AlligatorSo you’re in town from Ohio, quietly enjoying your week on the beach and devouring page after page of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” when you glance up to see a GIANT GATOR emerging from the ocean. This, most likely, was not in the brochure. Luckily, Clemson associate professor Richard Blob can help.

Alligator sightings are hardly a rarity around here, but the emergence of a 9-foot-long minidinosaur on a busy day at Coligny Beach this summer caused quite the stir among beachgoers; pictures of a wrangler removing the beast even went viral online. To find out more about unusual places that alligators have come out of, we spoke to Richard Blob, an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Clemson who studies gators — specifically, how their bodies handle movements:

A call for an end to candy tamperingAs far back as I can remember, a big bowl of Halloween candy has always come with a side of fear.

When I was a kid, it was the perceived terror of a madman pushing pins into candy bars to hand out to unsuspecting boys and ghouls. I’m told there was a time when Halloween trick-or-treating was an evening of innocent fun, but that ideal is as much a myth to me as the “razor in a candy apple” may be.

I was 9 years old the year some sadist put cyanide in Tylenol capsules, heightening a public panic that has never really ceased. The urban legends of Halloween candy-tampering have made neighbors wary of each other and shifted post-trick-or-treating rituals from gleeful to grim. Instead of children dumping their bounty onto the living room floor for sorting, parents took the first pass at the goodies, sitting under the hot glare of the dining room light to inspect each snack-sized bar for trouble.

What compels six mild-mannered local professionals to occasionally transform themselves into a Rolling Stones tribute band?

For most people, being a Rolling Stones fan means kicking back with the radio. For the guys in White Liquor, it means clocking out of work, changing into rock ‘n’ roll clothes and giving a performance that, for many people, will be as close as they’ll ever get to the Glimmer Twins.

White Liquor

Over its 15 years, White Liquor has played tons of oyster roasts, barbecues and late-night bars, but it’s not like they’re spending a lot of down-time preening and fine-tuning their moves: They’re big enough Stones fans that it all comes naturally. Though they only perform 10 or 12 shows a year these days, its members say they barely practice.  “We just kind of show up and whatever happens, happens,” said lead singer Rick Saba. “Sometimes it sounds good, sometimes it doesn’t sound good.”

The Hilton Head Island native spends his summer on the road, crossing rivers with reggae legend Jimmy Cliff.

 

Trevor HallTrevor Hall had himself a pretty great summer: He spent it on the road opening for reggae godfather Jimmy Cliff, the man behind such sun-splashed classics as “The Harder They Come,” “Many Rivers to Cross” and “Sitting in Limbo.” The opportunity allowed Hall to bring his own brand of reggae-rock to huge venues like Central Park’s SummerStage, and he’s trying to maintain that momentum with his own national headlining tour this fall.

So it’s understandable that Hall doesn’t often get back to Hilton Head Island, where he was raised until high school and where his parents still live. But though he now makes his home in Laguna Beach, Calif., Hall still maintains one connection to the island: the 843 area code. “I’ve had the same phone number ever since I got a phone,” he said.

John Mellencamp’s The singer and part-time local on the end of rock 'n' roll, the meaning of Daufuskie time, and why he recorded his brittle, stark new album on a pulpit in Savannah.

A few weeks ago, John Mellencamp wandered through a large and shiny mall in Indianapolis in a futile, climate-controlled and probably Cinnabon-smelling hunt for the record store.

This was, of course, a terrible idea, in part because you can imagine what happens when John Mellencamp wanders unannounced through a mall in Indianapolis, but also because he’d have had about as much luck finding a reliable VCR repairman or some MySpace gear; who knows the last time the mall had a record store. So he abandoned the search and did the only logical thing he could — went over to the Apple store. “The place was packed,” Mellencamp said. “Packed. People swarming in line, the way the record store was when we were kids.”

Sterlin “stee” Colvin

On the road to R&B fame

Sterlin “stee” Colvin

Sterlin Colvin began singing for an audience while most of us were still watching cartoons and working to master “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” At age three, Colvin and his six-year-old sister sang a duet in church, and he knew that being a singer was “it” for him.

The idea was further cemented at the ripe old age of 12, after a chance encounter with actress Debbie Allen of “The Cosby Show” fame. Allen was starring in a play in Atlanta in which Colvin’s uncle was also cast. Backstage, while visiting his thespian relative, Colvin met the renowned actress.

Education: The Most Important InvestmentThe money you save for your children’s and grandchildren’s education will probably be the most important investment you will ever make. These funds will, in turn, become a new investment in a child or grandchild’s future, with the potential returns measured in lifetime earnings, career satisfaction, and even the ability to help educate their own children. With stakes this high, your ability to understand the complex template of sources and methods of educational funding has implications that can last for generations.

Back to School

Going to school brings opportunities to learn, grow, make friends and have fun. But there are challenges as well. Here are a few and what you can do to help.

Starting School

Separation anxiety

By the time they start kindergarten, many kids have been in preschool or daycare and are used to being away from parents. But those who have been home fulltime can have trouble with separation anxiety.

“Do what you love and success will follow.” It’s an adage that has come true for Peter Granata, who combined his childhood love of building model cars and his love of water into a successful and satisfying career as the country’s foremost recreational boat designer.It started with cars. As a little boy, Peter Granata fell in love with cars. Fast cars, sleek cars, cool cars. By age nine, he started a youthful career by helping out down at the corner tire store in Chicago’s Little Italy. Each Saturday, he earned the money to race down to the dime store and buy a model car.

After homework was done, he built model cars and taught himself to draw. He reproduced the pictures in magazine and then tried different ideas. The lines and styling were what caught his eye. His father also got him model boats that he floated in a backyard inflatable pool. He loved the idea of ships, but cars remained his first love. By age 21, he had dreamed up a vehicle seat memory device which he patented. Unusual in one so young, but Granata is that extremely rare combination of dreamer and doer.

Lifelong Learning: It’s never too late to head back to schoolIt used to be rare for adults to return to the classroom after earning their degrees and starting their careers. My, how times have changed.

These days, more and more adults are “hitting the books” later in life to enhance their skills, switch careers or simply indulge their intellectual interests. Today’s competitive job market is making the need for continual training and skill building a necessity for many, said Nancy Weber, vice president of Continuing Education and Institutional Advancement at Technical College of the Lowcountry.

“Employers are looking for skilled workers who can multi-task, are technology savvy, and have strong communication and reasoning skills,” Weber said. “Anytime an individual can add skills or upgrade, it is a plus for their job search.”