News: Columnists

Jan. 26, 2014 @ 04:46 PM

Neil Offen: Have an opinion?

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Jan. 25, 2014 @ 03:14 PM

The work, then the magic of music

Sitting in on a rehearsal of the Durham Symphony Orchestra recently, I wondered how many of them were reliving a scene from their teen years. Rooms where musicians rehearse are functional, not fancy. The rehearsal room at the Durham Arts Council wasn’t too different than a high school band room. Nor should it have been. Chairs that stack. Lockers for instruments. Instrument cases – suitcases of the arts – resting by chairs. Musicians leaning over to each other during breaks, exchanging words and occasional laughter. 

Jan. 24, 2014 @ 04:47 PM

Breathing easier thanks to doctors

It’s not that I hate doctors. Most of them seem like perfectly fine people.
But I’m almost certain you’d never hear me utter anything like what my wife told the dental receptionist over the phone the other day:
“Wes would love to see you at 11.”
“Love” isn’t a word I splurge on teeth cleanings.

Jan. 19, 2014 @ 06:54 PM

Just a few questions

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Jan. 18, 2014 @ 04:06 PM

First black firefighters bonded for life

There were 10 of them. Ten men who broke the color barrier in the Durham Fire Department. Three are still living, and of those, two have been ill. George Washington King, who turns 78 next month, is spry and easily takes the stairs. Thirty-five years of being a firefighter kept him in shape. King called me last week after my column urging those who are veterans of the civil rights movement to share their stories. He came to the newsroom and we talked for a few hours about his career at the DFD, one he said that had its rocky times but was very rewarding.


Jan. 17, 2014 @ 03:30 PM

Worrying about the storms we can’t track

I was almost finished building the new toy box for John Michael last Saturday when our smartphones buzzed about a tornado warning in Durham.

Soon, we found out that – although it’s not a comfortable fit for all involved – it’s possible to cram two adults, a baby and a nervous Great Pyrenees into our downstairs guest bathroom.

Jan. 13, 2014 @ 11:36 AM

And now for some breaking news

My wife, participating in a long-standing family tradition, recently broke her wrist ice skating. Which leads, of course, to the inevitable and understandable question, what kind of long-standing family tradition includes fractures? Aren’t most long-standing family traditions just supposed to include cuts, bruises, root canals or the occasional trip to the emergency room?

Jan. 11, 2014 @ 04:54 PM

Tell civil rights stories now

For more than decade, we have heard that World War II veterans were dying at a rate of 1,000 a day. During that time, I have taken every opportunity, for this newspaper and others, to record their stories and share them with you. I’ll continue to do so.


Jan. 10, 2014 @ 05:46 PM

Welcome to the nerd club

Fifteen years ago, I told my editor at The St. Petersburg Times that I was working on a new side project -- an online role-playing game.

He smiled, laughed and said, “Wow, you really are a geek.”

Jan. 05, 2014 @ 05:10 PM

There’s an app for that

Since we don’t like to do anything by ourselves anymore, there are now apps for almost everything.
(By the way, for those of you who are not technologically conversant, apps are short for my friend Marty Appel, who invented the Macintosh and also was an early adopter of the Granny Smith.)

Dec. 29, 2013 @ 02:49 PM

For 2014, it’s to do or not to do

Number 1 on my to-do list for the new year is to stop making to-do lists.

The problem with my to-do lists has been that I generally put things on them that I am very unlikely, in point of fact, to actually do. These items require effort and follow-through and occasionally looking at the list to remember what is on them.

Dec. 27, 2013 @ 05:20 PM

Would you like The Force with that?

Several management types sat at tables in the McDonald’s dining room, holding a breakfast meeting while I munched on a burrito.

The senior manager leading the meeting made a comment: “You’ll find that in your R2D2 report.”

No one around the table giggled.


Dec. 22, 2013 @ 11:02 AM

The night before the night before

‘Twas the night before the night before Christmas,

when all through the house,
not a vector was stirring, not even the optical mouse.
The stockings were hung by the Kindle Fire with care
in case our new Nooks really needed repair.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of Xboxes danced in their heads.


Dec. 21, 2013 @ 05:22 PM

Unload the coal and sit a spell

Have a seat. The flurry is winding down, and it’s time for you to chill out, too. Here’s a column with some rhymes, some anecdotes, some factoids and some encouragement to drop the fuss and relax with the rest of us. (Or observe Festivus.)

Dec. 20, 2013 @ 05:31 PM

Overthinking baby’s first Christmas

Just five years ago, I’d have laughed in the face of anyone who told me that I’d someday find myself standing in the back aisle of a Durham Toys R Us, weighing the benefits of Baby’s First Blocks, the Soothe & Glow Seahorse and the Rhyme & Discover Book.