Sunday, November 26, 2017

LIfe Observations

To:Tom Woerner

‎Nov‎ ‎20 at ‎11‎:‎25

One of the requirements of a local columnist is to simply observe the things around us and offer our editorial comment, it just kind of what we do. Some times the things I observe are ordinary and pass through my mind without event but some get my mind to wondering.
For example, last night I noticed a cattle crossing sign on a Harnett County roard and I had to wonder just what those signs say about we as humans. 
This is particularly true when it comes to wild animals such as deer, or in the great north where my in-laws live, moose, which seem to torture local drivers this time of year.
Are we, as humans, arrogant enough to think we can control where wild animals cross the road? Once we pass the signs are we secure enough to let down our guard against antler carrying car insurance nightmares thinking our wild friends will respect the space we have reserved for them to cross?
I understand the idea of the signs, to provide general safety information in areas where it is more likely to see deer. But, especially during the season when our headlights freeze these living obstacles just long enough to plow into them, we should observe a constant level of alertness. Doing so may prevent a deer collision or something worse. 
Running into a large cow would certainly be more troublesome. 
Totally unrelated, but I have observed in close to 50 years now of putting on shoes each day there is an interesting phenomenon. The next time you tie your shoes notice that when you complete one shoe, the other is invariably noticeably looser. 
More times than not, tying one shoe is a sure enough way need to tie the other one. Don’t ask me to explain it, I report the news, that doesn’t necessarily mean I understand the reasons for it.
Anyone who knows me at all knows I am not a scientist or a mathemtician but I have noticed that at times the same number means different things. 
Common sense tells you that 69 degrees feels the same all year, right?
Explain then why in the summer that number “comfortably cool” while in January the same temperature is well below the comfort threshhold for many, sending them scrambling in their grandmother’s cedar chest to find a blanket.
 People who think nothing of putting their thermostat at that level in the summer, refuse to do so six months later for fear they might “freeze to death.”
Numbers also have a different perspective as we age. Again, 365 days a year is exactly the same amount of time when you are 2 as it is when you are 52. However, I realize as I approach that age how right my parents and grandparents were when they said life is short and that time moves faster as we grow older.
As a child Christmas “took forever” to come. In those days my brothers and I would spend days circling things with flourescent markers in the Sears and Roebuck Wishbook and dreading the long wait to see if Santa respected our wishes. 
Looking back I realize “Santa” did a pretty good job keeping the three of us happy on Christmas morning. This is my chance to publicly thank him.
Now, the Christmas boxes don’t seem to have time to gather on them before we are reaching for them again. First with children, and now grandchildren, my wife and I struggle to find enough time in the holiday season to at least try to help Santa fill out his list. The forever of our childhood seems to be the flash of a second in our adult professional and personal lives.
The 12 years it took to complete our school years now seem like the blink of an eye as we watch our children and grandchildren age. It is hard for me to even believe that my children’s have their own children who are approaching school age. Just another of those many things I don’t understand but I will keep reporting them and trying to comprehend.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Our Own Type Of Hurricane


Those of us in Eastern North Carolina know about hurricanes. Almost all of us have experienced them, but those of us with grandchildren know a different kind of storm, one we welcome but also one that requires a few days of rest when it leaves the area.

A look around my house on a recent Sunday sparked my thoughts on this issue. My wife and I hosted our granddaughter as we do any time we get the chance, but a look around our home showed there were consequences.
Anyone who has grandchildren knows that two days of a grandchild in the house equals at least one day of house cleaning, picking up and restoring some kind of normalcy.
Like most hurricanes, this storm left a path of destruction. The family of Barbie and Ken lost almost everything. I found Barbie’s shoes in the tub drain. I found part of Ken’s hand tossed across the bathroom floor. The pair’s family pet was on his back, feet in the air with a confused look on his face.
Furniture from the Barbie and Ken house was scattered throughout our house, only to be discovered by a grampa stumbling around the house in the middle of the night. That is something a lot of us do as we approach the half-century mark.
Hard plastic bedroom furniture is a hazard to us in the grampa club. Just trust me, stepping on a miniature kitchen chair is not something one likes to repeat.
The kitchen of our house took a major hit from the storm. Carrots, celery and other items used in a joint project to make vegetable soup are probably still in some corners or on top of the stove. I am not sure a 5-year-old chopping celery would pass OSHA codes but when she uses those eyes on gramma it’s just not fair.
It works on grampas as well. The words “can I please” might gain her access to the nuclear codes if we had them. Her personal safety was not endangered so if she wants to cut celery, no harm done. Don’t judge us until you look into those eyes.
Signs of the hurricane still abound outside the home. Sand from the sand box is scattered about. Some of it was transported to far corners of the yard by the poor dog who wasn’t able to escape the turmoil completely, though she tried her best.
Sand box toys quickly became obstacles for my riding mower. Some of them probably won’t be found until next year when I bring the mower out for the first time. If not then, they will be found when they stick out of the one snow we receive in January of February.
All this to say that we welcome this storm any time at our house. There is an old saying that the two best things in the world to grandparents are headlights coming and tail lights leaving when grandchildren come to visit. I now understand those words even more and I look forward to seeing the headlights coming again. Next time we will just batten down the hatches a little better.
Tom Woerner is a reporter with The Daily Record. Reach him at (919) 607-3714 or

Thursday, October 5, 2017

There is a column that has been floating in my head for many years and positive response to an earlier column prompted me to go for it, offering, perhaps, unique perspectives on a Hollywood classic.
Most people think of “The Wizard of Oz” as a kid’s movie, as one of the classics of its genre. They are right, but if you listen closely there is an array of interesting, wise comments by those characters who skipped down that yellow brick road.
One of the truest remarks in the film comes in an early scene. As Dorothy and Toto strolled toward the Emerald City, the Scarecrow popped up.
Dorothy asked him, “If you don’t have a brain, how can you talk?” The main stuffed with straw said, “Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t they?”
Once again approaching the forbidden waters of “politics in the corner,” I will just say go to Washington, D.C., and look around, you might see how true that statement is.
It also applies to many we encounter in our daily lives.
Dorothy perhaps uttered the most classic words of this great film when she said, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”
That is so true. How many of us at times told our parents, “I am getting out of this town.” Many never get out of their parents’ basements while and others go on to successful lives right in that same town.
Simply put, most of us realize that where we are is not always that bad and that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side of the fence.
Another classic came at about the same time in the film when Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.”
My friend in the blue plaid dress was so right. Everyone has somewhere to return to, somewhere to hide from the world at the end of the day. That embrace by a family member or greeting from a beloved pet never gets old.
The Wizard, addressing the Tin Man, said, “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.”
Ironically, my mother wrote similar words in my high school graduation card. When we all take that final ride in a long black car, the mark of our success will be how many people notice. Physical things we accomplished will be left behind.
Again, out of the mouth of the great Oz, speaking to the Cowardly Lion, “Not having fear isn’t brave, it’s foolhardy. Any real hero knows fear.”
There is no doubt Capt. Fulton Lanier felt fear the night he died a hero when his plane crashed in World War II. More than 80 percent of people who flew that route didn’t return. He knew the odds were against him.
There were hundreds of troops on boats heading to Normandy who, without a doubt, had unthinkable fear. As moving targets for German snipers on a wide open beach, who wouldn’t?
All of us have moments in our regular lives that require stepping past the line of fear and into the realm of action to deal with a difficult problem.
As the Wizard said, “The difference is a real hero overcomes his fear.”
I like the words of the Tin Man as Dorothy is about to leave. He said, “Now I know I have a heart because I know it is breaking.”
Through the loss of loved ones, the ending of relationships and general disappointments of life, we have all felt the dull pain in our chest that comes with a broken heart.
There are so many other words from this film that can provide good advice for all our lives, too many to address here. Watching the film, listening to the characters will always be enjoyable and often educational. Though I have watched it multiple times, eventually I know I will enjoy it again.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Anyone who has written a regular column knows at times it is difficult coming up with ideas, so this week I got a little help. I decided to examine some of the quotes of the great Yogi Berra and look at how they apply to our normal life.
The second anniversary of Yogi’s death at the age of 90 two years ago is an appropriate time to honor his words. There are too many “Yogisms” to fully examine them all, but some really give good lessons about life.
Anyone who knows me knows my favorite Yogism is “If you don’t go to other people’s funerals, they won’t come to yours.”
Though those words are funny, there is a lesson in this classic. We should have respect for people in general and particularly those who have passed on. Perhaps the Yankee great was telling us the only way to gain respect is to give it.
Another saying I found last week really struck an issue that is close to my heart. It is one we don’t seem to teach our next generation.
“I tell the kids someone has to win and someone has to lose, just don’t fight about it,” Yogi said.
The generation that has been growing up being taught everything is fair and everyone gets a “participation” trophy is learning a dangerous way to think.
An even better comment on that issue came from Bill Gates during a graduation speech. “Life isn’t fair, get used to it,” he said. That says it in a nutshell.
Yogi once said, “When you get to a fork in the road, take it.” In other words you have to consider all aspects of a problem and make a decision. The best way to get nowhere is to do nothing.
On a similar line, he once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might end up some place else.” In other words, plan on how you want to proceed in all aspects of life.
I have to wonder if another quote from Yogi applies to our current president. He once said, “Even Napoleon had his Watergate.”
President Trump may not realize it, but he can crumble like anyone else. Any man who thinks he is invincible may find out he is not.
I like another Yogism. He was so right when he said, “If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.”
What a boring world we would have if none of us made mistakes. We all try to avoid them, but human nature always prevails.
A few other sayings that just bring a smile. “You better cut that pizza into four pieces because I can’t eat six.”
Another, “No one goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.” I could tell a story of at least one Harnett County business where this directly applies.
“Never answer an anonymous letter.” That is kind of why most letters without names don’t appear in newspapers. If people want to exercise their First Amendment rights they should have the nerve to take responsibility for their words.
I couldn’t write a column about the great philosopher without quoting his most famous words: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” Well, this column is over for this week.
Tom Woerner is a reporter with The Daily Record. Reach him at (910) 230-2038 or

Friday, June 23, 2017

And The TOMMY Goes To:

Though the time constraints of life have limited my column writing in recent days, the wild world of sports is bringing me out again. It is once again time for me to recognize recipients of the annual TOMMY Awards. This annual ritual is my way to recognize the people, places and things going on in the sports world that are getting my attention at the present time
And the TOMMY’S Go To:
The TOMMY For Dad of the Year In the Sports World Goes to Phil Mickelson.
Hats off to Lefty for passing up the temptation to fill the missing hole in his trophy case to go to his daughter’s graduation. There is no doubt My man Phil lies awake at times wondering when he will earn the prestigious title of U.S. Open Champion. He probably has nightmares about losing by one stroke to Payne Stewart at Pinehurst or shanking balls to the left off his driver in another attempt which cost him that title.
Those in the area will remember that Mickelson carried a pager with him in 1999, prepared to leave the tournament if his wife went into labor. He finished and only missed a title because of one of the greatest moments in North Carolina Sports History, Payne Stewart’s miraculous putt for par that handed him the title. His daughter Amanda was born shortly there after. It is no surprise that his love for his daughter once again took over predominance for the future hall of famer. Maybe Karma will pay him back with a title at Shinnekok Hills next year.

The What the Heck is Going on TOMMY also goes to Tiger Woods. My attention is once again drawn to the golf world following the arrest of Tiger Woods. As he has for years, Tiger keeps his health a secret but that secret was let out of the bag with his arrest and admission of having a problem with prescription pills.
Its hard to feel sorry for a guy who had the whole world in his hands and millions of dollars in the bank but beneath all that he is human. He needs our prayers that some how the can get his life back together.
The TOMMY for Bad Policy relating to young people goes to the NCAA.
Fact is "college" athletics is a joke these days. Students used to go to college to get educated and play sports on the side. Now athletes go to college to play and attend class on the side, maybe. I doubt the One and Dones who got NBA contracts this week spent little or no time in classroom. That is tragic. Its time for major reform when it comes to college athletes.

Monday, January 11, 2016

trying hard to stay up but I think Clemson is on the way to a National Championship. Alabama is historically good, but tonight it looks like the trophy is going back to South Carolina.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dream Season Could Make History

I have made every effort to watch Carolina Panthers games as their streak of unbeaten games continues. I have come to the conclusion that the possibility of a an undefeated season and a Super Bowl win are real possibilities.
That possibility comes to me because of several realities. The first is that Cam Newton is now one of the top five if not top two quarterbacks in the league.
As much as I don’t like Tom Brady and the rest of his team that repeatedly disregards rules of the game,  I have to admit he is likely the best play caller and field general in the league. He no doubt has one of the stongest arms in history, and certainly in today’s league.
Cam is gaining on him in all areas of his game. His size makes him a formidable weapon when he uses his legs. He can see over lineman and find open receivers repeatedly. I only wish he would tone down the taunting and showmanship after touchdowns. I have to admire his response to those questioning those antics when he said “If they want to keep me from celebrating touchdowns, they should keep me out of the end zone.”
As another old saying goes, “It ain’t bragging if its the truth.”
Cam Newton is only one reason for the outstanding season
As is the case with any team who has not loss, there are many pieces to this puzzle. Most notably Luke Kiechley is probably the best linebacker in the game. It is amazing how the man finds either the football on any given play. He is willing and able to deliver hits to slow down the advance of said ball when ever it is necessary.
A solid offensive line makes life easier for big number one. Offensive backs have only limited effectiveness without good linemen in front of them.
There are many other factors.
The fact that playoff tickets sold out in less than 10 minutes shows that Charlotte residents and fans from around the region are ready to support this group of players. It shows they support the group as they head for the playoffs. If destiny prevails and the Panthers and Patriots end up facing each other in the Super Bowl, lets hope the Cats show a little revenge for what happened the last time the two met in the big game.
Lets hope the ride continues, and even if a regular season loss sneaks up on them lets hope the Lombardi trophy finds a place on a shelf in the Panthers corporate offices in the near future.