Keith Lamont Scott of Charlotte, NC

Some gun person asked me, “Wouldn’t you feel safer having a gun?”

keithlamontscottYou’ve likely heard about the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man, at the hands of the police, specifically a black police officer. There were demonstrations that started out peacefully, but turned violent for a couple days.

Putting aside, for the moment, the grief over the untimely death of the individual, I was immediately concerned about the well being of my “baby” sister and her adult daughter who live in Charlotte, North Carolina. Somehow it’s different when you see a massive demonstration at the corner of Trade and Tryon, and you say, “I know exactly where THAT is.”
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Q is for Queen City: Charlotte, NC

Charlotte, NC also grew as a function of alcohol: “Prior to 1978, single drinks could not be served in North Carolina. People who wanted a glass of wine with dinner at a restaurant would have to bring their own bottle.”

There are a number of cities nicknamed Queen City; I knew about Cincinnati, OH and a few others. However, I’m going to talk about Charlotte, NC, in no small part because I have been there several times.

Back in 1973 or early 1974, my father lost his job with Associated Building Contractors in Johnson City, NY, next to Binghamton. He saw this an an opportunity to go wherever he could find a job anywhere in the country. He looked everywhere from Syracuse to San Francisco. Ultimately, he found a position at J.A. Jones Construction in Charlotte, as safety coordinator. He went down first, then my “baby” sister Marcia, and finally my mother. Both of my parents were born in Binghamton, but Mom was less than enthused about moving to the South.

My father, while liking Charlotte well enough, referred to it often as a “big old country town,” where a train might stop traffic within the city limits. It was big and getting bigger, in large part because of annexation. Cities in North Carolina, and other predominantly southern states were allowed to annex unincorporated territory adjacent to them as long as the municipalities met minimal criteria of “urbanness” Continue reading “Q is for Queen City: Charlotte, NC”

I is for Irene

Yes, that’s 3 hours, 39 minutes of flying time over an 11-hour stretch.

Irene is one of those semi-popular names in the US, 16th most popular among girls’ names at its peak in 1918 and 1919, 684th in 2010.

Irene has also been designated as a possible hurricane name by the World Meteorological Organization. “The Atlantic is assigned six lists of names, with one list used each year. Every sixth year, the first list begins again.” Things before 1978 weren’t quite so neat and tidy, so Irene was eligible to be a hurricane name in 1959, 1963, 1967, and 1971. While Irene was unused in 1987 and in 1993, there were actually hurricanes named Irene in 1981, in 1999 and in 2005.
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Take The Train to Charlotte


So, it’s Sunday morning when I’m writing this. I note it because, usually, I allow the magic of posting ahead of time give you the (false) impression that I get up every morning and write some purple prose. Actually, some days I write nothing, and others, such as this past Saturday, I might compose three.

I mention this because I may be offline for a while, not responding to comments, not visiting other blogs. Or not – I don’t know yet.

Friday, my sister Marcia called me at work. She said that our mom seemed fine that morning, took a shower and started getting dressed. Suddenly, she started complaining about a severe headache. She was screaming, like she did when she was in a car accident a few months ago. Marcia decided to take her to the doctor, but by the time they were trying to get ready, my mother had become listless. So my sister called an ambulance, and Mom went to the hospital.

It turned out Mom has a brain bleed. Apparently, this layman has discovered, there are two types of strokes: one in which the blood vessels are constricted and one in which a vessel can burst; my mother has the latter.

Some factors: my mom is 83 years old, with high blood pressure plus other medical issues, and possibly most significantly, does amazingly poorly with the various anesthesia she’s had in the past. So calling Dr. Derek Shepherd of Grey’s Anatomy to do some sort of surgery is not a high percentage option.

Marcia called me Saturday. Mom has developed a full-blown case of pneumonia, from a little spot on her lungs to much worse merely hours later. My sister Leslie flew into Charlotte, NC from San Diego, CA on Sunday, for an extended visit she had been anticipating doing for a while anyway.

I’ve decided to go to Charlotte, too. But taking the plane is not only expensive, it becomes more so because I don’t know when I can come back. I can book it for a week, but then I might need to change it and incur a $150 change fee; no, Southwest doesn’t fly to Charlotte. Moreover, the best deal on a flight from Albany, NY to Charlotte, NC goes through Detroit, MI, an airport I HATE, HATE, HATE. Going through Atlanta, GA is not much better. The one direct flight is way more expensive.

Most of all, I really have come to despise what now passes for air travel in America, where I get to toss my four-ounce bottle of shampoo because I could be a terrorist. (More ranting at another time.) It’s become a flying bus, and I’m just not fond.

That leaves taking the train. It’s 15 hours, and I’ll either have to leave Albany or get to Charlotte in the middle of the night. Still, I like the train. I like walking around on the train, going to the dining car and meeting people on the train. The train is civilized; the plane is a meat market. At some point, quite probably by the time you read this, I’ll be in Charlotte, and I don’t know for how long. Since there is no real round-trip ticket, the return is more flexible.

All of this to say that I’ll probably be posting every day for the next week or so, stuff already written, or perhaps not. I’m sure I’ll be blogging from Charlotte once I figure out what the situation is.

Fiddlin John Carson And His Virginia Reelers-Take The Train To Charlotte

30-Day Challenge: Day 27-A Picture Of Where You’re From

This was an arcane piece of information my late father once noted that I found inexplicably interesting.

A picture? I did a whole blogpost about my hometown of Binghamton, NY last year, and much more recently, a partial blogpost about Albany, NY, where I’ve been the last 30 years.

Well, all right:

When I was growing up, this was the post office in Binghamton. Now it’s the federal building.
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