Friday, September 28, 2007

"Fried Fridays: I'm Fried"

Not really fried, but swamped...didn't get a chance to post the blog early, so for now I'll be the Fried component to this Fried Friday note! I hope to be able to get something up later, but in case I don't, I wanted you to know the intention was there!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Travelogue: Victoria Lake Road, Black Hills, S.D."


Sometimes these Travelogues will take you to spectacular natural really isn't in that category. Victoria Lake Road is one of many gravel roads just outside of Rapid City, this one taking you up into the Black Hills near Pactola Reservoir. There were a few vantage points of cliffs and such, but not much in the photo-worthy department...

Along the road, there were occasional glens that were oh so inviting, but I have to tell you that the mix of sun and shadow wreaked havoc on photographic efforts, as you simply can't cover the entire range of light effectively....

Alas, out in the open fields, I found plenty of subjects to shoot, mostly flowers and their denizens, beautiful shapes and textures...and a Black Hills Wombat you'll see at the end of this posting...

Not much time left for this butterfly whose wings are quite worn...peacefully feeding with a bee on a thistle bloom...

This green mylar-sheening insect is rather enjoying what it can get from this coneflower...

Another bee was enjoying this lavender species of Bee Balm...

Ain't got no idea what's astride this Aster family member...I just wouldn't want it to bite me...

Don't know what it is but it shore is purty....

Abstracts are always fun to shoot...and difficult to remember what it was to begin with...

In close, it can be another world with fascinating shapes and textures...

Lo and behold, I even caught a Black Hills Wombat in a......OK, so it's only Mercy. Needless to say it was a rather toasty day out, and she was lying down in that mud puddle quicker than you can say "Oh please don't do th-.........!"

May all your travels take you to magical mudholes...have a blessed day!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Thanks for your patience!"

"Bear with me..."

I'm juggling a boatload of things these days, and I've just not been able to get all I wanted accomplished...if I don't get the blog posted before 2am, it doesn't get posted due to time constraints. Too, our weather is toasty, bone dry, and boring me to tears...very difficult to give all the forecasts we do at News 14 and try to make it sound interesting and different...because right now our weather is neither.

The tropics are kicking with Karen and, soon enough, Lorenzo, but both of those are not forecast to touch or bother the US in any way...and there are other areas of interest to watch, but that's like waiting for a watch-pot to boil. Incoming cold front Thursday and Friday will bring much cooler temps for a great weekend, but the rain chances along that front are a paltry 20-30%. Wheeeee.

And so I present recent gratuitous photos of my only niece and nephew, the Ellen and William show from Massachusetts!

Ellen, William, and Bessie...

flat-out inseperable...

best brother in the world, out for a stroll(er)...

William already showing a disdain for clothes shopping...

Ellen snug as a bug in a rug.....

Maternal grandfather wishing he could sleep that well...

Gracie, the Guardian Angel Dog....

See you tomorrow for the Thursday Travelogue!

Monday, September 24, 2007

"Of things that are natural..."

Gee, I haven't posted since last summer...

Happy fall, y'all. Good ol' autumnal equinox, one of two times a year the old wives tail crops up that exactly at the equinox timing you can balance a raw egg on its end. That's a true statement. The complete truth is with great patience and dexterity you can balance a raw egg on its end any day of the year. It's not all that it's cracked up to be.

Bananas. They're monocots, as opposed to dicots...refreshing your basic biology, flowering plants come from 2 types of seeds: the single cotyledon (embryonic leaf), hence "mono-" and the two-cotyledon seeds, hence "di-". One distinguishing characteristic of monocots is you can tear their leaves in straight lines (like grass blades, corn leaves, palm leaves, etc. You can't tear a maple leaf in a straight line, one small trait of a dicot.) Another feature of monocots is that certain parts, like flower petals, come in 3's (or a multiple thereof). So here is a cool thing to do with a 'nana....

Take a banana......

Peel down halfway........

Bite the tip off.......

Carefully take your finger and work it into the center of the banana...

The fruit will separate into three 120-degree angled segments as you work your finger downward.

Learn somethin' new every day, don't you.
May your Monday be equally as appealing...

Friday, September 21, 2007

"Fried Fridays: The Missing Pieces"

Normally I would take a funny or ridiculous story to feature for the week's wacky headline...but I'm led today to be a bit more sombre and introspective...I've been bothered by the gullibility of the general public for a long time, and seen how all too often advertising and media outlets purposefully play people and emotions like puppets, ultimately to sell a product or an idea.

I make no bones about it: I disdain news media in general. There is an obligation to inform the public about an event or situation, yet it is largely done by snippets of basic information and sound bites...and all too often more of a disservice is created than a service. Here at News 14, we make a concerted effort to be different from the other media sharks, and avoid the flashy-hypey-teasey schlock that is so prevalent.

However, no situation can be fully conveyed in 45 seconds. Between the Associated Press and Reuters wires (among others), information gets packaged then edited then published, then re-edited with basically the same ingredients listed in a different order. The result is that in a news world of Baskin-Robbins flavors, stories come out like Vanilla, unless purposefully distorted to taste like something else - but only one flavor, not the 'true' mix of myriad tastes news stories beg for.

We the public have the responsibility to ask ourselves questions and not believe everything we hear lock, stock, and barrel, yet there is an apparent and disturbing trend toward the dumbing of America into non-critically thinking people who don't know what it means to be self-disciplined and think for themselves. If it's on Entertainment Tonight, it's gospel. If President Bush said it's so, heaven forbid someone have another opinion.

So where do you stand on the Jena 6? Of course, you don't have to 'stand' on any one position. This highly complex situation started over a year ago, and has now hit fervor pitch across the country. No way in Hades can you boil it down to one paragraph and judgment, and yet I read the wire stories and listen to other news stations and I get a very empty story full of statements that are not delved into or backed up. Now as full-bore emotions are out there front and center, minds shut down and tighten the blinders as people dig in their heels on both sides of this razor-wire fence.

I don't condone violence (protecting yourself in self-defense is another matter, of course). Whether someone is 'justified' in their anger, violence cannot be acceptable. Hurting other people cannot be acceptable. Destroying property cannot be acceptable.

The flip-side is the media presentation of the white male who was beaten making it sound like he was near death - heck, the attackers had an attempted murder rap put on them. One news story said he was beaten with a tennis shoe...while his face was bloodied and swollen and hellish by all accounts, he wasn't on a ventilator or other life support, he wasn't in traction...and he didn't even stay in the hospital as he went to a school function that very same night. Inexcusably and unacceptably hurt, yes. Near death, hardly.

But that's not what bothers me most in all of this. It's that tree. Why was there a 'white' tree to begin with? It certainly existed as a black student had to ask the administration about sitting under it. An effective leader would have been aware of such a keg of dynamite waiting to explode, and should have taken action long ago to break up such a deadly, silent rift that that campus tree represented. Leadership is not a position: it's an action. By any digging around I could do, the administration took no proactive action to deal with that tree to begin with. So after integrating the tree one day, three nooses appeared in that tree the following day. Stop that bus and back it up. Outside of actually hurting someone, I can think of no uglier, evil, mean-spirited symbol of bigotry, unless you put the noose with its equally heinous partners in crime, literally, burning crosses and white hooded robes.

Supposedly officials found out those responsible for the nooses and suspended them...again, in all of my digging, I can't find mention of any follow-up school lectures by the principal, town meetings, any of that. In my mind, such an offense is far beyond a slap on the wasn't an action, it was a BELIEF that put those nooses up in that tree. Effective school and town leadership should have jumped on that with gusto, and immediately. In all fairness, it may have well been addressed - but I'm not reading about anybody in the news media digging for that root-level information. All I've been able to see is the vanilla snippet of what's happening now, along with the one-sentence summation of each side's opinion, with one-sentence recaps of what happened. Something big is still missing. The result is and continues to be a serious, serious disservice to the public.

"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."
— Albert Einstein

"The definition of insanity: doing things the way you've always done them and expecting a different result."
- unknown

The answers and solutions to anything in Life will lie in not changing our actions but changing our beliefs. Don't be afraid to seek your Truth.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Travelogue: Roosevelt National Park, South Unit"

Welcome to Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota - this time, sharing pictures from the South Unit, smack dab along I-94 in the southwestern corner of the state. Earlier, I featured the North Unit, far less visited by its geographic separation from this section and I-94.

Medora is a quaint yet typical tourist-trap of a town just off I-94, and 'base-camp' for people exploring Roosevelt, with the South Unit's entrance literally on the outskirts of town.

Given the proximity to I-94, the South Unit is far more heavily visited than the North Unit well removed to the northeast...and I found the North Unit to be a bit more picturesque. As you drive the limited-in-length Loop Road through the South Unit, you will notice how very few places there are to pull over and park...and I mean VERY few. All sorts of incredible mental photographs could not be made real because there was nowhere close by even to just pull over for a quick snap.

All of this was a home away from home to Mr. Roughrider himself, Teddy Roosevelt, who found the area salubrious for his health and prime territory for beginning his 'other' (brief) job as a cattle rancher in the 1880's (this immediately after both his wife and mother died on the same day back east). He ultimately bought the Elkhorn Ranch, now partially restored and part of the South Unit. However, visitors need a 4x4 vehicle and the ability to cross a river to get to it, which my wonderful but undersized Ford Escort wagon could not conquer.

Too, a goodly portion of the Loop Road was closed for a year for major repairs when I visited, so the Loop Road became the Crescent Road as you had to retrace your steps to come back out. Numerous hiking opportunities abound all around, but my 2-day traveling through both Units of the park didn't allow for anything other than minor jaunts.

The region is known as the North Dakota Badlands, as well as the Little Missouri Badlands, and is far greener in many parts than the South Dakota counterparts some 5 hours south and east. Lots of gorgeous sedimentary formations exposed, with the oxidizing minerals adding unique color banding to the myriad beds.

Inbetween the skinned ramparts were lush carpets of grass that surely provided good grazing for the 4-leggeds...but don't kid yourself that winters were easily dealt with. The beginning of the end of Roosevelt's lust for the rancher's life started after the winter of 1886-87 when he lost over 60% of his herd to winter's icy death grip. 3 summers later, he abandoned Elkhorn for good. I guess he had other things to go do...

Last week's Travelogue featured East River Road, a gorgeous gravel road that leads south out of Medora toward the South Dakota border...the road I slowly drove north to begin my Roosevelt N.P. tour. I thought I'd posted my video link to it on YouTube, but I had not. You can click on the link below to integrate these areas if'n you want:

East River Road video postcard

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

In a word....

"Groggy." Rare are the times I ever hit the snooze button. Usually I bounce up like a squirrel after the alarm goes off...well, kinda sorta. Rarer yet are the times I actually cut the alarm off...and fall back to sleep.

And so I began a 'rarer' day. 1:00 am became 2:35 am in the wink of an eye; thankfully something within me nudged me to look at the clock. THEN I jumped up like a squirrel. Ugh...some things in life are a lot of fun...but that ain't on the list.

The other 'rarer' thing is I've been feeling unusually groggy, and for no known reason. Usually it takes a good 30 minutes to get my internal engine revved up and back on track, but it's not happening today as it feels a tad like an out of body experience. I'm much more used to the out of mind the old saying goes,

"Of all the things I miss in life, I miss my mind the most."

Edward Vernon (1684-1775) had a well known nickname "Old Grog" which some say was derived from his rather constant wearing of a grogram coat, a coarse blend of silk, and wool or mohair, sometimes stiffened with gum. Others say the word 'grog' definitely has West Indies roots as early as 1718, possibly even African origins, and apparently referring to a rum-based concoction of sorts.

In 1740 he put forth an order that all rum rations be dilluted with water aboard his ship, and the rest of the Royal Navy quickly followed suit. Long story short, there is an alcoholic beverage now known as "Navy Grog", named after Vernon's nickname...which could well have been a nickname gotten earlier from the West Indies liquor trade and not his grogram coat afterall. Where's the National Enquirer when you need it most...

I did peruse Vernon's commanding history and saw where in 1706 he captained the HMS Dolphin - clearly an all-porpoise sailing ship...but did so for only 10 days before being moved to the HMS Rye...I wonder if someone had a sense of humor when they did 1739 he captured the Spanish colonial possession of Porto Bello (now in Panama), where business mushroomed the Cuban campaign in 1741, he captured Guantanamo Bay...with the help George Bush's great-great-great-grandfather, though the CIA denies it to this day. OK, I made that one up.

Have a happy hump day, y'all...time to post and go...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"He's baaaaaack...."

Dustin' off the cobwebs - I've actually missed dealing with the blog, though I don't normally post on the weekends. Thanks for all your well-wishes...this knee's recovery is slightly ahead of the other knee's recovery from last April, and while I've got a long way to go in rehab, I've been off crutches 2 days and don't feel like stressing our stretched staffing any more than is necessary. There is no doubt I will head home immediately after my shift and lay down with an ice pack!

Too, for the second time this year I actually get to use one of my special flutes, a very stout walking cane that has a fl
ute built into it. The mouthpiece is on the backside of the handle, with the airway taking a 90 degree turn down into the hollowed out cane (except the last 16" which is solid. Hangs down like a saxaphone to play, and is a nice conversation piece and very utilitarian. I can sit down and just start playing the cane, er, uh...flute. It's loaded with Malachite and Jet inlay of an ivy vine growing all around the finger holes, with a special block of a raccoon popping its head out from a hollowed tree. With a piece of copper tubing embedded in the joint of the flute and handle, it will last the ages, even with my Cape Buffalo self putting it to the test!

Wow. One year, already. One year that News 14 has been on the air in the Triad market. Special luncheon today that I will regrettably have to pass on, but I send a big 'thank you!' to those of you who make us a part of your day.

I joined the glee club this weekend...glee over this DEE-lightful change in the weather! I'm just not a 'heat' person, and I have no doubt the infusion of colder air even here in NC has helped me in my recovery. The mornings have been especially comfy, and you actually get that hint of the seasonal change ahead. Already people barking that our drought will make for an ugly fall leaf change, but this I know: there is always gorgeous color, even if it's more in pockets instead of wide-spread across the slopes. That means you move in closer, photographically, opting for something more cropped instead of some wide panorama shot. May be posting some fall shots from last year soon, in a travelogue blog, just to tempt our palates.

The tropics have simmered to just a tepid pot, with the 3 circled areas 'being watched' quite on the wimpy side with no imminent development anticipated. In the Carolinas, we keep the fair skies and slightly warming temps into the lower 80s by Wednesday, and pleasantly cool mornings to freshen the day's start. While we enjoyed Friday's rain, we have a long way to go to ameliorate drought conditions, and there is none on our figurative radar screen at this time.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I'm such a cut-up...

Short post, folks...trying to somehow juggle my weather workload this morning and then get to the hospital for knee surgery #2 this year. The right knee was intolerably jealous that the left one got worked on last April, and it's been a summer of listening to it whine and moan and most recently it went on strike. I threw in the towel.

Nice to have the rain today - thanks Humberto! And thank you, Tropical Storm Ingrid, for becoming a named storm last night at has made my morning dilemmas much easier than worrying when you'd get your monikor today!

Get ready to enjoy some fabulous fall weekend weather, y''s about time...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"Travelogue: East River Road, North Dakota"

(click on pics to enlarge)

Welcome to East River Road in southwestern North Dakota. I was taking a weekend trip north from Rapid City, SD to Roosevelt National I perused my detailed map, I saw a backroad that would take me to the tourist town of Medora, ND...just my speed (the road, not the town!)...

40 miles of the the time I took dawdling along and stopping here, there, and yon, I saw but 2 vehicles. Traveling with the windows down, the radio never on to begin with...the Meadowlarks providing a constant song as I meandered...and the windows down with the pups working their noses in the warm breeze...I'd swear they were smiling...

This is the edge of what's called the North Dakota Badlands, which I always thought of as the South Dakota Badlands "with hair", since there was so much more greenery...and less well-known, hence less-traveled (a GOOD thing!!!)...

You could pull over anywhere...let the pups out, walk around, take neat close-ups of something like the Prickly Rose above (great wallpaper, by the way), and have it all to yourself...luckily no Prairie Rattlers made themselves known...!

And it went on forever, so it seemed. You pass through public and private land, and rarely knew which was which...animals, wild and domestic ones, free-ranging like the antelope pair below...

The scenery changing from dry and rugged to lush and rolling, all begging to be explored...or at least to be honored by simply sitting still and soaking in all of the beauty...

As I came around one bend, there was a herd of horses...domestic, of course, but out in what you would call the 'middle of nowhere'...and they stood right in the middle of this gravel road, even as I slowed to a snail's pace before stopping the car altogether. This mare and foal all but posed for me for a couple of quick snaps...

I can't begin to tell you how therapeutic such a drive not look at a watch or deal with a cell phone, and to have nothing but silence envelop you, outside of the natural sounds that came with the territory...for hours....

So here's a hearty cheer to the backroads crying to be explored...and to our hearts that long to experience such treasures. May we all have the courage of heart to say "no" to the trappings of modern life, and the bravery to step out in a different...slower...more meaningful direction.
You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Chuckles for the day....

I will humbly 'borrow' these funnies from a good friend that forwarded them to me I always say, there's plenty of schlock out there that commands seriousness and creates bad the light of humor is always in order! Too, as of yesterday afternoon, I have become slammed with other things getting my ducks in a row for this Friday and knee surgery #2 this year. Forgive me for not being 'original', but these were too cute not to pass on....enjoy!

Idle Thoughts of a Meandering Mind

I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don't know what to feed it.

I had amnesia once -- or twice.

I went to San Francisco. I found someone's heart. Now what?

Protons have mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic.

All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy.

If the world were a logical place, men would be the ones who ride horses sidesaddle.

What is a "free" gift? Aren't all gifts free?

They told me I was gullible and I believed them.

Teach a child to be polite and courteous in the home and, when he grows
up, he'll never be able to merge his car onto the freeway.

Experience is the thing you have left when everything else is gone.

One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people.

My weight is perfect for my height -- which varies.

I used to be indecisive. Now I'm just not sure.

The cost of living hasn't affected its popularity.

How can there be self-help "groups"?

If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

Show me a man with both feet firmly on the ground, and I'll show you a man who can't get his pants off.

Is it just me, or do buffalo wings taste like chicken?

Monday, September 10, 2007

"Good Ol' Gabby..."

Too bad the "G" is female...had it been Gabriel, I was going to photoshop George "Gabby" Hayes's head and put it in the center of circulation. I grew up with that beloved character early on Saturday mornings, when I was up long before anyone else in the house was and watching reruns of Roy Rogers. Just didn't work when I put his head in for "Gabrielle"....Tropical Storm Gabrielle, officially.

Nice windy rain system dropping some (but not nearly enough) rain on extremely parched soils as I write the first of this blog posting Sunday evening before going to bed and finishing/posting before work Monday. Never was a concern for the Triad, and as you can see from the image below, the rain shield holed up east of the I-95 corridor.

All along this system was to turn north toward the Outer Banks, and then exit the Duck/Corolla area and head northeast with increasing speed. The 2 images here are several hours apart, with the latest one below. Without even seeing the satellite imagery, you know there is strong shear aloft as there is no rain on the western side of the circulation until you get well to the southwest. In fact, for most of this storm's coastal passage it has held the heavier rain bands on the eastern half, most out in the open waters.

There was some significant rainfall around the Beaufort-Morehead City, 6-9" worth, but that was a limited area. New Bern got almost 2 inches, but the big dry dogs didn't even get a milk bone out of it: Wilmington got not one single drop, and Hatteras picked up a whopping 0.23". Both of those deficits are above 19" for the year. Ouch. Plenty of tidal surges and tropical storm force winds winds buffetted everyone...never was a hurricane threat, and has now wound down to a depression as it heads out to sea.

Afterall, this is the statistical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, September 10. You can see the trio of 'suspect' areas for tropical development circled in yellow above, and as you saw with Gabrielle, development can be very rapid under the right conditions. Of the 3 areas, #1 holds the best draw for a winning hurricane poker hand over the next couple of days.

While I remember Gabby from Roy Rogers, he first made his face known as Windy Halliday and side-kick to Hopalong Cassidy...and after he ended that contract over a salary dispute, he was barred from using the "Windy" name, so he picked up "Gabby". Over the years he worked with other notable greats as John Wayne and Randolph Scott. In prior posts you may be aware I was a student and former faculty member of Woodberry Forest School in Virginia...Randolph Scott was an alumnus of said school (as was Johnny Mercer, but I digress). If Randolph Scott was good enough to be in the title of a Statler Brothers 'standard', he might as well be family.

All I have is a doggie, not a dogie, but the time as come to saddle up as I do have to ride the asphalt range west to the salt mine ranch, aboard ol' '99. The ol' blue mare she ain't what she used to be, but that's in cosmetics only. I just hope that chuckwagon's got somethin' good on it this morning.