Laurels and a Cupid’s arrow (not to be confused with a dart) to Valentine’s Day — our annual homage to romance, roses and all things chocolate. Retailers are expecting another sweet binge this year, with total Valentine’s Day spending of more than $18 billion, the National Retail Foundation projects. More than half (51 percent) of gift givers will buy candy, and another one-third (36.6 percent) will give flowers. About 20 percent will express their affection with a gift of jewelry. Valentine’s Day is also a popular day to pop the question, with approximately 6 million marriage proposals taking place. Here, guys are advised to keep things traditional. A survey of brides found that 63 percent wouldn’t accept a proposal delivered via Jumbotron (think sports arena), and 80 percent would reject a public proposal on Facebook. (Presumably leaving the jilted sweethearts “unliked” as well as unloved.)
n n n Dart to another rash of catalytic converter thefts from vehicles in the community — one incident at the Gerry Wood Auto Group and another at the East Rowan YMCA. Because they contain precious metals such as platinum and rhodium, catalytic converters command a premium price at scrap yards (typically $100-$150 apiece, according to the insurance industry). Thieves target vehicles that sit higher off the ground like SUVs and pickups. Brazen perpetrators are hard to deter, but insurers offer these suggestions: At night, try to park in well-lighted areas, ideally close to building entrances or near access roads with lots of traffic. You also may want to consider engraving your license plate number on the converter to make it traceable or having a muffler shop secure the catalytic converter to the vehicle with pieces of steel welded to the frame.
n n nLaurels to cherishing a piece of the past, especially if it’s from Salisbury’s Grimes Mill, destroyed in a Jan. 16 fire. Although the building’s destruction was a devastating loss for local history, the Salisbury Historic Foundation is pulling something positive from the ashes by offering the mill’s old bricks to the public — either through purchases of single bricks or a pallet of them. The wire-cut bricks provide a tangible way to memorialize this vanished landmark, and they also can be useful for landscaping projects. For more information, call the foundation at 704-636-0103.