Saturday, January 28, 2006

Remembering Challenger

Like everyone else of a certain age, I remember exactly where I was when Challenger exploded in 1986. I had just returned from class to my dorm room at NC State. As a junior mechanical engineering student, the disaster really registered with me. Several of our faculty members played significant roles in the early space program, and one played a primary role in the development of the space shuttle. Their history with the space program was woven into the curriculum.

I recall that a freshman uber-geek named Darrell in the dorm room next to mine correctly diagnosed the Challenger o-ring problem immediately after the explosion. I thought Darrell was talking out of his ass, but he was proved right over time. I often wondered what happened to him.

I also remember the explosion occurred on my parent's 20th wedding anniversary. That a national event occurred on a significant family day has become a common through the years. Elvis died on my 11th birthday, and Len Bias died on my sister's 15th birthday. Bobby Kennedy was assassinated on my mother's 21st birthday, and Ronald Reagan died on her 57th birthday. The launch pad fire that killed three Apollo astronauts occurred on my dad's 20th birthday. You might want to lay low on August 16 this year when I turn 40.

I have written previously about Roger Boisjoly, the engineer who tried to prevent the Challenger disaster, and a good friend of mine whose company is a major NASA contractor today.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Which Two Celebs?

The Top Ten list in last weeks YES! Weekly featured home grown celebrities. It turns out I am related to two of the celebs on the list.

The first person to name the two celebs wins a tasty virtual prize.

Hint: My relatives are idolized by some, but neither is an Idol.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Chrysler Bails on Greensboro's Golf Tourney

Chrysler is bailing as the title sponsor of Greensboro' s PGA TOUR stop after this fall's tournament. That comes as a bit of a surprise, since Greensboro was recently granted a more attractive date on the TOUR schedule starting in 2007.

Part of securing that more favorable date was a letter of credit for $22 million that assured plenty of money for four years of tournament purses. That letter of credit was backed up by corporate and individual pledges, so you can be sure there is plenty of motivation to find a large corporate sponsor to pay that money instead of those who made the pledges.

That means there should be a great opportunity for yet another awkwardly named golf tournament in Greensboro.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Big Link

This week's Big Link is a very thoughtful blog, SpiritBlog.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bryan Park An Interesting Choice

According to the News & Record, Bryan Park's Champions course will be awarded the 2010 United States Amateur Public Links championship. This is one of the biggies in American amateur golf, and the winner will receive an invitation to the 2011 Masters, barring any rule changes between now and then. It is great news for Greensboro.

The Champions course is both challenging and picturesque, but I am surprised at this announcement for two reasons. Being selected for a USGA event is usually very political, and I don't think anyone associated with Bryan Park or Greensboro has strong ties to the USGA. The other reason I am surprised is that while the course is challenging, it has some really funky holes.

The tee shot on #13 requires players to hit into a fairway that is almost perpendicular to the shot. Combining that orientation with the hard ground in the summer, players will find even their best tee shots punished on that hole. And a Lake Townsend alcove protrudes into the fairway on #15, so that will require players to hit anywhere from a 3-iron to a 3-wood. That is a serious no-no on a par five.

I heard criticism of these two holes when Bryan Park hosted the 2002 NC Mid-Amateur, its last big men's event. And one official from the Carolinas Golf Association told me they would be unlikely to bring another of their major tournaments back to Bryan Park for that reason.

Another question comes to mind regarding this tournament. The USGA will demand that the course conditions be as close to perfect for this tournament, which is normally contested in mid-July. The heat that time of year is tough on golf courses, so I wonder who will pay for the extra money likely required to get the course in tip-top shape.

Will it be the City of Greensboro or Pinnacle Golf Properties, the contractor who operates Bryan Park?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Diapered Jurors

I know there has been a push to teach civics more thoroughly in our schools, and I support that initiative. However, I think this is taking it too far.


Talking With God

Just when it appeared Pat Robertson had cornered the market on knowing God's will, we learn that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has a hot line to Heaven, too. Nagin claims that "God is mad at America."

Nagin went on to say that a rebuilt New Orleans "will be chocolate at the end of the day." I am not sure if Nagin's statements were a misguided attempt to channel MLK or if he was trying to appeal to black voters.

New Orleans was poorly served by federal, state, and local authorities immediately after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. But now, the city needs someone better than a half-assed hustler to lead them in their restoration.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Maginnes Takes The Mike

Greensboro resident and Sedgefield member John Maginess has retired from competitive golf, according to an article in Golfweek by Jeff Rude. Maginess, an ECU alum with a degree in creative writing, had some good years on the PGA TOUR and three wins on the Nationwide Tour, but he never achieved stardom as a player.

One of the secrets of high level competitive golf is that many of the players are miserable human beings. Maginnes is one of the truly good guys. He has never taken himself too seriously, and he has always appreciate the opportunities that golf presented to him. Now that he is retiring, he will tackle his next opportunity in golf.

Maginnes will cover two dozen tournaments for PGA TOUR radio and another 11 on TV for USA in 2006. I am pretty sure that USA will no longer cover the PGA TOUR after 2006, so I hope CBS, NBC, or The Golf Channel will pick him up full time. With his wit and knowledge players and their lives on tour, he would be better than most of the people covering golf on TV now.

Perhaps this next chapter in John Maginnes' golf career will be the one that brings him stardom.


Big Link

The Big Link is back, and this week it is the TV Photog Blog. True to his profession, his blog is one of the most visual in the area - go by and visit this week's Big Link now

Friday, January 13, 2006

Rabbit Out Of The Hat

In a stunning announcement, Mark Brazil revealed that Greensboro's PGA TOUR stop will move to a mid-August date on the 2007 golf calendar. The last of golf's four majors, the PGA Championship, has held that calendar spot for decades. Now, the Greensboro tournament will fall between the PGA Championship and a four-tournament playoff.

The date is better than the October date the tournament has held the last few years, but it is not nearly good as Brazil's announcement claims. Most top players will have qualified for the four-tournament series and will sit out the Greensboro stop to get rest before playing the next four weeks in a big money shootout. However, second tier players who are not locked into a spot in the four-tournament playoff will probably come to Greensboro to secure there spot in that big money series. It's the difference between getting Tiger Woods and Fred Funk.

There will be several challenges for tournament organizers. Forest Oaks continues to be a course that most pros do not like. That hurts efforts to attract a top field. Also, it will be difficult for the course to be in top condition in the heat of mid-August. It's the same reason the PGA Championship was rarely played in the south during the week our tournament will now be played.

One of the other big problems Greensboro faces is its lack of pamper factor. PGA TOUR pros are spoiled by the treatment they receive on a routine basis. I know several TOUR players, and they consider the hospitality by our tournament to be lacking. I think our hospitality is probably fine, but it does not compare to the way the red carpet rolls out at many other TOUR venues.

Getting a date before the TOUR closes up shop in mid-September was critical for Greensboro, and I am pretty surprised tournament organizers pulled it off. But in the delirium of the moment, be aware that there will be plenty of challenges ahead and plenty of other cities trying to take Greensboro's spot when the schedule is revised in about four years.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

More On Chief Wray

City Councilwoman Sandy Carmany provides an excellent synopsis of public information regarding the end of Chief David Wray's tenure as Greensboro's Chief of Police.

What has been revealed is enough to turn my stomach, but I am thankful that City Manager Mitch Johnson has acted decisively. I am also glad that the City Council has given its full and public support of Johnson. As shameful as it appears Wray's actions were, we can be proud at the way Johnson and the Council have addressed the issues.

At a time when our community is working to come to terms with ugly parts of our past, it is a shame that some among us continue to create mistrust and obstacles to harmony.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Police Chief Wray Resigns

Greensboro Police Chief David Wray has resigned his post. Since the locks were changed on his office on Friday, I think it is safe to assume he walked the plank under duress.

Wray and his administration have been under investigation by the city attorney's office. I have to wonder if the other shoe is about to drop with the release of an unfavorable report about Wray.

I am friendly with some of the officers who patrol the area around my business. They have been unhappy with the constantly changing work shifts, and they have also felt that Wray paid little more than lip service to concerns expressed through surveys of rank and file officers.

I hope the department will find more stability and harmony under the leadership of Acting Chief Tim Bellamy.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Fantasy Football Win

I did hold on to win my fantasy football league, after trailing most of the year. The league is made up of a dozen NC State fans and alums, and we had a loose agreement that the winner would get a throwback jersey paid by the rest of the league.

Here is the one I want, and it's marked down enough even those cheapskates can afford it.


Dr. Strangelove

I watched Dr. Strangelove last night on DVD. What an interesting parody of 1960's US/Soviet paranoia.

After the film, I wondered how Stanley Kubrick might skewer the Bush administration and its bunker mentality if he were still alive. I also found myself mourning Peter Sellers, one of the great comic geniuses ever on screen.

And that Dr. Strangelove. He might be the kinkiest character I have ever seen in a film.


Handy Woman

Part of preparing for our new baby's arrival is moving Sarah, our two and a half year old daughter, to her first big girl room. Kristen decided to convert an unused bedroom for that purpose. I asked her a few times if she wanted help, but she is very handy and wanted to handle it solo.

She did all of the wall repairs and painting, then she decided the six electrical sockets in the room would look better in white than cream. She replaced all of them - not just the face plates - she replaced all the sockets, too. That meant unwiring the (12) outlets and rewiring the new white sockets. I thought that was pretty cool until I realized she also modified a few of the bottom sockets, so the light switch would control them. That's when I was impressed.

I first met Kristen when she was 17, and she was regularly changing the oil in her car. A few years later, while on the way to my sister's wedding, she had a flat tire between Winston-Salem and Jamestown. She changed the tire the a rain/sleet a business suit.

I am working a list of honey-do's for her right now.


Baby Alert

Kristen and I are expecting a new addition to our family in a few weeks. Her due date is March 11, although we have reason to think our baby will be here a little early.

We have been asked a few hundred times if we are having a boy or a girl. We have chosen not to find out the baby's' gender, and we will be pleased either way.

© Copyright Patrick Eakes 2004-2010