Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Something new, fun, and rough!

Monday evening I gave a performance/talk on my flutes at Tryon Estates in, you guessed it, Tryon, NC. Truth be told, it's not in Tryon but just outside of Columbus, the county seat. Tryon is several miles on the other side of the interstate, but the 'known' Tryon name is oft used even if it is a stretch...there I go, digressing as usual.

The A/V person was kind enough to burn a DVD of the show for me (they broadcast it on their large campus to those that wish to watch it in their rooms on closed circuit TV); alas, my Pinnacle software can't recognize the files that burned it, so I'm unable to show you this song I thought you'd enjoy. To that effect, I had to take the audio off of my Zoom recorder I'd placed below the stage on the floor and then just stick my mug with 'kids' in order to have a 'video' to embed in this blog.

Allow me to set the stage on what you're about to hear. My performance started at 730p. I wanted to be there no later than 630p. It was earlier that morning I decided I'd take my own sound system instead of using the 'house' system, and I pulled out a neat gizmo that I'd moth-balled a couple of years ago, for no other reason than I wasn't using my sound system when I performed and, well, just one of those out-of-sight-out-of-mind things.

At approximately 2p, I set up one speaker and the mixer just to balance and test...then unearthed the JamMan, a small blue box with two foot pedals and a handful of adjustment knobs. While that little computer does many things, the feature I wanted to use was the one where I can record a few bars of a riff or sound I want to repeat, using a stop-start pedal, and it continuously loops. Likewise, I can hit the same pedal and lay another riff or sound on top of the original one, and build it as thick and rich as I want. Yes, it takes coordination and a lot of use just to get comfortable and proficient with it, which I was not, given I hadn't used it in so long.

However, I started doing silly things with it just to practice...and, honestly, this song I started stitching together from scratch and had so much fun with it I thought "whattheheck" and decided I'd set it up in Tryon and, if my first test or two went well, I'd risk falling on my face and give it a try. Too fun not to, and it would be a welcome change from a flute solo.

A couple of nights ago I watched a fairly new Adam Sandler movie called "Bedtime Stories" in which he would make up a bedtime story for his niece and nephew he was caring for that week. The movie would act out his crazy story, but then the kids would chime in and want this and that to happen, as well...so he would add that in and the movie would act out the new additions. Quite cute, the movie. Well, it just so happened that whatever the kids added in, it would happen to Adam the next day, in some way...and so was this crazy magical movie that surround the imagination of a child.

I'm a Child. I have quite the imagination, too...and so I whipped up this 'adventuresome' song in which I threw 4 children's songs, making my own imaginative bedtime story song. I called it "Child's Play", and I'm telling you right now it is ROUGH around the edges, in part because it's weird mixing major and minor scales together. I multitrack my voice first playing a bass, then adding a trumpet, then doing some percussion. Interestingly, my trumpet voice is one of my best, and it's the weakest part of this song...singing requires practice just like playing!

SOOOooooooooo...turn on your speakers to hear the premier performance of a song that I need to work on some more! Enjoy! And DARE TO DREAM!!!!!

video

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wise words in today's "Meditation"

Most of us have our own select list of daily emails we get from some organization, usually surrounding a thought, word, horoscope, meditation, even 'sale' of the day...and one someone mentioned years ago is from "White Bison".

White Bison is a wellbriety group (originally) dedicated to helping Native Americans kick addictions to alcohol, domestic violence, and drugs, which are overwhelming issues in their culture today. You may be unaware that as an ethnic group, Native Americans as a rule do not have the genetic code to produce enzymes that break down the alcohol molecule once consumed. "Fire Water" did as much to destroy their populations and culture as did the heinous, evil mistreatment by 'wasicus' in the constant thievery, massacres, and outright theft upon the natives.

Without the enzyme, alcohol gets in and stays in the body until ultimately excreted, whereas those that produce the enzyme will dismantle an ounce of alcohol in an hour or so...going on a 'nine-day drunk' was commonplace among the tribes that had access to spirits, and I'm not talkin' the good kind...a tragedy still in the making today.

Anyway, White Bison puts out a daily meditation that I like to read everyday...sometimes the messages don't hit me with as much 'ooomph' as others, but today's was especially meaningful on a universal level...just might trip your trigger, too:

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

Elder's Meditation of the Day - September 28

"Love is something that you can leave behind you when you die. It's that powerful."

--John (Fire) Lame Deer, ROSEBUD LAKOTA

The Old Ones say, love is all anyone needs. Love doesn't go away nor can love be divided. Once you commit an act of love, you'll find it continues. Love is like setting up dominos one behind the other. Once you hit the first domino, it will touch the second one which will touch the third one and so on. Every love act or love thought has an affect on each person as well as touching the whole world. If you live a life filled with love, the results will affect your friends, relatives, and other people, even after you go to the other side.

So...Love…(and I add, ‘love often’).

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

You can sign up HERE if you would like to get the White Bison daily meditations.


Friday, September 25, 2009

"Fried Fridays: Hold it right there!"

I often find myself musing about "Life" in general...how it used to be so large and is now such a small-sized publication (sorry, just felt like going off on that tangent...)

Seriously, there are so many important facets to life at every age. Youth. Adult. Mature. The Golden Years. The more years you live, the more you've seen, the more you've experienced...and the more you get set in your ways...

DATELINE: LAKE WORTH, FLORIDA

Robert E. Thompson must be one of those elders with a rich collection of memories at the spry age of 91. Still lives by himself and takes care of himself, too...and very well, it would appear. He also owns a sweet pup that's a Rottweiler-Doberman mix... ol' Rhett.

It just so happened that early last Saturday morning Thompson was startled from his sleep by Rhett, who was vigorously responding to a hapless (read 'drunk') fence jumper and burglar-to-be Jose Pasqual, a 26 year old ne'er-do-well.

The elder Thompson immediately called the police, then quickly grabbed his trusty .38 calibre pistol, heading straight toward the fray. When the intruder came at him, he quickly fired a warning shot that let the young miscreant know he meant business.

So, there stood the apprehended trespasser with a deadly weapon trained on him...an elderly man who was dead serious...and a dog that, by pedigree, would love 'dibs' at the first breath of a command. The police soon arrived to wrap the matter up.

Well, all but one part of it.

Thompson was buck naked.

He never bothered to put on any clothes before he went into action. There wasn't any more information to this succinct story, which is probably a good thing. I guess these can be called the bare facts. The important thing is the police got to the bottom of the matter.

The end.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Pentatonic" fun!





World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

I am in a busy week full of 'stuff' to do and take care of so not getting around to much more posting...but in my searching out intervals for the various pentatonic (and other) musical scales from around the world, this particular video segment popped up and I though you might enjoy it, even if you're not a musician. Just click on it to play.


Bobby McFerrin is an amazing vocalist...I have not delved into the above conference to read anymore about it, but if Bobby is a part, I'm all ears. Many moons ago I worked in Atlanta, and Bobby McFerrin was in concert at the Fox theater there. I had recently purchased his "Don't Worry Be Happy" album and had it almost memorized by the time the concert came to town.

Paid for a phenomenal seat 3 rows from the front, almost dead center...and as he does in most concerts he asks for some volunteers from the audience. I know you think I might be shy (NOT!) but I immediately raised my hand and was picked first. 8 of us were brought up on stage, and he split us into 4 pairs, giving each of us a specific vocal riff to sing. After getting us up to speed, he went into his classic improvisational singing with us doo-wopping, kinda sorta...and I am here to say that after he finished and shook our hands, I didn't want to wash it ever again!

So I hear there may be uninterrupted sunshine in the Carolinas by Monday? What a novel idea....!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

'Nudder cyberlink I like...

While I do have an MP3 player, I'm not one to have or have had an iPod, Zune, or other such media gizmo. I do love music, and at times I like to play it through the computer and not have to deal with shuffling CDs in and out. And while I have a library of tunes saved to the onboard iTunes, I like new stuff. If that sounds like you, then have I got a nice site for you to download....

PANDORA internet radio

On the site you can read about the 'music genome project' they undertook to tag millions of songs with markers so you can design your own station format. For instance, as I'm typing I'm listening to "Barbershop Quartets". Earlier I was on my "Celtic Woman" channel...I've got one for Mary Youngblood and native american artists....and when I need to get a little jiggy I click on my "Louis Jordan" station.

This is NOT a site where you can save or download the music, it's just for listening pleasure as it happens. The site has restrictions placed on it by the music industry that music cannot be on demand, or a particular artist have more than a certain number of songs play in a limited time frame...but I find the constant mix pleasurable.


You search an artist or song...and the 'project' selects songs by that artist or title and other artists and songs that closely match it in markers. As it ultimately starts playing selections, you get to see a little thumbnail of the album and artist, with the name of the song, etc. If you start hearing a song you really don't like, you can click on a 'thumb-down' icon and not only does it remove that song from playing on your station, but if there are other songs that closely line up via those markers, it won't play those either.

Yes, it's free, and what ads there are are minimal. I'm real testy toward 'free' sites that run annoying ads and pop-ups, and this site doesn't bother me in the slightest. Netflix is behind this project, fyi. I often use an air-card with my laptop, and it doesn't stutter and stop like trying to watch a video segment on a weak signal.

I simply get it going and minimize the window in my tray and go about my other computer work. It's fun and easy, and it's exposing me to a lot more music in about an easy a way as I've ever experienced it. Figured some of you might like to investigate it and give it a whirl!



Monday, September 21, 2009

Computer-help godsend!

Thanks to computer guru Ashley Carr for saving me from pulling my hair out Sunday afternoon! PPD in Wilmington should be grateful to have such a talented IT trouble-shooter on their staff...

Many of us have been in this same boat: trying to help a less-computer-savvy family member deal with problems they're having with their computer. Over the phone. Trying to explain or understand what's on a screen, what's going haywire, what isn't doing what it should be doing, and what's doing something that either it shouldn't or it's never done before. Often, just by the very nature of the dilemma, you start talking apples and oranges and it just doesn't go smoothly...

(I LOVE YOU, MOM!!!!!!!)

Not sure what exactly got changed or even more so how it got changed, but mom's 'internet options' got really screwed up, be it through spyware not yet found, etc. Her screen was doing things and going places she did not intend, and just when I considered diving off the back deck into the ivy patch, a lifeline akin to manna from heaven was thrown to me, thanks to a quick cry of help to Ashley...

CrossLoop.com

In short, the above link lets you (and your troubled cyberkin!) download a freeware program that allows one to, only with coded approval from the other, pull up their desktop and control their mouse. In very short order I had my mom's desktop on my laptop (sans her wallpaper), and I could control her mouse and do everything for her while she simply watched me move the mouse and listened as I told and SHOWED her what I was doing.
Badda-BING, Badda-BANG, Badda-BOOM!


There is an option where you can pay a CrossLoop techie to do the same thing to help you out of a jam, but otherwise it's a freebie option of untold value to me. As safety precautions would necessitate, I can't get into her computer without her permission and access code (a new 12-digit one is created every time you open the program), so it's secure.

After solving the problems of the world on that screen, I pulled up her security software to do a quick sweep in case I missed anything, giving her explicit instructions to leave the computer alone until I can see the results....once they see their empty desktop back up, then they could have at it on the computer.

I stepped away for a few minutes to handle other things, then realized the scan must be done....mom had gone to a rehearsal, and there...on the screen...was Roger playing a game of Spider Solitaire (one of my favorites!). Imagine the fun I had when little horns grew out of my head quickly...and I started moving his cards in all the wrong places! I never said anything, made some crazy (bad!) moves with his cards, and logged off! Sorry 'bout that, Roger Dodger! Couldn't resist!

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Fried Fridays: A Toke'n of Appreciation"

Bartering can be cool. Been around for ages. Trading time and talents instead of money between individuals.

The economy has brought even more of it about for all the obvious reasons. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Nothing could be simpler.

And nothing could be more complex...

DATELINE: FOX LAKE, ILLINOIS

41 year-old Kym Krocza teaches algebra and calculus at Grant High School in Fox Lake, Il. Teachers have always been underpaid and undervalued, that's a given. Long hours. Commitment of soul and concern for student welfare. Parent-teacher meetings. And so much more.

Lucky for her that Ms. Krocza befriended a couple of teenage girls in her neighborhood that soon became students at her school. Convenient set-up it was....they all lived in the same neighborhood, the teacher needing help with cleaning and laundry, the teenage girls happy for a chance for some income.

Or at least some 'income' of sorts.

You always wonder how a story like this comes to the forefront, truly. Somehow, somewhere, under some circumstances, the story got more interesting...and more public.

Oh yeah, and illegal.

Apparently, this 40-something teach opted for the age-old bartering system that the teenage students agreed to...only it involved contraband.

"Let's see...you do my laundry and clean this that and the other...and for your efforts I'll give you marijuana, alcohol, and Zoloft to help your self-awareness develop more fully. That work for you?"

Guess for a while it worked swimmingly. Until the teen heads got to swimming a wee bit too much., that is.

Cutting to the chase, while free on bond for the moment, it should come as no surprise that Ms. Krocza has been suspended from her duties at Grant High, now facing felony charges. She didn't return calls made to her home phone, either.

I guess having to do all your own cleaning and laundry takes you away from handling other communications...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An open letter to the Prez...


Dear President Obama,

Talk about ‘Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride’….2009 has been a whirlwind, maelstrom, hurricane, and flood all in one, eh? Even with all the hullabaloo in the news these days, sure seems like many people have forgotten you didn’t create our massive problems – you inherited them.

As always, there are trade-offs, options, and consequences to actions taken. Some complain about all the money you spent to bail out banks and auto companies. I cringe to think what would have happened had they been left to die on the vine and get no assistance. I will say the old Wall Street way of doing things and paying obscene bonuses needs to be corralled in, and there is not clear-cut information on what your administration has done to address that…on the other hand, “Washington” is all about intense lobbying pressure and efforts that most citizens simply can’t fathom. Want as we might to change the way some business is done on The Hill, there are practical limitations on what can be realistically achieved. *SIGH*

In sort of the same vein, I have been very disappointed in the banking industry's response to having their butts saved. They talked a big game about how they were lending again and helping homeowners out in various ways, but I pretty much take it largely as a lie. The lending rules change weekly, and it's damn near impossible to refinance except under the most stringent of conditions. And I sure hope credit card reform efforts will overcome banking lobbyists opposition. I see banks continuing to try and pull fast ones over consumers' eyes, now in new ways...seems like the same old shell game, if you ask me.

I have been greatly saddened by those that condemn you as a Nazi, socialist, and other such absurd terms…I guess what REALLY bothers me is that many of those people have already pro-created and spread their genes to new life forms. I think we VERY much need a public option health-plan…I know, as I buy my own insurance through Blue Cross Blue Shield, which I fight hard to hold on to month after month. Many simply can’t afford it. And be damned those ‘spin doctors’ who purposefully manipulate the media to twist what your well-intentioned plans and dreams with false words and statements. I’m sorry that there aren’t more citizens who choose to engage their own brains and make intelligent decisions on information presented. All too many hear only what they want to hear so they can sit their butts up on their band-wagon-of-choice tailgate.

I’m glad that at least so far your daughters are allowed to be real kids and not subjected to idiotic news stories daily. I’ve worked in media for 20 years, and I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say that the media has acted irresponsibly on too many an occasion, pushing a news story with no intrinsic value except to turn a ratings point and a buck. Sadly, that process seems to be only intensifying, especially with the conservative Right talk show hosts. Egos are about as hard to crack as the insurance lobby shell, ain’t they? An “Amen!” from the choir is good enough for me.

The “War” you inherited is almost a no-win situation any way you turn. The soldiers are definitely over-stretched and need immediate relief…and we need them home, sooner as opposed to later. We have the responsibility to help others as much as feasibly possible, but there is also the opposite need to stop our own hemorrhaging, lest we do much harm to ourselves within our own boundaries.

You have so much on your plate, and I am but a small fish. Thank you for having the courage to go up against the status quo and stand your ground. Isn’t it a hoot that the ‘status quo’ has no idea that their very ideologies got us to where our ‘status quo’ is?! Humor can always be found even in the darkest of times.

As Shakespeare would say, “Lay on, Macduff! And godspeed. Don’t let the turkeys get you down.

Sincerely,

Flute Boy

"Oh, why not...."

I apologize up front that I have no pics for this post...my decision came quickly and I just 'did it' without my usual photodocumentation....

Per an earlier post, you know I had an allergic reaction to an unknown wood, the first time in 5 years when I had a nasty reaction to Lacewood that took 2 visits to the doc and a good 3 weeks to kick. I simply cannot work with any of the Australian silky oaks, and there are some gorgeous woods in that group.

Having just started my prednisone regimen, I mulled doing something that needed to be done, and figured if ever there were a time 'tis now. 5 years ago when I had my Lacewood reaction, I was making a flute, and had taken it down to it's hexagonal stage and dropped in all the playing holes...it is an awesome playing flute, and ever since that attack it has sat in various boxes and drawers and been nothing more than a conversation piece. I sealed it with a coat of finish to coat the surface and lock down any leftover dust, so it couldn't bother me.

Yesterday afternoon, I put on an old jumpsuit I used to restore my '57 Cadillac many moons ago (when I also fit in it more comfortably!)...I wore nitrile gloves, earmuffs, respirator....I put a big box fan 2 feet to my left, at chest height where I was working with the sanders, immediately blowing the dust away from me into the great outdoors....and turned that hexagon into a finished flute. Well, it only has Danish wood oil on it, but ready for finish and a block that will NOT be made of Lacewood!

I worked fast and furious to get it done in one fell swoop, and ran into several equipment issues that I had to solve immediately and/or work around. After putting on the oil I immediately went inside, threw my clothes in the washer and started it, and jumped in the shower to scrub down. Surely that would stop any potential problems from what I affectionately call (NOT!) Devilwood instead of Lacewood.

To hell with 'surely'. Up at 4a this morning with whelps on my neck, arm, and even more swollen eyes, even after taking every precaution I could except not wearing my ski mask because I couldn't find it. Ice packs have helped, and took a load of Benadryl to tide me over until my 9a prednisone load. This, too, shall pass, I know. Just not quickly enough for my satisfaction.

And now I'm left with a really really big dilemma....soon I'll have this excellent flute all finished. Bills are omnipresent. Do I sell it? Do I hang on to it for the gazillion stories and experiences it holds? I would love to do the latter, but if the right parent came along I'd have to let it go...and I can GUARANTEE that THAT flute will be the ONLY Ugly Boy made of Lacewood!

As Mark Twain stated (incompletely), the only two sure things in life are death and taxes. He needed to add "and one solitary Ugly Boy Flute made from Lacewood." Should have pics of the beast later today or Thursday. Depends on when my eyes open enough so I can compose through the viewfinder...!

Oh, and FYI, once the flute is finished it is inert and can't bother me or anyone...it's only the dust (and I'll guess the raw wood itself) that causes such reactions. I do know I'll be christening the flute with its first public appearance at the end of this month when I give a performance/talk in Tryon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A few chuckles fer ya...

While awaiting the prednisone to do its thing, I've been mulling the news and thoughts and blog stuff. With eyes to the sky I want to thank Patrick Swayze for his great movies like "Ghost" and "Dirty Dancing"...we'll miss ya! Too, I was actually pleased to read about Kanye West's appearance on the new, earlier Jay Leno show (still too late for me, which is a point made below!) and read his seemingly sincere remorse over his MTV Awards gaffe with Taylor Swift. Maybe Kanye could have a little talk with Serena Williams about humility...maybe hell could freeze over at the same time...

So, straight from an email forwarded to me yesterday, I present to you a list for those 'wiser' readers. Even if you're not yet at the half-century mark, some of these get their ball rolling before that magic number (personal experience! HA!)

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

Subject: PERKS FOR BEING OVER 50

Someone had to remind me, so I'm reminding you too. Don't laugh.....it is all true...these are perks of reaching 50 or being over 60 and heading towards 70!+

Kidnappers are not very interested in you.

In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.

No one expects you to run--anywhere. !!!

People call at 9 pm and ask, did I wake you?

People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.

There is nothing left to learn the hard way.

Things you buy now won't wear out.

You can eat supper at 4 pm.

Some can live without sex, but none can live without their glasses.

Likewise, you're thankful this is in large type.

You get into heated arguments about pension plans.

You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.

You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.

You sing along with elevator music.

Your eyes won't get much worse.

Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.

Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the National Weather Service.

Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.

Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size.

You can't remember what you had for dinner last night.

And Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New kid on the block...


Yep, there's a new kid in town, and he goes by the name of "Puffdaddy". They say he's a nice guy with a heart of gold, but has rather porcine eyes, with eyelids blooming overnight that droop over much of the eyes by the break of dawn, and puffy bands under his kind eyes...



Yo, word, dawg! Uh, I mean 'wood', dawg! My current crop of flutes (+20) uses over a dozen different types of wood, most of them unmatched 'orphan' pieces that are perfect for half-pipes.

It's not unlike the mystery game "Clue"...for within those woods lies at least one suspect that possesses highly irritating dusts that warranted a visit to the doctor to get relief. "I think Mr. Child did it, with a wooden half-pipe as the weapon, in the carport area last Wednesday." Game over, I win.

It's been 5 years since I discovered I canNOT work with Lacewood or any of the Australian silk woods/silky oaks. I wear a top-notch respirator at all times, which you MUST do when working with any wood dust. But the harder thing to grasp is how simply microscopic dust can get on your skin, and within hours set up 'shop' creating really irritating whelps and rashes over large areas on my body. And these hombres can cause irritation for 3-4 weeks!

So, which would is the culprit? I had to go dig online, as most of these woods I work with a lot without a problem. There are several good sources that list toxicity and irritant levels of various woods, and one that landed in the 'extreme' category was anything Rosewood....

Above is the only Rosewood I've worked with before (Honduran Rosewood), but all I did was use a jointer on it and the planer to get it's box-shaped step. I have yet to touch it further...and yet my symptoms have worsened over the past few days. Could that early exposure have a really long lag time before becoming a big problem? Dunno.

The other potential culprit I've not worked with in several years...Cape Beech, from Africa. It has the snake-skin like reys in the wood, a lot like Lacewood...but they are continents apart and unrelated. I can't remember if I had a problem with it earlier or not, but I have handled it the past few days and dealt with a lot of its dust...

It will make a gorgeous flute no doubt, but that particular species is hard to find information on, especially as it relates to dermal reactions.

Whatever the case, I need to finish off the flutes, so will wear long-sleeve shirt and pants and take a shower as quickly as possible once I'm done. I went to a doc-in-the-box today ( one of those 'minute-clinics' at a CVS pharmacy) as the flare-ups were getting to be a bit too much to handle, with no relief in sight. Nothing that a good 2-week dose of prednisone won't cure, so I'm looking forward to the relief.

Oh, and by the way, Zorro ain't got NOTHIN' on me!



Friday, September 11, 2009

"Fried Fridays: Palmetto Pride"

I considered living in South Carolina at one point many moons ago...I was close to the state line with NC and could have chosen one or the other, but there were a lot things about SC's laws and overall operations that led me to stay in the Old North State.

News from the Palmetto State has been tilted for months over Governor Sanford's extra-marital affair(s?), but not just from the affair aspect. Much is still brewing in the potential impeachment category for ethics violations and then some, misuse of state property and improper record-keeping.

The Lt. Governor has asked Sanford to resign. Sanford refuses, saying the ability to do his job as governor is not impacted. There is talk of impeachment. The citizenry grows increasingly weary over this national blot on their great state, and it's far from over.

Amen for the arrival of the "Whiz Kid"...

DATELINE: WASHINGTON, DC

In my years as a biology teacher, I remember one day when a student was talking about a really sharp shoulder pain he was having, at a time we were discussing musculature and rotator cuffs, etc. I told them while I was no degree-holding doctor, I could make the pain go away very quickly.

"How?", the students asked. I said all I had to do was hit his foot with a hammer and the pain would transfer away from the shoulder immediately. Which, of course, would be a momentary transference, but a transference, nonetheless.

The "Whiz Kid" is that hammer, the South Carolina republican representative who shouted "YOU LIE!" at President Obama during his congressional speech on health care this week.

Rep. Joe Wilson beautifully stuck another feather in the Palmetto Cow Patty Hat with his outrageous, crass, rude, and totally disrespectful outburst. And it's exactly the type of out-of-control behavior I've been writing about, boorish behavior drummed up by the conservative Right through manipulation of information and outright lying.

Your Rush Limbaughs and your Glenn Becks do it all the time, but it's their shows and their ratings and their egotistical gratification they pursue. You can listen to 'em, you can cut 'em off. The town hall meetings on health care reform had plenty of conservative lemmings showing their bad-boy (and girl) @sses with inappropriate behavior and outbursts, which is exactly what these pulpit-puppeteers wanted people to do.

Dr. Martin Luther King talked about the "Truth" setting you free. The fault of individuals is that they don't bother to discover the truth. People sadly hear what they want to hear, and if they want to hear fearful negative information about how Obama will care for the illegal immigrants regardless, well, that's enough to get ya wavin' your flag, thumpin' your bible, and pulling out the ol' reliable Winchester carbine.

Manipulated 'truth' will only enslave someone, not set them free. I could berate the individuals that delight in drumming up this knee-jerk behavior in the masses, and chide them for misrepresenting the truth at hand. But I have to place the ultimate responsibility on each and every one of us. It is our responsibility to make our own decisions. No one makes us do otherwise. We can't in all good conscience say, "well, that's what they were saying, so it's not my fault." It is your fault if you don't bother to dig deeper for truth instead of going with the easy 'he said-she said-they said' attitude.

And so we have an elected official in a highly responsible position in a very public setting perform one of THE most disrespectful stunts I've ever seen. Regardless of your personal vitriol on record, you do NOT talk and behave in that manner to the President of the United States. You really shouldn't do that to anyone, but especially "The Man." As he gives a televised speech to his peers and the nation, no less.

To his itty-bitty credit, he did apologize 90 minutes after the speech for his outburst. "I let my emotions get the best of me." That's not a reason, that's an excuse. And a really, really lousy one. If that's all the self-control and forethought he has, he needs to get out of the political biz.

Maybe South Carolina should adopt the raccoon as the official state animal instead of the White-tailed deer...after all, it does have two black eyes...


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"Ah, zee cute leetle Poodles!"

It was Sunday afternoon at the Maggie Valley show...the morning began with scattered showers and the crowds never really got cranking like they had been on Saturday. In the mid afternoon an elderly Florida gentlemen (Fred) stopped by, and we began talking woodworking, etc.

He pulled out his wallet and showed me two worn photos of gorgeous wooden kayaks he had built...works of art, they were. He and his wife had a place in FL and one there in NC...he loves the sea, and she loves the mountains.

Somehow the conversation seemed to have no end in sight, and before I knew it he was telling me about the conspiracy theory surrounding the moonwalk. He was a specialized airplane mechanic and as his story went, the plane he had just inspected hours earlier had to make an emergency landing in a 'classified' airfield in Michigan.

His company told him to drive the truck up and inspect the issue, but had to get mountains of clearance to be let in. Authorities told him where the plane was, by one of the behemoth hangars (supposedly big enough to house +40 aircraft each)...and it was late in the day when he got there. He assayed the problem and it looked to be an easy fix...he needed a particular bolt that he did not have with him and so he went to one of the hangar doors to see if anyone was there and could spot him a common aviation bolt, so he said.

All the doors were locked...nobody was around...so he said he took a small screwdriver and knew how to open the door. As he did so, two things struck him. Ghost lights were on and the hangar was filled with dirt and boulders as far as he could see....there were 3 large white suits hanging near the door, and some contraption dimly lit in the distance, but he couldn't really tell what it was.

The other thing were the security officers that were on him like flies on fresh honey as the alarms blared. He had set maybe a foot inside and he said it all happened very quickly...and he didn't really understand what he had seen until he began talking amongst other professionals. He did not speak kindly about the current president, LBJ, and truth be told not many do, mainly because of his manipulative and strong-armed manners.

Anyway, after questioning and believing his innocent story of looking for a bolt, he was released and then he went on about how he and some colleagues tried to follow up with NASA on what was going on, and were naturally stone-walled. The theory says LBJ demanded that the US land on the moon surface in 2 years, and NASA heads said it would take 10...that the rocket simply orbited the earth while the landing and footage was staged, then the capsule splashed in the ocean at the appropriate time. Video footage supposedly shows 'staged' conditions that were unnatural, but I simply crack the lid on that can of worms.

Yep, ya never know what an arts and crafts show holds for ya...

And then the conversation went to his days as a professional clown, and he soon pulled out the long skinny balloons to make poodles...but not just any poodles.


Fifi was made first, but he did something neat at first which was to pinch off a lead piece that ended up in Fifi's belly...he kept asking 'what kind of poodle is this?' and the answer was...a pregnant one!


As if that weren't enough, out came another balloon and Fifi's mate Pierre...

Fred must have been a biology teacher as Pierre was anatomically correct...

Fred went further showing that with a squeeze of his tail, Pierre was in fine working order...

...and then some....!

And then Fred was gone. While the day may have been slow, it was certainly enlightening on many levels! Boring it was not...