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Friday, February 29, 2008
Destin, Florida, February 29, 2008

It’s good for Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. to visit a more advanced seaside resort once in a while so they can be reminded of just how far the Outer Banks has to go before it reaches a state of utter ruination. They have been vacationing in the Destin-Fort Walton Beach area of the Florida panhandle this week and he can tell you it has been a sobering experience. The developers down here make ours look like a bunch of undercapitalized amateurs.

The gorgeous white sand beaches here have taken a battering from all the gulf hurricanes of the past few years. Ivan in 2004 was particularly devastating and led to a beach renourishment project at the end of 2006 which, predictably but unfortunately, didn’t last long and now beach renourishment is back on the front burner for the local governments. If you’re interested click on the link below to see a story that appeared in a local paper yesterday.

Uncle Jack is pleased to report that their rental house (scroll down to his previous blog entry to see what he is talking about) has been spoken for for the May through July period. The August through October period is still available at this writing although a number of readers have said they are “thinking about it”.

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Destin beach. Looks kind of unreal, doesn't it? Snowbirds from Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc. fill almost every room.

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No sandbags yet but some of the condos are in dire straits while waiting for more sand.

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The Emerald Grande condos, Destin's most over-the-top development at the moment. 280 units all in one garish structure.

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Destin's finest cultural amenity. Uncle Jack scoffed his first KKs in over five years their first morning here.

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Unusual business spotted in Georgia on the way down here.

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Snowbirds stroll in a wind-sheltered park in Fort Walton Beach. Most of the time here it has been cold and windy, not much warmer than the Outer Banks.

link: http://www.waltonsun.com/news/beach_883___article.html/restoration_year.html

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:34 AM

Comments [6]

Friday, February 22, 2008
Uncle Jack's house for rent, summer 2008

Uncle Jack and Mrs. U. J. have a lovely home--their own--waiting for you in gorgeous South Nags Head, where you can see the sunrises for yourself every morning. They will be returning to Camden, Maine this summer, May through October and would like to rent their house (see pictures below) at a special affordable rate to Uncle Jack readers.

All on one-floor, the house has 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths plus an outdoor shower, living room, kitchen-dining area, game room, sun room, large screened porch on the north and a south-facing deck. The brand new garage can house your car or van. The house is fully furnished, including fine linens, and utilities are included as well as cable TV and wireless broadband. More books than you could read in one summer and hundreds of CDs to play in a new music system.

Located on the west side of Oregon Inlet Road, the house is 1 short block from the ocean at the Whitecap access and 1 mile from Sam and Omie’s restaurant, Jennette’s pier, Cahoon’s grocery, and Tanger Outlet Mall. This Cape Cod-style house will accommodate 4 adults (non-smokers without pets). For the best bargain, you may want to rent for the entire 6 months for $9,000. The rental can be split into two periods--May-July and August-October at $5,000 per session. (Note: the May-July session has already been spoken for but the August-October period is still available).

Far less than the prime-time cost of renting comparable houses in desirable South Nags Head. (Renters get a complimentary signed copy of Uncle Jack’s pretty funny book and also his sunrise DVD to boot.)

For those whose circumstances permit them to spend an extended period of time at the beach, this is a fabulous opportunity. If you are interested and want details or a tour, please email us at jsandberg3143@gmail.com We will get back in touch with you right away.

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Front view. The broad south-facing deck is a great place to sit when the wind blows hard from the north. Furnished with large, comfortable rocking chairs.

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Back view. Big Bob's huge screened porch is sturdy enough to serve as a hurricane shelter. The back door is close to the garage and those steps are the only ones you will have to climb when bringing in groceries.

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Screened porch interior. A great place to enjoy breakfast or to while away a balmy evening. It's lighted and within reach of wireless broadband, too.

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The sunroom. A great place to sit any time. Adjacent to the kitchen and screened porch.

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Kitchen. Equipped with dishwasher, microwave, toaster oven, Cuisinart, blender, coffee maker, etc. etc. Bright and sunny.

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Dining area.

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Living room. Two barcaloungers, 27 inch cable TV and DVD player. Lots of windows.

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Bedroom 1. Half-bath adjacent. 19-inch cable TV, reading lamps. King size bed. Large his and her closets.

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Bedroom 2. Large closet, dresser, queen bed, TV. Two windows. Bedroom 3 has closet, double bed and bookshelves with lots and lots of good books.

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Game room/study/music room. Equipped with desktop computer with ethernet connection to Charter broadband, CD player-radio combo with many CDs, board games and puzzles.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:00 AM

Comments [13]

Thursday, February 21, 2008
Big surf in Sonag, Thursday February 21, 2008

    If Uncle Jack had looked at the weather report before he walked up to the beach this morning he wouldn't have left the house.  It's not fit for man nor beast up there with an icy wind blowing out of the northeast at 20 knots and the beach covered with flying foam.  He took a couple of pictures and made a one-minute video of the wild surf and then beat a hasty retreat down Whitecap street.  If you watch the video he suggests that you turn the sound down or off because the noise of the wind completely drowns out the sound of the surf.

     The "Y" will be busy today. 

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6:35 a.m. About ten minutes before official sunrise. The sun did rise but Uncle Jack was not there to see it.

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Uncle Jack doubts that even the redoubtable Nelly Myrtle Pridgen would have walked the beach this morning.

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This is what it looked like just before Uncle Jack split, still five minutes away from official sunrise.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvNkhY7Y44k

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:49 AM

Comments [7]

Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Wednesday February 20, 2008

     Uncle Jack had no trouble getting up to the beach on time for sunrise this morning.  All indications suggest that this will be another beautiful day on the Outer Banks so he will try to make the most of it.

     He read in the paper this morning that Senator Obama had scored a resounding victory over Senator Clinton out in his old home state of Wisconsin.  He wasn't really surprised that Obama won but he didn't expect it to be by such a wide margin.  Mrs. Clinton is in deep electoral doo-doo at this point and it will take more than a charge of "plagerism" (that's how one of the major newspapers spelled it) to stop the Obama steamroller.

     Uncle Jack hasn't reminisced about Wisconsin for a long time but he went deep into the archives to find this piece he once wrote about life among the Cheeseheads.

                         Go Badgers

Uncle Jack has mentioned from time to time that he is a high school graduate of which he is very proud. One of the main reasons he is glad he graduated high school was that it made him eligible to go to college which he did and going to college made it possible for him to go to graduate school which he did and the upshot of all this was that he did not actually have to get a job until he was over 30 years old. Needless to say Uncle Jack is a strong believer in the value of higher education.

Uncle Jack was the first one in his family to go to college so he had to learn how to matriculate pretty much on his own. Back when he graduated from high school during the latter part of the Second Ice Age this was not too difficult, though, because every high school graduate in Wisconsin could go to the University of Wisconsin in Madison if he, she or it could figure out a way to get there.

Uncle Jack was lucky because he won a full-tuition scholarship to the university because of his incredible skill on the bass clarinet. That took care of the biggest stumbling block which was the annual $l00 tuition at the university which Uncle Jack did not have because he spent all his paper route savings on Leinenkugel's Old Style Lager during his fun-packed senior year in high school. Lucky for him his parents forgave him and sold the cow so he could go off to Madison with another $l00 to tide him over until he could get a job.

If you want to know the truth Uncle Jack's first semester in college was very nearly his last because he had some trouble controlling himself when he found out you could drink beer all day in college if you wanted to which is not something you could do in high school except maybe on teacher workshop days.

Anyway he pulled himself together and passed all his courses and one day they herded him into the gym along with about 4000 other students

and gave him his diploma and he can tell you that was a proud moment that lasted about three hours and made him very thirsty.

This was almost 45 years ago and Uncle Jack is still as proud as punch to be a "Badger" which is the weird little animal they chose to be the symbol of the University which is probably a little better than a gopher or a groundhog but not by much. They all live underground and usually wind up as roadkill.

You would think that after 45 years the University of Wisconsin would have forgotten a totally undistinguished graduate like Uncle Jack who barely squeaked through and who anybody could have predicted would never amount to anything. This is not true, though, because just about every week for the last 45 years Uncle Jack has gotten at least one letter or bulletin or magazine from the University asking him to send money. What they don't know is that if Uncle Jack sent them every penny he has in the world it would not even cover the postage on all the mail he gets from them.

This week they want him to add his pittance to the many millions of dollars a few fatcats have donated for the purpose of building a new state-of-the-art football stadium so that all the Wisconsin students and alumni will not have to feel ashamed when teams come from other colleges where they have already spent millions of dollars on their stadiums.

If you want to know the truth Uncle Jack would really be proud of his "alma mater" (which is Latin for "great place to party") if they would write him a letter that says they are not going to spend another dime on bigtime sports facilities and they are no longer going to participate in the corrupt and indefensible foolishness which bigtime college athletics have become.

If he ever got a letter like that he would cheerfully quit drinking beer for a whole week and send them the money he saved and he can tell you we are talking big bucks here.



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6:35 a.m. Looks very much like yesterday morning but with a few more clouds.

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Ditto, with 3x zoom.

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6:45 Here to stay.

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Uncle Jack wanted to walk down to the pier this morning but not badly enough to get his feet wet so he stopped here.

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Big Bob and Chris of Bottom Line builders stopped by yesterday to put the finishing touch on the terrific garage they built for the Mini last year. The excellent sign was made for them by the Sign Man in KDH.

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Uncle Jack got them to pose with their new stairway, too. They do beautiful work.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:47 AM

Comments [5]

Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Tuesday February 19, 2008

     It's a spectacularly beautiful morning in Sonag.  Sunny, windless and warmish.  What a contrast with yesterday's monsoon.

    In addition to the pictures below Uncle Jack made a short video this morning. It's rather pretty if he says so himself.  Click on the YouTube link below to watch it if you can spare 2.5 minutes of your allotted time on earth.

     Gotta go.

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6:35 a.m. Ten minutes before official sunrise.

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Ditto. Looking south toward the Outer Banks pier. Surf's up this morning.

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Looking north toward what is left of Jennette's pier.

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6:40 a.m.

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Ditto, with zoom.

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And there you have it. 6:45 on the dot.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zi6U6rakP1A

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:57 AM

Comments [0]

Monday, February 18, 2008
Stormy weather in Sonag, Monday February 18, 2008

     Uncle Jack awakened this morning to the sound of rain splattering on the skylight punctuated by occasional rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightning. His heart goes out to all those who have to pack their cars for the trip home after this long Presidents' Day weekend. It's as dark at 7:30 this morning as it was at 6:30 yesterday and the rain is torrential at times.

    Yesterday was another kettle of fish entirely.  Uncle Jack started it by inexplicably sleeping through what was probably the outstanding sunrise of the month. (He will never know).  Lucky for him the balmy, sunny weather held up through the day so that he and Mrs. U.J. were able to take a long walk on the beach in the area south of Seagull Drive. Lovely.

     Given the inclement weather today he should be able to finish the biography of Hillary Clinton he has been plowing doggedly through for the past several days.  He has so much time invested in her life at this point that he almost hopes she gets the nomination so he won't have wasted it.

      Try to keep your powder dry.  You may need it.


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Looking north toward Seagull Drive from the Park Service beach. Inviting, no?

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The Park Service has erected several hundred yards of elegant sand fence atop the dunes south of McCall Court. Your tax dollars at work in a worthy cause.

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"Kuckoo's Nest" is gone but not forgotten. These ominous-looking wires serve as a reminder of where that grand house once stood.

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As do these shredded sandbags. They should provide an interesting conversation piece for the tourists this summer.

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Kuckoo's Nest in better times, before its removal to a new resting place west of the beach road.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:35 AM

Comments [761]

Saturday, February 16, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Saturday February 16, 2008

      The weatherman spoke with forked tongue this morning.  He predicted "clear" for 7 a.m. but it was anything but clear when Uncle Jack looked out the window.  He may see the sun sometime later today but it's well concealed behind clouds right now.  No sunrise pics this morning, alas.

     Yesterday was something else--sunny and warm and perfect for beachwalking because the last couple of days of high surf have left the beach wide, flat, hard and clean. With a chilly wind whipping out of the north it won't be nearly as pleasant today.

     The Gods of Retail (or was it Congress) have declared this to be another shopping weekend---Presidents Day weekend by name.  Uncle Jack can remember when this holiday was called George Washington's Birthday and it was celebrated on February 22 no matter what day of the week it fell on.  Wasn't that quaint?

    Some unsuspecting reader will click on Uncle Jack's Weblog for the 250,000th time today.  In the immortal words of Bartles and James, "We thank you for your attention".

    Now go out and help us get through this recession. The shopkeepers of America are waiting.

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Anybody remember the Croatan Inn? How about Papagayo's? Well then surely you remember Quagmire's in its final iteration. These new particle board condos will help you forget them all.

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More of the same. There must be well over a hundred new condos being stapled together in Nags Head and KDH right now. The race is on.

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Isn't it time for the Town of Nags Head to think seriously about getting this eyesore off the public beach before somebody gets hurt?

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Uncle Jack often wonders how many of these tires have floated over to the Outer Banks from the Great Tire Reef off the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. A case study in littoral drift.

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Old sandbags never die. They just wash away. Sort of.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:38 AM

Comments [8]

Friday, February 15, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Friday February 15, 2008

     And a beautiful sunrise it was, complete with large waves rolling in from somewhere, gulls swooping and crying, a wide, flat beach swept clean by yesterday's heavy surf.  Uncle Jack made a short video that captures some of the beauty.  Click on the YouTube link below to see it.

     Most of the crime news that comes out of New Orleans these days is pretty dreadful.  The city is well on its way to recapturing its crown as the murder capital of the U.S.  and there is nothing funny about that.

    Yesterday's Times-Picayune did have one story yesterday that was funny enough to serve as the theme for a crime comedy movie one day and here it is. (Slidell is across Lake Ponchartrain from New Orleans).

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6:45 a.m.

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Ditto, looking south toward the Outer Banks pier.

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Ditto with 3x zoom.

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Right on time at 6:50. The video is only two minutes long but worth a look just to hear the surf crashing and the gulls squawking (not to mention the sun rising).

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJirYsMm1DQ

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:32 AM

Comments [4]

Thursday, February 14, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Thursday February 14, 2008

     No sunrise again this morning Uncle Jack is sorry to report. Nothing but nasty-looking dark clouds over the ocean and it's cold again, too, after yesterday's spring-like high of 70. And the wind is blowing out of the northwest like crazy.  Yuk.

     This will be a good day for him to continue plowing through Carl Bernstein's fly-on-the-wall biography of Hillary Clinton called "A Woman in Charge".  It's much more interesting than any novel he has read recently and he already knows more about Mrs. Clinton than he ever wanted to know and he's only halfway through.  At the moment ,with Barack Obama leading in the delegate count, she is belying the title but she isn't going to give up easily, you can be sure of that.

      If you don't fancy political biography you might want to peruse today's attachment, borrowed from the Charlotte Observer. (Click on the link below).  Don't bother unless you're curious about what the 400+ state employees who work in Dare county do for a living. Uncle Jack didn't realize how well we were served by state government out here on our desolate sandspit.

     Happy Valentines Day to all.

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Camden, Maine (Uncle Jack's summer haunt)had another humongous snowstorm yesterday. To see a lovely photo-essay about what it's like in Camden paste this URL into your browser's address bar: http://knox.villagesoup.com/Community/story.cfm?storyID=109227

link: http://www.charlotte.com/ncpay/

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:59 AM

Comments [6]

Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Wednesday February 13, 2008

     No sunrise this morning folks.  Rain has been falling liberally since shortly after midnight and it shows no sign of going away.  South Nags Head west of the beach road is in the process of reverting to the swamp it was before the developers found it.  Thank goodness for the Y.

     Google sent Uncle Jack an interesting piece from a Charleston, S.C. newspaper which he has attached below.  While it refers to events transpiring in South Carolina it might provide some insight into how things might develop in N.C. this spring when the sandbag removal ultimatum goes into effect.  Then again it might not.  It's an interesting read in any case for sandbag mavens.

Charleston.Net Logo

Wild Dunes sandstorm settled

By Bo Petersen

The Post and Courier

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

ISLE OF PALMS — Wild Dunes beachfront property owners and the state on Tuesday settled a stalemate over removing sandbags in front their properties on the severely eroding beach.

Sandbags being used to save the condo complex Ocean Club in Wild Dunes are seen Tuesday.

Mic Smith
The Post and Courier

Sandbags being used to save the condo complex Ocean Club in Wild Dunes are seen Tuesday.

The owners of six condominium complexes and two other properties agreed to a consent order with S.C. Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, ending a two-month standoff with the agency. Property owners agreed to pay at least $1 million toward beach renournishment and a modest fine. But they can keep large sandbags in place until the beach is renourished, a move that's expected this spring.

Owners will pay a fine of $34,000. Had they not agreed to the settlement, the owners could have been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars. And OCRM avoided lengthy court hearings and rulings that could have weakened beachfront regulations.

The owners also agreed to maintain the bags and then remove them once the renourishment takes place. No sand can be piled on top of the existing bags. Two properties also were fined $12,750 for placing the larger bags before they had been approved by OCRM.

Wild Dunes issue at a glance

THE ISSUE: S.C. Ocean and Coastal Resource Management found six condominium complexes and two other properties in violation of state coastal regulations for not removing thousands of sandbags by a November 2007 deadline. The owners say the bags are vital to protect the properties until a beach renourishment can take place this spring.

THE SETTLEMENT: In a consent order agreed to Tuesday, the state fined the owners $34,000, but allowed the sandbags to stay. The order also committed the properties to pay at least $1 million toward the renourishment project. Two individual properties also were fined $12,750 for placing large sandbags before they had been approved by OCRM.

WHAT'S NEXT: On Thursday, the S.C. Health and Environmental Control board hears the owners' appeal of an OCRM violation order potentially fining owners $1,000 per day retroactive to June 1, 2007, and until all bags are cleaned up from all beaches and marshes.

The Wild Dunes Community Association, of which the owners are members, and the Wild Dunes Resort are expected to pay a total of $5.8 million of the $9.7 million price tag for the renourishment if they approve a community association plan in a ballot that has been mailed out. The ballot deadline is Feb. 28.

"We're not happy about having to pay any fines at all, but we are very pleased we will be able to protect our properties until we can get the long-term beach renourishment," said Beth Colley, property manager for Ocean Club, the largest of the properties and among those most threatened by beach erosion that's now cutting under the structure.

"It's a settlement. A minimal fee certainly makes it worthwhile," she said.

The bigger, costlier battle still goes on over who's responsible for environmental damage caused by tens of thousands of smaller sandbags that washed away in storm tides in the winter and spring of 2007, when OCRM restricted owners to using those bags.

Dan Burger, OCRM communications director, called it the most realistic solution to resolve a situation that could have dragged on through the court for years.

"It puts the property owners on a clear and realistic path toward compliance, which is what a consent order is supposed to do. It forces the owners to take an active role in long-term maintenance of the beach as well as the repair. Most importantly, it preserves the integrity of our coastal regulations," he said.

A court ruling in the dispute could have been decisive in the long-running legal battle over how much the agency can restrict private property along public beaches, an environmental attorney has said.

On Thursday, the S.C. Health and Environmental Control board will hear the appeal of an OCRM violation order issued last spring that notified property owners they could be fined $1,000 per day retroactive to June 1, 2007, until all bags are cleaned up from all beaches and marshes.

Reach Bo Petersen at 745-5852 or bpetersen@postandcourier.com.

Copyright © 1997 - 2007 the Evening Post Publishing Co.



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And there goes the last of the Nags Head water tower. It took the supremely skilled crew of specialists less than a day and half to take it down and cart it away. Those are temporary cell phone towers in the background.

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Workers have started on the third floor of the new condo development south of Tanger Mall. They are singlehandedly keeping the plywood industry alive.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:47 AM

Comments [0]

Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Tuesday February 12, 2008

      Uncle Jack almost missed the sunrise this morning.  He got up early enough but then he got so wrapped up in reading James Gill's column in the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he almost forgot the sun.  That would have been a terrible mistake as the pictures below demonstrate.

     As an ex-newspaper columnist Uncle Jack has always envied James Gill.  Not only does he possess a flawlessly sardonic writing style but his "beat" on the Times-Picayune provides him with an endless source of story ideas.  His specialty is skewering crooked politicians and their partners in crime so his biggest problem in New Orleans is trying to decide which malefactor to write about today.  (For a sample of his entertaining prose click on the link to the Times-Picayune below).

     In one recent James Gill column Uncle Jack read that the annual salary of the mayor of New Orleans is $125,000 and it occurred to him that there are at least two functionaries (maybe more) on the Dare County payroll  who are paid vastly more than that to carry out their far less stressful duties in our relatively placid precincts. Amazing isn't it?  And apparently this is not a crime. Not in Dare County anyway.   

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6:55 a.m. Long shot.

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Ditto, with zoom. The jet contrail adds a nice touch to Mother Nature's handiwork.

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A few minutes later.

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Ditto. This could be a spectacularly beautiful day on the Outer Banks but there is a slight chance of rain, too. We shall see.

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Wish you were here?

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Or here? Take your pick.

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The people demolishing the N.H. water tank do not fool around. They removed the whole tank yesterday morning in a 20 knot wind. Amazing to watch. The Town of Nags Head webcam provides a continuous view of the proceedings.

link: http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/gill/index.ssf?/base/news-0/1202624493107370.xml&coll=1

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:00 AM

Comments [4]

Monday, February 11, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Monday February 11, 2008

     Uncle Jack can perhaps be forgiven for not trudging up to the beach at dawn this morning.  Any pictures he would have taken of the sunrise would have been identical to those he took yesterday because in every respect except one this morning is a carbon copy (remember them?) of yesterday morning.  The big difference is in the temperature which has plunged into the arctic zone overnight.  After several days of balmy he doesn't think his delicate respiratory system could have handled it.

     The wind picked up yesterday to the point where a walk on the beach would have been torture so he and Mrs. U.J. went to Plan B which they have wanted to do ever since Big Bob of Bottom Line Construction (441-5058) told them about it last week.  He is tempted to try to keep it a secret but that really wouldn't be fair to his fellow locals who need a pleasant place to walk when the wind keeps them off the beach.

     They found it at the end of Health Center Road in Nags Head where a delightful one-mile hiking trail begins at a parking lot next to the old Health Center facility and winds it way down to the sound through the Nags Head Woods. The path has lots of ups and downs and provides some mildly aerobic exercise as well as shelter from the wind and a chance to contemplate the beauty of another of Mother Nature's realms.

    This is the very best time of year to enjoy this wonderful amenity in the absence of the bugs and snakes that no doubt populate it during the warmer months.  There is also a picnic pavilion and a children's playground with swings and slides and other apparatus adjacent to the same parking lot.  Those who would find the walk to the sound a bit much can chill out in the park.

     To find it go west on Barnes Street at the Ace Hardware near the 11 milepost on the Bypass. Keep on going until just before the entrance to Britthaven which is on the right.  The Nature Park is on the left.

     Uncle Jack was interested to note that Barack Obama was the clear winner of the Maine Democratic caucuses yesterday which must have been a major shock for Mrs. Clinton who promptly fired her campaign manager. In Camden, his newly adopted summer refuge, Democratic caucusers who turned out in record numbers gave Obama 80% of their votes and this was the pattern throughout the mid-coast region.  Will wonders never cease?


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Self-explanatory sign at the entrance to the hiking path.

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Hiker enters the leafy bower.

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The path terminates at the sound which was riled up yesterday by strong winds out of the northwest.

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Erosion is evident on this side of the island, too, but with no houses in the way it's not a problem.

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Lots of whitecaps in the sound yesterday. The causeway to Roanoke Island is visible in the distance.

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Looking south toward Jockeys Ridge.

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Grandma checks out the playground in preparation for the next coming of Sophia and Isabella.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:56 AM

Comments [12]

Sunday, February 10, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Sunday February 10, 2008

    It's an absolutely gorgeous day in South Nags Head and Uncle Jack has the pictures to show it. He also made a short video of the sunrise if you're not convinced by the still photos.  The weather is expected to turn very cold tonight so a walk on the beach is definitely on the agenda for later this morning.

     Google turned up an interesting piece about beach erosion in Texas this morning which he herewith passes on for those who are interested in this sort of thing.  He and Mrs. U.J. visited Surfside which is south of Galveston on one of their trips in 2005.  They remarked at the time how much Surfside reminded them of Nags Head back in the 70's before progress set in. Now it looks like Mother Nature has caught up to Surfside, Texas too. 

Compromise only solution to beach issue

Published February 10, 2008

District Judge Pat Sebesta’s ruling last week, which prevented the state from removing the homes of about a dozen beachfront property owners in Surfside Beach until all appeals are exhausted, is logical under the law. When the basis of the owners’ lawsuit is that they not be forced to relocate the structures, any decision in their favor would be rendered moot if the homes already were gone.

What is not logical is that if the owners follow through on their pledge to take their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, any decision would be moot anyway. By the time the highest court in the land decided to take up the case and then made a ruling — a possibility likely still years away — it’s questionable whether the homes people are fighting to save would even still be standing. And if they were, they might be reachable only by boat.

Meanwhile, the homes stand in the way of a beach renourishment project that could prevent the Gulf of Mexico from coming further inland and threatening another group of homes, as well as fully eroding the already diminishing beaches in Surfside.

Neither the homeowners nor the state of Texas should be allowed to let that happen, and we call on both sides to seek an amicable solution that removes the homes, compensates property owners and allows the beach renourishment program to move forward.

The problem is erosion at Surfside which has placed homes built a half-century ago or more beyond the line of vegetation on the beach, which clearly is a violation of the Texas Open Beaches Act. Under that law, the state has the right to order the homes removed to ensure public access to the beach. That is what it is attempting to do in ordering the removal of some Surfside homes.

While we accept the arguments of the beachfront property owners that their action is in defense of their individual rights, the repeated delays in trying to save the beach — this case started seven years ago — threaten the greater good of a community and a region. They must be willing to compromise from their repeated stance of receiving “fair market value” for the homes for the benefit of all of us who would like our children and grandchildren to enjoy a dip in the Gulf from the sands at Surfside.

Again turning to logic, we have to wonder what the “far market value” of beach debris will be, seeing that’s what their homes are destined to become as the legal battles drag on.

Likewise, we believe the state should work with the property owners in helping them relocate, which they have moved toward doing already. The General Land Office has offered up to $50,000 to aid in moving the homes, an offer that still stands and which many property owners not involved in the lawsuit already have accepted.

It certainly is understandable if the state shows an unwillingness to soften even more considering it has repeated legal precedents on its side affirming the validity of the Open Beaches Act and its right to remove structures under it.

Our belief, however, is something must be done now before more damage is done to the coastline. It is up to the two sides to reach a compromise that allows the renourishment to move forward — one that respects the rights of individual property owners yet ensures Brazoria County residents will be left with a beach to be protected.

This editorial was written by Michael Morris, assistant managing editor of The Facts.

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6:45 a.m. No wind. Temperature already near 50.

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6:55 a.m. The sun is about to appear but to actually see it you will have to watch the movie. Uncle Jack forgot to take some stills after the sun came up. As an added bonus Jada the expanding malamute makes a cameo appearance.

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Uncle Jack saw three people on the beach this morning in addition to Jada. Crowded compared to yesterday.

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A few of these little critters were back this morning, too. He hasn't seen any for quite a while.

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

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:07 AM

Comments [2]

Saturday, February 9, 2008
Super sunrise in Sonag, Saturday February 8, 2008

     Uncle Jack felt guilty having the beach all to himself this morning.  Mother Nature put on an unusually splendid show for over half an hour which went unwatched except by himself and a few gulls who didn't seem to be paying much attention. Lucky for him the bulldozer operators hadn't arrived yet.  In addition to the pictures below he made a short video which, if you have three minutes to spare sometime, you might find rewarding. Click on the YouTube link below the pictures.

    Uncle Jack just finished reading another book that will make your blood boil if you are any kind of liberal at all. It's called "The Cigarette Century" by Dr. Allan M. Brandt who is a history of science professor at Harvard. It tells the story of how the folks who run Big Tobacco have managed through deception and dishonesty to keep pushing their poisonous product almost without regulation even in the face of incontrovertible evidence, much of it provided by their own researchers, that smoking kills people.  It has left him wondering about the quality of justice in America where we jail people by the hundreds of thousands for trafficking in marijuana while tobacco company executives who peddle a far deadlier product, and who have lied under oath about what they were doing, are free to enjoy their staggering profits with impunity.

     Reading this book was almost enough to make Uncle Jack forget that Dick Vitale is back with his vocal chords repaired which means he will have to watch the N.C.A.A. tournament with the sound turned off again this year.


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6:45 a.m.

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Ditto. Even the western sky was dressed in pink for a while.

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Ten minutes later. Waiting for the sun to show.

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Uncle Jack's patience is rewarded.

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A big week for 'dozers in Sonag.

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First 'doze up a faux dune. Then erect lots of sand fence and plant beach grass. Then, alas, watch it all wash away in the next northeaster. Such is the plight of the oceanfront houseowner.

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If Uncle Jack had gotten up a bit earlier he might have seen the deer who left these tracks.

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This helmet crab's shell must have been in the water for a long time judging from its freight of barnacles.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpndz_2kL3U

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:45 AM

Comments [5]

Thursday, February 7, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Thursday February 7, 2008

     Uncle Jack woke up in plenty of time to photograph the sunrise this morning but once again he chickened out.  A huge bank of clouds in the southeast at dawn was blocking any sight of the sun and the wind was blowing fiercely so out of deference to the last vestiges of his stubborn cold he decided to forget it.  He and Mrs. U.J. did take a stroll on the beach yesterday afternoon after the wind died down and the temperature hovered around 70. It appears that February may be turning into a new "shoulder season" for the Visitors Bureau to start selling.  With the crime wave scaring conventioneers away from New Orleans it might be time to build that convention center they have been talking about.

     Erosion problems seem to have reached epidemic proportions along the Atlantic coast.  A few weeks ago Uncle Jack provided a link to an article about a beach renourishment referendum near Beaufort, S.C. and today you can read about another in the vicinity of Charleston.  Coping with beach erosion is definitely a growth industry and Coastal Science and Engineering is in the vanguard. Click on the link below the pictures for this short but interesting piece.

    Speaking of  convention centers here's something Uncle Jack wrote on the subject a few years ago.

           Unconventional Thinking

Dear Uncle Jack,

I read in the paper the other day where a lot of experts in the tourist trade are saying that Dare County was never going to amount to anything until we got a real convention center down here. I never heard of a convention center and I was hoping you could tell me what it is.

Common Mann

Mann’s Harbor

Dear Common,

Uncle Jack will be happy to answer your question. This is something he knows a lot about because he used to go to a lot of conventions himself before he moved to the Outer Banks and stopped going anywhere. He can tell you that a convention is where a group of people who are all in the same line of work will get together someplace once a year to talk about what is new in their line of work. For example if you were in the plumbing business you would go to the plumbers convention to find out what kind of new valves or washers the Japanese have come out with since last year. Or if you are in the car business you go to find out what new engines the Japanese have come out with and so on.

That is not the only reason people go to conventions, though. Uncle Jack found out a long time ago that the main reason why many people go to conventions is that they can go someplace where nobody knows them and they can fool around a little and also take it off their income tax.

People spend a lot of money when they go to conventions which is why so many towns have convention centers now. If you want conventions to come to your town you have to have a convention center with a room big enough so everybody can sit down at one time together and eat rubber chicken and listen to boring speeches. This is how they keep from feeling too guilty about going to the convention in the first place.

Anyway if Dare County does get a convention center then maybe instead of going to some warm, sunny place like Las Vegas in January or February the way they do now, some conventions might want to come to Dare County instead.

Right off hand Uncle Jack cannot personally think of anybody in his right mind who would rather come to Dare County in the winter but there are large numbers of demented people in the U.S. so you never know. Uncle Jack has read about some people called the Polar Bear Club who go swimming in the Monongahela River every New Years Day when the temperature is usually about four degrees above zero. Maybe they would like to have their convention here in January or February.

Uncle Jack is not sure if the masochists are organized yet but if they ever have a convention they would surely want to have it here in the winter. They could do all kinds of fun things like hiking to the top of Jockey’s Ridge in the nude during a northeaster and letting the sand tear the skin off their bodies.

If you want to know the truth, though, Uncle Jack is not too crazy about the idea of having a lot of conventions around here in the winter. He kind of likes having a few weeks each year when he does not have to wait twenty minutes to make a left turn onto the bypass. Also he is worried about what will happen when the gulls start dropping their clams on the convention center parking lot when it is full of cars. Who is going to pay for all those broken windshields?

This is why Uncle Jack does not think a convention center is anything Dare County needs to rush into right now---unless they want to give him the windshield replacement concession over there.


Uncle Jack






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This is what an uncrowded beach looks like.

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What do you mean I have to get rid of these sandbags?

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Sandbags? What sandbags?

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Now you see 'em. Now you don't.

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The Comfort Inn South has recently added these two large green tanks next to the parking lot. Any guesses as to what they might be for?

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In the meantime Uncle Jack's back yard has sprouted a crop of colorful dandelions in February. This never happened when he lived in Pittsburgh.

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Sunrise over the harbor in Camden, Maine. They had another snowstorm yesterday that closed the schools for the third or fourth time this winter. No dandelions in Camden.

link: http://www.charleston.net/news/2008/feb/07/wild_dunes_plans_vote_beach_project/?print

posted by Uncle Jack at 3:36 AM

Comments [11]

Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Wednesday February 6, 2008

     Uncle Jack's cold is beginning to go away but to help it along he decided not to walk up to the beach at dawn again this morning.  Actually this is stretching the truth because he didn't wake up until 7:15 by which the sun would have risen if it was going to which it didn't so he doesn't feel guilty about it.  Two hours later the sun is shining brightly and the temperature is already 64 so he may venture out a little later.  After three days in the house he is beginning to suffer from acute cabin fever.

     He was relieved to read in the Times-Picayune this morning that the last night of Mardi Gras parades passed relatively peacefully, i.e. there were no shootings along the parade route.  Earlier in the week a total of nine people had been wounded in three different episodes when what the police described as "teen-age thugs" opened fire on each other in the midst of the parade crowds.  One tourist was wounded by a stray bullet while standing in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express. This is not good news for the city as it struggles to recover from Katrina but nobody seems to have a clue as to what to do about it.  Very sad.

     Uncle Jack laments the absence of sunrise pictures from his recent blogs so he herewith presents a few from past mornings in Sonag.


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Picture 1

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Picture 2

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Picture 3

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Picture 4

posted by Uncle Jack at 10:04 AM

Comments [1]

Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Unrise in Sonag, Tuesday February 5, 2008

     Uncle Jack's cold has progressed, as his colds always do, into the bronchitis stage which kept him awake most of the night coughing.  He was awake at 7 a.m., the appointed time for sunrise, but a peek out the window revealed only thick fog which concealed everything more than 100 yards away, including the sun.

     An hour later the fog is beginning to dissipate and it looks like another lovely day is in store with a high temperature approaching 70. Uncle Jack will spend it wallowing in self pity while ingesting assorted cold nostrums and sucking on Hall's mentholyptus cough drops.  This, too, shall pass.

    He usually hates getting long distance phone calls because they so often bring bad news but the call that came yesterday was an exception.  It was his Minnesota brother calling from Florida to tell him that one of his timeshares failed to rent for the last week of February and inviting Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. to use it.  He thought about it for about three nanoseconds and then accepted with alacrity.  The fact that it was sunny and 70 in Destin yesterday made the decision fairly easy.

     He will, of course, bring his basketball along and will seek recompense for the humiliating defeat he suffered at the hands of his little brother last spring in a free-throw shooting contest at the Y.  This is sibling rivalry at its finest.



posted by Uncle Jack at 9:19 AM

Comments [6]

Monday, February 4, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Monday February 4, 2008

       Uncle Jack woke up feeling like he had a hot poker stuck in his throat this morning so he skipped his usual sunrise stroll to the beach again. He did look out the window, though, and he can tell you the sun is up and it looks like today could be a carbon copy of yesterday which, for February, was fantastic.  It was so warm it reminded him of a February day many years ago when local geese and ducks became confused and started flying north a couple of months too soon.

     Uncle Jack plans to lie around the house again today and nurse his cold and he doesn't feel like writing anything so he dug deep into the archives to find something that might help to pass the time at work on this mid-winter Monday. His apologies if you have read it before.

                           Why Fish?

Dear Uncle Jack,

You keep writing all the time about fishing and fishermen and what I want to know is what is so great about catching fish? I mean it is a well known scientific fact that all fish are fairly stupid and bluefish, which is what they catch the most around here, do not even register on the Fish IQ Scale they are so dense.

So how can any normal person get excited about outsmarting a fish, and also why would any normal person stand out there in the wind and rain and totally wear himself out trying to catch more of those pathetic creatures than anybody else? I mean you can be a lot smarter than a bluefish and still not get into law school or even West Point.

So what does it all prove, Uncle Jack?

Duck Hunter

Swan Quarter

Dear Duck,

Uncle Jack is very glad you asked him about this because fishing is something he knows a lot about and he is always happy for a chance to answer questions about his favorite sport. He can see why it might be hard for somebody who does not know anything about fishing to understand why a perfectly normal person would spend upwards of $30,000 on an SUV just so he could go surf fishing a few times a year.

Also he can understand how you might wonder why a normal person would spend thousands of dollars on rods and reels and lures and sinkers and waders and foul weather clothes and coolers and bottle openers just to catch a few fish which he could buy at the fish market with no trouble at all for less than the cost of the shrimp he used for bait.

Also Uncle Jack can understand why an ignorant person such as yourself who does not know anything about fishing might wonder why any normal person would stand out in the wind and rain and cold all day just to prove that he is smarter than a fish, which is not, as you have rightly pointed out, a major intellectual achievement.

He can also appreciate why you might not understand why so many fishermen go to the trouble and expense of coming to the Outer Banks fishing tournaments from all over the U.S. and wearing themselves to a frazzle for two days just to try to prove they are better than anybody else when it comes to outsmarting fish (which is a dubious distinction as you have rightly pointed out).

And even though you did not mention it, Uncle Jack would be willing to bet that you would also wonder why fishermen work so hard to catch more fish than they can eat so they wind up cleaning them and packing them away in their freezers and keeping them there at great expense until they have to throw them all away to make room for next year’s fish.

Uncle Jack is sure there are many more questions you could ask about fishing but the answer to all of them, which he is now going to tell you, would be the same. Fishermen go to all the trouble and expense of fishing for the same reason that some people will spend $100,000 on a sailboat which they only use a few times each year and when they do use them chances are they will wind up wet and cold and tired which is something they could accomplish a lot faster and cheaper if they just stood in a cold shower and did deep knee bends until they collapsed.

Anyway Uncle Jack is glad he could answer all your questions about fishing and he hopes you will not hesitate to write to him again the next time you are confused about anything.


Uncle Jack

P.S. He does not have the slightest idea why any normal person would go duck hunting so please do not ask him about that.


posted by Uncle Jack at 8:02 AM

Comments [3]

Sunday, February 3, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Sunday February 3, 2008

      There was a bit of pink in the sky at sunrise this morning but not enough to lure Uncle Jack to the beach at 7 a.m.  He seems to be coming down with a cold so he decided not to aggravate his aged respiratory system by exposing it to the chilly fog that hung over South Nags Head early this morning.  The sun is shining now and it looks like a mostly sunny, warmish day is in store for the lucky folks who find themselves on the Outer Banks this weekend. 

     Uncle Jack will spend the day pampering his cold by sipping Twining's green tea between naps.  If he can stay awake long enough he will take in the Pistons-Mavs game in the afternoon and bolster his self esteem by watching multi-millionaire players miss free throws that he could make with his eyes shut.

    He has no interest whatsoever in the Super Bowl but he may tune in at the half and hope for another wardrobe malfunction.

     Have a nice day.


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Uncle Jack's house has a beautiful new set of steps built by Big Bob and his crew of superb craftsmen at Bottom Line Construction. Call them at 441-5058 if you want something built right.

posted by Uncle Jack at 11:21 AM

Comments [5]

Saturday, February 2, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Saturday February 2, 2008

     What a difference a day makes.  Yesterday nothing but dark clouds, drizzle, wind and roaring surf.  Today nothing but dazzling windless sunshine. A long walk on the beach is definitely in order after it warms up a bit.

     Uncle Jack found some heartening news in the paper this morning, almost lost among the clamoring accounts of dreadful events in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kenya, New Orleans and other strife-torn places.

     When he and Mrs. U.J. were motoring around Ireland a few years ago they lamented the increasing ubiquity of plastic bags.  The sublime beauty of much of the Irish countryside was  defiled by the countless bags that festooned every fence, bush and tree along the roads.  Ireland was undergoing its miraculous economic transformation at the time and Uncle Jack was inclined to write this depressing phenomenon off as part of the price the country would have to pay for "progress".

    Not so, it seems.  The Irish government, responding to pressure from many quarters, has levied a tax on plastic bags so severe that they have practically vanished from the culture overnight.  The Irish people have been jolted by law into doing what most of them realized they should have been doing all along, namely eschewing throwaway bags of all kinds and carrying their groceries home in reusable cloth bags.  It's a somewhat draconian solution to a seemingly intractable and growing problem but it makes so much sense that the vast majority of the Irish citizenry have very quickly adapted.  They are not forbidden to use plastic bags but the societal cost of doing so has been shifted from all taxpayers directly to those individuals who create the problem in the first place. 

     Could it happen here?  Probably not.  Uncle Jack doesn't know anything about the plastic bag lobby in the U.S. but he is sure it exists and will be ready to smother (with a plastic bag if necessary) any attempt to legislate their product out of existence.

     In the meantime he has been shamed (again) into realizing that he ought to be using cloth bags to haul his groceries home from Harris-Teeter every week. Keeping a dozen plastic bags out of the landfill barely qualifies even as symbolism but it will help Uncle Jack demonstrate his solidarity with the wonderful Irish people who gave the world the gift of Guinness---in refillable barrels, of course.


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6:55 a.m.

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7 a.m. Almost there.

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7:03 a.m. Right on time.

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Obviously here to stay.

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The beach is like concrete this morning. Easy walking right at the edge of the water.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:17 AM

Comments [2]

Friday, February 1, 2008
Sunrise in Sonag, Friday February 1, 2008
     Uncle Jack took advantage of a hiatus in the light rain that will probably fall all day long today to walk up to the beach and take a couple of pictures. His timing was perfect this morning because he caught the clouds at their peak of pinkness. A few minutes later the color was gone and it became obvious that the sun will not be seen any time soon.  The ocean was roaring so he made a short video that can be reached via the YouTube link below the pictures.

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This extravaganza of color lasted all of five minutes. Luckily Uncle Jack was there.

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The big condo development just south of the Tanger mall is going up rapidly in spite of the icy winds of late that must have made life miserable for the workers.

link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQDDPMQxHI0

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:18 AM

Comments [4]

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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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