Miss America and the bare essentials.

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 21, 2004

There's a former Miss North Carolina living in Ahoskie.

She won that honor decades ago (in a year not to be mentioned) and she'd put out a contract on my life if I mentioned her name, so I won't.

Many of you know to whom I'm referring; the rest will have to guess.

I didn't know her then, but feel confident in saying that she couldn't have been more beautiful than she is today, regardless of how many years have passed.

This lady doesn't readily talk about herself, but I caught her off guard when I asked if they had a swimsuit competition in her day, to which she chuckled and said no, but they did check out ankles by asking each contestant to step to the edge of the stage, where floor length ball gowns were slightly raised to reveal those shapely ankles.

I thought of my friend today on reading about the new rules at the Miss America Pageant, where they've signed a contract with Speedo to supply those standardized swimsuits for which the pageant is well known.

Speedo, best known for competition suits of a different type, has provided each contestant with the option of a one or two-piece suit.

It was Miss Colorado, modeling the two-piece suit that captured my eye, because it was a moderately skimpy bikini, something heretofore banned by the notoriously dowdy Miss America officials.

It seemed like acres of exposed lovely young skin.

Now, remembering this is the same pageant that is eliminating the talent competition from the television broadcast this year, I'm hoping the time saved by scratching all the teddy bear juggling and baton twirling will be utilized by giving each bikini clad contestant several minutes on the runway, with exhaustive camera angles and creative focus.

Ratings would soar, which is probably the result they're looking for by letting Speedo do their thing.


What a year for hurricanes, and it isn't over.

I don't remember all the names, but every coastal state from Virginia to Louisiana has been affected, with Florida catching it from all directions.

What's going on?

Apparently, we've left a 25 year period of low storm activity and entered a new time of increased activity, similar to the one that preceded the lamented slow period recently departed.

If we're going to have a storm of the week, then it's very important forecasting be fast and accurate, which is why the agencies that watch our weather are cranking up supercomputers and exhaustive forecasting models.

At this moment in the United States, there is ongoing clean up from two hurricanes, another is in the final throes of destruction and a fourth is bearing down on the east coast, looking like it will hit land near the Georgia-South Carolina border.

Still another is percolating in the Atlantic, working up strength for its hours on stage.

Of the storms that have already made landfall, all the locations have been accurately predicted within a few miles, days before they hit, something not likely to have happened even a couple of years ago.

According to a report by CNN, errors in "the National Hurricane Center's three-day forecasts have been cut in half since 1998, and since last year the center's meteorologists have been issuing five-day forecasts with increasing confidence and accuracy."

The massive software programs used in the computer models attempt to take into account what is happening in weather all around the globe, knowing that events anywhere can exert influence, miniscule or massive, on weather in the Atlantic Ocean or Caribbean Sea.

A new model in Maryland will receive 116 million weather observations per day.

Storm forecasting is getting better and better.

We need to pay attention and react appropriately.

There's a story in the sports pages about a labor conflict in the National Hockey League.

It appears we're about to see one of those "only in America" scenes when millionaire athletes try to claim they're financially abused by their millionaire bosses.

This might be the death of the NHL, but really, who cares?

Each afternoon for about 15 minutes, Ahoskie has it version of rush hour, when it's common to see as many as four or five cars stacked up at a traffic light.

Such low stress traffic is one of the many good things about living here.

If you don't think so, ask somebody from the Washington, DC area, where the average commuter spends over three days a year sitting in traffic, not moving, just sitting.