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Darts and laurels

Laurels to Valentine’s Day, a time for flowers, candy, mushy cards (or e-mails), candle-lit dinners, PajamaGrams … and private detectives?
Yes, as the bard once said, the course of love never did run smooth, and apparently things can really get rocky this time of year. A story in Friday’s USA Today speaks to romance gone wrong. Just as florists see a surge in business leading up to Feb. 14, so do private detectives who are retained by those suspecting a spouse or significant other is being unfaithful.
Or as Jimmie Mesis, editor of PI magazine, succinctly puts it: “Valentine’s Day is a day of lovers, and sometimes the lover is not a spouse.”
Although the dismal economy has made it harder to afford a detective, retaining a traditional gumshoe isn’t the only option for suspicious minds. Sales of computer spyware and GPS tracking systems have risen in previous weeks, according to security experts. Other popular do-it-yourself-surveillance devices include hidden cameras and secret tape-recorders.
Ah, modern love. While some people express their sentiments with roses, nothing speaks louder than an e-mail monitor.
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Dart to space junk. It increased this week with Tuesday’s collision of two satellites high above Siberia, sending several hundred metallic fragments to join the flotsam and jetsam that makes low-earth orbit resemble rush hour on I-85. Currently, the military tracks more than 18,000 pieces of orbital debris, according to the Los Angeles Times ó and that’s just the stuff they’ve been able to identify. Where does it all come from? From us, of course. An estimated 6,600 satellites have been launched in the last 51 years, and many have lost bits and pieces or been blown up. That number is expected to increase dramatically as China and other nations join the telecommunications space race. Space isn’t just the final frontier ó it may also be our last dumping ground.
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Laurels to all the dentists, hygienists, office assistants and others who participate in the “Give Kids a Smile Program,” applying sealants to kids’ teeth and teaching them about good dental care. Too often, we tend to overlook the role of sound teeth and gums in our overall health. That can be especially true for lower-income families who lack any form of health or dental insurance. Unfortunately, the problem of inadequate dental care may be worse in North Carolina than many other states. The state is well below the national average in the number of dentists serving its residents, according to recent report, and adults and children in rural counties in particular suffer from a lack of adequate dental care. Thanks to professionals willing to donate time and materials, “Give Kids a Smile” delivers a valuable brush-up on dental care to many youngsters who’ll now enjoy healthier teeth.

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