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Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Read it and Weep
       Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. are back in Charm City after a splendid three-week sojourn in Sonag. The weather was perfect and included ten days of sunshine and balmy temperatures, five days of monsoon-like rain and wind, and the remainder a mixed bag of cloudy/foggy/windy/chilly/and otherwise unpredictable stuff, usually all in the same day. They loved every minute of it.
              Bluegrass music lovers like themselves got a break when the sun shone brilliantly on the festival in Manteo as did the kite mavens who participated in the kite festival in Nags Head. Fishermen who flocked to the Nags Head beaches for the 63rd annual surf-fishing tournament were not so lucky; a three-day northeaster kicked up a monster, weed-infested surf that sorely tested the skill, patience and stamina of the contestants. While Uncle Jack has not yet seen a published report of the outcome it would not surprise him to learn that this was one of the lowest-scoring tournaments ever. As one of the fishermen told him, though, “I’d rather be doing this than sitting behind my desk in Jersey City”.
       Thanks to the total absence of traffic delays at the Wright Memorial Bridge and points north, including the Hampton Roads bridge tunnel and I-95, they got back to Charm City in plenty of time to make the Saturday night concert by the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, the first of four in this season’s schedule. Tickets are $8 for senior citizens which makes these excellent concerts one of the greatest bargains in all of classical music. (Just one of the many reasons for loving Baltimore if you are old and poor like Uncle Jack).
              Speaking of being old and poor he thought maybe he should throw in a few good words about Social Security and Medicare which have been taking quite a pounding lately from politicians and other people who are mostly not old and poor. Uncle Jack is a big fan of Social Security because he would probably be homeless and starving without it. He is very happy that the government forced him to save some money while he was young so he would have something to fall back on besides his children when he was old.
              He feels the same way about Medicare, too. Whenever he sees the bills for his own medical care such as his hernia repair and his gall bladder removal and a couple of MRIs he realizes he would probably be dead (maybe from a heart attack) if he had to pay them out of his Social Security check.
              He knows there is a big problem with Medicare, though, because the cost of medical care in the U.S. is rising so rapidly it threatens to overwhelm the economy. The big question right now is why medical care in the U.S. costs so much more than in other countries where people get just as good care (or even better) at a much lower cost.
       Uncle Jack started wondering about this several years ago when he was in Rome, Italy and he started having trouble breathing because of all the fumes from the thousands of cars and motor scooters that clog the streets over there all the time. He had to go to a drugstore to replace his Ventolin inhaler and he was amazed that he could get one over the counter for $3.50. Back home his insurance company had to pay $90 for the same identical device. Why was that, he wondered.
              About a month ago he came down with a bad cold and his doctor prescribed a whole bunch of stuff to help him get over it including an Advair inhaler. He got his Monthly Prescription Drug summary from Medicare in the mail yesterday and learned that Medicare had paid $222.85 of the cost and his supplementary insurance from Blue Cross had paid an additional $55.71----for a one-month supply of Advair which many people use to keep their asthma under control.
              Just for fun (fun?) he Googled an online Canadian pharmaceutical site to find out what the same identical inhaler would have cost if I had ordered it as an individual from Canada. The price? $50 including shipping. Could Uncle Jack conclude that maybe somebody is getting ripped off here?
       Lucky for him he ran across a recent article in Time magazine that does a pretty good job of explaining how things like this can happen. Here’s the link. Read it and weep.



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Fishing in a surf like this is rough going.

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It's not bad enough that the waves were humongous.

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The weeds caught probably outweighed the fish.

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Lots of free mulch at the high tide line.

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O'Neal's Sea Harvest in Wanchese. One of the best seafood restaurants in the world. Doubles as an excellent retail store for fresh seafood of all kinds.

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Look closely and you may see the fawn hiding in the grass outside Uncle Jack's kitchen window.

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No extra charge for fawns in the back yard at Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage. Google it for further information about rentals for November or next season.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:58 PM

Comments [3]

Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Ten Perfect Days in Sonag
       Anybody who has been on the Outer Banks for the past ten days would have to agree with Uncle Jack that this is the best of all possible worlds no matter what is going on in other parts of it such as Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C. He spent many years living year round on the Outer Banks but he cannot recall another ten-day stretch of flawless weather like the one just past. It finally came to an end today with rain and wind all day after a furious storm last night(which he somehow slept through while Mrs. U.J. ran around shutting windows and doors at 3 a.m.).
       They are in the midst of a much anticipated three-week sojourn in their South Nags Head house which they finally managed to wrest away from the renters who have been enjoying it ever since the beginning of June. Even if it blows and rains for the next ten days they will be happy having enjoyed so much of the best the Outer Banks has to offer in the fall.
       Mother Nature's exemplary behavior facilitated a couple of events that he hopes will become regular features of the fall season---namely the Kite Festival in Nags Head and the Bluegrass Festival in Manteo---both of which they greatly enjoyed as the pictures below will attest.
       Yet to come are the Duck Jazz Festival this Sunday and the Seafood Festival the following week-end. May the sun shine upon them as well.
       Also still to come is this week's umpteenth Nags Head Surf Fishing Tournament which will go on rain or shine, with or without the presence of fish. Uncle Jack has many memories of tournaments past, especially those in days of yore when he took his life in his hands by serving as a judge for a few years. He has exhumed from the archives a piece he wrote for the Outer Banks Current many years ago, to wit:
                                   It's Nice to be a Judge

If you ask Uncle Jack, one of the best things about living in a country like the U.S.A. is that almost everybody has a chance to be somebody when he grows up. You do not have to be born rich and you do not have to have a father who is a county commissioner or some other important person like that.
All you have to do is go to school and pay attention to the teachers and learn how to do those arithmetic problems where the trains start out from different places and also memorize the capitals of all the states and if you can do this you are sure to be a success. And if you can hang around long enough to graduate from high school there is almost no limit on how far you can go. Uncle Jack knows.
He has been thinking a lot this week about how lucky he was to be born in the U.S.A. because something happened to him this week that would never happen to an ordinary run-of-the-mill person like himself in most other countries. What happened was that Uncle Jack was picked to be a judge of the Nags Head Surf Fishing Tournament which starts on Thursday and goes until Saturday.
In case you do not know what this means he will explain that the judges are the people who drive up and down the beach for two days, picking up dead fish and measuring them so the scorers can figure out who won the tournament.
He should not have to tell you that this is a very important job and not everybody can get to be a judge. For one thing you have to be highly respected in your community and for another thing you have to own a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Uncle Jack is not sure which is more important but he can tell you that as soon as he bought his new secondhand Jeep they picked him to be a judge, no questions asked.
Anyway this is the highest honor Uncle Jack has ever had and he can hardly believe what has happened. Who can believe that an ordinary, average child of poor parents, born in the north woods of Wisconsin, thousands of miles from the nearest ocean, would one day grow up to become a judge of the oldest, largest and finest surf fishing tournament in Dare County?
If you ask Uncle Jack this is real proof that the American Way of Life is working just the way the Founding Fathers hoped it would.
Uncle Jack is not taking this honor lightly, either. He is doing his best to get ready so he will be able to do a good job of judging. For one thing he has sworn off all spiritual beverages until after the judging is finished because he knows how hard it is to measure fish accurately when your hands are shaking or when you have impaired your faculties with foreign substances such as Scotch whisky.
He knows he has to measure every fish very carefully because the outcome of the whole tournament could rest on how well he does his measuring. Also he knows he could be assaulted by some irate fisherman if he does it wrong.
Uncle Jack knows that different kinds of fish get different numbers of points so he is studying hard to learn the various kinds of fish so he does not make any mistakes that way. Yesterday he finally mastered most of the main differences between the tarpon and the flounder and he plans to keep studying right up to the time he has to start judging.
Uncle Jack does want to warn all the contestants about the new state law that says you cannot drink beer or any other spiritual beverages in a motor vehicle even when the motor vehicle is on the beach and not on a highway. He wants all the contestants to know that he is planning to keep a sharp eye out for anybody who breaks this law and he will not hesitate to report them to the police. As far as Uncle Jack is concerned beer-drinking has no place in the Nags Head Surf Fishing Tournament anyway and he knows the vast majority of the club members will back him up on that.

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The event space on the Nags Head sound front was the site of a colorful gathering of kite enthusiasts on the 28th and 29th of September. The wind cooperated.

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It took a brisk breeze to get this monster fish off the ground.

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Ditto for the panda.

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Lunch on the porch at Jennette's Pier was delightful. This raven apparently flew in from Bawlmer to keep them company.

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Looking north from the pier. There were lots of folks on the beach and surfers galore on this spectacularly gorgeous fall afternoon.

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Looking south. Judging from the amount of sand between the surf and the Comfort Inn the renourished beach is holding up quite well in its third year.

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The Bluegrass Festival was a whopping success last weekend. More than 2000 music lovers gathered on Roanoke Island to hear some of the best bluegrass groups of the day.

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Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. attended Friday's sessions and managed to find good seats under the shade of a friendly tree as did these folks.

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Meanwhile back at the beach.

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It's not to soon to think about next season's rental house. Google "Uncle Jack's Beach Cottage" to find out why you might find it the perfect place to stay in South Nags Head.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:20 PM

Comments [5]

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After retiring in 2005 after 35 years as owner/operator of Yellowhouse Gallery and Annex on the Beach Road in Nags Head, Uncle Jack, accompanied by Mrs. Uncle Jack (a.k.a. Susan), commenced to travel extensively. This blog is a chronicle of their ramblings around the U.S. (in their redoubtable Mini Cooper convertible) as well as visits to England, Ireland, France, Italy, and Malta, interspersed with lengthy stays in South Nags Head and Baltimore between trips. He took a lot of pictures along the way, many of which are posted along with each blog entry.
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