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UNCLE JACK'S WEBLOG
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Thursday January 31, 2008

       January has decided to go out like a polar bear after a lamb-like interlude yesterday afternoon when the sun came out and temperatures could properly be described as balmy. This morning Uncle Jack had to fight his way up to the beach against a 20 knot wind out of the north which produced a sub-freezing wind chill that dissuaded him from staying long enough to watch the sun top the horizon. Winter on the Outer Banks is nothing if not weird.


     Uncle Jack is eagerly awaiting the final version of President Bush's economic stimulus package.  Some senators want to give money to retirees like Uncle Jack who are not included in the House version of the bill and he would, of course, like to get his head in the trough, too, right next to Bill Gates.


     His guess is that most of the people who get a modest amount of money out of this dubious legislation will rush right down to the nearest Wal-Mart and spend it, thus providing the Chinese economy with a nice boost that it hardly seems to need at this point. 



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Take Uncle Jack's word for it---the sun came up over in this direction exactly when it was supposed to even though he wasn't there to see it.

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And neither was anybody else for that matter.

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The ocean is extremely frisky this morning and could do some interesting things at high tide.

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Completion of this decorative painting at the "Ocean Palms" resort (formerly the Bodie Island Beach Club) will probably have to wait for the return of warmer weather. Seurat would be pleased by the design.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:11 AM

Comments [3]



Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Wednesday January 30, 2008

     The penultimate day of January (Uncle Jack thought it would never come) is rainy and overcast so he regrets there will be no happy sunrise pictures this morning.


     He forgot to mention on Monday that he and Mrs. U.J. had to go to Durham on Tuesday where she was scheduled to have her innards inspected at the Duke Medical Center.  (She emerged from the procedure with flying colors if that is the correct term for the outcome of a colonoscopy).  Anyway that accounts for the absence of a weblog entry yesterday.


      The trip was not totally uneventful.  While Uncle Jack was whiling away time in the basement cafeteria of the hospital lights started flashing and horns honking and he was informed that he had to evacuate the room immediately as a fire had been discovered somewhere in the kitchen.  He tried to imagine how this state of affairs might affect a patient in mid-colonoscopy but he later learned that the emergency did not extend beyond the immediate area of the cafeteria for which he breathed a sigh of relief on Mrs. U.J.'s behalf.


      The trip home on the new, improved highway 64 was uneventful except for a mysterious traffic jam a few miles west of Plymouth.  All eastbound traffic came to a complete halt for about 20 minutes but upon resuming normal speed there was no sign anywhere along the road of what might have caused the stoppage. This was probably the most interesting thing that has ever happened to Uncle Jack in 35 years of driving on route 64.


Warning:  Keep your windows tightly closed in the vicinity of Roper.  The mammoth


Tyson Farms chicken operation which now spreads over a vast area produces a stench that would gag a maggot.  He wonders if the local residents call it "the smell of money" the way Pittsburghers who lived downwind of a steel mill used to refer  to the orange smoke that frequently wreathed their neighborhoods.


     Arriving home at 6 p.m. they ruefully discovered that their balky heating system had once again failed and the indoor temperature was 53 F and heading downwards to match the even colder outdoors. They holed up in their bedroom with an electric heater for the night and are now eagerly awaiting the arrival of the furnace guy once again.  He has become such a regular visitor that we have offered him the spare bedroom to use until he can get the furnace working properly for more than a day at a time.


    C-c-c-ciao.


    



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Cafeteria workers and patrons await the all-clear. Lucky for them it was a balmy day in Durham yesterday. The employees loved it.

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Some of the mystified travelers who spent nearly a half hour waiting for something to happen up ahead that would allow them to move again. Stephen King would probably have written a short story about it while he was waiting.

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The Mini reached an important milestone yesterday somewhere in the vicinity of Roper.

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Thus endeth the Mini's 50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:16 AM

Comments [8]



Monday, January 28, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Monday January 28, 2008

     Well it wasn't exactly a sunrise but Uncle Jack took a quick picture and fled before he froze to death.  It's nasty up there this morning with a frigid north wind blowing clouds of stinging sand down the beach. The ocean is roaring and the beach is too narrow to walk on in many places.  It's the kind of morning that would have given even the redoubtable beachwalker Nelly Myrtle Pridgen pause.


     Uncle Jack has a friend in Camden, Maine who does a weekly radio show called "The humble farmer" which you can listen to online.  He plays great jazz music interspersed with what he calls "rants" which are his commentaries on anything that comes to his fertile mind.  Uncle Jack loves his show, the latest edition of which arrived in his inbox yesterday.  If you would like to check out "humble's" show just click on the link below the pictures.  It's a treat.



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There was a little pink in the sky but those thick clouds would have delayed any sight of the sun for at least ten minutes which was too long for Uncle Jack under the circumstances.

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The surf is definitely up and waves have chopped a two to three-foot drop-off into the beach in this area (near Whitecap street).

link: http://www.thehumblefarmer.com/ThisWeek.html

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:43 AM

Comments [3]



Sunday, January 27, 2008
Sunrise (at last) in Sonag, Sunday January 27, 2008

     Sunrise this morning wasn't very exciting but it was the first one in several days so Uncle Jack hurried up to the beach and took some pictures.  It was exceedingly cold at 7 a.m. with that same sharp wind blowing out of the north so he didn't stay long.


     His furnace has gone off again and his fingers are getting too cold to type so he will let the pictures speak for themselves this morning.


    The Charlotte Observer editorialized on the subject of sandbags yesterday.  If you'd like to see what that paper has to say you can click on the link below.


    c-c-c-ciao. 



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7:05. Official sunrise was at 7:07 this morning. The days are getting longer.

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Picture 2

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Picture 3

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Picture 4

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Empty beach to the north.

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And to the south.

link: http://www.charlotte.com/opinion/story/464887.html

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:49 AM

Comments [8]



Saturday, January 26, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Saturday January 26, 2007

     Once again Mother Nature has failed to provide a sunrise for Uncle Jack to take a picture of and once again he is not complaining.  She provided him with an excellent excuse for not going up to the beach this morning and subjecting himself to the torments of sub-freezing air pushed by a brisk wind out of the north.


    Unfortunately it appears that the same conditions will soon prevail inside his house.  His furnace went off sometime in the night and the temperature has been steadily dropping from 72 at midnight to 64 at 9 a.m.  He and Mrs. U.J. are holed up in their bedroom with an electric heater while waiting for the furnace guy to come but on a cold Saturday in January they may have to wait until hell freezes over---literally.


     He was pleased to learn upon arising this morning that Charter Communications had apparently solved the problem that left many customers without TV or internet service for about seven hours yesterday afternoon and evening---including Uncle Jack. As a result of this hiatus he found an unusual number of emails in his inbox this morning, most of which he was able to delete without reading. (No, he is not interested in taking a round-the-world cruise on the Queen Mary next year at any price).


     He did find one item worth reading although it left him shaking his head in disbelief.  It has to do with a recent decision by the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission to allow homeowners on Oak Island to rebuild houses that were washed away or damaged now that the beach in front of them has been restored through costly beach renourishment projects. There is something profoundly wacky about this in Uncle Jack's estimation but it probably seems completely rational to the folks on Oak Island.  You can read more about it by clicking on the link below.


     Uncle Jack continued to mess around with his picture collection yesterday and discovered a few more gems that he thinks might deserve seeing the light of day again. Enjoy.


     And have a nice weekend.


    


     



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This was Uncle Jack's first meeting with Jim Morris's new malamute puppy, Jada, on the beach about a year ago. She was very shy as you can see, not to mention very small.

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A couple of months later. Getting bigger and more outgoing all the time.

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Playtime with Ted.

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Jada and friends: Ted, Dixie, Breeze and Anonymous. Jada is nearly as big as the labs now.

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Jada's friend, Breeze, digging for crabs. (A video of Breeze digging has been viewed on YouTube over 12,000 times. (Go to YouTube and type "Cute dog digs for crabs" into the search bar to see it).

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"I can do that" says Jada.

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Jada in her element. Near-freezing temperatures and cold water to splash in.

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I demand to be played with now that all my buddies have gone south for the winter.

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Sun is up. Time to go home and take a nap.

link: http://www.wwaytv3.com/oak_island_to_restore_vegetation_line/01/2008

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:48 AM

Comments [8]



Friday, January 25, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Friday January 25, 2008

     It's 6:55 a.m. and Uncle Jack just looked out the window long enough to ascertain that there will be no sunrise photos this morning. There is a minuscule quantity of pinkish sky in the general vicinity of where the sun would normally rise but considering that the temperature is below freezing and the wind is blowing 20 knots out of the north he has decided to stay in and make another cup of tea.


    He continued to pick through his massive photo collection yesterday which has turned out to be a lot of fun.  The pictures below are just a sample of what turned up.


     Uncle Jack's friend Ray Midgett who keeps a keen eye focused on the fiscal antics of the Dare County Board of Commissioners has raised a number of excellent questions about some of their recent activities. Uncle Jack is happy to reprint his memo here for those who may not be on his mailing list or have not seen this Thursday's Coastland Times in which it is cited in an editorial. If the commissioners issue a rejoinder at some point, which he hopes they will do, he will reprint that here, too. 


 


----- Original Message -----
From: "Ray" <
obxsaltydog@charter.net>
Sent: Monday, January 21, 2008 8:16 PM
Subject: It's Your Tax Dollars


> Dare Taxpayer...Please read this and pass it on to another taxpayer....
>
> The following comments were entered into the official minutes of the Dare
> County Commission on September 18, 2006.  They are as relevant today as
> they were then; especially in light of the recent announcement that the
> Dare Commission, due to 100% cost overruns on the estimate to renovate the
> old courthouse, intends to add on to the new county administration
> building.
> I urge you to read these comments and ask yourself if your tax dollars are
> being spent wisely on such extravagant buildings.  We are building a
> structure to house less than 75 county employees for a larger sum that we
> spent building school buildings to house over 400 students, plus teachers,
> gym, cafeteria, etc....Please remember this when you vote this year for
> three of our existing county commissioners...We need commissioners that
> will truly spend your tax dollars wisely.
>
>
> September 18, 2006 – Meeting - Comments
> Dear Commissioners,
> I would like to speak to Item #3 on today’s Agenda, that being the
> construction of
> a new county administration building at an estimated cost of approximately
> $13
> million. (cost is now higher)
> I note that the average costs of the new Nags Head, Manteo Elementary and
> Manteo Middle Schools stand at $13.6, $13.6 and $13.3 million,
> respectively.
> By comparison, does not this alone, make the costs associated with the new
> administration building, terribly excessive?
> I have reviewed public data available for this new structure and I truly
> believe that
> Dare County is getting a “Cadillac building”. The question is, “Are we
> paying a
> Rolls Royce price; and do we need either?”
> For example, out of the 40,000 square foot total, I see 2,710 square foot
> allocated to our county manager. This space is larger that some of the
> finest
> homes in Dare County. Why?
> I see 1,226 square feet allocated for your county commission. Does each
> commissioner get an office. I thought future meetings were to be held in
> the old
> courthouse once it is renovated.
> Why does the Public Relations Office, with 2 employees, need 2,100 square
> feet; again, the size of most homes in the county?
> The plans also show additional support space, exclusive of offices, at 11,
> 217
> square feet. Is this excessive?
> Finally, the outside facades of this building will rival any courthouse in
> our State;
> yet, it is not a courthouse. We are only building an office building for
> 68 county
> employees. Again, I ask, “Why?”
> Please take some time in today’s meeting to explain to the voters why Dare
> County needs to spend so many of our tax dollars on such an extravagant
> structure.
> Thank you,
> Ray Midgett
> Southern Shores





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Am I cute or what?

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How sand fences work (before they get washed away).

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The old Oregon Inlet Coast Guard station about a year ago. Where will it end?

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Surfside Drive #3. This time it's behind the houses where it might last a bit longer.

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Filling sandbags. Hopefully this will soon become a lost art.

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Watch your step!

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Berm pueblo. The sand trucked in from Currituck county to build the big berm after Isabel had so much clay in it that industrious sand sculptors could do things like this.

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Fun in the sun.

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Surfsde Drive after Isabel and before the big clean-up.

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And after. It was a Herculean task but the beach is usable again.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:10 AM

Comments [8]



Thursday, January 24, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Thursday January 24, 2008

    Another cloudy, cold, probably rainy day in Sonag.  Uncle Jack is not complaining;  after all it is late January and one should not expect anything else at this time of the year.


    Being forced to stay inside has its compensations.  For one thing he has had plenty of time to spend with an excellent book his only begotten son, Eric, gave him for Christmas. It's called "The Coldest Winter" and it was the last book written by one of our greatest journalists, David Halberstam, before his untimely death last year.


     It's a doorstop of a book with print so small it has posed a challenge to Uncle Jack's aging eyes but he has stayed with it because it is a fascinating account of an event in American history in which he participated to a small degree---namely the Korean war. (His U.S. Navy destroyer arrived off Pusan, Korea 30 days before the armistice was signed in 1953 at which time he knew almost nothing about the war---a state of ignorance in which he has blissfully remained until this week).  This magnificent book is unlikely to receive Oprah's imprimatur any time soon but it surely has Uncle Jack's.


     When his eyes give out and he has to give "The Coldest Winter" a rest he returns to the Herculean task of organizing and shrinking the vast collection of digital pictures currently scattered among his several computers and various other storage devices.


    In the process he has unearthed hundreds of images he hasn't laid eyes on for years, some of which are quite interesting as historical documents.  For example he has taken numerous pictures of the Surfside Drive area of South Nags Head over several years during which Mother Nature battled with  and finally defeated the combined forces of FEMA and the Town of Nags Head.  Nobody will ever write a best-selling book about this war but it was interesting and revealing nevertheless.  Any town that is preparing to enter into a turf battle with the ocean could profit from careful study of the pictures below. 


   



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Even before Hurricane Isabel the ocean was threatening to undermine Surfside Drive so the Town responded by erecting the first of several "Great Walls of South Nags Head" in a futile effort to protect the street.

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"Something there is that doesn't love a wall" said Robert Frost. In this case it was Mother Nature who kept knocking them down.

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After Isabel came the berm made of sand/clay trucked in at considerable expense to FEMA from Currituck county.

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Most of Surfside Drive having been destroyed by Isabel the Town built a brave new road behind the seemingly impenetrable berm (like this one at Seagull Drive which also washed away).

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The berm disappeared in short order leaving this brand new $20,000+ walkway looking rather forlorn.

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What with the shredded sandbags, broken pieces of the street and assorted electrical wires and pipes littering the beach, the Town was faced with a major clean-up.

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After many years during which this derelict house blocked the beach at Surfside the Town finally demolished it, greatly improving the scene.

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After removal of the house, the sandbags, the berm and the street the beach at Surfside Drive is one of the widest and prettiest in South Nags Head.

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And here's the culprit, Mother Nature, caught in the act of rearranging the Surfside Drive area. You can bet that she will continue to do this forever so it's a good idea to plan ahead if you build anywhere near the ocean.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:45 AM

Comments [2]



Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Wednesday January 23, 2007

     Light rain was falling when Uncle Jack looked out the window at 6:45 and the sun was not seen for several hours, and only briefly at that,  on this damp, overcast morning.  The paucity of sunrises in recent weeks suggests that he might perform a useful public service by posting a few heartwarming sunrises from times past.


     For those who, like Uncle Jack, never tire of reading about the trials and tribulations of communities that are trying to cope with beach erosion he provides below a link to an article from a Tallahassee, Florida newspaper.  The similarities with Nags Head are remarkable.



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August 2006.

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November.

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November.

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October.(From Mann's Harbor)

link: http://www.tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080122/BUSINESS/801220338/1003

posted by Uncle Jack at 1:37 PM

Comments [0]



Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Sunrise (sort of) in Sonag, Tuesday January 22, 2008

     Uncle Jack saw some pink in the sky when he looked out the window at 6:50 so he and Mrs. U. J. drove down to James street in the Mini and took a couple of pictures.  Rain had already started before the sun actually appeared so they had to abort the mission but it was pretty while it lasted.


    Hard to say what kind of a day this will be on the Outer Banks.  It's 20 degrees warmer than yesterday which is nice but the big black clouds all around suggest that rain will be part of the picture off and on.  A visit to the Y is definitely in order this morning.


    His friends at Google forwarded Uncle Jack an interesting piece from a Beaufort, S.C. newspaper about the problems they are having down there with beach erosion.  Apparently the company called Coastal Science and Engineering that played a heavy role in the aborted plan to nourish Nags Head's beaches has moved on to what they hope will be greener pastures in South Carolina.  Actually things don't look too promising there either. You can read the whole piece by clicking on the link below the pictures.



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7 a.m.

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Ditto.

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Ditto. This is as pretty as it got.

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Looking north. The beach is much narrower than it has been for a while. Wind is out of the north.

link: http://www.beaufortgazette.com/local/story/145703.html

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:24 AM

Comments [7]



Monday, January 21, 2008
Martin Luther King Day in Sonag, Monday January 21, 2008

     The good news is that there was a sunrise this morning.  The bad news is that it was so cold up on the beach that Uncle Jack could not stay long enough to take a picture of it. The wind is whistling out of the north at a good clip, the ocean is all riled up and the temperature is well below freezing so he only stayed for a minute or two lest he perish.


     Conditions were not nearly as bad as they were in Green Bay last night, though, where the Giants beat the Packers 23 to 20 in overtime.  Uncle Jack watched a little of the fourth quarter but the sight of all those thousands of people trying to applaud with their mittens on reminded him too much of his childhood in northern Wisconsin (200 miles NORTH of Green Bay) so he had to turn it off.


    The game did remind him of a column he wrote many years ago that has appeared in this space from time to time.  He dragged it out of the archives again and here it is for the few who might not have read it before:


                          Football Blues



Dear Uncle Jack,


I have been happily married for almost six months to a really swell guy but now that it's football season I'm beginning to wonder if I made a mistake. All my husband does on Saturday and Sunday anymore is sit on the couch and drink beer and watch football on TV with his rowdy friends.


We used to do a lot of fun things on weekends like we would go over to Bodie Island and sit in one of the Park Service duck blinds and make believe we were in a jacuzzi in the Bahamas or we would go over to the mall and watch the seagulls drop their clams in the parking lot.


Now he won't even go out of the house on weekends and when I say something about it he tells me to bug off. To tell you the truth, Uncle Jack, I'm almost desperate enough to pack my things and go home to Mom and I would do it, too, except that she watches football all the time herself and all she ever talks about is how she would like to sack some guy named Ressleberger, whoever he is.


What can I do, Uncle Jack? You are my only hope.


Football Widow


Nags Head



Dear Widow,


Uncle Jack is very glad you wrote to him because he knows what you are going through and he is pretty sure he can help you. But you have to put on your thinking cap and really try to understand what he is going to tell you which you probably won't like. First of all you have to realize that it is not your husband's fault that all he wants to do on weekends is watch football on TV. Ever since he was a tiny boy baby the various forces of society have been training him and shaping and preparing him for the day when he would be a man and it would be time for him to take his rightful place in front of the tube.


Now that he is a man he has no choice. When he hears the voices of Terry or Big John or Dandy Don he must watch football, just like when you hear the voice that tells you it is time to clean the oven you cannot rest until the oven is clean. You must understand that men are supposed to watch football on TV and you should be glad that your husband is a real man and not some kind of wimp who spends his weekends riding around on a golf cart.


If you can truly believe what Uncle Jack has told you so far you are well on the way toward getting through the football season and saving your marriage. All you have to do is find some constructive ways to spend your time and not bother your husband for the next few weekends. If you can clean the oven quietly that would be a good thing to do, but stay away from the refrigerator because you could be trampled. There is something about watching football on TV that makes men very thirsty, especially for Lite Beer from Miller.


Some people will tell you to be a good sport and try to learn about football so you can sit in the living room and enjoy it with your husband and his friends. You must believe Uncle Jack when he tells you this is very bad advice. Your husband does not want you to watch football on TV with him because there are many things he would have to explain to you and it would take all the fun out of watching.


For example, he would have to explain to you why the best play in football is the one where three or four enormous men jump on the little quarterback and try to separate his head from his body. When this play is successful, as it often is, the quarterback has to be carried off the field on a stretcher and taken directly to the emergency room. Also Uncle Jack is pretty sure your husband would not want you to see him drooling over the practically naked cheerleaders when they are bouncing around the sidelines the way they do.


The best thing for you to do is to get out of the house completely on weekends. Fall is the very best time to transplant sandspurs, for example, or you might want to get together with some of the other football widows and drive up by Moyock and watch the leaves fall off the trees.


Anyway Uncle Jack hopes he has helped you see some ways to get through football season and save your marriage, too. All it will take is a little understanding on your part.


Sagely,


Uncle Jack



 



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7:00 a.m. The sun came up over there about ten minutes later but Uncle Jack wasn't there to see it.

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Looking east at 7 a.m. The surf is up and pushing water under the sandbagged houses for the first time in weeks.

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Lake Whitecap would make a nice little skating rink if people would stop driving their SUVs through it.

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Sunrise in Camden this morning courtesy of the Village Soup webcam. Uncle Jack could have taken this picture from his living room up there. The downside is that it's only 6 degrees above zero.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:42 AM

Comments [4]



Sunday, January 20, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Sunday January 20, 2008

     At least it isn't snowing. Or raining.


     Otherwise it's more of the same. Cold, overcast with big clumps of black clouds looming in all directions.  Another good day for Uncle Jack to stay in and work on organizing his pictures when he isn't reading the Sunday Times or napping. Ah, the excitement.


    He did locate the missing picture of Wink's grocery store which was one of the  area'sprime purveyors of foodstuffs and much more in the days before Food Lion and Harris Teeter. (See below) While looking for it he discovered a vast store of pictures he had forgotten about in his old desktop under the heading "Picasa" which is a free Google picture-handling program he used for a few years.  Where will it end?


    Enjoy the long weekend if you possibly can. Life is short.



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Wink's is the big building in the middle. The building to the right of it is Virginia Dare Hardware which now houses the Ocean Boulevard restaurant. Look at all that virgin real estate! O.B. History Center photo. c. 1950

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:55 AM

Comments [4]



Saturday, January 19, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Saturday January 19, 2008

     Another day without a sunrise to photograph.  It's chilly and overcast in Sonag and the weatherman says it's all downhill from here. Yuk.


     In lieu of sunrise pictures Uncle Jack does have a few more "nostalgia" pictures which he presents herewith. These should bring back some memories for those who are old enough to remember. In spite of his heroic efforts to organize his pictures he has already lost a great one of Wink's in 1950.  He will post it when he finds it again.


    The following article from WRAL is sort of a harbinger of things to come as the May deadline for sandbag removal draws nearer:



The sandbags protecting these beach houses along the North Carolina coast from the Atlantic Ocean will have to be removed by spring 2008, according to a state regulation.








Sandbags No Longer to Hold Back Ocean Along N.C. Coast

Sandbags No Longer to Hold Back Ocean Along N.C. Coas




A state decision to enforce a coastal regulation requires property owners along the North Carolina coast to remove sandbags from land threatened by the creeping Atlantic Ocean.


State officials argued that the implementation of the regulation only honored the intent for sandbags to be temporary guardians against the Atlantic. But homeowners said the loss of the protection of sandbags will ensure the destruction of their homes, many of which are retirement investments.


"This is going to be catastrophic for the homeowners, for the state, for everybody," said Yogi Harper, the owner of both a beach house protected by sandbags and a business that installs them.


Harper said his company runs a marathon race against Mother Nature, and he complained that the state's decision to change its rules now is short-sighted.


"It's like running the Daytona 500," Harper said. "Everybody lines up at the beginning, and they run 450 miles in forward. Then they put it in reverse and run the last 50 in reverse."


The state, however, passed the regulation in part due to public opinion about sandbags, said Mike Lopazanski, policy analysis manager in the state Division of Coastal Management.


"The commission started to receive some complaints from the public that they were unsightly, there were these massive walls," Lopazanski said. "That's when they really nailed down the temporary nature of the sandbags."


Owners may need to remove sandbags from around 100 homes in Dare County this spring, state officials said.


"The commission feels enough time has passed, that it's time to enforce the rules as they are written," Lopazanski said.


Sandbagged houses will need to be moved or they will most likely be lost to the sea. That's the case at the Riggins' Condo complex in Kure Beach, where beach re-nourishment is not an option due to an environmental issue.


Bob Rickavaugh said he's struggling to save his beach house in Nags Head. In 2001, the state granted him a temporary permit to stack sandbags in front of his house until the beach could be rebuilt.


Voters turned down funding beach re-nourishment, however, and he must remove the sandbags from Thursday, per the state's regulation.


"I've owned this since 1989," Rickavaugh said. "When I bought it, there was a road in front and 30 feet of dune in front of that. Now there is nothing in front of it, except the sandbags protecting the house."


He is among many homeowners who use the rental income from these beach houses to fund their retirement, Rickavaugh said.


"When I bought this back in '89, I thought it was a good investment property," he said. "That is a good part of my retirement. I depend on that house."


State inspectors will visit each site to determine where sandbags may stay and which will go. Rickavaugh said he and other homeowners might fight to keep their sandbags.


"I think it should be a class-action lawsuit against somebody, probably the state," Rickavaugh said.



 


    



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The Old Nagsheader stood right across from Yellowhouse Gallery until it was torched about 15 years ago. This picture from the O.B. History Center collection was taken by Roger Meekins in about 1950.

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St. Andrews and the "Nags Head Inn" c. 1950. These moldering huts were the lodgings of last resort in Nags Head into the 70's when they were torn down to make way for church parking. O.B. History Center photo.

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No worries about the Bonner Bridge falling down in these days. The wait for the ferry could get a little long, though, especially on weekends.

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St. Andrews, c. 1970, before the most recent additions.

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"Off islander". Priceless.

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Uncle Jack got to this piece of debris even before Nellie Myrtle Pridgen. It wouldn't have fit in the Beachcomber Museum anyway. Picture circa 1975.

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Obviously Isabel wasn't our first hurricane. Uncle Jack is not sure which one this was but it might have been 1933 which was a biggy.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:00 AM

Comments [5]



Friday, January 18, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Friday January 18, 2008

     No sign of the sun again this morning. The weatherman says that most of the clouds will go away by this afternoon but we will have to wait and see. At least it isn't raining and that's unusual---and welcome.


    Uncle Jack has been using these rainy days to try to bring some order to his massive collection of photos.  They are scattered among the hard drives of three computers and stored in several flash memory devices and even on old floppy disks at the moment.  He has embarked on a project to burn them all in some rational way to DVDs.


     There is a fair amount of tedium involved in this kind of work but at times it can be a lot of fun, especially when he stumbles across a long forgotten trove of pictures like the ones below.


     In the first picture Midway gas station is shown at the top. It stood until recently at the intersection on Roanoke Island where the county administration building is now under construction. For many years it was the largest and most modern service station on the Outer Banks but time did not treat it well.  The historical marker at the extreme left commemorates a Civil War battle fought nearby.


     Daniels' Cafe was, in Uncle Jack's estimation, the Outer Banks' only world-class restaurant when it was owned and operated by Basil and Beulah Daniels. Uncle Jack ate there many times back in the 70's before the Danielses retired. The building itself was later incorporated into the Lone Cedar restaurant and survived until the fire last year. 



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Midway service station and Daniels Cafe, date unknown but sometime before 1969 for sure.

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The First Colony Inn, now located near the 16 milepost between the highways, started life in the early 30's as LeRoy's Sea Side Inn, located on the oceanfront across from Jockeys Ridge.

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The Casino (bottom) was the Outer Banks' most famous building until it collapsed in a storm back in the 70's (?). Kitty Hawk Kites occupies the site across from Jockeys Ridge. Louis Armstrong and his orchestra played here.

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Affordable housing in the good old days. Russ Langley was a Dare County Commissioner for a number of years in the 70's.

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Bell's store (top)on the Beach Road near the 12 mile post later metamorphosed into a restaurant building which it still is. George Crocker's famous Galleon has been succeeded by a row of cookie-cutter rental houses.

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The Oasis restaurant on the Causeway (Home of the famous Barefoot Co-Ed waitresses) burned a few years ago and has been supplanted by a small hotel.

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This gas station and store stood on the Beach Road in Kitty Hawk c. 1950. Photo from the O.B. History Center collection.

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The elegant Pebble Beach, once on the oceanfront near the 16 milepost, now resides in the Dare County landfill, replaced by a row of cookie-cutter rental houses.

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The Bypass was to be "a more or less limited access route". Apparently the planners decided on "less limited".

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Kessinger's store on the left and Hollowell's Hotel on the right. Can anybody besides Sandra remember where they were? O.B. History Center photo.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:09 AM

Comments [16]



Thursday, January 17, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Thursday January 17, 2008

     No sunrise this morning, Uncle Jack is sorry to report.  Drizzle is the word of the day unless it becomes downpour later on.  A good day to be in the Bahamas or the Galapagos or even Cleveland. Well, maybe not Cleveland.


     Uncle Jack has been reading with pleasure the long thread on the main message board where folks have been reminiscing about the "old days" on the Outer Banks.  It reminded him of a column he wrote quite a few years ago in which he did the same thing.  He exhumed it from the archives (again) and here it is:


The Good Old Days



Dear Uncle Jack,


You mentioned once that you first came to the Outer Banks in 1969 or thereabouts. Did you wash up in a shipwreck or what? What was it like around here in the old days?


Jenny Ecks


Colington Harbour



Dear Jenny,


Your questions have thrown Uncle Jack into a veritable fit of nostalgia. He did indeed discover the Outer Banks in l969 and for him it gave new meaning to the old saw that life begins at 40. He did not wash up on the beach but that might have been preferable to running the gauntlet of hog farms that used to line the highway in Currituck County before Progress hit and turned it into a fifty mile long strip shopping center and billboard arcade.


Uncle Jack will never forget the first time he crossed the old two-lane Wright Memorial Bridge and saw Roanoke Sound and Jockey’s Ridge for the first time. The view is still breathtaking and so is the traffic. Turning south on the “Bypass” in l969 he drove for miles before he saw a building. He can’t remember what building it was and he would never be able to find it anyway now that the the Bypass no longer bypasses anything.


His destination was the First Colony Inn on the oceanfront near the l3 milepost. Today he would have to look for it between the highways at the l6 milepost. How it got there is a story in itself.


He bought groceries at Harris’s Grocery, now a rib joint, just down the street from the post office, now a daycare center, and he bought fish from Midgett’s Seafood, now defunct, just down the street from Austin’s gas station, now Austin’s Seafood. “Plus ca change, plus la meme chose” as they say in gay Paris---and straight Paris, too, probably.


He bought beer at Bell’s store, now a Mexican restaurant, just down the street from the Foosball Palace, now eight upscale rental houses, and a short walk from the magnificent Old Nagsheader Hotel, now eight more upscale rental houses.


For essential supplies like duct tape and flyscreen he drove to Virginia Dare Hardware in Kitty Hawk, now an upscale eatery with cool jazz on Wednesday nights but not a can of WD-40 in the place.


He walked his dogs in the vast, empty Epstein Tract, now the Village at Nags Head complete with 18 hole golf course and upwards of 500 upscale rental houses cluttering the dunes.


He is happy to report that some things haven’t changed a bit. He still buys his spiritual beverages at the same old ABC store on the Bypass and the fish sandwiches at Sam and Omie’s still taste as good as they did in 1969, and most of those grand old cottages on the Beach Road in Nags Head are still there, even though most of them have been moved back from the ocean again since then.


Ah yes, the ocean. It’s still there, too, and it hasn’t changed at all. He can still sit and stare at the ocean for hours and it’s l969 all over again.


Myopically,


Uncle Jack





 


    



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Newman's before.

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Newman's after.

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The Wharf Restaurant en route to the landfill.

posted by Uncle Jack at 12:11 PM

Comments [6]



Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Wednesday January 16, 2008

      A thin film of ice covers Lake Whitecap this morning which Uncle Jack noticed on his way to the beach at 7 a.m.  Lucky for him there is very little wind so he was able to hang around long enough to get a couple of pictures of the actual sunrise at 7:12.


      It's cold enough to send him and Mrs. U.J. to the Y again this morning.  She will swim and he will do his basketball equivalent of "tai chi" which involves a lot of bending and stretching and flailing his arms around while he practices shooting.  Great exercise for the elderly. (Now that he's making about 90% of his free throws he wishes there were some other players around to hustle but, alas, he has the gym all to himself almost every day).


     For those who are interested, as Uncle Jack is, in the plight of the small fisherman here on the Outer Banks and elsewhere he herewith attaches a recent piece from the Camden Herald in Maine.  Read it and weep.


WASHINGTON, D.C. — An attorney who lives in Appleton, Roger Fleming, is involved an a lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C., on behalf of New England groundfishermen, seeking to ban herring trawlers from critical fishing grounds.







The public interest law firm Earthjustice filed the complaint on behalf of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance and the Midcoast Fishermen's Association. According to the organizations, the lawsuit seeks to close a loophole allowing industrial herring midwater trawlers to fish in designated groundfish-closed areas.

These waters have been identified as spawning grounds and sanctuaries for cod, haddock, and other groundfish stocks and are currently off-limits to nearly all other fishing vessels.

“Small fishermen in New England have made sacrifices to preserve a livelihood for future generations. But the current rules are undermining our hard work,” said Glen Libby of Port Clyde, a commercial fisherman and chairman of the Midcoast Fishermen's Association.

According to Earthjustice, mid-water trawlers drag massive small-mesh nets behind them, sometimes working in pairs towing an even bigger net between them. Stretching to 165 feet, these vessels can hold more than one million pounds of catch.

Midwater trawlers were initially banned from groundfish-closed areas in 1994, says the organization. But in 1998 federal regulators decided to re-open these areas to trawlers, based on an assumption that the herring ships would catch little or no groundfish in their nets.

The policy has proved disastrous, says Earthjustice. While shortcomings in the federal monitoring program make precise numbers difficult to obtain, it is estimated by the organization that in recent years midwater trawl vessels have caught hundreds of thousands of pounds of mature and juvenile groundfish as bycatch.

In a well-publicized 2004 enforcement sweep, personnel from the Maine Marine Patrol and Massachusetts Environmental Police caught midwater herring trawlers illegally trying to land thousands of pounds of juvenile haddock and hake mixed with their herring catch.

“Federal officials have turned a blind eye to the effects of this ill-conceived policy,” said Fleming of Earthjustice. “These areas are the last place you want high-volume industrial ships. This lawsuit is demanding that officials close sensitive fishing grounds to herring trawlers before it is too late.”

According to Earthjustice, scientific reports issued last summer show that overfishing is occurring on eight of 19 managed groundfish stocks, and that 13 stocks remain overfished.


(Tilapia anyone?--U.J.)

P.S.  Stephen from Texas sent a link to a YouTube video of  a new approach to surfing.  It's pretty funny and you can see it by clicking on the link below today's pictures.






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7 a.m. Lots of clouds right where the sun is supposed to rise in ten minutes.

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The lonely winter beach at dawn.

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There was a bit of pink in the eastern sky at one point.

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7:12. Things are brightening up a bit.

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Worth waiting for.

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Jada the Malamute misses all her furry playmates whose owners have headed for warmer climes. She keeps hoping that Uncle Jack will do something entertaining.

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Jim and Jada head for the barn after a bracing morning stroll.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99P4Grmq8vA

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:03 AM

Comments [5]



Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Tuesday January 15, 2008

     It's another bright, sunshiny day on the Outer Banks. It was near freezing on the beach at 7 a.m. but by noon it should be warm enough to walk without discomfort. 


     Uncle Jack retrieved his beloved Mini from the mechanics at the Checkered Flag dealership in Virginia Beach yesterday and he can tell you he is happy to be behind the wheel of a real car again after five days in a barge-like Toyota Corolla.


     Have a great day.



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7 a.m.

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7:12 a.m., with zoom. The sun is rising about a minute earlier each day.

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Ditto without zoom.

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Weeping Radish brewery, now located near Jarvisburg on Route 158, is offering ice skating until early March. Also beer.

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The little family graveyard on 158 is beginning to look like a tourist attraction in its own right---like "Gravedigger" down the road.

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The sagging old elementary school at Jarvisburg has been spruced up to the point where hardly anybody stops to look at it any more.

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Minis, Minis, who will buy my Minis?

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:13 AM

Comments [1]



Monday, January 14, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Monday January 14, 2008

      The sun was nowhere to be seen at sunrise but it's up above the clouds at 10 a.m. and it should be a lovely day to drive to Virginia Beach and retrieve the Mini.  Pictures at 11.


      Uncle Jack did stroll up to the beach at 7 to check things out and he was rewarded with a bit of pink in the sky. After two days of incessant rain it was a welcome sight.


      There is a heartbreaking article in this morning's New York Times about the plight of Senegalese fishermen which resonates with information in the book "The Unnatural History of the Sea" which Uncle Jack plugged in a recent blog.  The fishermen of Hatteras have a lot in common with their Senegalese brethren.  You can read it if you like by clicking on the link. 



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7 a.m.

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Looking south toward the Outer Banks pier.

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7:10 Looking south.

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7:15 The sun was supposed to appear at this point but the clouds messed things up.

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Two days of rain have filled the Eternal Pothole and created Lake Whitecap. It's not exactly another Lake Baikal but it's deep enough for scuba diving.

link: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/world/africa/14fishing.html?th&emc=th

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:10 AM

Comments [3]



Sunday, January 13, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Sunday January 13, 2008








NAGS HEAD


Nearly nine months have passed since Nags Head voters rejected a tax increase to help pay for beach nourishment, nearly two years since Dare County voters repealed a 1 percent sales tax to do the same.


Now town leaders are turning to private donors to help widen eroding beaches by establishing a beach nourishment trust fund.


The Nags Head Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 Wednesday for the fund, which would be made up of private donations. Commissioner Wayne Gray cast the dissenting vote.


"This fund, I really believe, will show the sincerity of people who are dedicated to putting sand on the beach," said Mayor Pro Tem Anna Sadler. "This is asking anyone out there who believes in our project."


She said she recommended the fund to the board in November after several property owners offered to pay for the project themselves.


Beaches in South Nags Head are narrow even at low tide; in some places, waves wash beneath houses and sand bags ward off the Atlantic. The state Division of Coastal Management has said exposed sand bags must go by May.


"I've probably heard from six individuals who represent, they say, lots of other people. I'm looking for a dozen or so to step forward right away," Sadler said.


Yogi Harper, who has owned a South Nags Head home since 1967, said he is willing to contribute money to the trust fund.


"Absolutely. I live on the oceanfront. I've been telling them for years I would," Harper said Friday.


Despite the defeat of April's $24 million bond referendum - which would have raised taxes by a few hundred dollars a year for most property owners and a few thousand for many on the oceanside and oceanfront - Nags Head has continued to seek permitting for beach nourishment.


Both Sadler and Mayor


Renee Cahoon said just after the election that the defeat of the bond did not signify the defeat of the project.


"We're going to do the best that we can. We're not going to throw our hands up," Cahoon said at the time.


While the Nags Head referendum failed townwide, it did pass narrowly in a special service district on the oceanfront and oceanside.


"We know on the west side people don't want to pay for it," Sadler said, referring to those outside the special district. "I was really pleased the east side passed it."


Nags Head estimated the cost of the project at $32 million in 2007, a quarter of which would have been paid by the county.


Roberta Thuman, public information officer, said she does not know of any other municipalities that have set up a fund for this kind of project.


Donors would fill out a form specifying whether they want their money spent strictly on beach nourishment, said Kim Kenny, finance officer. If they do, and a project is not begun within six years, their money will be returned. Otherwise, the town would keep the donations.


In both cases, the town retains interest made on the fund.


Kristin Davis, (252) 441-1623, kristin.davis@pilotonline.com







posted by Uncle Jack at 7:10 AM

Comments [900]



Saturday, January 12, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Friday January 11, 2008

     Uncle Jack put on his winter coat and started walking to the beach this morning before he realized that attempting to photograph the sunrise would be an exercise in futility.  The sky is completely overcast and the weatherman says it's going to stay this way all day.


    He and Mrs. U.J. did go for a walk  yesterday afternoon after the rain stopped.  As the picture shows it was low tide again and the beach had been swept clean.  The sand was packed so hard it was like walking on concrete.


     It was still balmy late yesterday but it's a lot colder this morning and the threat of rain hangs heavy over the Outer Banks. Uncle Jack is already looking forward to his afternoon nap which may turn out to be the most exciting thing he does all day.


     His beloved Mini will be spending the weekend in Virginia Beach (what a ghastly thought) which means he will have to drive an ordinary car for a few more days.  His loaner Toyota is o.k.  but it reminds him too much of the many years he spent behind the wheel of numerous Plymouth Voyagers.  Boring boring boring. 


       All of this reminds him of a disquisition on cars he wrote some years ago which he has plucked from the archives once again for the perusal of the two or three readers who may not have seen it before, to wit:. 


 


                     Road Rage



Uncle Jack has had a slow leak in the left rear tire on his pre-rusted Plymouth Voyager for the past couple of weeks so he is starting to think it might be time for him to get a new car. It has almost 40,000 miles on it and the light bulb in the glove compartment is burned out so he thinks maybe the time has come.


Ordinarily he would just go over to Junior’s Chrysler place and trade it in on a new Voyager or Caravan or whatever they are calling them now but these are not ordinary times any more. As he has often said he spends most of his time now waiting to make left turns on the bypass and he has been thinking it might be smart to move himself into something a little more macho and aggressive in the car department.


It seems like most of the cars on the Outer Banks these days are either monster pickup trucks or what they call SUVs which are these big gas-guzzling, four-wheel-drive car/trucks which are apparently what the average housewife needs to get to the grocery store and back safely these days.


They all have names like “Expedition” and “Range Rover” which makes it sound like going to the Food Lion is like going on safari in Africa which is probably not too much of an exaggeration come to think of it with all those Mustangs and Cougars and Impalas and Broncos out there. Uncle Jack would rather tangle with a herd of wildebeests than some of the drivers he has seen on the bypass this summer.


Anyway he has been fantasizing about which car to buy but he couldn’t make up his mind until he read in the New York Times last week about this car called the Hummer which the General Motors company will be making from now on and which it hopes will be a big seller in years to come. (GM’s slogan, remember, is “What’s good for GM is good for America“).


In case you are not quite up to speed on the latest developments in automotive science Uncle Jack will explain that the Hummer is a civilian version of the HumVee which is an army vehicle that looks like a Jeep on steroids. By “civilian version” they mean that the rocket launcher is an optional extra but Uncle Jack is willing to bet that within a couple of years all the HumVee armament will be standard equipment if driving gets any worse than it has been lately. When it comes to “road rage” we have not seen anything yet, he fears.


If you have not yet been frightened by a Hummer he will tell you that they are really big---over seven feet wide with nearly a foot-and-a-half of road clearance and weighing more than two Jeep Wagoneers put together, so you can see why they would appeal to the average American driver. The only reason they are not already stalled in traffic everywhere so you can get a good look at one is the $100,000 price tag which pretty much puts them out of the range of everybody except dot.com millionaires and timeshare salesmen right now.


Uncle Jack was reading the Hummer article in the New York Times the other day while he was waiting to make a left turn into the ABC store and there was this quote from a Mr. Schwartz of Bellevue, Washington who said “I love the fact that the Hummer is a tank, it’s like a tank with fashion, it’s like having your own war toy. I like something where I can look down into another car and give that knowing smile that says ‘I’m bigger than you’. It makes me feel powerful”. Mr. Schwartz is only a high school student but Ernest Hemingway could not have said it better if you ask Uncle Jack. He is not sure why Mike Tyson and Arnold Schwarzenegger feel like they have to drive Hummers because it seems to him that they would be fairly intimidating driving Honda Civics which they could pick up and throw at somebody if they had to.


As much as he would like to put himself behind the wheel of a Hummer Uncle Jack is probably going to have to settle for another wimpy Voyager which could not even take on a Suzuki Samurai in ordinary road combat. He simply cannot bring himself to buy a car that costs almost as much as a week’s vacation in London.




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5 p.m. Friday January 11. Is that Greta Garbo?

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:41 AM

Comments [5]



Friday, January 11, 2008
Glorious sunrise in Sonag, Friday Jan. 12, 2008
     This was a sunrise worth getting up in the dark for.  Uncle Jack will let the pictures speak for themselves this morning.  If you have four minutes to spare in this busy Friday by all means check out the video by clicking on the YouTube link below the photos.  It's the first movie he has made with his new Sony Cybershot DSC-200 camera and he thinks it turned out pretty well. Enjoy.


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7 a.m. Looking southeast from Whitecap street.

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Ditto looking south toward the Outer Banks pier.

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Even the western sky was lit up.

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Not to mention the eastern sky. To see it all at one time take a few minutes to watch the video.

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The colors kept intensifying as the moment of truth approached.

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When the sun finally appeared at about 7:15 it was partially obscured by clouds on the horizon.

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Minutes later the sun disappeared into the clouds and it was all over. It was 64 degrees already at 7 a.m. with scattered showers predicted for later in the day. It pays to get up early some times.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLltZHMJ530

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:29 AM

Comments [3]



Thursday, January 10, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Thursday January 10, 2008

     Uncle Jack walked up to the beach fifteen minutes before official sunrise this morning only to learn that there would be none.  As the first picture shows the southeastern sky was obscured by thick clouds that will delay any view of the sun for an hour or more. Even so it was an improvement over yesterday's thick fog that blanketed all of Sonag (not to mention the rest of the Outer Banks) at dawn.


     He had to take the Mini to Virginia Beach yesterday morning for servicing at Checkered Flag Mini.  It was his second round-trip to Norfolk in the past four days and as always it was a voyage down memory lane (which he most often made in his pre-rusted Voyagers).  Nearly 40 years have passed since he first traversed the old two-lane 168/158 corridor with its gauntlet of aromatic hog farms set among spacious fields of corn and soybeans.  In the ensuing four decades the once-bucolic Currituck county has gradually transformed itself into what will soon be a 75-mile-long strip mall complete with at least three of every kind of retail business known to man (and a dozen of some of them---like impromptu used-car lots, for example).


     Many of the landmarks from the 70's are gone now---and unlamented as in the case of the reeking hog lots.  He noticed yesterday that Hilltop Market, once the premier vegetable stand on all of 158, is rapidly succumbing to an overgrowth of weeds since it closed a couple of years ago. Seeing Hilltop in such a parlous state reminded him of Anna Gallop's fabled stand which once thrived just down the road a couple of miles where the cognoscenti shopped for veggies at half of Hilltop's prices. (Ms. Gallop's rickety premises probably discouraged a lot of potential customers but those in the know were undeterred).


    Conversely the once weatherbeaten, sagging old elementary school at Jarvisburg, once one of the most photogenic sites in the county, has now been restored to a condition of pristine perfection that has rendered it almost completely uninteresting. Uncle Jack almost regrets contributing to the rebuilding fund.


     He will have to drive his loaner back to Checkered Flag to retrieve the Mini in a day or two and this time he will try to remember to take some pictures.  Who would believe that Jarvisburg now sports an ice-skating rink?  Stay tuned.



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This what greeted Uncle Jack at 7 this morning. Note that the tide is in, driven by a 13 knot wind from the east. Compare the beach with yesterday's pictures below.

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This picture of Chez Sparky shows how wide the beach was yesterday. Nows the time to sell, Sparky.

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Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. walked south from Pelican street to the ocean outfall and back. The tide was so low that these cypress stumps were uncovered.

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A different kind of stump. This utility pole was apparently sawed off at ground level some years ago when the house it served was moved or destroyed. Now it has reappeared like the ancient cypress stumps.

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Looking south from Seagull Drive. Quick somebody---build some new houses.

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"Kuckoo's Nest" once stood in front of this house. Time to bring it back?

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One of the prettier neighborhoods in South Nags Head.

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Some of the "temporary" sandbags have been in place long enough to grow moss.

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Might be a good time for the Town to send another clean-up crew down the beach. There's enough concrete lying around to build another fire station.

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These guys look more at home here than in the Food Lion parking lot.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:41 AM

Comments [7]



Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Tuesday January 8, 2008

     Monday was a stupefyingly lovely day in Sonag and it looks like today will be another.  Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. took a long walk on the beach yesterday afternoon in their shirtsleeves and still felt overdressed as the temperature soared into the 70's.  He took a bunch of pictures of the incredibly wide and beautiful beach but somehow managed to delete them from his new camera before downloading them into the computer. Further proof, if any is needed, of his rapid descent into mental decrepitude.                                          


     Uncle Jack reported for duty at the magnificent Dare County Palace of Justice at 10 a.m. yesterday and sat through a tedious process whereby a functionary attempted to determine who had not showed up. Dare county is sufficiently multi-cultural now to make the reading of a list of names a real challenge for a native speaker. ("Austin" is a lot easier to pronounce than "Rodriguez").                                   After the would-be jurors had been ushered into the courtroom the judge made a short speech over the new state-of-art sound system which, unfortunately, Uncle Jack was unable to hear.  He asked the man sitting next to him what the judge had said and he replied that he was inviting all potential jurors who wished to be excused for cause to approach  the bench and plead their cases.


       Uncle Jack promptly joined the  line of supplicants and when the time came he explained his predicament to the judge who, in effect, told him to get lost so his day in court ended after a little more than an hour. Needless to say he was more than happy to be found  too old and decrepit to serve the cause of justice in Dare County. 



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Looking southeast at 7 a.m. from Whitecap street.

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Looking northeast at 7 a.m.

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Jonathan Livingston Seagull poses prettily, backlit by the rising sun. What a ham.

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7:15. The day looks promising.

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:31 AM

Comments [6]



Monday, January 7, 2008
Foggy sunrise in Sonag, Monday January 7, 2008

     To paraphrase Uncle Jack's Uncle Carl, the fog came on little cat feet last night and pretty much scratched his attempt to photograph the sunrise this morning.  South Nags Head is socked in.


     Uncle Jack must surrender to the authorities in Dare County's magnificent Palace of Justice this morning at ten for possible jury duty.  He may still earn a reprieve when they learn that he is exceedingly hard of hearing and that the judge and both lawyers will have to shout or he won't be able to hear them.  Whatever happens this morning you will hear all about it tomorrow.


     Have a nice day.



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7:13 a.m. The sun was supposed to appear about now.

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Looking north into the fog.

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The fog comes on little pelican wings?

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Uncle Jack had to go back to the beach to retrieve his beloved Sam and Omie mug by which time the sun had appeared in a shroud of fog.

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This big construction project south of Kelly's is proceeding apace after sitting dormant for about a year. The building in front will contain a Dunkin' Donuts among other things and the back building is rumored to contain office space.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:59 AM

Comments [5]



Sunday, January 6, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Sunday January 6, 2008

     "Clear" is what the weatherman predicted for this morning.  With high hopes for a scintillating sunrise picture with his new camera Uncle Jack hurried up to the beach at 7 a.m. only to find nothing but thick clouds.  A bummer.


    Even worse he then drove up to New York Bagels to get his weekly supply of whole wheat everythings only to find that the Nags Head Mall outlet is closed for  the season.  Another bummer.


     Last night he turned on his newly connected TV to watch the Celtics-Pistons game only to discover that it wasn't being broadcast. A really big bummer.


    He switched over to the Steelers-Jaguars NFL playoff game only to learn that Terry Bradshaw and Mean Joe Greene have apparently retired. No wonder the Steelers lost.


    Now he is off to the airport in Norfolk to fetch Mrs. U.J.  She will find a way to cheer him up.


    



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Looking south at 7 a.m. This does not look promising.

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7:13 The sun is supposed to rise right here right now. Mother Nature must have slept in.

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This fast-moving boat was way out in the ocean but the new camera did a pretty good job of catching it. Better than the old one for sure.

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The beautiful week-old pyramid Uncle Jack photographed a few days ago is beginning to deteriorate. It still retains a kind of grandeur, though, like its counterparts at Giza.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:54 AM

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Saturday, January 5, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Saturday January 5, 2008

     Uncle Jack is a little late posting his weblog today for various reasons but he is pleased to report that he did get up to the beach at dawn this morning.  He stayed around long enough to make a video of the actual sunrise even though it was still beastly cold.  You can transport yourself to the beach in South Nags for four minutes and two seconds by clicking on the YouTube link below the pictures.


     He is also happy to report that his new camera arrived yesterday but he didn't discover it sitting outside the front door where Brown left it until 10 p.m.  If he can figure out how to work it his pictures tomorrow will be taken with a 12.1 megapixel Sony Cybershot DSC-200 and they better not have any spots in the background or he will send it back. Stay tuned.



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Ten minutes before sunrise. 7:03 a.m.

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Looking north toward the Comfort Inn South, same time.

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7:13 The moment of truth.

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Jada comes to investigate the approaching stranger. Seventy pounds of curious malamute.

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When Audrey and Dixie arrive her attention shifts. Fickleness thy name is Jada.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RR50WgcF60

posted by Uncle Jack at 5:07 PM

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Friday, January 4, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Friday January 4, 2008

       It's still frightfully cold in Sonag this morning but Uncle Jack thought that in the absence of wind he could get up to the beach and photograph the sunrise without compromising his health.  Unfortunately he mis-timed his trek and got there about ten minutes too soon but even with no wind it was too cold for him to hang around until the sun actually appeared.  Hence the sunless pictures.


 He and Mrs. U.J. are doing some industrial strength babysitting today so he will not have time to blog properly.  Here's an oldie from the archives that a few of Uncle Jack's newer readers may not have encountered before.  It sort of resonates with yesterday's piece about disappearing fish. (His apologies to all those who have seen this enough times to memorize it by now).



          To Fish or Not to Fish



Dear Uncle Jack,


I read in the paper where some crazy people from up north are going around trying to get people to stop fishing. They say it is not fair for people to kill fish to eat and it is even worse for people to fish for "sport" which is where you get fish to bite on hooks and drag them through the water for a while and then let them go. They say the hooks hurt the fishes' mouths and it is not fair for humans to hurt fish just because they are bigger.


Is this the dumbest thing you ever heard of or what, Uncle Jack?


Skip Charter


Hatteras Village



Dear Skip,


Uncle Jack would hesitate to say this is the dumbest thing he ever heard of because he used to attend a lot of commissioners meetings back when he was a reporter and he heard some doozies then, too. He does have to admit, though, that when he first heard about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals which is what they call themselves he thought maybe they were all suffering from some kind of protein deprivation or something.


He does try to give people the benefit of the doubt even when he thinks they are worthy objects of ridicule so he has been pondering the whole business of the food chain and man's place in it a lot lately, especially during the late evening when he is likely to be consuming only distilled vegetable matter which is not likely to offend any pressure groups with the possible exception of the WCTU if there still is one. As far as he knows there is not yet a group called People for the Ethical Treatment of Barley for which many of us can be thankful.


Anyway Uncle Jack has been reading about what the PETA folks say about "ethical treatment of animals" and he has to admit they make some pretty good points and he is not going to read any more because if they talked him into treating animals fairly it could really mess up his life, especially at mealtimes.


It is very hard for Uncle Jack to contemplate a life without hamburgers, hot dogs, pork chops, chicken wings, filet mignons, fish sandwiches and all the other non-vegetable stuff he eats every day. He tries not to think about where the hamburger came from or how the cow felt when she got whacked on the head with a sledgehammer or however they do it these days. (Maybe they get whacked on the head with computers).


On the other hand Uncle Jack is not inclined to poke too much fun at people who are nice enough to try to understand how a cow or chicken or pig might feel about sacrificing his or her life to satisfy some person's craving for a Big Mac or a plate of spicy Buffalo Wings.


About fish Uncle Jack is not so sure. (This is also true of shrimp, clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, crayfish, eels, and all the other more-or-less brainless creatures we eat). He does not know whether or not fish experience physical distress or even angst when pierced by a hook and dragged through the water against their presumed wills. He can only tell you how he feels at this stage of his life about the "sport" of fishing whether it involves sitting on the beach and feeding expensive bloodworms to the crabs or spending $600 to go out on a charter and spend the day barfing and/or pitting his atrophied back and arm muscles against the powerful sinews of a 300 lb. billfish who would enjoy nothing more than performing an impromptu appendectomy on him while he is posing for the pre-release snapshot.


Uncle Jack confesses that there was a time when he thought that matching wits with a wily fish (estimated brainweight l/4 ounce) was the noblest sport in which man could engage but now he doesn't even own a rod and reel.


Sic Transit as they say down at the carbarns.


Evasively,


Uncle Jack





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7 a.m. Ten minutes before sunrise.

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The ocean is still somewhat riled up but nothing like yesterday.

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The Eternal Pothole at the intersection of Whitecap street and Old Oregon Inlet Road has been in a frozen state for several days.

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Condos, condos, who will buy my condos? This project just south of the Tanger Mall will add more than forty to the burgeoning supply in a few months (if the workers don't freeze to death in the interim).

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These high-maintenance imps will keep Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. hopping today.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:32 AM

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Thursday, January 3, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Thursday January 3, 2008

      It's another cold, windy, cloudy day in South Nags Head and once again Uncle Jack cannot post a beautiful sunrise picture because the sun didn't show up when it was supposed to. If you want to know the truth he would not have left the house at dawn for any reason because it is COLD out there.


                   ****************


FLASH!!  It's snowing (sort of) in Nags Head.  Uncle Jack just returned from a very successful free-throw shooting session at the Y (27 out of 30 in one blistering run) and he drove home through swirling snowflakes all the way. He doubts they will accumulate but perhaps they are a harbinger of more to come. 


     One saving grace of the inclement weather is that it gives Uncle Jack more time and incentive to read.  He has just finished a fascinating book (a gift from his brilliant daughter Emily who always seems to pick books that are right up his intellectual alley) called "The Unnatural History of the Sea".  It was written by an English scientist named Callum Roberts and published by Island Press in 2007.


     Basically it is a history of fishing from the Middle Ages to the present day and it lays out in graphic detail how the creatures who inhabit the watery parts of the world (which makes up 95% of the earth's biosphere) have been systematically slaughtered down through the centuries to the point that many species have been eradicated and many others---including many of our favorites---are on the brink of extinction.


      Needless to say this is a very distressing book, partly because of what it says about man's tendency to do really stupid and vicious things to the other creatures who are unfortunate enough to share the earth with us.  Man's inhumanity to man seems to be exceeded only by man's inhumanity to fish (and buffalo and passenger pigeons, etc. etc.)


     The book also goes a long way toward explaining the distressing plight of commercial fishermen on the Outer Banks who have fallen on hard times for many reasons, not the least of which is the scarcity of fish to catch.  They are, as the book explains, victims of what the scientists call "the tragedy of the commons".  To find out what that means (if you don't already know what it means) Uncle Jack suggests that you read this very sad but enlightening tome. 


     If you don't have the time or inclination to read the whole book there are a number of excellent reviews and some audio excerpts available through the miracle of Google.


     And have a nice day anyway.


    


posted by Uncle Jack at 11:12 AM

Comments [4]



Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Wednesday January 2, 2008

         Uncle Jack is pleased to report that the sun rose at the appointed time this morning, which fact he ascertained from the comfort of his living room. Having learned from his laptop that the outdoor temperature was 34 and that the wind was gusting to 25 mph out of the north he wisely decided to eschew his usual pre-dawn stroll to the beach. He won't be winning the Nelly Myrtle Pridgen prize for courage in the face of bad weather this week, that's for sure.


     Besides being New Year's Day yesterday was important for another reason.  He finally stopped reading reviews of digital cameras and went ahead and ordered one.  Sometime in the next couple of weeks Brown will  bring him a brand new Sony Cybershot DSC-W200 with 12.1 megapixels (whatever they are) and a host of other features that he will probably never figure out how to use.  He can hardly wait.


      He bought the camera from Dell after learning that it would cost $52 more to buy it directly from Sony.  Perhaps when it comes he will discover why.


    


 


    


    



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The big git-tar in front of the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi.

posted by Uncle Jack at 12:50 PM

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Tuesday January 1, 2008

     The big New Year's Eve party fizzled out at about 7:30 p.m. when Isabella and Sophia fell asleep watching a DVD of "Polar Express". (Uncle Jack doesn't blame them---the book is a lot better than the movie). Consequently he was able to get to bed early enough to get up this morning and film the first sunrise of the new year which can be viewed by clicking on the YouTube link below the pictures.


    All indications suggest that New Year's Day on the Outer Banks will be delightful for all those not too hung over to enjoy it. Uncle Jack walked at least two miles on the beach this morning and plans to top that off with a bike ride this afternoon.  There won't be too many more days like this now that January is here.


     Once again, Happy New Year to all from Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J.



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7:20 a.m. Watch the video for a much better view of actual sunrise.

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Somebody spent a lot of time yesterday building this massive pyramid. They may have used the bulldozer to do it.

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This is one of the most impressive sand sculptures Uncle Jack has ever seen on the beach in Sonag.

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The usual characters were hard at work this morning. They can't just walk into Starbucks for breakfast.

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The beach was wide, flat and empty this morning. Except for some litter left behind by last night's fireworks shooters it was clean as a whistle.

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The peace and quiet of dawn was shattered only by this sand pusher on the way to work. Time waits for no bulldozer apparently.

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By popular request: Isabella and Sophia and their Mom.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hx_KAdTYn2A

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:26 AM

Comments [3]




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Uncle Jack lived in Nags Head for 35 years before he moved to Baltimore a couple of years ago. He still has a house in South Nags Head which he and Mrs. U.J. visit every chance they get.
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