he would selected a driver for the next shot), he went past the cart and walked towards a wooded area, moving close to a tree, and proceeded to do what men do on the golf course when no facilities are available and Mother Nature calls. You figure it out.

After leaving the hotel, we went to the Ruddy Duck Tavern for lunch. Then it was back across the bridge to Atlantic Beach. We turned left on East Fort Macon Road, drove through Fort Macon State Park, past the United States Coast Guard Base at that end of the island and a little further before turning around with the North Carolina Aquarium our next stop.

North Carolina has three aquariums: Pine Knoll Shores, Fort Fisher at Kure Beach, and on Roanoke Island. It was our first visit to any. It was a wonderful adventure of water life in North Carolina, taking you on a tour from the mountains to the piedmont to the coastal plains, taking you through tidal waters and the ocean. A really cool exhibit is the living shipwreck fish tank with sharks, a Moray eel and many other sea creatures. Soon after we arrived at that part of the walk-through exhibit, four scuba divers entered the tank, joining the fish including the sharks.

A sign nearby explained the fish in the tank, especially the sharks, were fed regularly so the scuba divers, who swam close to the bottom, were not threatened by the sharks. The divers each carried a metal pole about four feet long for protection, I’m sure. The divers swam together, making their way all over the tank, the largest of its kind along the United States East Coast, with the trailing diver always looking back and overhead for any dangerous activity. That day was a good day to be at the Aquarium. Small attendance and it was fun to watch the children in amazement of what they saw. We also were amazed.

We soon continued west on highway 58, traveling through Salter Path, Indian Beach and Emerald Isle, stopping one more time to enjoy a walk on the sandy shore before we exited the coastline and made our way through Cape Carteret, Swansboro, Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville and Richland. It looked as if we would take US Highway 258 to Kinston and home, but the turn to Huffman Vineyards and Winery soon confronted us.

The vineyard of muscadine grapes and winery are on Haw Branch Road; the winery is inside the Mirey Creek gift shop. It’s all a family affair. The mother of Lee Huffman, the winemaker, owns the gift shop that’s been there much longer than the winery. Lee’s sister and mother help out in the winery tasting room. Behind the tasting bar is a beautiful mural created by Lee’s mother, a very talented artist.
Mural Behind Tasting Bar at Huffman Vineyards and Winery

The wines at Huffman are dry to semi-sweet to sweet. On the dry end are Riesling, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, all made from grapes obtained from somewhere else. The semi-sweets include Riesling; Muscat; a blend of blueberries and Pinot Noir; blackberry; and a blend of all the grapes grown on site, mostly the muscadine variety. It’s called Irene: (Emergency Blend!). As Hurricane Irene headed toward North Carolina, either all the grapes on the vines had to be picked or lost. Lee’s mother picked them all which were then pressed for juice and blended to make one wine. The description on the tasting sheet says: Light bodied, mineral undertones with a lingering red delicious finish. Sure enough, even with all those muscadine grapes, it tasted as if eating a red delicious apple. The sweet wines are fruit wines.

The winery and the winemaker are young. The presentation was nice; the gift shop is interesting and full of locally crafted items. The wines are a long way from developing into something good, but they are tasty. We left with a bottle of Irene, Summer Nights (blueberry pinot), Glenn’s Creek (Zinfandel), and Mirey Creek Red (Cabernet Sauvignon). It you’re collecting North Carolina wineries, Huffman is an interesting stop.

Taking Haw Branch Road to highway 24 and then to Interstate 40, we made it back home before 8:00 p.m. It was an interesting trip with lots of activities in less than 33 hours. Knowing that avid reader who enjoys this content of my blog, I’m sure he enjoyed this one and relates to it, especially the whole idea of enjoying the North Carolina coast.

By the way, remember Mitchell Smith at the Lake Road Winery in Newport. He’s the one who said, “I was asked once ‘How long does an open bottle of wine last?” Well, he had an answer for us, one we already knew but one that’s worth repeating.“About 45 minutes,” Mitchell Smith said with a sly grin.

Monday, January 9, 2012

BCS Championship: LSU wins, covers spread

When tonight’s BCS National Championship game is history and when LSU is walks off the field victorious, for me to pick up one last win in my entry in a college post-season bowl pool and a self-fashioned contest with Sports Illustrated, the Tigers must have scored at least a safety more than the Crimson Tide, the two-point version of the safety not the one-pointer.

A one-point safety, you may ask? Yes, but more on that later.

Tonight, the college football season is reduced to one game. It’s the second-coming this year of LSU and Alabama on the gridiron. I cannot win my bet with Sports Illustrated but finishing only one game back would be good for me. There’s not really a bet with SI, no monetary exchange on the line, no pride for one to gain on the other. It’s my own simple contest in the guessing game of choosing bowl winners this year. After 34 preliminary post-season games, the chooser—Andy Staples—at SI has 24 wins and 10 losses, and I’m at 22-12. The difference in our selections: the Sports Illustrated tally is based on picking a winner; mine is from picking a winner using a point spread.

My guessing started when I received the annual email from a friend of my brother-in-law. The guy is an acquaintance to me but we’ve known each other for several years, through my wife’s brother. I’m not sure how long he has organized this contest or how many entries he receives but he donates 50 percent of the $5.00 entry fee to a charity. The remainder is paid to the top four finishers, and he returns the admission charge to the person who places last. I presume with a 22-12 record at this point, last place is out of the question.

Over the years I’ve done rather well in the annual college basketball tournament bracket guessing games, but I’ve never scratched picking bowl winners. Usually, after a handful of games, I’ve lost interest in the bowl pool and just watched the games for my love of college football. This year, I made it a contest within a contest, competing against Sports Illustrated’s selections of the bowl winners as announced in its December 19, 2011 edition. (My brother-in-law is not as interested. “I tossed both of my entries into the trash a long time ago,” he said recently.)

So, here’s how it worked: In the mid-December print edition (also on line), Staples previewed the first 34 bowl games with a short paragraph which ended with his score prediction. For instance, in the first game, the 2:00 p.m. December 17 New Mexico Bowl, Staples picked Temple 28, Wyoming 17. The spread on my brother-in-law’s friend’s contest was Wyoming plus 6.5 points. So, when I added the points in the pool to the points in SI, I came up with a final score of Temple 28, Wyoming 23.5. I picked Temple. Final score: Temple 35, Wyoming 15. Victory for me in game one. Victory for Staples and SI as well. Both 1-0 out of the gate.

Competing in a pool with point spreads is tough. You find yourself cheering for a team to win but not by many. In the Music City Bowl, I had Wake Forest plus 6.5 points. But the desire for the Deacons to win outright was not in me, for some reason. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the Baptist Church and always think of Wake Forest as Hell-Fire-and-Damnation, or maybe it’s because the Deacons beat my NC State this year. When Mississippi State missed an extra point, I was thrilled. Final score: Mississippi State 23, Wake Forest 17. I won by half a point. SI won by picking MSU outright. And so it went.

SI picked Clemson; I had West Virginia plus 3.5 points. Final: WVA 70, Tigers 36. I also had Oklahoma State giving 3.5 points to Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl. Oklahoma State won 41-38. SI picked OSU. For what it’s worth, without the point spread, just picking winners, I’m 23-11, but with the point spread, my record is 22-12.

The only game SI didn’t pick in mid-December was the LSU-Alabama BCS National Championship game. I had to place my bets before the first of the 35 bowl games was played. At that time, the line was Alabama plus 1.5 points. My pick is LSU. That was December  16th. Sports Illustrated just recently used eight pages of its publication to tell us why Alabama will win 13-10. Of course, just to pull within one game of Staples and maybe to place in the money in my brother’s-in-law friend’s bowl pool, LSU wins tonight by at least a safety.

Oh yeah, the one-point safety explanation: If you’re familiar with football in the simplest of ways, you know there’s a two-point safety scored for the defense when a player with the ball on offense is tackled in its own end zone. Example: Quarterback fades back to pass and is tackled in the end zone, two points for the defense.

However, there are two ways—one way for the offense and one way for the defense—to score one-point safeties. It can happen when a team is trying to score an extra point, either a one- or two-point attempt. The offense’s kick is blocked and a member of the defense picks up the ball and voluntarily back-tracks into the end zone and is tackled. The team trying the PAT kick gets one point. Same if the offense is trying to run or pass for two and the ball is fumbled or intercepted outside the end zone and the player on defense, recovering or intercepting, back tracks into the end zone and is tackled. Offense gets one point. According to Wikipedia, this actually happened in 2004 in a game between Texas A&M and Texas. That’s one point for the offense.

The other way for a one-point safety is for the defense. The PAT—kick or run or pass—is blocked, fumbled, or intercepted, and the defense advances the ball the entire length of the field to get the PAT score itself, but the player fumbles near the goal line. A member of the offense (which tried the PAT) recovers the ball outside the end zone and runs into that end zone and is tackled. The defense is awarded a point. In other words, the offense scores a touchdown; the defense gets a safety; the score is 6-1. This has never happened. (By the way, if I’ve wrongly interpreted the one-point safety, please correct me in the comments section below.)

We’ve seen a lot of good games, high scoring and low scoring, in college football this year so seeing a one-point safety by the offense or defense is not out of the question, but hopefully it will not happen tonight, especially if it helps Alabama cover the 1.5 points. Go LSU! Win and cover that spread!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Is Anyone Home? Obviously Not!

It was Saturday, December 31, 2011. I was on my way to the Lonnie Poole Golf Course on the NC State University Centennial Campus, driving along Main Campus Drive. It was about 7:45 a.m. My usual route includes the Gorman Street exit off of Interstate 40, a right turn onto Thistledown Drive which, after crossing Trailwood Drive, becomes Main Campus Drive. The golf course appears on the right; Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School is seen on the left. Soon thereafter, also on the left, is the new home of the NC State Chancellor.

The residence, it's architecture design debated by many, is an interesting structure, reminding me of the roots of NC State. It looks a lot like a series of red barns built next to each other. Say, "Moo U!" Read more on the facility, as seen through the writings of Jay Price of The News & Observer. 

Over the past several months, traveling to and from the golf venue where I usually walk the 8,000+ yards carrying on my back my 15+ pounds of golf equipment, I've watched the residence develop to its final state. It's definitely a welcomed edition to the campus, though the outward design of the Park Alumni Center next door is much more impressive and "Stately."

While traveling along Main Campus Drive, I took a quick glance at the Chancellor's new home and soon realized he was away for the holidays. It was easy to spot. There was no official sign saying he and his family were gone for a few days, but the most obvious of all signs was present, sitting right there in his driveway. There, just inside the gate, were newspapers which had been sitting for a day or two or three.

There's at least one solution to this; two come to mind. He could have suspended his subscription to The N&O for the days he would be gone. That could have been done either through The N&O website or by placing a telephone call to the circulation department of the paper. Or he could have had one of his assistants, or an NCSU security officer, retrieve the newspapers and at the very least place them next to the garage door so the papers would have been there upon his return. By the way, when suspending your subscription, you can request that all back issues be delivered the day you return or the next day, if you are a glutten for punishment and want to read back issues of the newspaper.

For the benefit of the doubt, my guess is the Chancellor went to The N&O website and tried to suspend delivery but it didn't take, therefore it's the fault of the newspaper. Or maybe his assistant was sick or out of town and failed to do the duty. Or maybe it was up to NCSU security to handle it and someone decided there was no reason to patrol that part of campus.

It was Saturday on my way home from playing golf -- shot a satisfying 80 with four double bogeys while playing the 6,502-yard course -- that I stopped to take a few photos and a video. On New Year's Day, I returned to the golf course for more misery but good exercise (the way I hit it that day, I must have walked 8,500 yards), and an additional newspaper was in the driveway, just behind the gate.

Okay, okay. Maybe this is a little tough love on this subject, and heck, the Chancellor has only been in the house for a couple of months. Maybe he hasn't come to grips with who handles his newspaper subscription when he's out of town. My guess is this situation will soon be resolved. Happy New Year!