As a gift to our readers, we have an extra special Christmas edition this week. In keeping with a long Christmas tradition, we are running “The Gifts You Never Got,” a column written by my father, Dick Hammer, who died in 2004 about Christmas in the Great Depression.

In addition, we have a double column from Orson Scott Card about Christmas music and Christmas movies.

And we also have a column about the late John Glenn by Jerry Bledsoe, who got to know Glenn over 40 years ago.

All that and we didn’t raise the price a nickel.


Speaking of columns, next week we will start running a column written by a Greensboro police officer about some of his experiences out on the street. The column is Street Level, and it will run every other week starting Dec. 29, 2016.

Call the Beep or send us an email and let us know what you think about Street Level.


Like a lot of folks, we’re doing some traveling over the holidays, which involves packing – my least favorite part of traveling. But I have found my favorite travel size item, dental floss. I saw travel size dental floss and it made me wonder where someone might be traveling where having a few extra strands of thread would be a burden. I suppose it might be a problem on a trip to Mars, but then you’d be in suspended animation and wouldn’t be flossing every day.

I think I’ll stick with the standard issue dental floss and see if I can make room in my pack.


Fortunately, we have once again made it through the shortest day of the year, and from now until June 21, the days will each be getting a little longer.   I can see why man started having big celebrations this time of year. It’s depressing for the days to get shorter and shorter, and if your grasp of science isn’t good, it can be a little scary also.


I’ve been reading a lot about millennials lately and I don’t know what this means – it may just be the optimism of youth – but I have noticed that millennials are far more likely to press the buttons for pedestrians at intersections than older folks.

I sit at the intersection of Friendly Avenue and Greene Street all the time, because to get to the Rhino Times parking lot you have to go through that intersection. Day, night, weekends, holidays I can’t tell that there is any difference in the length of time you have to wait for that light and it doesn’t change any faster if someone presses the button.

I feel confident that the pedestrian button has no effect and, according to my unofficial survey, most folks agree.

But millennials seem to always be pushing that button as if the city is going to stop traffic in every direction for them to cross the street.

Boomers are more likely to look at the traffic and, when nothing is coming, walk across the street as if they have enough sense to cross the street without a light telling them what to do.


I was watching a movie set in Italy in the 15th century and I find it amazing that in 15th century Italy, extremely short, well-kept beards were popular just like they are today.

It is surprising that for women in period piece movies, the directors go to great lengths to get the costume and hair appropriate, but for men, not so much. If goatees are in vogue then the men have goatees; if clean shaven is in vogue then the men are all clean shaven. Hair styles for men appear to follow pretty much the same rule. In the 1970s, when even respectable men had long hair, then everybody in the movies had long hair. Today, with shaved heads being popular, regardless of the time period, shaved heads keep showing up in movies.

I find it kind of fascinating, and if I should ever get to meet a big name director or producer, I plan to ask why they don’t try to match men’s hair to the time period.


We have just elected our third president born in the same year. Donald Trump, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were all born in 1946.

Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush were both born in 1924.

Richard Nixon and his successor, Gerald Ford, were both born in 1913.

Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford Hayes were both born in 1822.

Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, who hated each other, were both born in 1767.

But there isn’t another example of three presidents being born the same year.

John Kennedy, by the way, was the first president born in the 20th century.


I can’t say I was surprised to hear that former News & Record reporter Joe Killian was arrested during a protest in the legislative building in Raleigh. I imagine Killian was kind of proud of being arrested.

From what I’ve read, Killian deserved to be arrested. He is no longer a reporter, in that he now works for an advocacy group, not a news organization. But regardless of who he worked for, there is nothing that gives reporters the right to disobey a lawful order from a law enforcement officer.

Killian was not being singled out. Everyone in the gallery was being forced to leave because some in the gallery were making so much noise that the legislators couldn’t get their work done.