Thursday, November 30, 2006

"On a musical note..."

I just love music...obviously, I love my flutes and creating endless melodies...used to sing in competition barbershop quartets, though my present work shift precludes any evening activities anymore (!)...and I love to listen to many genres.

Figuratively, it is music to my ears to have Tara Lane return to the weather line-up after her maternity leave, as well as Matthew East from his paternity leave (WELCOME BACK AND DON'T GO AWAY ANY TIME SOON!!!)...we can finally quit this shenanigans of pulling double-duties for a long haul and get a little breather. Too, today is the last day of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season...'buh-bye!', and don't let the door hit you on the way out. Thankfully it was significantly quieter than expected.

No doubt music is good for the soul...

"What is wonderful about music is that it helps us to concentrate or meditate independently of thought - and therefore music seems to be the bridge over the gulf between form and the formless. If there is anything intelligent, effective and at the same time formless, it is music. Poetry suggests form, line…color suggest form… but music suggests no form. It creates also that resonance which vibrates through the whole being, lifting the thought above the denseness of matter; it almost turns matter into spirit, into its original condition, through the harmony of vibrations touching every atom of one's whole being."

~ Hazrat Inayat Khan (excerpted from "The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Vol II")


I want to share 3 fun music links you might like to listen to; you will need your speakers turned on, of course…get ready to enjoy!

1. This song is from The Real Group, vocal jazz ensemble, and is guaranteed to get you be-boppin' along at your desk. From this link scroll down to “BEST OF –“ and click on the song “LIFT ME UP”:
( NOTE: you will need to use REAL PLAYER instead of the Windows Movie Player)

2. Kieran Shannon is a recording artist that owns a very special flute of mine, which he used to record a song “Red-Winged Blackbirds”. Go to this link and click on that song on the right hand column to hear a excerpt from that song and hear what my flutes sound like:

3. I just love this station…Midwest Irish Radio…ain’t nothin’ like it in the U.S, I’ll tell you that…great internet radio station, fantastic Irish music, overall, and quite interactive…you can email requests and they will quickly mention you personally on-air, most times…when I come in to the forecast center I turn it on for background music. Just go to this link and click on “listen live now”:

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ponderings on a Hump-Day....

I revisited this information and thought you loyal readers would like to have it at your disposal, as well. Good stuff...


"The Rules for Being Human"
(From the book "If Life is a Game, These are the Rules" by Cherie Carter-Scott)


When you were born, you didn't come with an owner's manual; these guidelines make life work better.

1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it's the only thing you are sure to keep for the rest of your life.

2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called "Life on Planet Earth". Every person or incident is the Universal Teacher.

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of experimentation. "Failures" are as much a part of the process as "success."

4. A lesson is repeated until learned. It is presented to you in various forms until you learn it -- then you can go on to the next lesson.

5. If you don't learn easy lessons, they get harder. External problems are a precise reflection of your internal state. When you clear inner obstructions, your outside world changes. Pain is how the universe gets your attention.

6. You will know you've learned a lesson when your actions change. Wisdom is practice. A little of something is better than a lot of nothing.

7. "There" is no better than "here". When your "there" becomes a "here" you will simply obtain another "there" that again looks better than "here."

8. Others are only mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another unless it reflects something you love or hate in yourself.

9. Your life is up to you. Life provides the canvas; you do the painting. Take charge of your life -- or someone else will.

10. You always get what you want. Your subconscious rightfully determines what energies, experiences, and people you attract -- therefore, the only foolproof way to know what you want is to see what you have. There are no victims, only students.

11. There is no right or wrong, but there are consequences. Moralizing doesn't help. Judgments only hold the patterns in place. Just do your best.

12. Your answers lie inside you. Children need guidance from others; as we mature, we trust our hearts, where the Laws of Spirit are written. You know more than you have heard or read or been told. All you need to do is to look, listen, and trust.

13. You will forget all this.

14. You can remember any time you wish.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"We interrupt this regularly written blog..."

Sorry, folks...won't be posting until later this 'get up and go' has 'gotten up and gone' and I can't seem to find it anywhere!

Monday, November 27, 2006

"Enjoy ALL while you can..."

I'm really not trying to sound trite and paraphrase Mark Twain, you can be certain of only two things in life: death and taxes. Anything can happen at anytime and not necessarily for any apparent reason. In the snap of a finger, something that thrived can be extinguised...something that went one direction wildy can turn in an opposite one.

Most of us 2-leggeds have a deep need to 'understand' why certain things occur, and in large part religions around the world had their start when more primitive civilizations wanted to explain natural disasters and Life's disasters, among other things...they created belief systems that in their own way provided some semblance of answers when none were readily available.

And so I pen this post more for things to ponder, thanks to a bizarre weekend
'happening.' Telling you the details would serve no purpose; however, my myriad after-thoughts became the genesis of these mental notes I felt moved to write for you today.

Each of us has our own Journey, and what one thinks and does is independent of what another thinks and does...but we have a responsibility to help others along our own Paths, and allow others to be on their Path...being connected and One while allowing differences...

These poinsettia shots just 'happened.' I decided to take the day and drive to Mom's Saturday, have lunch with family, see a couple of friends... when I went into mom's living room, most drapes still drawn from the night, a specular shaft of early morning sunlight came through an opening and landed directly on this beautiful variegated variety.

It begged to be recorded, I offer these simple gifts to you today, gifts which surround us every day...take the time and see the beauty of simple details...light and shadows are awesome artists when they collaborate. Revel in the simple visual symphony that contrasts starkly to the complexity of life's daily is wonderful therapy. Be willing to just turn your brain off for a moment and 'be' with a beautiful sight or moment...that is the core of meditiation, to release the thinking human mind and allow your Spiritual Essence to flow into fullness, even if for a moment.

The day began strangely enough, Sunday...sunny, bright, chilly...that's not strange, of course, but as I scraped the morn's frost from the windshield to take Mercy for a walk, there was a cacophanous roar from about 25 crows directly behind the house. I knew they were upset over another animal, which I figured was one of the 2 red-tail hawks that frequent the deep woods there. Heard one hawk's call, in fact, but far away...and it came closer...and closer...and the female (distinctly larger than males, in hawkdom) landed in the neighboring tree just 20-30 feet from the crows...and the crows ignored the hawk.

Trust me, that is beyond bizarre that crows would ignore an incoming hawk that lands with them, in essence. The din continued. Something was awry...

In going through the house and onto the back deck, I knew I would realize what was upsetting the crows so. I opened the door...the hawk flew...the crows flew...and, lastly, a massive Great Horned Owl flew right behind them. Ah, THERE was the Source. No pic of the impressive owl and its 4-5 foot wingspan...too quick. But I have these two pics of my red-tail buddy I've talked about in prior posts.

I believe there are no coincidences in life. After some events that soon transpired, it came full circle in my face the veracity of that belief. So the weekend ended on a strange, almost out-of-body experience that caused an immediate stoppage of mental and physical wheels...I have no answers, yet I understand how, when the unexplainable happens, we want to use the rational mind to explain the situation. You can't. It's like asking an orange to describe an apple...they don't naturally coexist. What to do? Well, we can move on and try to make some sense of it... or stop and swirl in an emotional's a personal choice noone decides for us unless we give them that power.

Folks, Life Happens. Keep a steady keel, be willing to know that you won't know everything you may want to know, especially at crucial times...and more importantly, be willing to accept that fact and keep on keepin' on. The train doesn't stop at the station for very long.

Friday, November 24, 2006

"Mumbles in the shadows..."

Voices gurgling in low tones....three bodies huddled up against a small breakfast nook table with a solitary, somewhat dim bulb illuminating the confluence below...dull reflections come from one's well-worn leather coat...

It is dark out, very dark...

Stacks of paper are continuously jostled about, rearranged, handed left, then right, only to come back again to the pile after a brief flight. Steam is rising from the pair of mismatched coffee cups sitting nervously to the side. Crumbs from day-old blueberry muffins dot the scene as if they were miniature tumbleweeds that sense their belonging to the purpose at hand.

Indeed, these are the Road Warriors, "Shoppers With An Attitude" getting ready to head out well before sunrise to engage in competitive gift buying with others just as dedicated and serious. But just who will get to grab one of the 4 laptops in stock? Ah, that is where this pre-dawn pre-planning plays off.

Competition is cut-throat, and there is no substitute for getting every single duckling in a row before hitting the hardtop. Who drops whom at which entrance, and do they circle twice or do they park, will one take care of the electronics list while the other rushes to the video section, or will one beeline for each while the other surreptitiously gets in the quickly growing line to save a place...true survivors know they must plan for every option available to maximize those savings at those magical hours. May the best plastic-swiper win...


I was almost one of those...I have self-imposed orders to be on the lookout for some of the larger ticket items and buy when the time is 'right'...and just when I thought I would be heading out with the most serious of shopping endeavors, I got to doing a little math.

No doubt the sales prices were excellent for the limited Friday morning time frame...but in researching the internet as well as the copious paper ads, I discovered that if you take the time to check out all the angles, the 'best' deal may not be the 'best' deal, at all. I found the prices I wanted from a very reputable national chain, here in town, that did not charge for shipping or sales tax if you ordered on-line...that alone catapulted me financially well ahead of the mental luxury of picking it up in person at other local stores.

By being willing to wait 7 days to get my paws on something shipped in from another state, I saved a bunch of supposedly switching to that lizard-laden insurance company. It pays to be observant and inquisitive, that's all I know. Make Life work for you.

Too, I am slated for the mid-day shift for the Carolinas Friday...never even attempted to pull out Raleigh forecast files before, but I will assume if Matt Morano and Matthew East could do it so could I. And I can thank my lucky stars the weather is VERY matter where you go in the Carolinas the next few days, you have superior traveling weather.

Too bad I don't have time to train an African Grey Parrot to sit on my shoulder and give the forecast for me:

"Sunny and milder, Sunny and milder, ccrrrrok"

"Lots of traffic, Lots of traffic, ccrrrok"

"Baroclinic zone to the west, strong subsidence in the south, ccrrrok"...

These birds know their stuff.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

"So you think you know 'Thanksgiving'..."

I will say this only once: knowledge is POWER, and to toss away the opportunity to gain knowledge is to toss away the wide-open avenue towards Truth in this world...a world, here in the US, that often distorts any semblance of 'truth', so it seems these days...

From birth we are told what to believe in, what is right, what is wrong, what actually happened when, what you can expect to happen later...we were fed and molded ideologies of which to place faith and values in.

The beautiful Path to Truth is to realize there is no one answer to anything...there is no one 'right' or 'wrong' way to look at anything...and just because we were taught that 'such and such' happened doesn't mean it did, at least not in the way we'd been raised and taught to believe. We need only do one thing: keep an open mind and be willing to seek our own Truth.

If I asked you to write a one-page paper about the original 'Thanksgiving', what would you write? What were you taught? What mental images come to mind when you think of that 'first' day of giving thanks for the Bounty of Life? I am attaching a speech a fellow flute maker made on behalf of the First Nations Peoples of what really happend back in the 1600s...and beyond...

Just a heads up, folks - it will rock your boat. Most likely you were never taught this, and for reasons that fit the our American way of looking at 'truth'...I wasn't taught this, not in any of my classrooms...but especially with my honoring of the Native American flute I have opened my eyes and ears to a Truth of which, sadly, few are aware.

If you want to stick to your mental construct of what took place, don't read this, please. If you are willing to at least accept the possibility that you really don't know what actually happened, and are willing to look at other facets (at times painful) that exist, I invite you to read on.

Be true to yourself...and so the following post from a well-respected elder Barry 'White Crow' Higgins on what Thanksgiving truths we were not taught...and many refuse to even look at, much less acknowledge...I will add nothing more, but I do hope you will at the very least read and mull over his speech...and may every day be one of Thanks Giving for each of you.


"I have been asked here to day to speak of Thanksgiving from the Native perspective. I am grateful for this opportunity. It is a however a difficult story to be told as it shakes the history most of us have grown to know. It had little to do with turkey, potatoes, or pie."

"Mid winter of 1620 the Americas saw the landing of the Pilgrims in the area known today as Plymouth MA. They were however not the first to land on these shores. In 1614 a British expedition had already landed there. When they left they took 24 Indians as slaves and left smallpox, syphilis and gonorrhea behind. That plague swept the so called "tribes of New England", and destroyed some of the villages totally."

"The new 1620 settlers were not farmers so their crop failed miserably. Were it not for the guidance of a Pawtuxet named Squanto they would have surely perished. Squanto also negotiated a peace treaty with the Wampanoag people. The next year William Bradford declared a three day feast after the first harvest. It would later become a part of the myth known as Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims did not call it that nor were the Indians who attended the feast even invited. The invitation was only to Squanto and Chief Massasoit, They then invited over 90 brothers and sisters to the affair much to the distaste of the Europeans."

"There were no prayers and the “Indians” were never invited back again. So contrary to popular myth, the Puritans were not friends to the Natives. For they believed they were the chosen people of the infinite God, granting them heavenly dispensation for any actions against a people predestined for damnation. Bradford later wrote “It pleased God to visit these Indians with a great sickness though in this regard God was not perfect for 50 of every thousand Indians has survived.” By 1641 things had really begun to deteriorate and the forth coming of the Natives people forgotten."

"A 1641 massacre of the Pequot’s in Connecticut was very successful so much so the churches declared a day of “thanksgiving” to celebrate victory over the now heathen first peoples. This was the first real use of the term of "thanksgiving" to mark a day of celebration. The celebration included the decapitation of the heads of eighty Natives which were tossed into the streets for the New Settlers to kick about as a sign of power and defiance. Also at this time the The Govennor Kieft of Manhattan offered the first use of scalping as a form of bounty of 20 shillings per scalp and 40 for each prisoners they could use to sell into slavery. Permission was given to rape or enslave any Native women and enslave any children under 14. Law gave permission to “kill savages on sight at will.”

"By 1675 the Native people under Metacomet fought back with vengeance. But even Metacomet would meet his fate at the hands of the Europeans when he was hunted down and killed, body dismembered, hands sent to Boston, and head sent to Plymouth to be placed on a pole on a Thanksgiving Day in 1767."

"Early American history goes on to honor those who would contribute to the genocide of the First Peoples of the Americas. George Washington ordered the attacks on the six nations of the Iroquois despite the gift of 700 bushels of corn he and his men at Valley Forge received from the Oneida peoples. Survival of the troops at the fate of the saviors themselves. Lord Jeffery Amherst was the conceiver and first American user of biological warfare with his inspired use of smallpox infected blankets given as gifts to the natives...later to be repeat by Andrew Jackson with the Seminoles. Locally (here in New England) we know the massacre at what we now call Wissatinnewaq by Captain Turner against elders, women, and children. "

"This history would repeat itself with the truth poorly documented and rarely spoken. As recent as 1967 the state of Vermont was performing involuntary sterilization of Native females without permission.5 to 6 Million Jews and Gypsies were decimated by the Nazi regime in World War II. These facts are well remembered and the world mourns these events. Not to minimize these events or the souls of those victimized, these numbers pale in comparison to the events of the Americas. It has been estimated that over 100 million Native Americans were killed by the European invaders during the establishment of the nation we know today."

"Thanksgiving was, without the declared name, a tradition of the Native Peoples a time to give thanks to the Creator for the bounty of the harvest and their lives. As the last crops were harvested time was taken to reflect and give thanks. Although short lived, for three days peace and fellowship was shared in New England back in 1621, a gratefulness was shown for the compassion of one peoples to another and the gifts of Grandfather and Mother Earth acknowledged and shared unconditionally.I do not speak these truths to solicit sympathy or the righting of ancestral wrongs. History’s can not be changed but truth is tool that will give us an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past and use this knowledge to prevent them from happening again."

"We know genocide is happening in many areas of the world today. We can pray for these victim souls and by living a better example we can effect change. I would suggest that Thanksgiving go beyond the gratefulness of the harvest and should be dedicated as well to all our ancestors and give thanks for the things they have taught us with their lives of triumph and failure. By awakening I pray we may learn to make a better tomorrow."

Barry White Crow Higgins

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"Oh, Happy Day!"

Bear with me...this one will take a while...

The Triad weather studio is a converted master control room, hence there is a huge wall of glass separating my studio from the news and interview set studio. So I'm at the computer shaking my head at this coastal low bugaboo, and typical of most days I see people over at the interview set taping segments to run at a later time.

Only this time, I glance up and immediately recognize my former (and quite famous) history professor from my UNC-Chapel Hill days, William Powell. He recently penned quite the NC history book "The Encyclopedia of North Carolina", hence the reason for his interview, of course. I'm not sure there is another living two-legged who knows more NC history than that man. But there is more to this story...much more...


It was a large class, that one I took on NC colonization, with well over 100 students...and we had required seating that was summarily checked each day. On any given day it was normal for Prof. Powell to stop in mid sentence, look down at his seating chart and say something like, "Mr. Tom Stallings, I'm glad you find today's issue of The Daily Tarheel to be of keen interest, but out of respect for others wanting to learn something I would ask you to please go read it in the lobby if that is what you wish to do." He would then quietly transition back to his lecture. He was simply fascinating to listen to, and, no, he never had to tell me to put something away...

Like all oversized classes he had teachers assistants or T.A.'s that helped in myriad ways with grading, handouts, and the like. We had recently taken a rather lengthy test...maybe a mid-term, though I don't recall the particulars... but what I do recall was the end of class that one particular day. The T.A.'s were getting ready to return the exams, divided into alphabetical order at the front edge of the stage. Before releasing us to come forward, he read the names of 5 or so people that he needed to speak to directly as he had their exams...and mine was one of them.

A minor lump was in my throat as I anxiously went to Prof. Powell. He pulled me aside and very nicely asked if I could come by his office later that day, at my convenience, to discuss something on the test. Naturally, warning bells and whistles went off in my head even though I had done nothing wrong...still, at such times, logic goes out the window with "mindtalk" in full swing. I'm sure he sensed my sudden deer-in-the-headlights look and gently smiled and said there was nothing of a negative nature, but that he still needed to see me just the same. It worked. It put me at ease, even if for the moment.

At the appointed time I knocked on his door, and with that wonderful smile that makes his eyes twinkle (and if you have ever met him or will, you will see what I mean), he kindly beckoned me to have a seat. Regardless of what assurances I'd been given, I'm sure my palms were sweating and then some...

He began by telling me I had done well on the test...he complimented some of my answers, and it was obvious to him I cared about my performance in his class. I do remember it was a loooong test with many pages...what had happened was I inadvertantly flipped two pages at once and somehow didn't see it again when I checked over my test. I had left one whole page of short-answer questions blank. Blank.

Now, keep in mind this was the Department Chair, a very busy person with myriad responsibilities...he could very easily have had a T.A. meet with me about this...but that is not Prof. Powell's way. Not only did he take the time to take care of this personally, but he gave me the opportunity to answer the questions I'd overlooked...right there, just having a talk with him, a friendly chat on the question at hand, bantering back and forth, talking 'shop' on NC history...

The knowledge was there in my head, as I remember...but what I remember most, to this day, is how gracious, and fair, and honorable, and concerned this Teacher was toward just one of his thousands of lambs. He was genuinely warm, and, more importantly...he was a true gentleman.

He cared, he really cared.

I don't recall what that test grade was. I don't even remember what my course grade was. I didn't take another course with him as it had been an elective I took purely out of interest. But what I do know is I have used his example by which to live my life...especially when given the opportunity to help others...and have verbally told this story to many people over the years, including my students in 9 years of teaching. We would all do well to carry on such a legacy and touch others in like manner.

(Bob shaking his former professor's hand after 25+ years)


So now you have a better idea of why I jumped up out of my studio chair and rushed into the main studio to talk to Prof. Powell before they began his taping. It was a homecoming of sorts for me...and it helped bring an important event in my life full circle.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

How S-LOW can it go?.....

Lordy but that is one nasty gale center forming off the Carolina coast, which promises to not go much of anywhere through Thursday morning....anybody spending this holiday week at the coast runs a high risk of developing full-blown cabin fever...unless they like taking a romantic walk on the beach with 100% rain chances and winds gusting to 60 mph.
I'll pass.

This is a look at the radar around 6am...the rain shield is starting to kiss the Triad market, though much of it is evaporating with only 60% humidites around Graham and Asheboro...and up in the left hand corner of the sunshine. What is normally 'one' forecast with minor adjustments for western Surry County at times is more accurately 'three' forecasts for the next couple of days...more clouds and showers south and east, more sun breaks and less showers west and north, and then the ol' fudge middleground of mostly cloudy skies and showers starting late today. Winds are just now picking up in the Triad as even this far inland we are looking for the development of steady NNE winds in the 20-25 mph range with gusts near 35 mph.

That's the forecast for the day.

And tonight.

And Wednesday.

And Wednesday night.

Wheeedoggies. NOT.

Looks to be Thursday afternoon before that low takes the brakes off and lurches northward to finally clear us out. Friday's Shopping Mania should have excellent weather for the pre-dawn road warriors, and we'll all enjoy moderating temperatures that climb into the lower 60s for the weekend.


As we approach the winter weather season, you'll see us switch over to a type of radar 'expression' which splits precipitation into 'types'. Here is the one this morning of the Carolinas...looks like a goodly band of snow, right? Looks can be and in this case really are deceiving...

Conditions aloft are certainly cold enough for snow, and that is where the radar is looking...but the surface temperatures are not cold enough to support snow at the surface. With that said, earlier this morning Ft. Bragg and Raleigh reported some light snow mixing in, and even Charleston, SC had a bit of thundersnow...but insofar as widespread snow like the radar shows, it wasn't happening.

And regardless of this type of radar or a non-weather-type radar, just because it may show rain, it does NOT necessarily mean the rain is reaching the ground. As mentioned above, the relative humidites make a huge difference at the surface...the drier the air, the more rain aloft evaporates before it reaches the surface. As the air continues to moisten, then you start developing sprinkles and eventually bona fide showers. So always take radar imagery with a grain of salt...and in my case, check surface observations for more accuracy...which is what I was doing when I forgot to get to the weather wall for the start of my 6:42am weather hit...oopsie...

Monday, November 20, 2006

"Ah, Ye Ol' Faire Weather..."

"I think that I shall never see..."

Not too shabby of a weekend, eh? I'd kinda sorta forgotten about media passes sent to me for the annual Carolina Renaissance Festival near Concord. This weekend was the final in their 2 month offering, and why not go...surely there were some flutes to be found amongst the spirited throngs of period actors and actresses...and there were (though none of the style I craft...)...

I must say it was definitely "faire" weather, at least in the first half of the day. By afternoon there was much anon about ye ol' cloudiness drifting in, as if the Elizabethan stars were amiss and misaligned....

Alas, 'twas nothing more than that which runneth in front of a cold front, high cirrus clouds that steadily lowered into the alto layer until they covered us like mere underlings by darkfall and Festivale's end.

This being a huge week for travel and special gatherings for most, I am even more sensitive to any weather-related travel concerns for the holidays for everyone. "Could there be the possibility of hail the size of canned hams?...."

"Or could there be a heat wave of epic proportions that would smoke us all into that fit for a dinosaur King's epicurean feast?....I pray not..."

"Or could it be that we'll have nice weather to make delightful merriment as we dance to melodic tunes from the traveling minstrels?.... "

"Surely he jests!" say ye? If ye do, thou art mistaken, me Lords and Ladies...indeed, as if decreed from the throne itself, we shalt have good faire weather to dine upon turkey thighs and Maalox. But in arriving to that day, get thee to the closetry to grab yon rain jacket to keep handy, lest the Heavens bring forth showers to melt those created from sugar.

So fare thee well this chilly-ish start to a workweek with plentious clouds to start... along with showers that did not appear to be so, days ago. Regardless of less than ideal conditions early this week, may ye hearts be warm and of good cheer...

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Dawning Of A Quieter Day...

(Sunrise from Iron Mountain, Norbeck Wilderness Area, SD)

Whew. Just sifting through the myriad storm reports and upgraded tornado reports from North Carolina, especially sites investigated by the KGSP National Weather Service office around the greater Charlotte market...with storms moving laterally at 40-50mph, and with radar sweeps taking minutes to complete, the storms were racing, pulsing, bubbling faster than could be humanly monitored. But is that the best technology our National Weather Service has at their disposal?

Far from it. "Phased Array" radar could quicken that 6 minute scan down to 1 minute. Click the link to read more on this technology, currently available, being tested by NSSL (National Severe Storms Laboratory) why are we not upgrading the NWS fleet of radars to this life-saving technology? Ask your Senator. Ask your Congressman or Congresswoman. Ask your President. Ask a lot, and ask often.

If you want to read a sad tale, look at what Congress has done to the National Weather Service budget while asking for more and more to be done and upgraded: they've cut it for many years running. Given all that our government wastes money on, it's a travesty. I just wonder how many more lives need to be lost before the U.S. government sees the value in keeping our citizens most effectively alerted to potentially deadly weather. How long and how much will it take...

(another Iron Mountain sunrise shot to calm me down...)

While it's on my radar screen, literally and figuratively, there is another excellent development in radar technology with "Dual-Polarimetric" radar, which can make significant advancements in radar analysis of precipitation type and amounts, especially important for winter weather concerns and hail-core storms. In case you were wondering...yep, readily available for installation. And you can imagine where I stand on that issue...


Quiet, calm, sunny, cool...4 good word choices for the next week. A few nuances, I'll an infusing cold shot behind a 'dry' front coming through overnight Saturday, which may bring more clouds for Monday's chill in the upper 40s...but next week's forecast is looking user-friendly for Triad travel concerns as we approach the busy Thanksgiving holiday with temperatures moderating up through the 50s.

No fowl weather is expected...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Earning our keep...

What maelstrom's we had across North Carolina overnight and this morning...and those barn-burners are still smoking in eastern NC as I post this. Many storms became tornadic and, sadly, several lives were lost and homes destroyed in Columbus County in the town of Riegelwood (southestern section of the state). I captured this radar screen of 3 separate tornado warnings at once, all moving almost due north toward Raleigh this morning:

Overnight there were two tornado warnings in the Triad market, one in Yadkin County and one in Guilford this time I've see no reports of damage, and, typical of overnight mesocyclones, it is difficult if not impossible to see a funnel form. Plenty of rain, too, as many areas received repeated storms moving overhead. This is the radar-estimated rain totals that may be slightly underdone since the most recent storms have most likely not yet been added in:

The red spot in Yadkin County would be in the 3-4" range, which is quite likely with their heavy storm early on that produced a tornado warning. The area shaded in green to the east is the area that received more than this image shows due to latency in reporting.


So a looooong workday begins to round the bend to ending...I normally get up at 1am, but with the storms last night I got up at 11:30am and for some reason thought I'd better check the radars on the computer...only to immediately see the tornado warning for Yadkin County...let's just say that has a way of waking you up in a big way.

Out of responsibility that meant an immediate shower and drive to work, where Monte Montello was live with the storms. After assisting him for a while, I took over the reins (pun intended) at 2am and was live for 6 straight hours...I am officially bushed. Wouldn't you know this was also one of those days where I had to pull a second shift immedately after my normal one, so the poor viewers of News 14 Triad will have had to see me doing weather for 15 hours today.

Thankfully, the serious weather is out of the area, the tapes are in the can, and I am degassing as I write. This is how we earn our keep, and regardless off the drain it places on us, it always feels good to have done a job to the best of my ability.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Oh, Puh-leeeeeze...

(the following thoughts were prompted by a recent email advertisement for a large and well-known electronics retailer; I have chosen not to name the chain because readers would immediately recognize the store by their blue and yellow color scheme...)

Gee-willikers, I feel good! I am a valued customer, so 'valued' that I was sent a special discount notice for a private "on-line only" sale for two days this week. Now I'm feeling really special. Like most of us, I daydream of purchasing some bigger ticket items, and here was an opportunity to see if the price is 'right'. Handed to me on a silver cyberplatter, no less.

When I clicked 'SHOP NOW' on my special invitation, it made me enter my email address all over again to make sure it's really me getting this deal and not a mass of uninvited humanity. I'm smelling "limousine" at this point...and on the typical disclaimer page there was another button to click for "START SHOPPING", which I immediately clicked....

Then, there was that mystical, ethereal voice of Knowledge within me that calmly said, "Whoa, there FluteBoy...back up the bus...hit that 'back' button and go back to the disclaimer page...", which I did (I don't disrespect that voice if I know what's good for me...)

Though hungry to hunt the electronic aisles with my shopping cart and see the oodles of savings coming my way, I began to sift through the miniscule verbage detailing this oh so special sale for special customers like special me.

"Special" my (***southbound end of a northbound mule***). The list of items not eligible for the sale almost exceeded those that were eligible...I began to deflate category after the other, wherein my treasured 'hopes' were waiting to come to fruition, were dashed upon the rocks of corporate trickery and fat-cat snickering. My "limo" turned back into my Ford Escort.

Things aren't always what they seem, are always pays to be inquisitive and seek your own answers to what might not be obvious questions. To paraphrase the late Ann Landers:

"If someone takes advantage of you once, shame on them; if they take advantage of you twice, shame on you!"

Amen. 10% off for a sale sucks, anyway. Live long and prosper, y'all.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Do You Know Your Math?

I'll start with an easy one first:

Question: How many feet are in a yard?

Answer: Depends on how many people are standing in it.

...and you only thought you knew the answer...let's try another one, shall we?

Question: There is a boat in the middle of a lake. In the boat are 11 cats. One cat jumps out into the water. How many cats are there still in the boat?

Answer: None. They're all copycats.

If you're 0 for 2, don't feel bad at have a good chance of being normal. If you have answered both questions correctly, you're as twisted as I am. Alright, one more for the Gipper...

Question: If a chicken and a half lays an egg and a half in a day and a half, how long will it take a grasshopper with a wooden leg to kick all of the seeds out of a dill pickle?

Answer: I have no idea.

But what I do know is this:

"If 20,000 people believe

in a stupid idea, it's still a

stupid idea."

Make sure you don't take yourself and Life too seriously, friends. Be true to yourself, and walk with a kind heart.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

"The Gift That Keeps On Giving..."

Buy a pack of tube socks (not regular athletic socks, but TUBE socks) ...sometimes not the easiest to find, but in this case the cheaper the better. At some place like WalMart, Sams Club, Costco, etc, buy a bulk sack of white rice. Now you're set. Now you can make simple, inexpensive gifts that work WONDERS for our bodies.

Especially with the holidays and colder weather ahead, these little gifts are perfect for the elderly, shut-ins, or anyone who suffers from body aches and pains, joints or otherwise. Take one tube sock, fill it with uncooked rice, but leave enough at the end to tie a knot in the sock. That's it. Microwave that sock for 2-2.5 minutes and it will release a nice steady heat as one wraps it just where they need the heat...when it cools off, heat it again...and again...and again...

Which is why I call it the gift that keeps on giving. What prompted me to write about this was that 1) I haven't posted since taking Friday off last week, 2) didn't think about posting since I was off since last Friday, 3) was feeling guilty that I haven't posted anything since last Friday, and 4) I just used one of those socks to help my constantly aching shoulder to feel better this afternoon...and with the biting chilly winds today, it felt even better.

So if you're like me, money doesn't come easily and you just might be looking for something different to do this holiday...thought you'd appreciate an economical gift idea that goes a long, long way in helping others feel better. NOTE: if you don't like the smell of heated rice, you can go to the local feed store and use bulk deer corn as a substitute.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Be vewy, vewy qwuiet....."

"I'm hunting dat waskally well as some Atwantic huwwicanes!"

Keep huntin', Elmer...your chances of finding that lagomorph are far greater than finding the mythical Loch Atlantic hurricane these days...

(Map of the 2006 tropical tracks)

The potentially fiesty 2006 Atlantic hurricane season, now in its final month, is ending with no fanfare in any shape or form. As my junior high football coach used to say, "Big tent, no show!" Since noone wants destruction to property or casualties, we are all glad it has been quiet, with a majority of storms having spent their days out at sea and never near land.

El Nino is certainly starting to kick in its two cents worth, developing a strong southerly jet stream that is in full command of Meso-America and its northern latitudes. I can't imagine that there will be any more tropical development this season unless far, far to the east.

With that said, El Nino opens up another can of lentil soup that we need to digest in considering implications to our winter weather outlook here in the Southeast...but let's let that one simmer in the crock pot another few days. Today is my Friday, so will most likely keep my posts on the non-weather note until Monday.

Enjoy the un-November-like weather through Saturday...certainly is great weather to go topless...

Aw, c'mon! I meant if you have a convertible!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I don't know about the rain in Spain....

...but in the Triad it fell mainly on a north-south line between downtown Greensboro and Asheboro, and a little northeast to Grays Chapel, where 1.5" to 2" fell.

I saved this radar estimate this morning showing the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. The Piedmont Triad airport sits just to the left of the heavier rain bands but still managed to pick up 0.82" through midnight, and another 0.15" roughly after about an inch.

One humorous aside to yesterday's rains was that a crew was supposed to come to the house and install new gutters...

Outside of some wrap-around showers later today, the door will be opened for sunny 70s to end the week and into the weekend....a good ol' Nestea Plunge, you might say! Saturday is also Veteran's Day, and the weather could not be more perfect for outdoor services and ceremonies, either. I know what I'd like to be doing...

I am itching to get back to my woodworking and flute-making. The shoulder is still far too weak and painful to work with tools yet, but I hope to soon get 'back at it.'

There are lots of joys in making my flutes, but one of the biggest is taking a unique piece of wood with unusual grain or figuring....and sanding until the cows come home, down to 1000 grit, by hand...and then, ahhhh, rubbing in Danish wood oil...woodworkers will understand immediately of which I speak. The grain/patterns/lustre just fly out 3-dimensionally at you as the wood literally comes to life...just nothing quite like that step. I'll try to post some before and after shots of that step as soon as I get to one again and let you see for yourself...

...chomping at the bit...chomping at the bit...

"A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum..."

OK, so it wasnt' the was a typical Rest Area along a North Carolina interstate. You know how you go into the restroom foyer and on the walls are plexiglas-covered boards of maps, points of interest, and natural history? If for no other reason we look at the displays while waiting on loved ones to emerge from the Great Porcelain Hall.

Years ago one of my brother's good friends just happened to have gone to this particular rest stop, and...lo and behold...there was a picture captioned as 'NC River Kayaking'...with my brother and his wife cruising up a Coastal Plain waterway!

(My brother and his wife, up a creek but with a paddle...)

His friend had the foresight to take a picture of it and send it, which I've hung on of those 'ya just never know' stories that's fun to revisit.

Before I began my weather career way back in the 90s, I got involved with stage productions, then into other acting arenas. Little parts in movies, a training film here, a print ad there...and during my non-TV station contract periods, I'd pick up a more jobs along the way.

Just yesterday morning my mom was reading the Spartanburg paper, drinking her black coffee...opened the front page section to suddenly see me in a SC bank ad I'd done last spring. Luckily she didn't choke too long on that steaming cup of Liquid Gold...and I'd forgotten all about that ad, which you tend to do in that line of work. You move on to the next audition and forget about it.

It's kind of like pulling out a coat that has spent 4 months hibernating in a closet ...putting it on to head out the door to run a few errands...and finding a $5 bill in the coat pocket. The little 'oh, yeah!' joys we smile at when they happen...

Monday, November 06, 2006

"And...They're OFF!!!......"

You can hear the long bell ring...the metal gates loudly banging as they open abruptly 90 degrees...the thunderous hooves echoing as thoroughbred muscle thrusts against well-groomed dirt...the necks stretched out, ears back, and manes flying as they accelerate toward their favored running position....

A horse is a horse, of course, of course....and your meteorology team here at News 14 Carolina is not...but November has been looming as the horse race of horse races for our department in that we knew we would reach our critically low staffing levels for various reasons for this month, in particular.

Double-shifts, extra-shifts, simultaneous shifts between 2 markets, we are called upon to do it all now several days each week. Each of us takes our forecasting responsibilities very seriously, and prepare for our regional market stands to reason it takes a long time to adequately prepare to put your best foot forward, to check the myriad models, sources, reports, discussions before making your final call for the shift at hand. 'Nuff said. Understandable.

And yet, when you then take on a second preparation, you simply don't have the time and mental energy to focus and do it all over again the same way...kind of like rebooting a computer to clear the memory...the numbers all change, the timing all changes, the geography all changes and many other similar concerns that, quite frankly, after being up since 1 a.m. in my case I'm 100% brain-fried. The energy isn't as high as you'd like it, and you have to fight hard to put as much life as possible into the taped segments. Easier said than done when you combine this with computer crashes and hardware lock-up and other Wonkles and Snortches that pop up when you least need them to...

This is simply what we do, and we do love our a perfect world we would be able to focus on doing the job we were hired to do instead of having to constantly splinter our energies and do the job of 2 people on a semi-regular basis...for no extra pay or time off, I might add. So the next time you have to shovel 6" of partly cloudy out of your driveway this winter, at least stop for a brief moment and decide if you really want to drop the guillotine on us...and if you decide to still do so, at least give us a heads up...or down...or off. (Guess you could say I stuck my neck out on that one...)

My next entry will involve one of those 'who woulda thunk it' things that popped up at an interstate rest area years ago...(??????)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

An exercise of simplicity...

Saturday...ah, the day of respite from a week of work...I don't have to get up at 1am though the Mighty Mercy Girl is attuned to my schedule and stood over me, waiting for a sign from me...
the clock said 12:17am... she has no concept of Daylight Saving time, so to her it is 1:17am. It is the time I'd already be up, letting her out to chase night cats and Woozles, taking a shower, etc...and she has done this all week long at the earlier hour since the clocks have been switched...and even though I don't work on Saturdays, she has no concept...she just goes with her natural flow of Life...

While a little disconcerting, there is a beauty to all of we all hit natural strides, and somehow Society always has some monkey wrench that throws all into chaos for a while...instead of getting upset, I smile...first, Mercy is one of the sweetest pups on the planet....(oak leaf with green veins and colored leaf area...)
she is innocent beyond reproach...and I can't help but reach up, pet that fuzzy face, and get up and let her out anyway (she would NOT cease and decist otherwise...)...she gets to enjoy her brief romp...then I lay back down for about 30 minutes...then am up for the day...
(general coverage shot of fall foliage in the Piedmont...)
Given that at News 14 the weather department is stretched incredibly thin with various reasons for November, and that I am working Sunday for the Charlotte market...and given that I really love posting to this blog site...(golden mottled Sycamore leaves...)
I was wondering what I could talk about. Mercy loves her walks, and this morning I noticed some really cool detail fall color shots I'd like to what I thought I'd do is take pics from a typical walk with Mercy in some woods behind a local elementary school, and show you the beauty I saw walking her late this Saturday afternoon... (Ah-choo! Good ol' member of the Goldenrod family...)
...good little exercise for the photographically enjoy! 'Bout all I have to say for now, anyway...Peace. (Quercus alba in full fall color...)

Friday, November 03, 2006

"A Penny For Your Thoughts..."

OK, then, a Water Penny for your thoughts...(whatever floats your boat...!)

It's called the cohesion-tension theory of water molecules 'bond' together to create a unique surface that will, among many other things, uphold such critters without them sinking in the water...the tension force creates enough resistance that they can 'skate' on water....and don't forget the Jesus Christ Lizard, either...phenomenal works of Nature in all Her glory.

(NOTE: the lizard link above is a video link...very cool!) Which is also why someone target shooting a can thrown out onto a lake needs to be extremely careful since the bullet can actually bounce off the surface of the water if hitting at a slight of enough angle...careening bullets aren't in anyone's best interest, to put it mildly...

Don't you just love random thoughts? Like why we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway here in the U.S.? And why the word 'abbreviation' is do dadgum long? Things that make you go 'hmmmmm...', as well as wonder, "What makes that Flute Boy tick? He ain't right, I tell ya!"

Proud of it...never know what I'll come up with next...which makes this whole blog thing and my plentious live forecasting so potentially fun! Like this morning...

We do 1-, 2-, and 3-minute forecasts that rotate at different times during the hour...the :21 weather is 3-minutes long...I get my 'hit' time from the control room in Raleigh...I put my show into play...I walk to the chroma key...I set my self-timer since I count myself out of each weather hit...the clock ticks to the appointed time...I hit the foot pedal to start the timer....'show time!'...

After 30 seconds into my 'live' forecast, I have this bell go off in my head as I glance at the clock to the side of the read 7:21:54 or something like that...and it's so funny how all of this can occur at once in a brain...I'm talking...I see the ':21" part of the time...that means this is a 3-minute weather hit...I realize I've put my 2-minute show into play, the one I did just 10 minutes earlier...but I have to keep I do, all the way to the 7-day forecast at the end...and then realize that as the timer went to zero...that I'd set the timer for a 2-minute show instead of a 3-minute after one big pregnant pause, with a minute still to go...I went back onto the screen and explained to the viewer how i just totally screwed up this weather segment and stood in front of the 7-day and explained other weather details in the immediate forecast...all I could do was laugh at myself and get the viewer chuckling, as well...what else is there to do?

Which is why I love live TV, or live theater/stage is a good skill to learn how to keep going when the forest is falling all around you...even if you are the only one there to hear it fall!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Spreading my wings...

Well, I'm leaving the sling off today and spreading my wings...well, one of 'em, anyway. Feels very weird, and there is a tremendous degree of motion I don't have...but it's a start. I still have to use my left arm for most things, including scratching my fleas...

(Prarie dog in Custer State Park imitating me)

In the car, I still have to lean toward the stick shift to reach the knob, but luckily I have full use of my elbow, forearm, and hand. At work this morning, relative to the U.S. weather map, I'm good to the 35th parallel and that's about it...won't be pointing to Maine or Saskatchewan anytime soon! And speaking of spreading one's wings...

These little guys were part of a second brood of sparrows that found the wreath on the front door a grand place call home this past had the added benefit of being like an amusement park ride when the door opened and shut. Tried to keep that to a minimum, of course and used the back door as much as possible. They made a mess of the door, but it was worth it to watch those little miracles of Life come into this world...

Here I am having just driven to Cleveland and back a couple of weeks ago...while I was getting something out of the back of my car 2 days ago, I just happened to look down at the left rear tire...lo and behold, the steel belts were sticking through the outer edges of the tire! I knew I was going to need rear tires before too long, but I never really checked them out...lucky not to have had problems on that long trip, or heading to the station as I do at 2am.

So I got two new tires put on the front, and the front ones pulled to the rear...and when I hit the road home I remembered just how good it felt to ride on brand new much quieter it was. Kind of like putting on brand new socks...that level of comfort and feel-good quality that is like no other.

So do yourself a favor...if you haven't done so in a while, take a second to inspect your tires. As the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"The Day of the Dead..."

"Dia de los Muertos" -- November 1, aka "All Saints Day". AHO!

Sure, we all know October 31 as Halloween, replete with kids in costumes going trick or treating door to door (not everyone participates in those celebrations, of course). But broadening our Awareness beyond our American noses, November 1 and 2 are revered holidays in their own right in Mexico, for example. And don't even think these are sombre occasions...they are usually very festive and colorful celebrations of those that have passed on before...

In most localities November 1, All Saints Day, is set aside for remembrance of deceased infants and children, often referred to as 'angelitos' (little angels). Those who have died as adults are honored November 2, All Souls Day. Traditions vary among regions and villages; in short, they respect those who have transitioned before them, be it through home festivities, graveside services, church funtions. It is always a good thing to have an open mind to learn things for yourself...rarely is it a good idea to take and accept someone else's 'word' as the Truth. "Viva la Mexico!" for that lesson! The Day of the Dead!

While death is a topic largely avoided in the USA, the remembrance of deceased ancestors and loved ones is traditional among diverse cultures around the globe, often marked by lighting candles or lamps and laying out offerings of food and drink. Such celebrations can be traced back as far as the glory days of ancient Egypt when departed souls were honored during the great festival of Osiris. ( )


So a few trick-or-treaters came by tonight, finally...the first, though, was the most magical...a 2-yr. old girl in a Curious George monkey her parents stood by and I sat on the porch with the young girl and quickly chatted, the fact that I make Native American flutes came up and, long story short....I went inside to get my special Boo Flute and sat back down to play it for her (which I can do even with the sling, thankfully)...she held the end of the barrel to feel the vibration...and for those magical 3 minutes mom, dad, daughter, and gimp candyman had a very special time. The little girl's eyes lit up with the sound of the flute, which is not unusual at is the power of the instrument, I tell made the whole night. Made theirs. Made mine. As well it should have.

You experience those moments, fleeting as they are, and you do well to grasp them and embrace them for what they are, inescapable magical moments. All else that transpired last night was fluff. Pure fluff. May we all grow in wisdom enough to see and seize such moments to make them part of our every day Reality...