Well, it’s the end of the year and that can only mean one thing: It’s time once again for the biggest, the baddest, the most spectacular, most important awards ceremony in the known universe – the 2016 Yostie Awards, which, each year, brings you the best, the worst, the most bizarre, the whatever of the year that just was.

Ready, set, go


Least helpful Siri response of the year. A few years ago the Yostie Award winner in this category was Siri’s response to the poor user who said, “Siri, call me an ambulance,” to which Siri responded, “OK, from now on I will call you ‘an ambulance.’”

There were so many bad responses I got from Siri this year that it’s hard to choose a winner. I swear I think Siri gets worse and worse year after year when it supposed to be the other way around.

This year’s winning response …

“What’s the score in the UNC Tar Heel’s basketball game?” to which Siri responded, “I don’t have the schedule for any games between the Tar Heels and the Tar Heels.”

What? Huh? What are you talking about, Siri?


Biggest comeback. Alexander Hamilton. Before 2016, he was just some boring guy in dusty old history books who no one knew about.   Now, even though dead for over two centuries, he’s suddenly the hottest, coolest rapper in the nation.


Worst Way to Start the Year Award. The News & Record. On Jan. 1, 2016 – the very first day of the year – that paper did a giant front-page story that recapped the details of every single murder in Greensboro in the previous 12 months. Happy New Year to you too, N&R!

I hear that, for the New Year’s Day edition this year, the lead News & Record story will be an eight-page feature on incurable terminal illnesses that affect area residents.


Second-biggest oversight by a tech company in 2016. Apple. If you think that you have some absent-minded and forgetful moments, you might feel a little better after knowing that the giant computer company Apple can experience the same problem. This year, in one of the most embarrassing instances of oversight in corporate history, Apple forgot to put a headphone jack on its new iPhone 7.

You’d think that, somewhere along the line, someone would have caught the colossal mistake. And you know there was plenty of egg on faces to go around when they opened the box with the final shipping product and someone decided to check out the sound and the Apple executives all realized that no one in the entire company had remembered to put a headphone jack on the phone.

There was no doubt a great deal of finger pointing at that meeting.   “I thought you were going to put the headphone jack on there!?” “Me? I thought you were in charge of putting the headphone jack on there!”

I’m just glad Steve Jobs wasn’t around so no one had to break the news to him – imagine all those Apple execs trying to explain that massive screw-up to Jobs.


The very biggest oversight by a smartphone company, however, goes to Samsung. Samsung sold millions of Note 7 phones without realizing that the batteries exploded into a fiery fireball of death every time you used the phone. But, as bad as that mistake was, that isn’t even the bone-headed move that won Samsung the 2016 Yostie. No, what won them the 2016 Yostie Oversight Award is that, when they recalled all the phones with the exploding batteries, they then replaced them with other phones with new and different exploding batteries.


Biggest oversight by a county department. Guilford County Sheriff’s Department. The county finished building a shiny new Special Operations Center this year – only they couldn’t use the building for weeks after it was ready because there were no locks on any of the facility’s many doors. Technically, I’m not sure if this was an oversight or a supply chain problem, but either way it was interesting to see the county’s most highly secure building unable to keep anyone from coming in and having a free run of the place.


The Hope You Enjoyed Your 15 Minutes of Fame in 2016 Yostie Award goes to Pokémon Go, the virtual reality game that took the country by storm. For about a week this summer, every human on the planet was playing this game.

Avid Pokémen players showed up everywhere from holocaust museums to crack houses looking for Charmanders and Squirtles. Which didn’t always go over well with the proprietors of those establishments. In some cases, drug dealers in inner city crack houses started wondering why preppy computer nerds suddenly began showing up, snooping around and snapping photos with their phones – and, well, some Pokémon players discovered a gun to their head rather than the Wartortle power charm they were seeking.

Then, at 3:17 p.m. on August 18, those remaining players who had not been shot, hit by cars while staring into their phones or locked up for hate crimes against the Jewish faith, suddenly said to themselves, “Hey, this is really stupid and pointless,” and simultaneously put down their phones and stopped playing. Frankly, I doubt the app is even still available in the App Store these days.


Best surprise appearance by a performer. Jimmy Buffett, at the Wyndham Classic in August. Who would have ever thought that the globe-trotting tropical troubadour would show up with his guitar in summer at a place called Margaritaville where everyone is drinking.

OK, in retrospect, I guess you can say that that was actually completely predictable – but, regardless, a group of lucky Wyndham Championship-goers got to hear Buffett perform at the bar live, free and close up.


Hottest newscaster. News 2 Reporter Morgan Hightower. She won this award last year as well and, to be honest, she’ll probably keep winning as long as she’s in the area reporting the news.

If newscasters had numbers like basketball players, I would retire her number for being so hot. The only problem with watching her on the news is that she’s so beautiful it’s hard to concentrate on the story she’s reporting on. You can watch a whole newscast and still have no idea what happened.


Biggest disappointment of 2016. The flying car scientists. This team of “scientists” must be the slackest group of people in the history of the planet. They’ve won the Yostie for disappointment the last 10 years in a row.

In 1968, the flying car scientists promised us that flying cars would fill the air by 2001. However, it’s now a decade and a half later and there’s still nothing overhead other than birds and boring old planes. The only bright spot here is that I heard recently that the flying car scientists are nearly ready to wrap up the project and deliver the goods. Rumor is that flying cars should finally be in the dealerships sometime in 2017. Thank goodness for that. It’s about time.


Biggest national tragedy. Angelina and Brad break up. Perhaps the most important moment of the year – though one could argue that Trump’s victory approaches the same level of importance for the nation.


The If it Were a Snake it Would Have Bit You Award goes to the national media, myself and just about everyone else. Speaking of Trump’s election, Rhino Times Editor John Hammer actually wrote before the election why it was obvious Trump would win. Everyone else in the world – including Trump I think, and certainly yours truly – thought it would be Clinton by a mile.

In retrospect, the Trump victory makes perfect sense, but, as Kierkegaard is often quoted as saying, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”


Best County Department Head Yostie Award. 2nd runner up. Usually, government auditors are the last people in the world who would find a problem in their government’s operations, but Internal Audit Director Deborah Alston seeks out malfeasance like a Survivor cast member searching for an immunity idol.


1st runner up. Tax Director Ben Chavis. Chavis and the crack staff at the Tax Department now have collection rates so close to 100 percent that it makes me worry that the county’s tax collectors are going to people’s houses and threatening to kill the property owners if they don’t pay up.

However, the winner of the Best County Department Head Yostie Award goes to Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen. Thigpen is like the Steve Jobs of the deeds business. Fortunately, that means he’s a creative genius; unfortunately, that means he’s trapped in the deeds business – perhaps the most inherently boring enterprise known to man.

Somehow, though, Thigpen keeps it interesting – mainly by expanding the office beyond deeds services to those that are actually interesting. In recent years, he’s started providing birth certificate registration on iPads from hospital newborn wards, and offering veterans a special ID card that’s good for all sorts of discounts and special deals at area businesses, and this year Thigpen got his office into the passport issuance business.

In 2017 the deeds office is planning on opening a chain of specialty hot chocolate cafes and introducing a Guilford County Deeds line of gourmet hot chocolates that will also be sold at local stores. Some picky critics will no doubt say that that’s getting away from the core mission of the deeds office, but I say genius makes its own rules.


Biggest irony of 2016. The discovery that Guilford County parks officials have put up all this elaborate signage at an abandoned historic farmhouse renovation project at Northeast Park when they refuse to put a sign on anything that is actually being used.

Listen, for years the county’s parks department has had what seems like an ongoing war against any type of signs for the parks. There have been whole parks with no signs, unmarked mystery park parking lots in the middle of nowhere, and trails with handmade signs that users had to put up because there were no county signs to lead the way.

So it’s flat out astounding that, in a park project that never saw the light of day, the parks people have put thousands of dollars of elaborate signage on a completely unused historic farmhouse site that sits at Northeast Park like a miniature Soul City.   In that little empty rustic village there are signs all over the place, full of all kinds of information. There’s even a sign that says simply “Outhouse” next to the historically restored outhouse.

Biggest loss of 2016. Playboy drops nude women. What? Huh?   I hear that, in 2017, chicken Marsala recipes will no longer call for chicken.

Anyway, I’m canceling my subscription. I realized I wasn’t really getting Playboy for the articles after all. It was in fact the pictures all along. I stand corrected on that.


Dumbest scandal name in 2016. Tie. The world of espionage has now even entered Wake Forest football with the “Wakey-leaks scandal,” also known on one TV news station as the “Leakin’ Deacon scandal.”


Best local singers/musicians. Jessica Mashburn and Evan Olson. This couple spread music love and joy everywhere they go and if there is a more talented or likeable two people on the planet, I don’t know who they would be.


Biggest loser. Hillary Clinton. Wow. She was a shoo-in in 2008 and then some young black kid from Chicago swooped in and nabbed it away from her, and, then, she was even more of shoo-in in 2016 and an old white man from New York did the exact same thing. That’s after she waited patiently for eight years. For her sake, I hope she does better in her 2020 race against Kanye.


Biggest fall from glory. Uh, hello? The Carolina Panthers of course. How can you have a team that makes it to the Super Bowl in February and nearly goes undefeated and then, in the 2016-2017 season, the same team with the same coach can’t beat a little league team. (Note to Cam: Next time you are standing over a loose ball in the year’s most critical drive in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, how about jumping on the ball!)


2016 Yostie Award for Sportsmanship. Duke basketball guard Grayson Allen. I just think that this young man exemplifies sportsmanship and is an incarnation of everything that is right about college athletics. He seems like he never lets his emotions get the best of him and he always shows the utmost respect to his competitors on the court.


Most adorable thing found by the Yost family at an area superstore in 2016. My brother Mark Yost, the Wal-Mart puppies. He was doing some late night shopping when he captured this photo of 15 or so adorable dogs who were apparently out on a dog food run.


Least adorable thing found by the Yost family at an area superstore. My nephew Parker Yost, the Costco serpent. He found this deadly snake draped on the shopping carts at Costco.


Worst abuse of power by a park ranger. In April, a park ranger at the nation’s 9/11 memorial in new were ordered the kids in Waynesville Middle School chorus from singing the national anthem. What? Huh? Why would you do something like that? He should get together with the City of New Orleans workers that, last Christmas, took the Christmas tree away from a homeless man who had set one up outside his tent. You know, rules are rules.


Most money in one room in 2016. Trump Tower. Dec. 14. Donald Trump meets with Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos and a ton of other Silicon Valley zillionaires, This was probably the greatest amount of money in one room since the fed called in all the bankers to one room in 2008 to save the world’s economy – though, on second thought, I guess at that, technically, at that point most of those bank presidents were actually broke at the time.


Best reaction to the 2016-2017 budget proposal by the county manager. Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips, who said it made him feel “queasy.”


Worst parking job. The person who drove this car to the Lowe’s on Battleground and managed to take up not one, not two – but three handicapped spaces. People, sometimes I’m in a rush to get my bags of Black Kow too, but come on!


Most audacious request for payment. The United Animal Coalition. That group asked for the county to send the partial payment for services rendered in the two weeks of August before the state found cases of massive animal neglect and abuse and shut them down. The bill was from 2015 but the request for payment was still going on this year so it qualifies for this year’s Yostie. It’s like if you had an electrician fix a bad circuit on your house and his wiring job burns your house down and then, in your front yard, while you watch it burn, he says, “Sorry about that; that’ll be $174.”


OK, that’s it. That wraps up our award ceremony for 2016.

Congratulations to all the winners this year and to those of you who lost out – well, better luck in 2017!