One thing you can always count on if you're a reporter is that you can't always count on what you expect.
Case in point, last Sunday afternoon.
I drove over to Franklinton to cover the presentation of an award to a woman who has given so much to her church, her community and, especially, to local children.
I also met a boxing instructor.
Well, okay, maybe that's a little bit of a stretch, but the tale came from a pretty good source, the younger brother of the "boxing teacher."
The ceremony was held to honor Mrs. Martha Hunter (the story about that begins on Page 1A) and this tale of her fisticuffs was laid out by her younger brother, John Perry.
Perry spoke at the service and told the crowd that his big sis was a lady of many talents -- and even taught him to box when he was little.
Really? Folks got a little chuckle out of that tale, especially since Martha Hunter is known for doing a lot of things for others, but teaching them to be a pugilist isn't something that one might expect. Not in a million years even.
After the ceremony, I asked Perry about the tale and, with a big grin, he seemed to suggest that maybe, just maybe he exaggerated just a little. I suspect little brothers like to do that to big sisters. I know I like to do stuff like that to my rather gullible sister, and she's younger.
Actually, she really taught me how to duck, Perry said with a gleam in his eye and a little smile, indicating that perhaps he was just teasing his big sister a little. Brothers are like that.
But, come to think of it, learning to duck well may be the best kind of boxing technique -- not getting hit in the first place. It certainly beats the need for having a good "cut man" in your corner of the ring.
But the real point of his story was that his sister, the honoree of the day, is a lady with a lot of spirit -- and the persistence to see her way through the challenges that she tackles.
Case in point is the Helping Hands Summer Camp she held for many years to benefit kids from 5 to 18 in the Franklinton area.
When she started, with no organization or financial backing, it must have seemed to her friends and family that she might have been heading for a major fail.
But she didn't hesitate, they report, and told everyone she was trusting in God to provide the things she -- and the children -- would need for the camp.
Against all odds and with a lot of help from volunteers, local businesses and, as she'll be quick to tell you, God, the camp was a long-time success that provided a safe refuge for children each summer -- and just as importantly, helped motivate and guide them toward making their lives better.
Lots of folks may tell you that a good summer camp is a lot of fun for kids, a place where they can go to be with their peers and be safe from the temptations that might await them if they just "hang out" for much of the summer.
That's all true.
But the great camps are the ones that build on the fun and safety aspects and, in addition, help children learn that there is a whole world out there full of potential, challenges and successes they can reach if they put their hearts and minds to it.
It's that kind of camp that Mrs. Hunter organized. Indeed she brought in lots of adults, from a governor to professional athletes, to introduce local children to horizons they might not otherwise feel they could reach.
A lot of her camp was about setting expectations for the young people -- and encouraging them to meet those expectations.
I'd bet that years from now there will be adults who grew up in the Franklinton area and who attended the Helping Hands Summer Camps who will be telling others, especially their own children, how their lives changed for the better because of this lady who ignored the odds, trusted her faith, reached out to others and made a huge difference in many, many lives.
That's a positive legacy to leave behind -- and my guess is that she's not done yet! Not by a long shot.
And I'll also bet that her husband, William, will be right there with her as will several other members of her family.
Electric bills going up?
Oh, boy, here we go again.
Good old Duke Power has begun lobbying for an increase in electricity costs that will hit all of us next year unless the North Carolina Utility Commission puts a stop to it.
The huge utility, which has been in the news a lot in the last couple of years over pollution from improperly stored coal ash, wants rate increases ranging from about 5 percent for businesses to about 7 percent for residential households.
Now, if you listen to them, they will lay out a tale about how they are investing more in renewable energy, as if that's something they should be applauded for doing.
Of course they are investing in renewables; solar and wind are rapidly becoming cheaper and far cleaner than generating juice with coal or even natural gas.
Trust me, Duke Energy investing in renewable energy is more about making more money for stockholders than anything else.
But if you bore a little deeper into the rate increase request you'll find that they want some of it to clean up the horrible mess they have made with coal ash storage over the last several decades.
In my opinion -- and I ain't alone in this -- Duke shouldn't be allowed to jack up rates just to cover up or fix their long-term mistakes.
Coal ash has been stored by Duke in the easiest, cheapest way possible for years as a way of maximizing profits which benefit stockholder and company executives and does much less for rate payers.
Thus, the stockholders and company executives should be required to pay for these fixes from which they benefitted, not rate payers who had no say in the matter.
My guess is that the Utility Board will grant Duke an increase -- they almost always do -- but that it will be something less than what Duke is requesting.
Let's just hope the Utility Commission also requires the utility to pay for its coal ash cleanup from profits, not victimize rate payers yet again.
Our electric rates are already too high, thank you very much, Duke.
If there is anything that a reporter loves more than political irony, I don't know what that might be.
And in recent days, the Washington, D.C., saga has presented a fascinating irony that is really funny as well.
If you remember the last presidential election, the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, was pilloried by Republicans, and especially the far right wing, for using a private server for e-mails and e-mail storage.
The GOP thought that was a terrible idea, contending that it was part of some secretive deal that was a great threat to the security of the United States, the Constitution and maybe the entire universe.
Clinton had an explanation, saying that it was just easier to use one cell phone, her personal one, for most of her business and that was the reason for a personal server (installed in her home) that may, or may not, have been as secure as the government server most secretaries of state had previously used.
The Republicans didn't buy that explanation for a second, even many of Clinton's supporters were skeptical and wondered how such an experienced politician could be so naive and veteran reporters covering her were unconvinced by her explanation, most uttering, "uh--uh, okay then! Sure, whatever."
Now flash forward to last week when information began leaking about Republican President Donald J. Trump and some of his calls to world leaders during his time in office.
When one of those calls, to the Ukraine, became the focus of controversy, the president's staff released a so-called transcript of the phone call in question, even though by most definitions it wasn't a transcript at all. By the kindest definition, it was merely a set of notes, created from the supposed memories of those who heard the call and it raised more questions than answers.
If we've learned anything since Nixon and the infamous Watergate tapes, it's that everything -- and by now we mean everything -- the president does, says or writes is recorded. Period.
So, where is the audio recording of that particular conversation as well as the actual recordings of other conversations the President had with other world leaders?
In the irony to end all ironies, it seems that those audio recordings were taken off the official server, deleted from the official record and were stored on a SECRET SERVER somewhere.
In other words, the current administration did exactly the same thing that Clinton did when she was running for the White House.
Oh, the irony.
You'd think these people would learn -- but where would be the fun in that?
And to add just a touch more irony to the entire fiasco, it seems that most in the conservative media -- especially that one TV network -- refuse to use the term secret server when referring to where these recorded conversations are stored.
Apparently, the logic is that if no one mentions the existence of a second computer server, everyone will forget it exists.
But that's wishful thinking. Even the Democrats, who have stumbled, fumbled and bumbled their way through this mess so far, aren't going to forget the concept of a secret server.
After all, the Republicans, if they did nothing else, beat that term into a lot of Democratic heads a few years ago.
Stay informed folks. It's your money, our country and indeed, our lives, they are using as "chips" in D. C. these days.