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Truckin’ in old New Mexico

10Remember when you were in 4th Grade? Sure, you do. Both of the readers of this column completed 4th grade. One even got all the way through 6th grade. Back then you had to write an essay on “What I Did on My Summer Vacation.”

My 4th grade class with Ms. Delgrande was many moons ago. But here’s to you, Mrs. Delgrande, my annual vacation report. This year we went back to New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment and home of Walter White’s meth labs of “Breaking Bad fame.”

The most important thing about travel is to remain flexible. Expect bumps. Roll with the punches. At the Albuquerque Sun Port we had a “Seinfeld” moment at the Thrifty Rental car desk. I had reserved a medium sized car several months ago. They had my reservation. Unfortunately, they did not have my car.

As Seinfeld said in a similar situation, “It’s not enough to take the reservation, the important part is to keep the reservation.” All they had left was a giant GMC Acadia Wagon Queen Family Truckster. We are talking a vehicle big as all west Texas. It was as wide and long as an aircraft carrier with half the maneuverability. The Beast was Yuge.

Given the choice of walking across New Mexico or driving the Beast, we took the Beast. Having driven a school bus in high school gave me some confidence, but that was long ago and far away.
Our motel in Santa Fe had two small parking lots, each of which could fit six normal sized vehicles. Squeezing the Beast in and out of the lot provided excitement beyond compare.
The motel had an interesting sign: Zombies Stay Free. Luckily, all the Zombies were out of town at a Brotherhood of Christian Zombies tennis tournament in Albuquerque. We left town with less money but with our brains intact.

Santa Fe was having a festival which meant parking was at a premium. Olde Santa Fe has narrow streets which are not conducive to Beastly driving. Upon finally locating a skinny parking space in a public lot I learned to my dismay that one had to pay for parking using a local parking app on an iPhone.

Oh Boy. I got to stand in the lot while downloading the parking app. The app had at least 60 individual unwanted web sites. While enjoying a baking New Mexican sun, I never located the parking app despite prolonged scrolling. Somehow, I did manage to provide my credit card information to an evil app.

About 10 minutes after leaving the parking lot, Lord MasterCard’s Fraud Alert robot sent me a text asking if I had charged $1.95 to Cosmic Rip Off, Inc. No, I replied. The cancellation dance of my card loomed as inevitable. In full tourist mode, my credit card was compromised in the first 10 minutes of sightseeing. Pretty smooth move.

Fortunately, my wife Lani has her own separate card which meant she got to pay for all the meals. So, it wasn’t a total loss for me. I had cash, but not enough to have survived a week without a credit card. I reminded myself to remain flexible.

We stayed in Santa Fe and then Taos. Apparently, we really like both places as we have been there three or four times and keep going back.
Santa Fe has more art galleries than you can shake a stick at. Downtown Santa Fe has a central Plaza which is always jumping with activity.
Taos, which also has a lot of arty stuff, is a much smaller version of Santa Fe. Taos goes to sleep when the sun goes down. I purchased multiple “Breaking Bad” souvenirs there in honor of Walter White, the Albuquerque chemistry teacher gone bad.

New Mexico is justly proud of their chilies. They have both kinds, red and green. Their license plates proclaim them to be the Chili Capital of the World. They put chilies in everything: Enchiladas, rice, eggs, coffee, ice cream, toothpaste and chewing gum. It’s a chili cult.

Your restaurant wait person will ask you if you want red, green or Christmas chilies. If you order Christmas, you get red and green chilies. I always ordered Christmas.
The Beast was very comfortable out on the lone highway. Beasts are designed to roam free, not to be cooped up in the city. New Mexico is big. Big Skies. Big mountains. Big prairies. Big red, tan and white rocks.
Big elevations — Santa Fe is at 6,000 feet and Taos is 7,000 feet. Just north of Taos lies the Rio Grande Gorge River bridge. You are riding along through essentially flat prairie land. Suddenly the ground falls away into a 650 foot drop off into the Rio Grande valley where the river winds its way to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Bridge has pedestrian walkways which shake when big construction trucks whiz by. It’s a pretty dramatic walk which I recommend if you enjoy vertigo tinged with fear and quaking. Pretty nifty. There are souvenir tents at the edge of the Bridge where you can buy all manner of silver and turquoise jewelry.

They accept American money in New Mexico. Have a chili and a smile.

Should today's teens be optimistic?

8 The North Carolina of my childhood had an economy very different from that of the average state. Today our economy remains distinctive, though not by as much.

When I started my first paid job in 1979 — teaching four-year-olds how to tap dance — manufacturing accounted for fully a third of North Carolina’s gross domestic product, 10 points higher than the national average of 23%. On the other hand, our financial sector had not yet vaulted into national significance. Banking, insurance, and real estate accounted for 11% of North Carolina’s GDP in 1979, vs. the national average of 15%.

Forty years later, in 2019, our state’s manufacturing base was still larger than that of the average state: 16% vs. 11%. (That’s the last year for which a clean comparison is possible. The onset of COVID skewed the 2020 figures, and we don’t yet have granular data for 2021.)

If you work out the ratios, you’ll see that the relative contribution of manufacturing to GDP in North Carolina and in the nation as a whole didn’t change much during this period. But the actual shares of GDP are much lower. That’s not because manufacturing cratered. Output went up significantly. In inflation-adjusted terms, the output of manufacturing businesses in North Carolina was about $64 billion in 1979. It was $98 billion in 2019.

What really happened is that service industries exploded. Look at the aforementioned financial sector. Banking, insurance, and real estate now account for 21% of the country’s GDP. North Carolina’s overall proportion is the same, while our banking share is a bit higher than the national average.

To broaden the story a bit, North Carolina is more populous and prosperous than it was back when I was attempting to corral the rambunctious preschoolers sliding across my dance floor. In 1979, some 5.8 million lived in the Tar Heel State. Their average personal income was an inflation-adjusted $26,665. By 2019, our population totaled 10.5 million and personal income averaged $48,261. Over those four decades, then,

North Carolina’s per-capita income rose about 81% in real terms, somewhat outpacing the regional (77%) and national (71%) averages.
I think these statistics are useful for level-setting. They are difficult to square with the extreme claims of partisan activists, professional boosters, or professional worrywarts.

For example, contrary to what you may have heard, North Carolina has not seen its manufacturing base disappear, or the formerly sunny prospects of its “working people” fade into a depressing dusk. These are gross exaggerations. Mainstay industries such as textile, apparel, and furniture did shed lots of employees — primarily because of technology-fueled gains in productivity, not trade deals — but other manufacturing enterprises began or expanded in our state during the same period, as did many other sectors that hire many people to make, sell, or deliver many wonderful goods and services.

On the other hand, it is also true that North Carolina has not always outperformed the rest of the Southeast or United States over the past 40 years. It is true that some communities and groups within our state are clearly struggling to make ends meet. It is true that North Carolina’s progress remains hampered by a long list of problems that can sometimes seem intractable. These problems include educational deficits, infrastructure woes, legal and regulatory impediments, declines in family formation, increases in violent crime, and rampant substance abuse.

Some of these problems are worse than they were back then. Some are better. When I was a teenager of modest means in 1979, however, I was largely unaware of broader social conditions. I thought primarily, and optimistically, about my own future and that of my peers. I figured we’d live more comfortable lives than our parents or grandparents had. I figured I’d find a fulfilling career that paid enough to support my future family (though even then I suspected that career might not be tap dancing). For the most part, I figured correctly.

Are today’s teenagers so optimistic? Should they be?

Local leaders can learn a lesson in how to deal with difficult history

4My wife, Rebekah, and I have spent the last few days in Rome, Italy. Everywhere we look there are reminders of ancient human history ... a couple thousand years’ worth anyway.

We’re learning that many of the old structures here — some of the 1200 churches, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Circus Maximus, many of the monuments to yet another egotistical emperor — were built in part by slave labor, often Jewish slaves.

So, should they all be torn down, demolished, erased from memory, deleted from history? (As though that’s even possible!)

Or should they — as they are — serve as objects to make history visible and touchable today, as icons of eras past, providing insight into human behavior and trends of earlier times, even serving as instructional elements for those alive today? And, even as revenue producers by those who come from afar and pay to see and experience them … because they are still here.

Lift your sights, leaders of Fayetteville, when it comes to the fate of the most iconic, historic building in the town that we call home — the Market House. Learn from places in the world that really are old and historic, all of which have checkered chapters in their past.

While walking through what was once the Jewish Ghetto in Rome, we saw the bronze plaques embedded in the floor near the doors of Jewish residences in the 1940s. Engraved on them were the names of those who lived there, the year of their birth, the date of their arrest and deportation to Auschwitz and the date of their “assassination.”

It reminded me of an earlier trip I made to Krakow, Poland, and visited the nearby compound of Auschwitz. I actually walked into the oven where Jews were crammed in and gassed to death. The ovens obviously weren’t originally built for that use, but nevertheless they were the site of some of the most horrific acts of human derangement in history.

So, should the entire complex of Auschwitz be demolished, obliterated, because of what happened there?

Obviously not, in the opinion of the worldwide Jewish community, many of whom lost family members there, in much more recent history than anything that happened on the steps of Fayetteville’s Market House.

In fact, while there, I saw busloads of young Jewish students touring the site, learning first-hand some valuable lessons from history — exactly where it all took place just a generation or two ago.

I’m fully aware of the fact that because I’m not of African American descent, in the minds of some, I’m unqualified (or unworthy) of voicing an opinion on the matter of the Market House’s link to the issue of slavery.

Furthermore, I’m a relative newcomer to Fayetteville. I moved here in 2010, after marrying a bonafide “Fayette-Villian,” as I jokingly refer to Rebekah. She’s a graduate of Pine Forest High School. She’s, in fact, a 6th-7th generation native of Fayetteville. So, she’s my ticket to entry into the community I proudly now call home.

We are fortunate we can choose to live anywhere. Our global business is portable and not tied to any one locale. We have friends and family in many places. All we need is an airport and the internet.

We are in Fayetteville by choice and love living downtown. As a kid who grew up in church and loves baseball, our daily view of downtown churches and baseball stadiums is about as good as it gets. While we’re here, we want to be good citizens and do all we can to make Fayetteville a great place to live for everyone.

A Minority Perspective

I grew up a missionary kid, so a different kind of “military brat” — the Lord’s Army. As such, I had a taste of minority life in my youth. My family was one of only five white families in a SE Alaskan fishing village in the 1950s.

As a teen in South America, I was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed gringo in a brown-skinned, black-haired world. I never viewed my racial difference as a disadvantage.
As a child, I was adopted into the Eagle Tribe of the Tlingit Nation and still maintain contact with my Alaskan “family.” Though decades removed from my high school years in Peru, I can still hold my own in Spanish.

Here's a more current concern of mine as it relates to racial disharmony here in Fayetteville. Rebekah and I have four mixed grandchildren. They are all well-traveled. They’ve lived in Hawaii and blended with Pacific Islanders. They spent time in the Philippines and worked alongside their missionary mother in an orphanage in Cameroon, West Africa. They now live in Idaho, a relatively “white” part of the country. They don’t see color, a virtue I’m proud to have had a part in passing on to them.

You know what I don’t want to expose them to? It’s some blatant, racially prejudicial behavior I see plainly displayed on the streets of Fayetteville on a regular basis. There are often some “street preachers” loudly proclaiming their message and reading from their religious texts on the streets downtown, often wearing garments compatible with their particular persuasion. I certainly respect their rights of free speech but do question their motives or their effectiveness.

As one who spent 20 years in full-time ministry, I’m always eager to acknowledge the zeal and enthusiasm of those who are bold in their faith. So, on one occasion, I stopped to have a friendly visit with them. It wasn’t long before I was informed that their version of the gospel was black-centered only.

I was boldly and emphatically informed that I, as a white person, had “NO HOPE.” Now, on more than one occasion, when simply walking by them on our way to dinner or one of the many downtown shops we like to patronize, I hear them say (in my direction) — “Damn you white people!”

If I were the leaders of Fayetteville, I would be concerned about such expressions of racial hatred and such example of “hate speech” — happening on the streets of my town in 2022 — just outside of buildings that serve as places of business by respectable members of the community. I wouldn’t be trying to destroy a building that was erected as a place of business, even though it was used by some to conduct business that was most certainly deplorable in every sense of the word.

Republicans have a plan: Commitment to America

7What would you do with an extra $700 in your pocket each month?

This is the question families across our nation should be asking, as the highest inflation in four decades is costing the average household an estimated extra $717 each month compared to January 2021.

As I travel across our region, I constantly hear how this inflation crisis has impacted every community and every part of our lives. Just last month, grocery prices spiked at their fastest pace since 1979. Household electricity prices are up nearly 16% from one year ago. And the average price of gas remains close to $3.80 a gallon, up from $2.38 on President Joe Biden’s first day in office. I am really concerned too about increased costs to heat your home this winter — especially for folks on a fixed income.

These economic challenges have been primarily driven by out-of-control spending in Washington and the Left’s war on American energy production and jobs. The consequences of these actions are forcing families to make hard decisions around the kitchen table.

Yet, the challenges facing you and our nation unfortunately do not stop there.

At our border, roughly 5 million illegal immigrants, including nearly 80 people on the terrorist watchlist, have crossed since President Biden took office and stopped deportations, the wall, and the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy. In August alone, more than 203,000 migrants crossed — almost the entire population of the city of Fayetteville.

This border crisis is a threat to every community, especially through the increased flow of deadly drugs.

Due in part to record amounts of fentanyl crossing our border, overdose deaths hit an all-time high last year, becoming the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18-45.

North Carolina alone had 3,759 deaths from opioid overdoses. This includes 183 in Cumberland County — 100 more than in 2019.

On top of this, our communities continue to be plagued by a rise in violent crime. National homicide and aggravated assault rates have risen roughly 50% and 36% respectively, compared to this time in 2019.

Tragically, these come as intentional killings of law enforcement have reached a 20-year high.

Under one-party rule in Washington, it is clear that America’s economy, safety, freedom and strength are all under threat like never before.

I have opposed Washington Democrats’ agenda which will only worsen these crises, such as their so-called ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ that will raise your taxes and hire 87,000 more IRS agents to come after you.

Washington Democrats are ignoring the crises they have helped create and don’t have a plan to fix them. House Republicans, however, have a plan.

Called our “Commitment to America,” House Republicans have recently released a detailed plan to take our country in a new direction and establish a future of security, freedom and prosperity for you and your family. You can read our plan at CommitmentToAmerica.com.

First, we have a plan to create an economy that’s strong. The economy remains the most pressing issue facing families across this country. We are committed to getting it back on track by curbing reckless spending, making America energy independent again, and creating an economic environment that encourages growth, job creation, and lower costs.

This involves bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. and standing up to adversaries like China that feel emboldened after last year’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan.

We also have a plan for a nation that’s safe. We will work to tackle the crime wave plaguing our communities by rejecting anti-police and soft-on-crime agendas. Our plan hires an additional 200,000 police officers and gives law enforcement the resources and support they need to get the job done.

We will also work to secure our border and stop the flow of fentanyl through proven measures such as ‘Remain in Mexico,’ finishing the wall, and by implementing my HALT Fentanyl Act.

Finally, we are committed to keeping our nation safe by supporting our troops and their families.

We also have a plan to secure a future built on freedom. This means giving you control of what happens in your kids’ school and confronting big tech censorship.

It also means personalizing your health care to provide affordable options and better quality.

In Congress, I have helped move us in the right direction by voting to cap insulin costs at $35 and advancing my bipartisan MOBILE Health Care Act, critical legislation to expand access in rural and underserved communities.

Finally, we have a plan to build a government that’s accountable. This starts by standing up for your God-given rights like life, and the First and Second Amendments. It also means making sure the government in Washington fulfills its obligations to you through oversight and transparency.

It is an honor to serve you, Fort Bragg, and our community. In Congress, I have always sought to work across the aisle on commonsense solutions to the problems facing you and your family.

However, it is clear that two years of one-party rule in Washington have put our economy, safety, and prosperity — as well as an extra $700 a month — in peril.
Instead of electing more rubber stamps for President Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the choice this November is simple: If you want an economy that’s strong, a nation that’s safe, a future built on freedom, and a government that’s accountable — then we Republicans are prepared to deliver on our Commitment to America.

Will you join us? 

Editor's note: Rep. Richard Hudson is serving his fifth term representing North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. He currently serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and in House leadership as the Republican Conference Secretary.
Rep. Hudson grew up in Charlotte, graduated from Myers Park High School and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte,
He and his family live in Moore County.

Suspension training targets strength, balance, stability

18 Known as Total Body Resistance Exercise, TRX is a specialized form of resistance training. It was developed by former U.S. Navy Seal Randy Hetrix. The suspension training uses body weight to develop balance, flexibility, core strength and stability actively engaging all or some of the body groups together.

The concept of TRX is void of the traditional weight machines and lifting. A TRX training device is a heavy-duty strap suspended from the ceiling with two handles that are designed for the feet and hands with interlocking devices that adjust the straps for different heights.

The straps are attached to a secure anchor point with five length adjustments for exercises that incorporate the upper and lower body as well as the chest, arms and back. It is an easy gym to carry because the strap can be easily secured to any structure that will hold weight including the back of a door. The support weight of a strap goes up to 1,300 pounds.

TRX trainers have worked with personal trainers, coaches, athletes, first responders and service members.

On Oct. 15, I will be taking a preliminary course on the foundation elements of teaching that will be the beginning of my continued education in comprehensive courses. The preliminary course has a detailed hand reader of 50 pages to bring to the nine-hour class, which is the introductory training course for strap positioning, cueing and techniques. It is meant to be a continuing program with functional training incorporating different modalities in a variety of training sessions. It incorporates strength, balance, endurance and stability.

TRX training engages the fitness level of people training and instills the ability to progress at the beginner level as well as the advanced levels that engage the exercises for intensity, duration and strength. The system focuses on movement, allowing different body parts to be mobile while other areas remain stable.

It is suitable for all levels from beginner to athlete because of body positioning for level challenges. It is a good workout for strength, balance and flexibility as well as cardio endurance. The low-impact movements do not put much stress on your joints with less chance of injury.

TRX can be an excellent training tool for older adults, people that sit all day and people with injuries.

An example may be the execution of a squat which requires stabilization, balance, quadriceps and glutes. The handles of the system help to split the weight distribution between the upper and lower body. The participant may be able to perform a squat while gaining confidence in the ability which leads to progression in performance.

It is also an excellent training tool with balance exercises because the participant can eliminate the fear of instability.

Older adults may resist trying one-leg balance exercises without the aid of a wall or rail. The system provides a dynamic point of stability without fear of falling over.

It is also a good system to mobilize joints and improve flexibility allowing gravity for ease of movement.

A health professional may recommend TRX for you as a functional exercise to develop a strong core, back pain, to deal with a knee or balance issue.

As an example, one that has difficulty getting off the floor can gradually gain confidence as they progress with a suspension system.

There are hundreds of TRX exercises, and many traditional classes have found their way into the platform such as yoga, pilates, barre, high intensity and cardio circuit. I personally like to use TRX as an extension of the barre classes that I teach and love the increased range of motion.

Live, love life and TRX.

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