Inattentional blindness

14Inattentional Blindness  Back in 1975, my Uncle Cecil taught me how to drive on some little country roads in the hills of Tennessee. In those days, I had three things that I would consider modern machinery. I had an automatic transmission, an electric starter and an AM/FM radio with horrible speakers. We only had about four FM radio stations, so my radio was set to 101.5 WQRT.

While driving with my uncle, I was not allowed to jam out, and I can, to this day, hear him telling me, “Watch the road.”

The roads we practiced on were the roads less traveled. There was an occasional car, but he also taught me to watch out for people on the sides of the road and animals.

Fast forward a few decades, and cars are more complicated than the bridge of the Star Trek Enterprise. There are also distractions brought by cell phones. These thingies distract us from watching the road.

In driving schools, we are taught to drive defensively. That is true until you are no longer watching the road. When you are not paying attention, you become the offending driver. You are a threat to everyone on the road, yourself and your passengers.

Last year, I saw more motorcycle wrecks on the highway than I have ever seen before. We hear about pedestrians, scooters and bicycles being run over by cars. This is tragic for the person who has been hit. It is also hard on the driver. They can face criminal charges, fines, insurance issues or lawsuits — and then there is the knowledge that they accidentally harmed someone.

Here are some things that will help you avoid an accident.

Look for others on the road. You are not the only game in town, and we all share the road. No distractions. Your text message or phone conversation is not as important as your driving safety. If your call or text can’t wait, pull over in a safe spot, finish your business and then pull out into traffic carefully.

Watch your surroundings. Don’t change lanes suddenly without first looking to see what is around and ahead of you. Many motorcycle accidents are caused because of people switching lanes or passing someone and clipping a bike that was in front of the car they passed.

If you come upon a school bus or Fayetteville’s FAST buses or see the mail truck, you know they are going to stop. Give them space.

Stop at yellow. Fayetteville’s traffic lights are quick and in many places take several minutes to cycle through. I often see both cars and motorcycles trying to speed through a yellow light. It is better to be safe and stop than to get hit at the intersection.

Watch for motorcycles in high-traffic areas. The Cross Creek area, Skibo Road, Ramsey Street, Bragg Boulevard, Raeford Road, Owen Drive and Spring Lake are all high-traffic areas.

Don’t overdrive your ability to see and take control of any situation. If you cannot see what is ahead of you, then slow down. This is especially true during periods of darkness and rain.

Trust your instincts. Train yourself to slow down or to stop if you see something without knowing what it is. Your eyes give you a good field of vision. Your peripheral vision may catch something that your mind does not register.

Train your mind to see what you don’t see. In the book “The Survivor’s Club,” author Ben Sherwood discusses “luck.” Ninety percent of the people he studied viewed luck as “the way we think.” He goes on to show that those who use their peripheral vision notice more and therefore seem luckier.

The book further describes what is called “inattentional blindness.” Inattentional blindness is the failure to notice an unexpected stimulus in one’s field of vision when other attention-demanding tasks are being performed. It is categorized as an attentional error and is not associated with any vision deficits.

This typically happens because humans are overloaded with stimuli, and it is impossible to pay attention to all stimuli in one’s environment.

It’s important to develop your field of vision and, as Uncle Cecil said, watch the road.

If there is a topic you would like to discuss, please send your comments and suggestions to motorcycle4fun@aol.com. RIDE SAFE!

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National Lafayette Trail Project celebrates city’s namesake

12Lafayette Trail copy  Fayetteville is known to many for its military neighbor, Fort Bragg. But Fayetteville played a large role in early American history, too, as has her namesake, the Marquis de Lafayette. Lafayette has been immortalized in both French and American history as a military officer, an aristocrat and a Constitutional advocate. He changed the course of history for our country and our city.

There are many groups and people that celebrate Lafayette’s memory. One of them is French native Julien Icher. His initiative, The Lafayette Trail Project, is a historical trail based on Lafayette’s footsteps during his 1824-25 Farewell Tour.

The trail not only celebrates Lafayette, it educates the public and uplifts communities. Icher’s website, www.thelafayettetrail.com, explains his efforts: “Our goal is to provide localities whose history taps into General Lafayette with new incentives to increase tourism and benefit the development of local economies.”

These efforts, in addition to the trail, include historical research, outreach, articles, lectures and more. The goal is to complete the project as the bicentennial of Lafayette’s Farewell Tour nears in 2024.

When the towns of Cross Creek and Campbellton united in 1783, they named the city Fayetteville in commemoration of the esteemed war hero. Lafayette visited this city in 1783 during his Farewell Tour of the United States.

Historians agree that without Lafayette’s support, the Americans would have lost the war for independence.

While generations of early Americans may have learned lessons from Lafayette, we can still learn from him today. According to Icher, “When Lafayette visited the country, the country was divided in 1824. In 2019, you also have a very politically divided America. It’s a divide between the left and the right, the elites and the common American. And in 1824, Lafayette and his role give you an idea to bring together Americans and unite them.”

Icher’s robust inspiration, his belief in a common bond between our two nations, is a tribute to France, America, Fayetteville and Lafayette. Icher is proud of the historic relationship between America and France, explaining there exists “historical bands of friendship between the United States and France.”

These historical bands, Icher explained, were molded by a common set of values that the French and American people share. He believes that Lafayette embodied these unique values of freedom, liberty and equality and that memorializing Lafayette is memorializing America’s first ally, the French. According to him, Lafayette was, and still can be, a unifying figure for America.

Icher said, “North Carolina has a lot of rural communities that are very interested (in Lafayette’s story), eastern and northern Carolina, and it’s a true sense of pride that they display.”

Readers can help the movement to memorialize Lafayette by visiting Icher’s website, by calling their local state representatives or by volunteering their time. Find out more at www.thelafayettetrail.com.

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Better Health hosts ‘Evening on the High Seas’ fundraiser

01coverUAC022019001  For nearly 61 years, Better Health has helped the medically underserved in Cumberland County — free of charge. For 22 of those years, it has also entertained the county with an “Evening of” fundraiser, which has evolved tremendously over the years. “It was initially held at the Cameo Theatre downtown,” said Amy Navejas, executive director and CEO of Better Health. “And then it evolved a little more and became a live theater event.” Soon after its beginning, the gala began to adopt a new theme every year. This year’s theme is “Evening on the High Seas,” to take place Thursday, Feb. 28.

Navejas is excited for the public to experience 2019’s nautical theme. “We were just playing around with some ideas, and this seemed different and fun,” she said. “It’s flexible, and you can interpret it as a fun and silly cruise or a formal captain’sdinner- type cruise.”

As it pertains to attire, anything goes. “Everybody has a different idea of what they want to wear,” Navejas said. “I would say most individuals will be in cocktail attire, but it can be interpreted any way. That’s how a cruise is — you’re not out of place in resort attire, and even bathing suits are okay for a party at the casino.”

Speaking of a party, the casino will make a reappearance this year. “Each year we bring back a casino, and it seems like everybody just loves it,” Navejas said. The casino is sponsored by the Cobb Tilghman Group at Merrill Lynch, and the Wine Café and Morgan’s Chop House sponsor other beverages.

Elite Catering will provide a variety of food for the event, to include pork and beef tenderloin, crab cakes, mini Salisbury steaks and more. “Every event I’ve been to that they’ve catered has been exceptional,” Navejas said of Elite. “They do such a phenomenal job.”

There’s more to this event than food, however. “We also have a silent auction,” Navejas said. “We’ve worked really hard this year to bring some packages from local businesses and donors and supporters.” She added that there will be a returning casino game in which the player wins a cruise if their dice rolls spell the word “Harley,” of Harley-Davidson. There are several opportunities to win.

“We’ve had winners every year,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun for people to do.”

Overall, the “Evening of” gala is Better Health’s largest fundraiser. “It used to be our only fundraiser event,” Navejas said. “It’s just a really fun way for people to come together and support a wonderful nonprofit that is doing a lot of good. Without (this fundraiser) ... Better Health would be a in a really difficult position.”

According to Navejas, the gala’s dinner and entertainment is not too formal. “It’s not a seated meal. We are hoping to incorporate some skits and some songs, as well as a DJ.”

Besides the silent auction and casino games, attendees should expect a few brief interruptions during dinner for some cruise-themed fun, along with more information about Better Health.

Better Health’s backstory

Ruth Peters created Better Health in 1958 when she noticed that several of the ill members of her community were unable to pay for their prescribed medications. “Initially, we were started to address the need for medications for the uninsured,” said Navejas. “That meant that we were going to the ER to give them those emergency medications.”

The county health care systems couldn’t afford to take care of these sick individuals who were not getting better, creating a cycle of sickness and poverty. As a solution to this problem, Peters established The Better Health Foundation of Cumberland County.

In 1991, The Better Health Foundation evolved into what is now Better Health of Cumberland County, Inc., a fulltime nonprofit organization that has become invaluable to the low-income individuals of our community. “We’ve definitely grown quite a bit,” said Navejas. “It can be a challenge for a nonprofit, but the clients that we help are so incredibly grateful.”

Navejas isn’t alone in this opinion. One anonymous patient described her experience with Better Health: “I’d waited for at least 1 1/2 years trying to save enough money to have (a) tooth pulled. Did my best to keep it from getting infected with the Lord’s help. I wasn’t getting anywhere until The CARE Clinic told me about Better Health. You will never know how much Better Health helped me, and I will do whatever I can to help you guys.”

Today, Better Health works to provide health care and assistance to low-income residents of Cumberland County, whether that be by education, referral or direct assistance. After two years, Better Health became a United Way Affiliate Agency. Since then, Better Health has created the first free Diabetic Monitoring and Education Clinic, along with the first free Medical Equipment Loan Closet. Navejas explained more about Better Health’s programs: “We have diabetes education and clinics throughout the week, child obesity programs, and more.”

In 2017, Better Health assisted 405 individuals at its diabetes center, 1,607 individuals at its clinic and 1,064 people who visited its exercise program. The organization experienced 100 percent patient satisfaction with its Medical Equipment Loan Program.

“Evening on the High Seas” takes place Thursday, Feb. 28, from 6-10 p.m. at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, located at 536 North Eastern Blvd. To purchase tickets, or for more information, call 910-483- 7534 or visit www.betterhealthcc.org. Sponsorships are also available.

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American Warrior 5K raises funds for local food bank

10Run  Saturday, March 9, His Outreach Worldwide sponsors the third annual American Warrior 5K Walk and Run. This event, for which the streets of downtown Fayetteville are transformed into a USA Track and Field certified race route, benefits His Bread of Life, a local Christian nonprofit food bank. The race’s starting point and registration area is at Festival Park.

Lynne O’Quinn, founder and CEO of HOW, said most of the race’s elements from its first two years remain unchanged — with one exciting update. This year, ’80s Unplugged, a local band, will play live music as participants register and warm up in the morning and as they wait for everyone to finish the 5K.

As in years past, free food will be distributed to runners after the race, this year provided by Baldinos Giant Jersey Subs. A variety of entertainment will be available pre- and post-race, including a free bouncy house for children alongside vendors selling wares.

O’Quinn stressed that this is a family-friendly event and people and families of all ages are invited to participate.

At the same time, the American Warrior 5K holds the distinction of being a certified, timed race. “Whatever (runners) win has more value because it’s a USA Track and Field certified race,” O’Quinn said. “We’ve had a lot of people say they enjoy this course, too, because it winds through downtown. It makes it very interesting for runners, and then for the walkers it’s a pretty walk.”

First, second and third place will be awarded to runners in eight age divisions, as well as to the top finishers overall.

Each runner will receive a complementary bag with goodies, including a T-shirt and coupons to enjoy around town, like at Sweet Frog and Pure Barre – Fayetteville. Runners who register before Feb. 27 are guaranteed the correct T-shirt size.

His Bread of Life, the nonprofit benefiting from the race’s proceeds, is headed by director Brian Armstrong. It is one of seven ministries under HOW and is located at 204 S. Reilly Rd., in a home that was donated. It is open Wednesday mornings from 8:30 a.m.-noon.

At this food bank, anyone in need is invited to come in and “shop” (free of charge) for what they need from a variety of shelves, with a cap on how many items can be taken from each shelf. “We have refreshments, we give them bags; they’re able to get what their family really needs at that time,”

O’Quinn said. “It’s like their neighborhood grocery market. … They love coming in, and they talk to each other.” O’Quinn described the population His Bread of Life serves as being like family to her. “We pretty much take these people at their word, and we’ve never felt like we’ve been swindled or scammed,” she said. “All these people are the nicest, sweetest people, and they’re just down on their luck.”

She said the food bank serves people like the homeless (including homeless veterans), people referred through social services, recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, people who lose their jobs due to medical issues and more.

Pre-register online for $25 ($20 if military) at www.runtheeast.com/ races or at the HOW office, 2770 Breezewood Ave. Day-of registration on March 9 opens at 8 a.m. and costs $30. The race begins at 9:30 a.m. Participants are encouraged to wear red, white and blue.

To learn more about HOW and His Bread of Life, visit http://hisoutreachworldwide.org/about or call O’Quinn at 910-476-7975 or Heather Hartley at 910-874-3676.

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The real barbecue crisis

10BBQ  North Carolina’s most important emergency is not the next federal government shutdown. Nor is it a fake national emergency on the nation’s southern border.

Our state’s real emergency is a real threat to its dominant position in the world of barbecue.

Forget for a moment about our family spat about whether it is Eastern- or Lexingtonstyle barbecue that is better. We can fight cheerfully among ourselves about that question forever. But, according to barbecue expert John Shelton Reed, there is not much difference between the two, especially if it is real barbecue. Real barbecue, he says, must be cooked and smoked over real wood coals. Otherwise, Reed says, it is not real. It is rather, using the French word for false or fake, “faux ‘cue.”

The immediate challenge to our favorite food comes from CBS’ “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert. He is a South Carolina native who usually makes his living coming up with new ways to make fun of President Donald Trump.

Last month, however, he resurrected his barbecue war against us.

Making a joke about the good news that a missing 3-year-old Craven County boy had been found, he said the bad news was that the boy was now condemned to a lifetime of eating North Carolina barbecue. He has called our barbecue “a sauceless, vinegar- based meat product” and compared the vinegar to toilet cleaner.

Back in 2004, Colbert grossly chewed a plug of tobacco. When he spit it out, he said he was adding it to “my chaw juice or, as they call it in North Carolina, barbecue sauce.”

He held up a plate, which he said was “as close as we can get to North Carolina barbecue, it’s just shredded cardboard soaked in vinegar.”

Responding for North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted, “Those are fighting words. Vinegar and tomato have their place — y’all have a mustard problem.”

An unsigned comment from BH Media in the Winston Salem Journal cleverly summed up Colbert’s situation with North Carolinians: “You’ve pulled North Carolinians in, Colbert. You may have stepped in some pit.”

But Colbert says he is ready for our attacks. “I welcome your vinegar-stained letters, you poor flavor deprived bastards.”

If you want to send him a vinegar-stained electronic message, write him at www.fastnote.com/stephen-colbert.

Or, you could write him a thank you note. Tell him we appreciate the attention. Even his crazy nonsense helps spread the word. And we welcome the competition. If folks from South Carolina and other states driving home on I-95, I-85 or I-40 stop at some of our classic barbecue eateries and sample the product, I think they will forget about the Colbert craziness.

But there is a problem.

We are losing some of our best barbecue places.

Last month, the massive Bill’s Barbecue near I-95 in Wilson closed after more than 55 years in business. Its founder, Bill Ellis, retired in 2015 and died in 2017. Even when Bill’s 850 seats were full, visiting its bountiful buffet was like a warm family meal. But keeping it going proved to be too much for his widow.

A few weeks earlier, Allen & Son near I-40 and I-85 north of Chapel Hill shut its doors. For many years, owner Keith Allen worked early and late to chop the hickory wood and manage the slow-cooked fire that brings pork shoulders to perfect eating condition. Southern Living praised Allen & Son and made it one of its “Top Picks” in Southern barbecue joints.

Colbert’s sassy comments might annoy us, but the loss of these classic barbecue institutions and the threatened loss of other treasured restaurants is our real crisis.

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