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January 15, 2017

A new Presidential term begins, but to the dirt it’s more of the same. Governmental detritus has already left a 240.5 year mark in the District of Columbia, adding our short patina of civilization to 150 million years of alternating swamp and sea and surface soil in the rock record of the…

011517JoyHall

January 14, 2017

My oldest daughter has joined the workforce — finally — and it’s no pie job, either. In fact, it’s an after-pie job. She’s a dishwasher.

This is the moment every parent dreams of: When the same child who complains bitterly about having to spend two minutes emptying…

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January 08, 2017

OK people, listen up. I know many of you have already made your New Year’s resolutions — be kinder, switch to e-cigarettes, give up foods that end in “ieto” — but the truth is you may be focusing on the wrong things. Sure it is important to be healthy and to stop…

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January 07, 2017

It has been nearly eight years since Johnson City purchased a large farm just down the road from my family’s home place. The new owner has yet to plant the first row of corn.

The Tennessee city, of course, did not buy the 55-acre Keefauver farm with farming in mind, but for parks expansion.…

December 26, 2016

Here’s hoping you got more gold than coal in your stocking!

Both gold and coal have had moments of greatness in North Carolina. Unlike frankincense and myrrh, which are the saps of shrubs not native to our climate, gold and coal have Tar Heel history.

The United States stretched only as far…

122616JoyHall

December 25, 2016

Standing on his hind legs, steely gaze sweeping across our back patio and yard, my tiny Yorkie mix Einstein is every inch the watchman. Not a leaf stirs without his knowledge; not a pine cone thunders to the ground without being viewed with suspicion.

But make no mistake, the foliage of fall is not…

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December 24, 2016

When our daughters announced to their Tennessee cousins last year that we were going to become permanent neighbors, one of the cousins was a little sad. “We won’t get to look forward to seeing you anymore,” she said.

I understand. Looking forward to being with cousins is one of…

December 17, 2016

Sometime before Christmas, while my wife and I were dating, I brought her an abandoned kitten that had wandered off the street and into my office. More than 20 years later, another abandoned kitten wandered into Sharon’s office. It’s almost déjà vu all over again.

I do not…

December 11, 2016

Dale Carnegie, the author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” once noted that no matter what sort of behavior people engage in, they rarely think of themselves as bad.

Carnegie recalled that even notorious gangster Al Capone regarded himself as a public benefactor providing…

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December 10, 2016

I often fantasize about mounting a headlight from a jetliner to the bed of my pickup truck and aiming it backward. The dream is of boiling the eyeballs of every dimwitted driver that gets behind me with bright lights blazing.

I am of the opinion that headlights, even on low-beam, are becoming…

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