Sunday, February 22, 2009

A job worth doing

Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves,
some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all.
~ Sam Ewing ~

Recently, I stopped at an unfamiliar gas station and filled up the tank. The station was at a busy intersection, had plenty of pumps, and a good flow of customers. Still, it looked dingy and depressed. An older woman was in the cashier's booth alone and she seemed pleasant enough. I wouldn't expect her to be out scrubbing pumps or sweeping after dark, but surely someone would care enough to clean up a little.

As I waited at the pump, I read the sign above my head. (I'm short so everything is above my head). The contrast between the signs' statements and the appearance of the station gave me cause to chuckle. I suppose someone found "a little better" way to put up the notice with duct tape.

No matter what your job is, someone will notice if you do good work and a LOT of people will notice if you don't.

The sign states:

Your visit,
a little better
From clean facilities and friendly service, to quality fuels – every
time you stop by, you can count on BP to make your day a little better.Thanks for filling up, and come back soon. For a little more fun, visit a little better

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Just Peach-y

South Carolina ranks second in the nation for peach production, with California coming in first and Georgia third. On Interstate 85, just south of the North Carolina-South Carolina border, Gaffney, SC created a water tower that pays homage to this wonderful fruit.

If memory serves correctly, Jerry Bledsoe, formerly of the Greensboro News and Record, wrote about this wonderful icon, noting it's similarity to an elephant's butt.

I recently ventured south and grabbed my camera as I approached the border. Since I was doing about 70 mph and didn't have time to pull off the road, I snapped off a few shots and hoped for the best. My first photo was the typical highway approach shot. As I neared, I was in for a surprise.

I had heard that this once desolate area had acquired some outlets and restaurants but I was quite shocked when I saw the stores. I suppose the famous elephant's butt has produced enough fertilizer to encourage growth. Someone was even clever enough to put a particular restaurant at the foot of the tower, giving a whole new meaning to the term "fat ass." Perhaps that should be "Fatz Azz"?

Housing Horror

Television holds few shows that I will watch religiously but one of my top favorites is Bill Maher on HBO. He manages to get an eclectic mix of people on his panels and has various guests on representing both conservative and liberal views, though the show is primarily liberal. My primary reason for watching is that I am able to get tidbits of news that seems to be overlooked by mainstream media.

Tonight's panel included Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) who is serving her 10th term in office. Among the interesting insights into the current state of the economy and the bailouts, Waters commented that "Americans have no idea how bad things really are." If that wasn't depressing enough, Maher pointed out that the housing market in Detroit is the worst in the nation. The motor city represents more than just a segment of the U.S. population - it stands for American ingenuity, pride, commerce, and manufacturing. According to Maher, the average home in Motown is going for $16,000 and the city is a "Ghost Town."

I was in such disbelief, assumed he was exaggerating, and I did some research of my own. A year ago, eFinance was already talking about the "Housing Market Nighmare" in Detroit. In June '08 the average Detroit home was going for $20,000 and by December, the average was down to $18,500. Now, according to the Chicago Tribune, the average rate is $7,500 - much lower than Maher's dismal report.

In August, a woman bought a Detroit home as an investment property and paid only $1.00 . That's ONE dollar! I suppose, if she had held out a bit longer, she could have gotten it for half that price!

The only thing I find spookier than a ghost town is the frightening state of the economy. The economy is baaaaad but we can't go getting our woolen undies in a twist. We can't panic, we can't quit spending and we certainly can't run from the problem. Instead, we need to be educated about trends, be aware of the issues and make sensible decisions for a stronger future.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Power of the Blog

Exactly two weeks ago, I posted "Public and accessible" which described the antics of trying to access a public building in my hometown. As I thought about the problem, I knew I should do more than just bemoan the issue here. I wrote an email, included the post's link and sent it to the county commissioners, the county manager and the county attorney.
I am pleased to report that two of the commissioners responded, promising to look into the issue. Interim County Manager Brenda Fox responded with a letter, (hard copy, signed and sent through the USPS!) dated February 10. I'd like to share this with you because I always give fair consideration to all sides of an issue.

Dear Ms. Carter:
This correspondence is in regard to your February 1, 2009 e-mail to myself and the Board of County Commissioners concerning access issues at the Guilford County Courthouse in Greensboro.
The Courthouse is in the midst of a large renovation that has created some inconvenience to our customers. Many different areas have been modified and/or blocked off for some period of time. As a part of this renovation, the Lower Ground (LG) entrance on Eugene Street has been closed to the general public but remains open for use as handicap entrance in compliance with A.D.A. regulations.
After receiving your e-mail, I check and discovered that, indeed, there was tape across the door and a sign indication (sic) no entry. This signage has been removed and proper signage will be put on the entrance door immediately.
As a part of the renovation project, we will be creating and installing a new sign package for the entire building which will correct all old signage and better reflect the changes we have made to the building. The new signs should correct the old signs and make navigating the Courthouse easier than before.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your correspondence and your interest in Guilford County. I sincerely regret your trouble and any inconvenience you experienced on your trip to the Courthouse. With your input and the new signage package, we hope to make your next trip a little easier.
Brenda Fox

I must admit, it is nice to find a positive and simple solution in a day where bureaucracy tends to get in the way!
Good job Guilford County!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Stewards of the Land

The now infamous photo of a fireman giving water to a koala that survived Australia's wildfire has been seared into my mind. I feel sad for the many human victims of the disaster down under but nothing compares to the anguish I feel for the lost terrain and wildlife.

People have greater chances of survival in such situations. I don't know all the details of this particular travesty, but generally humans have the opportunity to get out of harm's way. Wildfires are a little trickier than some events because they have been known to jump, winds can be less predictable, and people near the initial outbreak are more prone to be caught by surprise. Those that choose to wait until the last possible minute to get out are just asking for trouble and I honestly don't have much patience with them.

Tornadoes, lightning strikes, tsunamis, earthquakes and other sudden events do evoke more sympathetic responses from me so I am not totally brash.

Still, I get the impression that people don't really think about the consequences of disasters as they relate to animals and the environment. While approximately 200 people have perished in Australia, more than 1 million animals have been sacrificed not to mention the charred terrain encompassing an area twice the size of London. What seems to be the act of an arson has completely disrupted the balance of nature on the other side of the world. Trees and plants provide oxygen, the food chain leading up to human needs has been interrupted. In the case of the Koala, eucalyptus forests were destroyed and will limit their grazing territory.

Humans are stewards of the land and animals yet we destroy rain forests and wildlife with the belief there is "plenty to spare." New species have been discovered in South American jungles in the last year. We have no idea what unknown creatures were destroyed in Australia. Animals (including humans) and plant life interact to maintain balance in nature. When there is a major jolt to the system, the balance will fail.

We may not see change right away, but the effects will be felt thanks to a pyromaniac. When watching the news, look beyond the human travesty and take in the whole picture before "ewe" think it only affects another herd.