Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Coyote" flute and 'stuff'

Admittedly, with the warmer weather (when it hasn't been raining!) I've been letting the sawdust fly. Besides my crop of flutes I have chosen to make at this time, there are a couple of custom orders embedded therein. I just delivered "Coyote" to a customer Saturday and thought you might like to see it and how it came to be...

If someone really wants a particular flute, we talk about all the details insofar as keys, woods, styles, budgets, etc. This person is fairly new to the Native American style of flute and wanted a special flute that had to do her attachment to coyotes. In native lore, Coyote is the quintessential trickster, revered for its cunningness but also it's wild-card factor since Coyote keeps you on your toes! All I had to go by was she loved textures of unusual woods and left the art details to me. I explain that I do not take prepayment or deposits...in order for this to work I have to 'feel' like working on it, and I make no promises in the 'time' category; once the flute is finished I send photos and sound samples. That person has 'dibs' if they want it; if for some crazy reason they don't, I have a very sellable flute on my hands.

And so Coyote (mid-G) was put into motion. I chose to go with this wonderful piece of Black Limba for the body, an African wood revered for its tonal quality in mandolins and other acoustic instruments. I knew I was going to use some inlay somewhere somehow, and before I decided on the design I knew Turquoise would look smashing against that rich cocoa-y Limba. Pawprints came to mind quickly, and I decided to have them come up the flute from the end instead of heading the other direction (don't know why, just did). I next thought about thin inlay bands at either end, but had this crazy left-field idea to put in a curvilinear band just ahead of the block. Never done one before, never seen one before, but the picture popped in my head as clear as a bell and so I put it in.

(click on pics to enlarge)


As is the case with virtually every flute I make, the block is made after the flute is finished. I never really have thought why that is, just how I comfortably operate, and it feels right to do it that way, I was well pleased with the flute and inlay to this point, and the voice was clearly top-drawer. It was ready to go. But the block? Hmmmmm....the pawprints could be dog as easily as wolf as easily as coyote....the block needed to say 'coyote' in particular.

I did ask ahead of time for the client to email any pics they had seen they liked, and I also went snooping on the 'images' tab of Yahoo!search to see if anything struck me. I created a folder of images that I collected and then looked at them until something spoke to me. While I did have a few options in my head, one was a little different that I knew would be coyote-like: layering thin woods for a 'scene'. I liked the idea of a howling coyote silhouette against a skyline, and added in a small sihouette of a cactus which clearly spoke Desert SW. After poring through my thinner pieces, I opted for Ebony for the silhouette, Yellowheart for the sun or moon, and then a mountain ridgeline in Bubinga that had a bi-color thing going on:


Cool block. Hated it on the flute. Just didn't like it at all, like wearing plaids and stripes together. Don't know why I didn't see that train coming, and not sure exactly what it is except the busyness and colors of the block were in direct competition with the Black Limba and Turquoise patterns and textures. It was as if I immediately knew that block belonged on another flute and I had to go back to the drawing board. Matter of fact, I have several bodies it will look great on immediately...just not Coyote. Stuff like that happens once in a while.

Before the Flute 'found me', I had collected some Zuni animal carvings, known as fetishes. They are rather well-known, Zuni carvings which embody animal spiritual energy. Some are simple, and some are more intricate than you can even imagine (as well as the price tag!). Navajo carvings are less popular, but early on I picked up a Coyote by Navajo carver Herbert Davis because I just loved the tongue it was sticking out. I have long held the idea that with the right fetish for the right flute I might use them for that, and this Coyote looked like a perfect fit. In very short order I whipped out a base from some unknown burl piece and put it together:


I did contact the person and explained what I felt and sent the two composite shots above; they agreed that the Coyote carving was awesome on it, and so "Coyote" came to life much as you place in the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle:



And so another one of my 'kids' has come to life. Lots of others about to spill out anytime. I will soon blog (tomorrow?) about a brand new 'kind' of flute that came to fruition yesterday, thanks to an inquiry from a valued friend, Mike, owner of "Jonah" and "Praying Hands" if you've been following this blog for a good while. I have my first flute that has been tuned to Verdi frequencies, and it's a honey. If that doesn't mean a tinker's damn to you, worry not...it needs a lot of explaining and I'm rather excited about making more in like tuning. I still used the pentatonic scaling, but Verdi frequency tuning (A432 instead of the now-used A440) has been quite a long-running 'topic' in the world of classical music as well as sound therapy and healing schools of thought...stay tuned for more, as it's pretty cool stuff!

Friday, March 27, 2009

"Fried Fridays: Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow..."



Ah, it's been a week of little in my creative writing department...while I love to write my tongue-in-cheek "Fried Fridays" article on some strange if not outright stupid news story, this week's entry is of a different flavor. To me it's perfectly 'fried', but there is a lot of information for you to root out if you wish.

So, if you're looking for a quick cutesie read, this one won't be it. Knowledge is power, and to fully immerse in a topic that is either new or even unsettling is to broaden your knowledge base so you can speak intelligently about it should you want or need to.

I was listening to NPR radio one morning this week and heard in depth about a 'movement' that I guess I'd heard before but forgotten about. QuiverFull. Basically it's an ideology within some of the more fundamentalist Christian churches that invoke Psalm 127 v.3-5 to have really large numbers of children.

With that said, if someone wants a large family and they can safely and adequately provide for them, who am I to speak against it? Now, "OCTOmom" is a whole 'nuther ball of wax that I definitely take issues with. The idea of pumping out large numbers of children is simply not one I identify with.

With that said, the reason I selected the following links is what struck me as 'fried' about QuiverFull's rhetoric: a rather militaristic view that they need to populate the world with conservative Christians so they won't be outnumbered by Muslims and other 'ungodly' groups. The children are their arrows for war. Their mission is to 'right' the 'wrongs' of this world by returning to what they interpret as the only 'correct' way to live a Godly life: men rule, women submit, and kids flow out like water. Even the 'rhythm method' is akin to the work of the devil, as they use scripture to fulfill their directive. Just my Cliff Notes version, fyi.

Not saying members aren't perfectly nice, kind people...everyone is entitled to their beliefs. I'm simply providing links so that if you want to hear and/or read about the original NPR piece, you can do so. If you want to go to QuiverFull's website and search through their archives and links to articles, you can. I wanted to learn more, not just come up with a quick opinion, which doesn't amount to a hill of beans, anyway. There's a lot to pore over in there.

NPR QuiverFull story page

QuiverFull home page

Thursday, March 26, 2009

NOTICE TO PETS:

I've seen this before, but it was too cute not to pass along, especially since I've been spending all my time this morning creating flute sound samples for a customer. So enjoy and keep the snorkels and fins handy for another couple of days! Glub-glub-glub!

---------------------------------------------------

(The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door:)


Dear Dogs and Cats:

The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:

TO ALL NON-PET OWNERS WHO VISIT

AND LIKE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT OUR PETS:

(1) They live here. You don't.

(2) If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why they call it 'fur'-niture.

(3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.

(4) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.

Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they

(1) eat less

(2) don't ask for money all the time

(3) are easier to train

(4) normally come when called

(5) never ask to drive the car

(6) don't hang out with drug-using people

(7) don't smoke or drink

(8) don't want to wear your clothes

(9) don't have to buy the latest fashions

(10) don't need a gazillion dollars for college

(11) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children ..

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mid-week chuckles

Laughter is good medicine, and even if you've seen these before, maybe they'll bring a smile to your face! Enjoy, and let those pearly whites shine! Click on pics to enlarge. (thanks for the first one, Rita!)



You'd have to be like a modern-day Rip Van Winkle to not know the next one...




...and as they say, there is truth in humor (in this case, sadly)...


Ah, the good ol' days of advertising...




...a penny for your thoughts...



Now, apologies in advance for the verbage to follow, but overwhelmingly "Detroit" has turned a deaf ear to what consumers have been wanting for decades. With that said, you know I drive a high-mileage Ford that I'm fond of (well, it's basically Mazda under the hood), but there is too much truth in this for comfort...



Interesting how we hear of credit woes and horrid managerial decisions...but don't you remember a couple of years ago the incredible onslaught of bank junk mail directly targeting getting more and more credit cards and higher and higher credit limits? Then they blame the consumer for over-extending...Puh-LEEEZE....




Here in NC, HQ of BankAmerica, this one is a painful part of our reality...



(Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Ken Lewis...)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This bud's for you! (2009 version)

Ever since I got my old Canon S2 back I never really took it out for a spin using the macro function...but yesterday's morning walk with Mercy revealed lots of neat buds and such that were perfect targets for informal snapshots. Just like I enjoy sitting and watching a dove preen, so, too, do I like just looking at things like buds, and how they all do their own thing. Too, they look really large but most were quite tiny. There is one shot that's not of a bud; not sure if the young tree shoot grows that way or if there is a parasite in the trunk, but it sure looks neat up close! As always, click on pics to enlarge, if'n ya want.












Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy Monday late?....

CAUTION: TERSE DIATRIBE AHEAD!

Well, okay....happy Monday!


I was so busy this weekend and then so tired Sunday I had not pre-planned a blog for Monday. Then, later on Monday, was an AP wire story that just tripped one of my hot buttons chastizing the direction "media" is trying to take us. The headline was titled:

"7 kids among dead from Montana crash".

If there is one thing about news that REALLY burns my butt, it's when they single out little kids in a headline of dead people. It's as if we place a higher level of tragedy on a young death and devalue an elder's death. I, of course, call bull cr@p on the editors for allowing such headlines. News used to be about reporting news...now it's about reporting 'stuff' more on an entertainment and 'hook-em' ideology to get ratings which get advertising dollars. All for the buck, not the newsworthiness.

If we have any snowball's chance in Hades of saving this planet and our society, we MUST truly understand and embrace the idea that the death of an 87 year-old is just as important as a death of a 6 year-old. We are One, we are Equal. No one is more special or more important than someone else. 'Nuff said. Grrrrr to the executives that push for that type of schlock in news headlines. It's omnipresent, now, sadly.


And now I look at headlines from Johannesburg, South Africa today (Monday), where the Dali Lama is banned from attending or participating in ANYthing news-wise or politically...with fear it will insult China. God forbid, if any nation should hang their head in humanistic shame, it's China...and here these nations struggling, hoping to entertain the soccer greats shortly, they go so far as to play the political card that will damn them, effectively. We live in one screwed up world...where ego, politics, and delusions of superiority rank above all else. Many have lost any sense of a spiritual focus in Life.

Do you like where we are? Do you like where we are heading? I sure don't. It's important to remember that each of us bears a part of the burden to right the sinking ship...but we must speak up. Having been a part of the TV news business for 19 years, I've grown rather disgusted with much of what is now being 'pushed' over the airwaves.

Gee, could ya even tell I felt that way?????!!!!!

Alright, go make lemonade out of lemons, y'all!


Friday, March 20, 2009

"Fried Fridays: Biting remarks..."


Each home that has one has the same concern.


Household safety issues are front and center.

Public safety issues run a close second.

There is always that 'fine line' where you hope all stays within 'boundaries' and yet, deep down, you know that at the least provocation you could be in a heap o' trouble....

DATELINE: PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND

Pit Bulls take a lot of bashing, I'll admit. Could be because they truly are the breed most often involved in attacks, but I digress. You make sure they have their shots. You make sure they are under control. You make sure that they are being properly watched over and controlled, and properly loved and fed. They can be sweet and loving...'can' being the operative word, here...

Alas, there is no Pit Bull in this story.

For that matter, there is no dog in this story. No pet whatsoever.

It's just dear ol' Mom...

Yep, Mom.


And, I might add, it's quite reminiscent of the last presidential forum per Gov. Palin's commentary about the difference between a Pit Bull and a hockey mom: the lipstick.

There is (was?) an 11 year-old "John Doe" Aceta (?) at Roger Williams Middle School in Providence, R.I. While we don't know what he did that day at school, we know it warranted his being ordered to a room for misbehaving students. There was only one problem....

He refused to go.

Called into the picture is his nurturing mother, 30-year old Aleya Uceta, who goes in to the principal's office to be told of the details of her son's recalcitrant behavior. The principal parlayed all the relevant information and informed Ms. Uceta that her son would be suspended for 3 days for his behavior.

Ms. Uceta had a bit of difficulty working with authorities, and, so, did what any Pit-Bull hockey mom would do: she proceeded to punch the principal in the face and began biting him on the left arm. Police officers were called in and even then Ms. Uceta continued resisting arrest.

As the old saying goes, apples don't fall too far from their trees...

We have strange occupants that walk amongst us. Makes you feel sorry for the kid as his cards were stacked against him out of the gate. True to the words of one of my college professors, "We're all weird, we're just weird in different ways."

Amen.



Thursday, March 19, 2009

New flute garden


Spring officially arrives tomorrow, Friday March 20th, and when I think of spring I think of gardens. I've currently got about 2 dozen flutes in the works, going through their myriad finish coats, and when they're on their racks drying it looks I've sprouted a flute garden. It takes a rather long stretch of attention as I deal with them all (and starting the sanding processes on the blocks for them, yet a whole other little garden in itself!)...one minor result is that I'm simply not at the computer writing as much as I normally might, not with this activity.

There is a wide range of flutes in keys and styles coming out. I'm no fool given this economy, so I'm beefing up my supply of more affordable flat-bottomed Half-Pipes...some are really compact and perfect for taking rafting down the Colorado and playing in the caves and slot canyons you can explore as you go. One day, Bob, one day...

I'm using the last of this stunning board of Cocobolo I picked up a couple of years ago. Cocobolo can be a risky wood given it's oily nature, so not only did I do multiple pre-glue wipes with Acetone, but I used polyurethane glue (not my favorite, but the strongest) and left the walls a bit thicker than I normally would, all in hopes that this will undergo no seam separation. The only 'down' side to it is that it's a heavy flute (low E), which makes no difference to me, only whiny players (HA!).

Cocobolo

I am creating a Thunderbird flute (mid G) from some gorgeous figured Walnut and crafted a bird-head motif at the end of the flute. There are also several turquoise inlay patterns all over the flute, the 'feathering' ones in the picture...

figured Black Walnut

One of my Half-Pipes is a big ol' mid F# that I felt led to do a relief burning of a large Kokopelli at the foot...the wood was unmarked when I got itm though I think it's a more dense Mahogany species...


This flute is a special order flute that is already spoken for for 'dibs'. It's a mid G in Black Limba that has, among other design elements, 5 turquoise paw inlays. It's a Coyote flute, and my first job this morning is to hone in on the special composite block I'm designing for it. For any and all of these flutes I'll take special pictures once they're completed.

Black Limba

And now for turning lemons into lemonade...

One of my specialty ultra-high A flutes (~22" long) for some reason got banana-itis and curled significantly (not the flute pictured, but one like it)...

So what more natural thing to do than to whack off the aesthetic parts and create a cute, fun stubby flute about 8.5" long! Here it is minus the little block I need to make...another great little hiking flute that will fit in a pocket!


And that's what's had me tied up of late...and sneezing my fool head off at times, too!

Happy last day of winter, all y'all!



Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Wearin' O' Th' Sign"


Happy St. Patrick's Day, y'all!

Yes, 'tis a day for the Wearin' O' Th' Green, but once again I resort to Bill Engevall's "Here's yer sign!" award that must be meted out in a moment. Mobocracy and TV cameras go a long way to make people do and behave strangely, that's for sure. While this video clip has been around a couple of years, it is worthy of watching all the way through...and probably a couple of times. It's a real TV news report from Alabama where, in a particular Mobile neighborhood, a leprechaun is believed to be 'hiding' in the trees. Those who have gone snipe hunting will especially appreciate this gem of a story....just click on "Lucky":


Good luck deciding on whether the 'crackhead' line or the ancient flute was the best part...so many fish in the barrel to shoot at...

I didn't dig too deeply to find if this next news story came first and the one above was a follow-up, or if this one is a follow-up done by another station after the classic one above. No matter, as both are full of people truly in search of a seasonal holy grail. Just click on the pot o' gold:



Found this joke that I thought was humorous...I'm guessing those across the Big Pond will chuckle even more at it...

----------------------------------

Three guys, one Irish, one English, and one Scottish, are out walking along the beach together one day. They come across a lantern and a Genie pops out of it. "I will give you each one wish, that's three wishes in total", says the Genie.

The Scottish guy says, "I am a fisherman, my Dad's a fisherman, his Dad was a fisherman and my son will be one too. I want all the oceans full of fish for all eternity." So, with a blink of the Genie's eye ***POOF!*** the oceans were teaming with fish.

The Englishman was amazed, so he said, "I want a wall around England, protecting her, so that no one will get in for all eternity."
Again, with a blink of the Genie's eye ***POOF!*** there was a huge wall around England.

The Irishman asks, "I'm very curious. Please tell me more about this wall." The Genie explains, "Well, it's about 150 feet high, 50 feet thick, protecting England so that nothing can get in or out."

The Irishman says, "Alright, then, fill it up with water."

--------------------------------

Erin go bragh!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring "Preening"....


WHADDYA YOU LOOKIN AT ????

"I'll take "Dark-eyed Juncos" for 600, Alex..."

Ah, the joy of observing Nature. Sadly, there must be many who only glance but do not see...those that look, but don't 'connect'...and those that never even see anything in the first place.


Here's a two-word prayer for you: "Mitakuye Oyasin". It's Lakota for "All my relations." The 'all' means ALL. No one person or thing is not connected to another. We Are One. And it gets no more simple than that, which for many is also extremely complicated given how they choose to view the world.


The big influx of spring birds is not yet here, not yet. I don't bother to pick the camera up so quickly as I have pictures I like from the current set of feeders.

However, the Mourning Doves have been of note with the stirrings of their romantic mating nature (rubbing necks, etc.) - while I didn't catch that on 'film', there was this dove sitting and preening and fluffing a few days ago and, well, at peace being itself.


Too, it's not all the time you get to view it all from the south-bound end of a north-bound dove. I just liked turning the brain off and watch this Winged One go through all of it's motions. As I've noted before, their very nature is one of calm. Can't have too much of that in life, eh?....


Enjoy looking and musing...and may each of us take the time to do our own preening today. I realize humans are incredibly wonderful in every way, but so too is all of life...the perfection of the feathers and how they grow and layer, the coloring and patterning that is just perfect in its own right...the protective eyelid that shuts as the dove goes under the wing...the fluffing that gives extra warming air space which is what insulation is all about...

(click pics to enlarge, as always)















Friday, March 13, 2009

"Fried Fridays" Wrong way, buddy..."

At the ripe age of 25, Harry Jackson already had a rap sheet, and, no, we're not talking about the discography kind, either. He was in for violating his probation on charges of possessing controlled substances, the worst of his 'sheet'. Too, his prison's security level was not all that high on the alert scale.

Outside of working a summer internship undercover with New Orleans Vice & Narcotics squad, many moons ago, that was the only time I've seen a bit of life behind bars...and I certainly aim to keep it that way. It's another world there, some much more severe than others, but the idea is the same: Freedom is a precious privilege oft taken for granted. Do something stupid to lose it and pay the price.

DATELINE: WOODBINE, GEORGIA

I don't have any idea what percentage of the prison population ever tries to escape. Sure, you can try to be a model inmate and hope to get out for good behavior, but I have no doubt there are plenty who don't want to do anything 'by the book' and constantly look for ways to empty their cell a little early.

Movies have glorified such feats like the painstaking tunnels dug over years with toothbrushes, handiwork hidden by day with a poster or the bed...the type of story that somehow makes you quietly respect the miscreant for persevering in his/her nigh impossible quest to once again fly freely.

Well, good ol' Harry had it much easier. Sometime last Saturday he slipped out an open door in the exercise yard, scaled the outer wall, and was suddenly a free man. (Hmmmm, don't all prison walls have razor wire at the top? Rather impenetrable stuff, so it looks...but he actually made it all the way.)

I can imagine what he must have felt, what he thought, what he said to himself....he'd done it. He was out. He was gone and no hounds were on his heels.

One thought that went through his mind was evident, something along the lines of, "I think I'll go to this particular convenience store a block away and steal 14 cartons of cigarettes." And who says those white "coffin nails" aren't addictive....

You may be thinking that as he stupidly went and stole the cigarettes, that he would be arrested right away, especially being so close to lock-up. Nope, he dodged that handcuffed bullet, as well. Wow, 2 for 2, a jailbreak and brazen theft in one day (should've gotten some lottery tickets while he was at it).

If you were in his position, what would you do? Where would you go? What would be your game plan for the short term while the dust settles? Ol' Harry had his thinking cap on. He chose to go where he was pretty sure they wouldn't think about looking...back to jail.

For reasons known only Harry, that was his plan, to return to his cell with the 14 cartons of cigarettes and do whatever with them. Unfortunately, and certainly not surprisingly, he was arrested as he was reentering the compound. Nothing like fresh charges of escape and burglary to go on your nicely growing sheet, eh, Harry?

"Here's your sign!"


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Still cookin' with gas...

I am one decidedly partial to PBS, documentaries, History Channel (OK, and HGTV!)...but I won't divulge that South Park is also on that list. Of the rare few mainstream manias I am following with a bit more interest is American Idol.

I blogged about this some time ago...while at UNC Chapel Hill I was a member of the (then) newly emerging a capella group The Clef Hangers...and one of their own ('08) just squeaked by into the Top 11 this season: Anoop Desai.

He's sorta skinned by the past couple of weeks...he's got the pipes, but his song selection has been a bit questionable. Too, he's having to quickly learn that, as Simon Cowell put it, "This competition isn't about being artistic" which is a bit sad. It's about what 'sells', what wows a crowd, what will sell albums, what will pack a concert arena, what will play out in the odd world of entertainment press. I see both sides, but I continue to hold a silver cross up to those people and institutions that only see "success" as dollar signs and how many they can amass. Much more to life than that, so much more.

Speaking of which, since I told you above that I won't divulge I watch South Park, had I watched it last night I understand I would have heard them go off on Mickey Mouse as the tyrant, bullying figure head of Disney Corporation via the Jonas Brothers. Had I watched it I would have been LMAO...hipsters know that one, but for those not acronym-savvy, suffice it to say I would have found it humerous.



Good ol' Clef Hangers. Anoop is pictured singing one of his solos in concert. I can't help but to think that, as the competition moves forward with more personalized spotlights, they will highlight the group a little more. They've come a long way in just over 30 years, they have.

-------------------------------------------

So much for my good sanding weather outdoors. Several days of showers will be fully in place by tomorrow, so will need to shift gears in other directions. Plus, I'll get to road-test my new windshield wiper configuration!

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I love all seasons, but the birth of spring is intoxicatingly magical. Haven't fired the cameras much lately, but that will soon change as the Bartlett Pears and Tulip Trees are doing their technicolor thing now. Show-time!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bad timing...

A week ago Sunday Carolinians were buying bread and milk in anticipation of the incoming snow...or more correctly, the changeover from the heavy rain to snow late in the day. I had been shadowing Keith Monday at WSOC that day, and was heading home around 1pm when the driver-side windshield wiper began to make a loud clicking noise. Then it quit. Then it started. Then it quit.

About half way home I noticed the same wiper making erratic sweep patterns, sometimes going far left, other times only part way left. Mind you the rain was pouring and going without wipers was not an option. Finally, the last 10 minutes of the ride was quite uncomfortable as the noise had gotten much worse and I would manually run the wiper once every 15 seconds. But I did make it safely.

I should clarify that I was driving the 1991 Subaru wagon that I was given through the house work I did last fall...it doesn't leak in the driver's door like my old Escort wagon, and it's a great driving car to boot, low mileage, and dare I say much cleaner inside!

After the weather warmed I began my inspection of the wipers and quickly realized the driver's wiper assembly was loose, as if the mounting bolts had come off and the unit had fallen into the cowl. I was hoping that whatever the problem was that I could somehow fix it myself to save money.

That was/is not to be.

The area the wiper bolted to is sheet metal that was spotwelded at the factory, and the whole area around the wiper broke through from sheer stress (it's not rusted out, just cracked from pressure). I've seen a lot of things on a lot of cars, but never have I seen something like this before...


I went to a couple of repair shops, and both said to go to a body shop as it would need welding to fix it...I do a lot of things, but welding ain't on that list! Just when I was in a bit of despair, one mechanic said to put the longer driver's wiper on the centered passenger's wiper post and adjust it for a big centralized sweep. He went on to say that a lot of kids customizing their cars go to a central solitary wiper to look different, which it does...


And so, for now, this will do just fine! Didn't exactly make lemonade from lemons, but it works. With this gloomy economy, stepping stones are welcome, very welcome.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009



Well, "no budget cuts" aren't even an option as the Economic Grim Reaper is having a field day, a hay day, anyway you cut it. Most of us are getting mowed down. No one is immune, but I do have a thought that runs through my mind as a really really bad idea.

When times get tough, it seems to bring out more of the criminal element looking for easy picks like stealing purses and breaking into cars, etc. Reducing police forces is one of those bad, bad ideas...especially at a time when we need them more than ever. Cut back on administrative costs, give furloughs for 1-2 days per month to save money, but simply cutting off entire police duty jobs is bad business. In like manner, reducing the firefighter force is also a bad idea. It's not as if most of us aren't hanging on to dwindling precious resources...and to think there are less responders for fires and emergencies is another of those bad ideas.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) announced that over 450 teachers and over 85 assistant principal's positions will be cut next year. Baaaaaad idea, given that classrooms are already crowded enough. We're talking the very future of our country, the generations to follow...we can ill afford to scrimp on the front line teaching force and do an even bigger disservice to our children. CMS in particular is extremely top-heavy administratively, and has not done enough to reduce that portion of the beast. There is on-going talk that CMS is too big to effectively coordinate such an enormous school system from just one organization and should be split into 3 or 4 entities, which would actually lower costs.

For example, there is a new first grade curriculum that 'administration' has said has to be put in place. All new books. All new workbooks. All new supplies. The items currently being used are perfectly fine, and while 'new' sounds fancy, it is irresponsible to direct the excessive sums of money for an unnecessary program (over a million, I've heard) in this climate. Consider the number of teaching positions that would save. Have administrative pay rollbacks and see how many more positions can be saved. Cutting the teacher work force is another of those bad ideas.

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Speaking of cuts, The Black Yak is now back to being Mercy, who did NOT want her picture taken at any point yesterday. These pics were the best I could do, and don't really show the real transformation. Maybe I'll get a better picture today, because she really does look cute, now.


The flute dust is still flying and today comes the oil and first finish coats for a pretty good sized group of flutes. I have had to tend to a car issue that I'll try to get pics of and blog about tomorrow...it will show you how I'm having to be highly resourceful for a very strange and unexpected problem that developed in the heavy rain before the snow 9 days ago....

Monday, March 09, 2009

"There's NO business like SNOW business..."

What a difference a week makes, eh? From the goodly amounts snow this time last week to highs pressing 80 today, we've had a major turn-around. Winter's not done yet, but with the sun getting higher each day, and the macro weather machines starting their seasonal shifts, the long deep cold spells start losing their potential.

I just have to start with my nephew and niece since my brother kindly forwarded some pics a few days ago. They've had quite the winter in Boston, especially the month of January, and Willie Boo and Ellie Sue had myriad opportunities to grow rosy cheeks and play in the frozen fluff.


And this pic was prrrrrrrrr-ecious!...


Can't you just imagine the conversational captions you could come up with for this one?


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Well, the ship launched Sunday morning....kinda sorta. Started my temporary on-air work for WSOC 9 in Charlotte (Sundays only, AM/noon). News 14 is scheduled to have a major WSI computer upgrade with their weather system this coming week, which I have to believe will be what 9 has...I do have some fill-in work in April for N14 in the Triad region, so hopefully there will be little to no learning curve.

Even though I've been at this well into my second decade, the 'first time' at any station is always a litmus test of 'let's see how un-smooth we can make this...'! The set's different, the show players and remote controls look and feel different, and no matter how you prepare it's still always 'new' that first time.

Out of the gate I forgot to turn on my microphone. In the 'old days' there were audio operators who did mic checks before a show, but like so many other parts of the TV biz, people are being placed with machines, so the control room doesn't have as many people to watch all the more check lights in place. On my first long forecast, I didn't receive one single audio cue in my ear, and as I droned on and on I realized I needed to land the bird and sit back at the desk...I guess after all the years of doing this I very closely finished in the 3-minute time slot by 'sensing' it.

It all ironed itself out as the 2-hour show progressed, as I got comfortable with the booth folks and they got comfortable with me...the studio is state of the art robotics, too. Instead of camera operators, there is one computer operator who joysticks (new verb!) these monster HD rolling cameras into their postions as the show morphs along. It's really slick to see in operation, smooth and quiet.

It's been 3 years since I basically filled in in the same capacity at 9 as they continued a search for a full-timer. And once again I work with the same anchor I did then, Ann Marie O'Keefe, who is excellent and fun to interact with...the anchor interaction is something that is absent at News 14, something I enjoy and excel at and have missed over the years. I'll enjoy this little run while I have it through April.

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I'm really letting the sawdust fly while I can...I should soon have pics of some very special flutes, and a new one from the last of this stunning board of Cocobolo I've had. Today I may get far enough along for my favorite part....the oil dipping! Nothing like watching beautiful grain come to life. Several of the flutes have turquoise inlays, which contrast beautifully with the darker woods I've selected. That's always good for the Soul to be productive, so am thankful I can do it.

Too, a red-letter day as The Black Yak is going to get her winter coat taken off today (if I can get her in)...will try and get before and after pics of her slimming transformation. Tomorrow she goes in for her annual dental work which should hopefully alleviate her killer breath. I'm pretty sure if she saw one she could drop a deer at 100 feet by breathing in its direction...