I'm still searching for a good title for articles that have no single theme. I may stick with Ramblings rather than Odds and Ends. The book I have which contains all of the articles which have appeared on Ramfanatic.com is entitled "The Ramblings of Ramfanatic" so at least there is consistency in my use of the word.

The Echefu saga is over and we lost the battle for his services to Florida State who had been recruiting him for over 2 years. There was something about Echefu's recruitment that did not seem right from the beginning. I'm not talking about the situation we found ourselves in after the UNC juniors decided to go pro. There were some vibes that just didn't seem right.

I confess that I root for every player UNC attempts to recruit to select the Heels even if he has not been my favorite from the outset. The old competitive juices kick in when we are in competition with other schools for the services of the player in question. If Coach Williams wants the player, then I want the player. But in the Echefu situation, I never got a real good feeling until the morning of the day he was to announce. All that I heard seem to indicate that he was going to select UNC, but when the moment came, he decided he would rather be a Seminole than a Tar Heel.

It's humorous to read the comments of Carolina Fans on the message boards at various stages of the recruitment process. Many fans just can't understand and accept the fact that someone might conclude that their future will be better served if they select a school other than UNC. Then there are those who use circular logic by saying that if the player is so dumb as to pick another school, then we wouldn't have wanted him anyhow. Reminds me of the logic in the old Groucho Marks joke where he said he wouldn't want to join a club that would have him as a member. After the rejection of UNC has sunk in, many fans come to their senses and wish the best for the recruit involved. I guess its the heat of competition that causes many of us to abandon any semblance of rationality in these situations.

At any rate, I'm sort of relieved that Eck didn't pick Carolina. He might have provided a little help next year, but after that, I think he would have spent most of his time on the bench. The recruiting class of '06 looks like it is shaping up to be one of the best ever if reports on prospects are to be believed. It's going to be tough next year no matter how you look at it, but better days are ahead and there can be little doubt that the future looks bright for UNC basketball.

I was amused by an item on the national news this morning. It seems that a small child somewhere in the Midwest had wanted a basketball in one of the coin operated "claw' machines, so bad that he crawled into the machine and it took an hour to extricate him. They showed the claw reaching for the basketball several time and, in each instance, the basketball was Carolina Blue and white. I guess everybody loves a winner.

I mentioned an incident in the "Ghost Fleet" article that I would write about later and now is later. After Dave and I left Fort Eustis, we stopped at a Dairy Queen in Newport News. We are both a hot dog lovers and we really like the foot long dogs they have at the Dairy Queens that serve food. Some DQs serve only ice cream but the lager ones now have a rather extensive food menu. Ole Warren Buffet must have known what he was doing when he purchased DQ because the ones that I visit are always busy when I visit them.

Back to the story. After eating, as Dave and I were getting into the Heel Mobile (van) I heard someone beckon to me. My first inclination was to ignore the gentleman who was calling but then it occurred to me that he might be trying to tell me something about the van that I needed to know like a leaking radiator, etc.

I made eye contact with him and he came to the window of the van. The first thing he asked me was whether we were from "around here." We replied in the negative and I have never really understood why he was asking the question in the first place. He then launched into a rather emotional presentation of why he was in Newport News and asked if we could let him have enough money to get something to eat in the nearby pizza shop. He said several times that he was from Florence, S.C. and even tried to show me his driver's license to prove his claim. I guess he figured if he could establish himself as a distressed traveler away from home that we would be more inclined to contribute to his cause.

As he continued his spiel, I noticed some of the facts started to change. He dropped the idea of pizza and mentioned that he just wanted to go to the grocery store and buy some chicken. He also added a part about his wife having breast cancer and he mentioned that he had several children.

I guess where I faltered and I'm sure he picked up on it was when he said, "I'm hongry." Dave passed several bills to me and I gave them to him while I fished for my money clip. I don't know why I have switched to a money clip but several years ago I made the change and I like it. I had difficulty getting it out of my pocket but finally managed and pulled out $10 which I thought would be enough for our newly acquired friend to buy enough food so as to at least temporarily eliminate his hunger. As I pulled the bill from the clip and handed it to the gentleman, I expected that he would say something to the effect of "thank you." Call me naive but that's not what he said at all. Instead he said, "Could you spare me $20." I about blew a fuse but I tried to conceal it and I told him as firmly as I knew how that I was not going to give him another $10. He took the ten and retreated from the window. I never heard him say "thank you" but I will admit that I could have missed it because of my state of mind and what I considered a lack of appreciation for what we had tried to do. I didn't want a medal but I did think a simple "thank you" would have been in order.

Why am I telling this story? I guess primarily for therapeutic reasons but maybe somewhat as a commentary on our times. It may be that I am out of step with the mainstream of society in reacting the way that I do to some situations. Mrs. Ramfanatic laughed early on when I told her the story, but she admits she is a little more cynical than I am. She probably would have recognized the pan handler for what he probably was at the outset. We both consider ourselves charitable people but next time I think I will exercise a little more caution when I try to help my fellow man. I guess I'm lucky he didn't rob me of all the money in my clip. Maybe I should have gone into the pizza shop and ordered him a pizza. Or better still, maybe I should have asked for my $10 back. Like most people, I get brilliant once the immediate situation has passed.

I haven't changed my basic attitude towards those less fortunate than me but I have changed my expectations as far as appreciation is concerned. In a convoluted way, maybe I was giving to the beggar for selfish reasons. Maybe unknowingly I wanted to be thanked more than I wanted to help. As Grandpa Jones said to me one time, "It's a f----- up world." I didn't understand it then but I understand it better now.