News: Columnists

May. 24, 2014 @ 04:10 PM

Baumgartner Vaughan: D-Day’s 70th anniversary approaches

Back when I was a reporter in Southwestern Virginia, I covered the June 6, 2001, opening of the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va. I left my home in Blacksburg at dawn, driving through several towns on the way to a rather small town, especially for a national memorial. But it’s there because Bedford lost the most soldiers, per capita, of anywhere else in the country on D-Day. 

The dedication was a long day and an exciting one. Thousands of people were there, including the president. It was an important story because it was part of a thousand stories of those who will never forget June 6, 1944, the day of the Allies’ invasion of Normandy, France, during World War II. 


May. 23, 2014 @ 05:46 PM

Greeking out in Durham

I haven’t started spritzing everything with Windex.

Yet.
But I’m thinking about it.
It’s been a wild year since I took the unprecedented (in my life) step of getting baptized, joining the Greek Orthodox Church so that I could marry into a (very) Greek family.


May. 18, 2014 @ 06:43 PM

Neil Offen: The tiring act of retiring

A little more than a year ago, I packed up all my cares and woes, along with my curated collection of old take-out menus from restaurants that no longer existed, emptied my desk, refused to sharpen any more pencils, left my office and retired from my job.


May. 17, 2014 @ 04:39 PM

Baumgartner Vaughan: Childhood friends reunite on Facebook, fall in love

Do you remember that boy or girl you playfully kicked under your desks in third grade? Dawn Grasty and Randy Weisbaum do. Picture it: Simi Valley, California, 1969 to 1971. Grasty and Weisbaum were best friends in third and fourth grades. 


May. 16, 2014 @ 05:27 PM

Remembering a man who wouldn’t quit

Michael Butts met his future wife in 2003 in the bookstore at Durham Technical Community College.

She needed a cassette recorder for a class in anatomy and physiology. She couldn’t find one.
The burly man – a formal football player at N.C. Central University who worked at the store even though it paid less than unemployment – asked if she needed help.
“I do not,” she said. “Thank you.”


May. 11, 2014 @ 04:38 PM

Offen: Running for my life

First, the good news. The other weekend, I ran a 5K race and I did not end up in the emergency room. In fact, I finished second in my age group.
The bad news is that I’m not sure there were more than two people in my age group.
And to make it worse, the other guy in my age group just managed to edge me out by a hair — or more precisely, by 17 minutes.


May. 10, 2014 @ 02:56 PM

Baumgartner Vaughan: The road to graduation

The first time I was ever in the Dean Dome was not for a basketball game, but my sister’s graduation hooding ceremony when she received her Ph.D. from UNC Chapel Hill. I didn’t live in the Triangle yet. I was still living in another college town about four hours north. It was May 2004.
I wore the wrong shoes – big clunky sandals that I traded for cheap flip flops I bought on Franklin Street hours later. I know better now. Anyway, I have a framed photograph of my sister, Joy, in her graduation gown, the UNC Bell Tower in the background. She’s looking off into the distance. I’m sure I asked her to, to capture a wistful moment. The reality was we happened right by the tower in a hurry to the ceremony and I snapped a quick picture. 


May. 09, 2014 @ 11:43 AM

The play’s not the thing

Puzzled by the past several months of histrionics about North Carolina’s election-law changes? You’re hardly alone. By any objective standard, the Voter Identification and Verification Act enacted last year was commonsensical in structure and modest in potential effects.


May. 04, 2014 @ 11:21 AM

Offen: My commencement address

Dear soon-to-be college graduates,

Thank you for selecting me as your commencement speaker this year once you found out that you couldn’t get Miley Cyrus.
I know you have asked me here because you believed I could offer all of you some pertinent advice about life, since I have been living for some time.


May. 03, 2014 @ 11:34 AM

Baumgartner Vaughan column: Time of your life, the ’90s

You all know how hip-hop producer 9th Wonder and N.C. Central University men’s basketball coach LeVelle Moton were buddies back in the day on campus as students. After 9th Wonder launched the Hip-Hop Institute at NCCU with history department chair Jim Harper last month, you learned that Harper was there, too, doing his history thing while 9th made beats and Moton carried that basketball around. That was in the mid-1990s. You know, just the other day. Not long ago. Recently. Say what? That was 20 years ago? Oh, right. Time moves fast.

 

Apr. 27, 2014 @ 11:27 AM

Offen: A one-way conversation

In three-quarters of a mile, take the ramp heading west, if you can figure out which direction west is. But of course, if you could, you wouldn’t need a GPS in the first place, would you?

In 1,000 feet — that’s about 330 yards give or take, if you prefer smaller numbers or have irregular feet — move over into the right lane just past that gigantic semi tractor-trailer that’s bearing down on you and doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down at all.


Apr. 26, 2014 @ 05:20 PM

Baumgartner Vaughan: Free military air show in May

About a year ago, some of you shared my disappointment and a tad bit of disgruntledness about the cancellation of the 2013 air show at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. At the time, the military was being prudent and waiting for Congress to stop being petulant before going ahead with an event for civilians. Well, that’s more or less resolved now and this year’s air show is back on – not at Seymour Johnson AFB, but the usual rotation it takes with Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.

It’s a solid two and a half hour drive each way from the Triangle to see the air show. I think it’ll be worth it. I’m going. It’s free and will be held May 16-18 at MCAS Cherry Point. Did I mention it’s free? You can buy a seat if you want to park yourself and watch. Parking your car is free, though. The air is as free as the wild blue yonder.


Apr. 25, 2014 @ 12:42 PM

Platt: Teaching kids that kindness is cool

Brothers Matt and Zach Certner, as children, started an organization to provide activities for kids faced with autism and other challenges.

That was good. But it wasn’t good enough for them.

Parents complained that their special children, although grateful for the safe space and inclusive environment provided through the Certners’ program, didn’t get that same experience in school.


Apr. 20, 2014 @ 05:14 PM

Baumgartner Vaughan column: DHS Forever, with Lougee’s daughter

Bobby Lougee loved to socialize. Even when age made it harder to get around, Lougee kept it up because his old friends appreciated his efforts. He liked it, too, of course. Lougee, who died Memorial Day weekend 2013, was a World War II veteran, a Marine, a good friend to many, and a man who remembered a time in Durham when you could get six hot dogs for a quarter.


Apr. 13, 2014 @ 12:39 PM

Neil Offen: How to tax your brain

Final check before filing:

Begin by adding line 18 — number of people you run into whose names you can’t remember — to line 14, number of times you try to avoid saying their names during a conversation.
Add lines 23 through 35 and try doing it without a calculator if you start to get cocky.