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Rodeo respect
I enjoyed Fiona Morgan's article about the Cowboy Christmas Championship Rodeo (Dec. 18-24, 2002). I'm glad Ms. Morgan acknowledged that rodeo demonstrates real-life skills. Her description of the flag-waving made me groan, but this Texas-raised, bluegrass-loving left-winger knows that jingoism and saber-rattling are a show, not Rodeo.

Rodeo is about the broncs, the barrels, and the bulls. The rodeo clowns are not just there to blow-up outhouses for laughs. The bullfighters (as clowns are called by the cowboys) are there to distract an angered bull or bronc and protect the life and limb of the cowboy.

By the way, it may interest Ms. Morgan to know that the event she called "bull-grabbing" is referred to as Steer Wrestling or Bulldogging and was invented by the famous African-American rodeo cowboy Bill Pickett.
–Amy Archie, Durham

Gospel truth
David Need's review of Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God is an insightful piece of criticism ["Our Father, of the Zero Option," Dec. 18]. He is so right in calling the author's work "an extreme conceit" (as are so many of the "God" genre: History of God, Conversations with God, Eyes of God, et al.).

These authors purport to somehow know the real facts about a supernatural being about whom no facts are known (and whose existence itself is highly suspect).

The folks at the Jesus Seminar have finally conceded that there is nothing to support the biblical accounts of the life and words of Jesus and that the gospels are in fact the collaborative work of a number of writers who were in essence playwrights (and fairly talented ones).

Once we start dismissing these pretentious god gurus and begin reading the gospels as literature and not scripture we will have taken a long and sorely needed step toward realism in our cultural lives.
– Hugh Giblin, Durham

Powerful hero
On Saturday, Dec. 14, after nine days and 12 hours of no heat, water or lights, my Duke Power service was restored. I'm convinced I was the last person in the Triangle area to receive service. Here's how it happened: My landlords and I make numerous calls to Duke Power. Response? Several of "OK, we'll put the order in, but we can't tell you anything about when anyone will get there." One (on Dec. 13) of "Oh, that order was never sent in." (I first called them on the morning of Dec. 5.)

At around 3 p.m. on the 14th, I realize that I'm not going to get power until probably Monday. Since I had actually reached the end of my rope on Thursday night, this situation did not seem tenable.

I get in the car and head out. I figure that I will see a truck somewhere. After all, I live less than a mile from the Duke Power offices on Hillsborough Road.

I head down Hillsborough and, as though in a trance, turn into the Duke Power lot. I follow a man who is looking at me warily. I stop my car and get out and approach the man. "I live less than a mile from here and I haven't had power for 10 days," I tell him. After over a week of Duke Power's standard responses I expect another: "I have to wait for a supervisor's order," or "I don't have an order on that," or "Ma'am, we'll get to you when we can."

What really happens is this: The man looks at me and says, "You don't have power? Where do you live?" He immediately gets into his truck and follows me there. No hesitation. Once there he wades right through the tree that is down next to the house. "Ma'am, this is nothing," he says. He tells me he hasn't had a day off for 13 days. His hands are raw from wrestling wire.

I cried when the lights came back on. I guess I don't have to tell anybody what kind of an ordeal that week was, what with hauling laundry, moving my pet, sleeping on various sofas, showering at the gym, and generally calling my entire life to a halt. Underneath it all was a feeling of anger and helplessness. What could be done about this monster Duke Power?

Later I learned that the man's name is Ricky Herron. After he hooked up the electrical cables, he came into my house, checked all the breakers and then changed a light bulb. His actions were like those of a lifesaver: automatic and responsive. And if it hadn't been for him I would have ended this ordeal with that terrible feeling of hatred for one of my utility providers.

It must be frustrating working for Duke Power. The service people are working here, some two and a half hours from the people taking the service calls. And I understand that a large number of people were laid off this year. Added to that is the well-reported fact that people were angry, and that they lashed out with a vengeance at the repair workers.

I hope they're handing out some bonuses to those workers. And as far as I'm concerned, they ought to hand out some hero medals, too. Certainly Ricky Herron deserves one.
–Deb Baldwin, Durham

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