In both life and music, love must be our motivation

23It’s almost cliché that so many movie and television depictions of interactions between troubled adult and psychologist begin with, “…tell me about your relationship with your father.” Or mother. Or whoever.

The idea is to get the person to consider who they are, where they are and how they got there.

Good, bad or other, one of the greatest gifts we have is our past. Understanding where we once were brings a true prospective to where we are now, whether physically, emotionally or psychologically.

Our past can serve as an indication of how far we’ve come in some cases and point us back toward home in others.

Music has, for as long as I can remember, been a huge part of my life. I make it, listen to it and have had the opportunity to work with music professionally for nearly a quarter century at this point.

And I can still recall the very day — and interaction — which changed the way I listened to music.

As a 13-year-old city kid, the freedom, fresh air and good ol’ hard work of farm life held a certain appeal to me. For the summer, I was invited to live and work with my cousin (12 years my senior) and her husband on their family farm.

Tom Maginley was a strong, funny and hard-working son-of-a-farmer and seemed to me to know a little about everything. And on the day music changed, I was on a 30-mile ride from their home to his family’s farm with Tom’s wife.

An educator during the school year, Memory was a well-educated daughter of a schoolteacher, my dad’s sister. Both my dad and aunt were adopted into their family and it was an odd family dynamic.

In fact, I’d never met any of them until I was 12 years old and was immediately fascinated.

On this ride, Memory turned and asked me what kind of music I liked. Declaring I was a rock music fan, she asked if there was a specific band or song I liked.

Out of the blue, I said, “American Woman” by the Guess Who (hey, it was the 1970s).

She seemed familiar with the song but asked me to repeat some of the lyrics.

Then she asked, “Do you know what the song is about?” I didn’t.

I had never thought about it. It just sounded cool.

It had the word American in it, so it flew past every radar in my home, but it was widely revered as an anti-war protest song. A war into which Memory’s husband and brother-in-law were drafted.

While I don’t care much for it now, I don’t think I stopped liking the song right away. But the encounter led me to listen more closely and reflect on what songs are really saying.

Whether the cry of a generation, a memory of love found or lost, or the adoration for a God whose love for His people is unwavering, we owe it to ourselves to pause, listen and learn.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”
— Psalm 19:14 (CSB)

Cantaloupe: A sweet summer treat for people and pets

22Did you know that cantaloupe is in the berry family and is a cousin to watermelon, honeydew, pumpkins and squash?

The name was cultivated in the 18th century from the cantus region of Italy. They are the most popular melons in the U.S.

Composed of about 90% water, cantaloupes are primarily grown in California, Arizona and Texas, but you will find many of them grown in gardens and farms in the South. They bloom from July to September with mature melons ripening in about 90 days. Cantaloupes do not continue ripening after picking; they are ready to be picked on the vine that can grow up to five feet.

Their blooms carry male and female parts, the female flower has a large bulge at the base. Bees play an important role in the pollination process. Sometimes the plants will carry more female flowers than males and the reason is temperatures higher than 95 degrees.

Attracting bees to your garden is a great way to start growing by introducing plants that pollinate such as sunflower, coneflower, lavender and aster. Nothing can replace the pollination of a honeybee, but it is possible to hand pollinate.

The easiest way is to pluck a male flower and transfer the pollen to the female flower which works about 50% of the time. The male flower is visible by the presence of a stamen and the female flower has a bulge at the base.

There is nothing quite like the taste of sweet cantaloupe. Selecting a good one can be a little tricky if you are not used to it and especially selecting one in the grocery store.
The melon should feel heavier than it looks, the skin tan with a pale color between the netting, the surface firm but not hard and you should be able to smell the aroma. An overpowering smell or mushy surface is an indication that the melon is overripe.

Cantaloupe is good for us for a variety of health reasons other than fiber and water content. It is good for your hair with vitamins A and C, aiding in hydration, and is high in potassium. It is also a good source of vitamins B and C. Cantaloupe also contains a powerhouse of vitamins and hydration, potassium, magnesium, thiamine, niacin and folic acid.

It is a great post workout snack that lessens the chance of having muscle cramps, and fatigue and is good for your blood pressure and heart. In addition, it contains a lot of soluble and insoluble fiber which aid in digestion.

A snack in between meals can satisfy the appetite and is a good filler without adding the calories with a single serving of 60 calories. Eating the seeds can serve as a healthy snack with mixed nuts or eating them alone can aid in digestion.

Cats and dogs might enjoy this refreshing melon. If your cat or dog likes cantaloupe, giving a little bit will not harm them and can be considered one of the unusual things they might like to eat void of the rind. Seeds are safe but are high in fat, be sparing with adding many to your diet or your fur baby. With any of your fur babies, it is advisable to give just a little in case there is a reaction.

There is an abundance of recipes available that are not always associated with salads. You can enjoy a cold cantaloupe soup, drinks, granita, smoothies, dressing and martinis.

Summer is the time to enjoy a wide variety of fresh melons and fruit in many ways.

Live, love life and enjoy summer!

North Carolinians think recession is here

5 North Carolinians are greatly concerned about our economy. According to the John Locke Foundation’s latest Civitas Poll, 77% of state voters believe we are currently in a recession. Most call inflation “a huge problem” and say it’s difficult to afford housing, food, and gas.

At the same time, North Carolinians have been treated to months of positive economic news. We continue to attract new residents at a healthy clip and clinch top rankings for business and quality of life. Major companies are building new plants, warehouses, and headquarters in our state, creating thousands of jobs on site as well as new supplier and vendor networks likely to create many more.

So, is it irrational for North Carolinians to feel so dissatisfied and anxious about our economy? Not at all. In our present circumstance, it’s hardly irrational to care more about absolute than relative performance.

Regarding the latter, North Carolina fares well by most objective criteria. From the fourth quarter of 2019 (before the onset of the pandemic) to the first quarter of 2022, our state’s economy grew by an inflation-adjusted annual average of 2%. That’s the eighth-fastest growth rate in the country. It’s much higher than the national average of 1.2% and regional average of 1.4%. During the same period, North Carolina ranked 12th in per-capita income growth, again beating the national and regional averages.

Our labor markets are healing, as well. North Carolina’s U-3 jobless rate was 3.4% in June, down from 5% a year ago and 14.2% during the worst of the COVID downturn. While this headline unemployment rate is statistically indistinguishable from the national average, the state compares better on a broader measure that includes people who’ve dropped out of the labor force and part-timers who’d rather have full-time jobs. North Carolina’s U-6 rate of 7.8% is below the national average of 8.4%.

When it comes to the rising cost of living, one could do much worse than live here. For example, as of late July the average retail price of a gallon of gas was about $4 in our state — significantly below the national average of $4.33. North Carolina is also doing a better job than most at new home construction, which is helping to moderate price inflation in housing. In a recent survey of the nation’s 300 largest housing markets, a disproportionate share of those earning high rankings were in our state, including Burlington (#2), Raleigh (#6), Durham-Chapel Hill (#12), Wilmington (#32), and Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (#40).

Relatively speaking, then, North Carolina’s economy is performing well. Still, what does that mean in practice?

If you’re employed but struggling to make ends meet — because your recent pay raise was outpaced by the prices you’re paying for rent, food, transportation, and other goods and services — how much better does it make you feel to learn that you’d be even worse off if you moved to New Jersey or Illinois?

It may well be true. But it may not feel relevant. You weren’t planning to move, anyway. Meanwhile, there’s a stack of bills to pay.

When I was more deeply engaged in public-policy analysis, I paid a lot of attention to measures of relative performance. Because state and local government, in particular, can have only small-to-moderate effects on economic outcomes over time — or on a variety of other indicators of interest, from test scores to crime rates — it’s essential to construct models that adjust for national and international trends, or other factors beyond the control of state and local governments, in order to isolate the problem you’re studying. Otherwise, a relatively small signal will get lost in the statistical noise.

We don’t live our lives within econometric models, however. Based on our own experiences, and those of people we know or read about, we draw broad inferences about how things are going.

North Carolinians have clearly drawn the inference, I think correctly, that something has gone horribly wrong. Try talking them out of it at your own risk.

Letter to the Editor: Unresponsive leaders leave unanswered questions

6a I asked Senator Thom Tillis why he voted along with the Democrats for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. I eventually received a lengthy boiler-plate reply. The wording is designed to sound good and convincing. But I found in it something that any critical thinker should find disturbing, if not downright frightening.

What guardrails does this legislation put in place to protect due process for law-abiding North Carolinians?

Here is a paragraph from that lengthy response:

"I am very concerned about protecting and preserving our constitutional rights, which is why I fought to ensure strong due process protections were included in this legislation. For states that choose to use crisis intervention order programs, the legislation requires strong due process and evidentiary protections to protect our constitutional rights and prevent abuse. That means new due process guardrails for states with existing crisis intervention order programs and for those that choose to implement new ones. This includes both pre- and post-deprivation due process rights that include notice, the right to an in-person hearing, unbiased adjudicators, knowledge of opposing evidence, right to present evidence, right to confront adverse witnesses, and the right to be represented by legal counsel. It requires heightened evidentiary standards to justify crisis intervention and requires penalties for those who attempt to abuse the program."

Well, this reads pretty reasonable and convincing, until you get to the bit “unbiased adjudicators.”

Let’s see, somebody that doesn’t like you complains to the police. They raid your house and confiscate your legally acquired (and licensed if applicable) firearms. So, you demand a hearing to get your guns back.

According to this document from Senator Tillis, your claim will be heard by “unbiased adjudicators.”

So, who is going to appoint these “unbiased adjudicators” and by what criteria will they be judged to be “unbiased?” Will the officials that select these “unbiased adjudicators.” be subject to an equivalent requirement that they also be unbiased? Let’s get down to the core of this: who is unbiased about anything these days?

Will someone that is a member of the NRA be excluded owing to prima facia bias? Will someone that owns firearms be excluded? Will only people that do not own firearms be considered? Given the various statistics on gun ownership in the USA, it is very likely that the pool of “unbiased” people eligible to be appointed as adjudicators will be constricted, and very likely among a minority of the citizens.

I asked Senator Tillis to answer these questions. I got no reply.

Draw your own conclusions from Senator Tillis’ nonresponse. I wonder if he even read the text of this bill. He’s got staffers that can write up an executive summary in a couple of paragraphs, but just how unbiased are they when it comes to picking and choosing what goes into the summary?

What really bothers me about this whole idea is that it echoes what went on in the former Soviet Union. Back in the day dissidents were denounced, hauled before tribunals, judged to be mentally deranged and committed to institutions.

This so-called Bipartisan Safer Communities Act impresses me in the way it sets up a mechanism to deal with anyone deemed to be “dangerous” by bypassing due process and subjecting anyone thought to be out of line to bureaucratic repression. What's next?

Of course, if Senator Tillis disagrees, he can answer my earlier questions. Unless of course he thinks I am being out of line by even asking them.

Gun violence is a symptom of a much bigger systemic problem. Good old “divide and conquer” politics is the bigger problem. Gun ownership is written into the U.S. Constitution, but our politicians seem to find it more of a nuisance than a guideline. Forget that " ... in order to form a more perfect union" bit. Instead of bringing this country together as Americans, they strive to emphasize class distinction and racial conflict. They are using COVID-19 to enforce top-down social control. And amid this, Senator Tillis and the rest of the senators and congressmen that foisted this bill on us expect “unbiased adjudicators” to right the wrongs.

— Leon A. Goldstein, Retired U.S. Army, Fayetteville resident

Partisan policies are hurting Americans

4Are you worried about the future of our nation?

As a dad and your congressman, I continually think about the kind of future and opportunities the next generation of Americans will have. According to a recent poll, an astonishing 75% of Americans are experiencing economic hardship largely because of ineffective policies by President Joe Biden and House Democrats. The cost of goods across the board continue to rise due to rapid inflation and prices at the pump remain near record highs nationwide. American families cannot afford these price hikes, yet Democrats in Washington have continuously stalled efforts to address them properly and have largely doubled down on their reckless spending.

Last week, House Democrats pushed through a massive appropriations package that will likely make America’s inflation crisis even worse by recklessly increasing federal spending on misguided, progressive projects. Their bill includes massive budget increases for government agencies like the Internal Revenue Service, as well as for partisan “Green New Deal” provisions that take little account for whether they will work or how this will impact you directly. They also open the door for your tax dollars to fund abortions.

At a time when inflation is forcing folks to dip into their savings just to get by, the last thing we need is more borrowing and spending on programs that don’t address the real challenges impacting you and your family. Instead, Congress must take steps to lower needless spending, increase private sector growth and lower costs. A key part of this is unleashing American energy in all forms — a move that will lower fuel prices and create jobs across the country. As your congressman, I will continue to work to implement these reforms and make life easier for you and your family.

Beyond their spending package, last week House Democrats also continued their attack on your constitutional right to bear arms by advancing an “assault weapons” ban. Democrats imposed a similar ban in 1994 and it did little to stop violent crime or prevent tragedies like Columbine. Like red flag laws, this new ban may sound reasonable to some, but it would have little or no impact in the real world.

Unfortunately, time and time again, Washington Democrats rush to advance gun control measures like bans or red flag laws because it makes them feel better. However, data and experiences have proven that taking guns away from law-abiding citizens does not work and leaves folks unable to defend themselves. Just last week, we saw the importance of this when a brave 22-year-old with a conceal carry permit stopped a mass shooter at an Indiana mall.

I have been a strong and vocal defender of the Second Amendment since my first day in Congress and I will always defend the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. Additionally, I will continue to promote commonsense solutions to address the root causes of gun violence and protect your family. This includes provisions like my STOP II, Secure Every School and Protect our Nation’s Children Act which would use unspent COVID-19 funds to protect schools, improve mental health, and save lives.

While the majority in Congress has focused on unnecessary spending and gun grabs, I focused last week on advancing solutions for an increasingly important area of our lives: data protection.
In July, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act advanced out of the Energy and Commerce Committee. This bipartisan measure is a major step forward to establish national data privacy protections for all

Americans by creating provisions to limit Big Tech’s ability to track and share data about your online activity, as well as increases protections for kids using online platforms. As this bill is considered by the House, I will continue to support efforts to protect your online security.

There is plenty to be worried or frustrated about when it comes to the future of our nation. Rest assured I will continue to focus on growing our economy, defending your rights, and delivering solutions for the issues that matter most.

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