Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Remembering 9/11

This column first appeared in the Harnett County News in Sept. of 2011. Written in memory of those died on that horrible and historic day. Note the video to the right

Where were you?
By Tom Woerner

The tenth anniversary of a day that will forever change history is coming up in a couple of weeks and it is an appropriate time to reflect on that awful day when America was attacked on our home soil for the first time in more than 50 years.
The words of the Alan Jackson country hit say it best. The words are “Where were you when the world stopped turning that September Day.” Most of us will never forget.
Like Pearl Harbor of a previous generation almost every American who was old enough to remember 9/11 knows exactly where they were when news of terrorist attacks came from our televisions, radio stations or computers. 
I can see the exact place on the floor of this room where I now sit where I froze in place when someone told me a plane had hit the World Trade towers. I can look around the corner where a co-worker and I stood, silently praying people could get out of the second tower after the first one had collapsed.
It was only minutes before we started calling friends and family members making sure all were OK. Some rushed to the schools to be with their children trying to explain the unexplainable. Others of us waited for news with so many questions. 
Where was President Bush? We prayed our leader was not in danger himself. We found out almost no one in the world knew. History would show he quickly left a Florida classroom where he was speaking to go into hiding, making his way to different locations on Air Force One.
Where was the next attack going to occur? The first answer was a Pennsylvania field where brave heroes forced the crash of an airliner on its way to tear into the White House or likely the Capital. America will never knew what the brave band of air travelers, turned into amateur warriors, prevented. A direct strike on the Capital would have likely frozen the American government in place and killed many of our lawmakers. Chaos in the nation’s capital would have quickly turned to gridlock.
Through all of this mystery and speculation those of us in the news business slipped back into work mode as we basically started the paper over again even past the normal deadline. Each staff member took a different role. One of mine was talking to someone on the phone who watched the disaster unfold from afar.
It is hard to believe it has been ten years since that horrible day. It is unbelievable that American soldiers are still fighting the war Osama bin Laden started. The only unfortunate thing about the demise of bin Laden at the end of a Navy seal rifle is that he never saw the final demise of his organization.
Every citizen in this country should remember the motto of those of us with an interest in history. It is absolute fact that if you don’t remember the past you are doomed to repeat it.
Americans need to realize the unthinkable, another attack, may well be in the planning stages. We should never forget the brave firemen who lost their lives going into those doomed buildings. The citizens who died, in what have been a living hell, in unthinkable fear have to be remembered.
America is winning the war on terror but we must never move to the state of complaceny that opened the doors for our enemy the first time.

Friday, August 1, 2014

TOMMY time once again

TOMMY time once again
By Tom Woerner

The world’s greatest sports network, ESPN, beat me to the punch this year with their annual presentation of the ESPY awards but since I am the boss in this tiny little corner of the Internet, I can present the annual TOMMY awards on my own time schedule. Below are some of the things that have gotten my enough attention to earn TOMMYs this year.
I have been thinking about this TOMMY for a while, anyone with any interest in the world of sports hasn’t had another option, but the TOMMY for Biggest Idiot of the last 100 years, has to go to Donald Sterling. Mr. Sterling in fact gets a lifetime TOMMY, to be permanently displayed with dishonor.
The former, lets hope it stays that way, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers was set up by a jealous wife and girlfriend but the things he said about African Americans was beyond out of line. The way he insulted a race that made him a millionaire multiple times over is beyond disgusting. The way he attacked basketball icon Magic Johnson is an embarrassment.
And in a related TOMMY, the NBAs Adam Silver gets the TOMMY for Best Performance of a Sports Commissioner. The man who took over for the legendary David Stern did as my favorite comedic character Barney Fife would say, and nipped the Donald Sterling situation in the bud. He made a clear statement that he won’t tolerate the nonsense of racism in his league. 
Anyone who is involved with the NBA will know that this young man means business. It will prevent further problems in the future.
The TOMMY for best Hall of Fame Class This Century goes to this year’s class. It doesn’t get better if you are a Braves fan with Joe Torre, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Bobby Cox going through the doors at Cooperstown. 
Only us true Braves fans remember Torre’s stand with the team when during that we all know as “the bad years” Torre managed the one year the team made it to the playoffs in that awful period of the 1980s.  It was a little light in a grim period for Chief Nok a Homa and the boys. True fans of that period will know exactly that that means. 
Glavine, Maddux and Cox speak for themselves. The only Atlanta hero missing is John Smoltz and his time is coming. Those four and their teammates made the statement “Wait til Next Year” obsolete for Braves fans. Every year was next year with an unprecedented series of division championships.
We were no longer the laughing stock of the college dorms when we refused to give up our allegiance to the team. Thirty years later the words “wanna bet” are still a joke from college dorm mates in relation to the Braves. Enough said on that.
The TOMMY for Best Reunion with your home town goes to Lebron James. When James announced four years ago he was “taking his talents to South Beach,” he immediately leaped to the top of Cleveland’s most wanted list. 
Now he took an eraser to his name on that list and immediately became the “prodigal son” who returned. He did it in a classy way which has not always been the case for him. Lets hope next year’s season is as heart warming as his return. Cleveland is desperate for a  sports champion and this may be their best opportunity.
Finally, the TOMMY for Best Mystery on a Golf course goes to Tiger Woods. You never know what you are going to get with Woods. Still highly talented, he is always capable of a great win. He has lost the mental toughness more than physical skill. One shot into the woods or the water and he becomes distracted and often down right angry. As long as he doesn’t control his emotions he will have a hard time controlling himself.
The TOMMY for slack sports columnist of the year goes to yours truly. A goal for the future is to put more material through the doors of The Corner. I look forward to the challenge.

Monday, June 16, 2014

This year's presentation of the TOMMYs is coming later this week. Come back soon, there are lots of things that earned by attention in the sports world in recent weeks!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Ill be back

It is about this time each year I present the annual TOMMY Awards and though my blog posts have decreased dramatically the tradition will continue. See what has gotten my attention in the world of sports in the near future. Expect a little humor, unique perspective and my analysis of what has happened in the sports world.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

 Editor's note. This column is being brought from the archives of the now former publication The Harnett County News.. It is the first in a series that appeared in 2004. The medical condition referenced has been cured by a miracle of God working through surgeons at UNC Chapel Hill. This column is dedicated to those heroes. 
A two wheeled perspective

A medical condition now keeps me, at least temporarily, from behind a steering wheel of a car, but the necessity of transportation required me to purchase what is called a skooter, but is really a fancy name for a moped. Riding around town on my new wheels, complete with a camoflage paint job, is providing a new outlook and is teaching me a few things.
The law limits the speed of these vehicles, which are treated in the eyes of the law as a bicycle, to 20 miles per hour. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but it beats making long trips with only my shoes between me and the pavement.
Because I had not driven in several months, when I first got my skooter  it was like being released from a prison cell. I can only wonder what the people thought as I “flew” down the road singing the words to the classic tune “On the Road Again.” 
The first thing I noticed while driving Harnett’s back roads is there are some fast dogs out there. This reality hit me one day driving from Angier. Going along with the sweet whine of my new engine and my helmet on I didn’t notice a dog nipping at my heels. 
The realization came when he literally passed me. I know this because I saw the whites of his eyes when he turned to look at me.
Now my new ride is no race car, but the 20 miles per hour I am allowed should be plenty of speed to out run this four legged friend, right? Trust me, it wasn’t. 
I am not exaggerating when I say that I did not begin to lose him until I hit the top speed of 25 miles per hour. At that speed greyhound want to be finally fell off the pace and went back to his resting place, waiting for his next victim.
It seems funny to me how curious the public is about my ride. I laughed one day when a Harnett County “good ole boy” pulled up beside me and said “Lets see what that thing has got.”
What was this guy thinking? Here he is high in his muddy pickup spitting smoke out of dual exhaust, and being sarcastic about my little moped. I guess it provided a boost for his ego but to me it didn’t matter. Still, I felt like David looking up at Goliath. 
My pride wouldn’t allow me to back down. He reved his engine and I reved mine, and believe it or not I actually beat him from the line. It seems his Goliath couldn’t start off as fast my lightweight David.  He  passed me within seconds, laughing as he did, but that moment of glory was worth putting a tiny dent in his arrogant attitude.
I have also gotten a quick lesson in defensive driving from this experience. It only takes one eighteen wheeled truck passing you on a bridge to make you quickly realize your vulnerability. The rear view mirrors quickly become your best friends.
When I first got the moped I was somewhat humiliated by the experience, feeling like I was something less than those who drove cars. Many moped drivers own their vehicles because of drunk driving offenses and I thought that is what people would think.
Now, I have realize the advantages. After all I bet that good ole boy doesn’t get 100 miles out of each gallon of gas.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Lessons on Science, a real fish story

There is an old joke about those who love to fish stretching the size of their catch. Many a six inch pan fish has turned into the catch of a life time by the time the story of the catch is related. This afternoon, I had a different kind of fish story and there is no need to stretch anything about it.
The story here is the bonding between a nephew and an uncle, separated for most of the prior's life by the continental United States and half the Pacific Ocean.
When my nephew moved to North Carolina from Hawaii a few weeks back one of his first requests was to go fishing with Uncle Tom so "He can put a worm on my hook." His young mind remembers me doing so now nearly a year ago on another return trip.
This afternoon we didn't have worms so a piece of hot dog sufficed. Last year we caught a nice size catfish,  so big I had to spend all afternoon fighting it to get it in the boat. Well,  maybe a little fish story there. Sunday, no fish story was needed, the only thing we caught were warm rays of the North Carolina sun.
It was far from a wasted afternoon. I learned that "Uncle Tom I know more than you do because I am a scientist." That little bit of genius came after I put my hand in my pocket and brought it out with a hook in it. I guess a five year old scientist has enough training not to do such a thing.
The five year old scientist said hot dogs are human food, not fish food and that is why we didn't catch anything. Just as good a reason as any I suppose.
Today marked the third Sunday in a row I have spent making up for lost time with my nephew. I am looking forward to finding some fish food and giving it another shot in the near future. Last weekend, said scientist showed me around the natural history museum. There we had to briefly mourn a black widow spider in an exhibit who had passed, we chased butterflies and got a few lessons about dinosaurs. Prior to that the lesson was the difference between the sea gulls and ducks that now battle for attention at the local recreational park.
 It was another great way to spend Sunday afternoon. I look forward to many more. I have a lot of science to learn.

Friday, June 21, 2013

And the TOMMY goes to....

Anyone who has been a regular visitor to The Corner in recent years if familiar with my annual TOMMY Awards. It is my way of looking at things getting my attention in the world of sports. This year it will be ongoing over the next two days as I pick up on sporting action.

The TOMMY for the Happiest Ex Con in the world of sports-Len Dykstra. Not sure what is dumber, hiding baseball gloves to protect them from a bankruptcy case or having a bankruptcy case in the first place when he made millions roaming centerfield at Veterans and and Shea stadiums. He was released from prison on the fraud charges Friday. Hope he enjoys waking up to look out windows and not bars.

The TOMMY for best sporting experience will be the one I have next year. If the golf gods have their way I will once again get a press pass to the U.S. Open. I did it in 2005 and it was a great experience. Next year will be special, watch for Phil Mickelson to get his elusive open title. Look for me to be on the edge of the green when he does it.

The third TOMMY of the Year is one for the second greatest basketball player in history, King James. Okay, you are the best player of a generation. I will give you credit for second place barely beating out Bird and Magic. Michael J. you are not my friend.

TOMMY number four is the Please Let it End TOMMY given to both the NBA and NHL. Someone in those leagues needs to realize no one wants to be in a gym or ice rink when it is 100 degrees outside. Both should follow the lead of college basketball and end in the spring. This year it was more than half way through June when both finished. I am not sure hockey is yet. Lets start playing winter sports in the winter!

We are half way through this year's ceremony and here is number five. The Who knows how it will end TOMMY goes to the New England Patriots. Bill Belichek has decided to let the Tim Tebow tour make its third stop in Foxboro. Surely Tebow knows he will be number two to Tom Brady. Surely he knows Belichek will have his way, what that is concerning Tebow. Somehow I figure they will both end up with a Super Bowl ring at the end of the game.

The TOMMY for best sports mystery, Aaron Hernandez of the Patriots. Looks like he is headed to jail for his role in a murder. Tebow is the least of Belichek's problems.

I have to give a TOMMY this year to all the small market teams making their mark in MLB this year.
Who can't cheer for teams like the Pirates, Reds and Orioles. Everyone knows about giants like the Red Sox, Yankees and Braves, but lets hear it for the little guy.