Friday, February 26, 2010

"Fried Fridays: How to raise a child"

If you've never been to a Chuck E. Cheese establishment, then you're really missing out on...uh,, food and lots of loud kids having fun with oodles of games.  It's quite the experience, kinda like organized chaos...with truckloads of quarters flying in and out of machines.

The establishment prides itself as being a place where kids can be kids.

And lowlifes can be lowlifes...


Tanesha Turner is only 24 and already has 3 kids out of the oven.  Cornelius Brown, 27, joined her and her entourage for a little Chuck E. Cheese fun and frivolity on Valentine's Day.  Nothing says 'I love you' quite like such a romantic dinner setting, eh?

After they did their thing as a little kinda sorta family unit, they left in Brown's 1980-something Chevy Citation.  Along with Amanda Harrington's snatched purse.

Oh, I forgot to tell you Tanesha had planned the theft of the unattended purse.  All that noise, all that commotion...surely it would be a piece of piz...uh, cake to grab that purse and make a clean get away.

Well, she didn't actually take it was just her idea to visit the ol' "Five Finger Stop And Shop".  Rather, my "Fried Fridays" winner thought it would be better to have her 5 year-old daughter do the snatching, telling her "Do it for mommy".

Congratulations, Mommy.  Here's your sign...and your orange jumpsuit.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A loss for words?

Not really....wanted SO badly to write about my disgust for the political gridlock and other economic related topics, but they depressed me too much right I went and finished/posted Chapter 6 on my "Milepost 50" blog (link left).

Going back to an earlier post this month, I'm gonna find that groundhog and kick his butt into next year.....

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hard to believe....

I've been watching the Olympics sporadically...seen enough curling to whet my stone appetite for, oh, a few decades.  But I did watch what was one of the most jaw-dropping "OOPS!" take place...

No, I can't imagine what it must be like to focus years on training for your specialty in the Olympics, and to be one of if not the best in the world.  Discipline.  Focus.  Dedication.  The 5 winter Olympic rings come around just every four years, and for two weeks the eyes of the world watch for "the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat."

And "the embarrassment of a royal screw-up."

That would be a monumental understatement.  Sven Kramer of the Netherlands was skating to a sure gold medal in the men's 10,000 meter, a blistering pace seconds in front of the leader.  His coach, Gerard Kemkers, was rink-side, doing what coaches do as their stars race, shouting out time splits and other helpful information.

Like pointing to which lane the skater needs to be in, since they go back and forth from the inner to outer lane after each lap.  Can get confusing after a while, just like trying to remember how many laps you've made around a track.

Would have been more helpful if Kemkers had pointed to the correct lane.  A nasty split-second decision sent Kramer following his coach's directive lead...into the wrong lane.

Oops.  Ufda. Uh-oh.  My bad.  The big ol' "DQ", and we're not talking soft ice cream and Mr. Misty slushies, either.

All that training, all those years, all that half-million dollars of lost endorsement bonuses, in Kramer's case.  All because of a coach's finger.  That's gotta hurt.

It's bad enough to see it happen and feel the world crumble in an instant.  But the fallout that will last (and haunt) for a very long time is even harder to imagine. 

This has nothing to do with this story except I remember a teacher scolding students about pointing a finger at someone else.  "Always remember that every time you point a finger at someone else, three fingers point back at YOU!"

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Olympics: I don't get it....

I do remember a few decades ago that when the (winter) Olympics were on, you would get raw coverage of the events at all hours of the day.

No more.

While NBC has the 'corner' on the Vancouver Olympics, it takes backseat to "Wheel of Fortune" as well as a few soap operas.  For me, that's a shame.  Typical of networks, but a big shame.  Oh, I've found mid-day footage on USA Network, but we're only getting truncated and edited results.  It ain't what it used to be, not by a long shot.

On top of that, I'm weary of repeating stories....cutting on the TV on Thursday only to see snippets from a Tuesday story show up again two days later....a perpetuation of the entertainment sham, in a way.

Media has changed significantly over the years....and it's no surprise that the ownership and 'push' for entertainment value have entered into the picture.  Oh, network executives love it, but I as a 'watcher' hate it.  Executives should be able to sense it, but I'm not sure they do.

Bottom line:  we get to watch a highly edited version of the Olympics.  Too, to bring up an 'aside' account...whatthehell is it with the medal count for countries?   I find it TOTALLY USELESS.  Geeez, in America with our sheer population and access to training facilities, why wouldn't we be a leader?  I don't give a tinker's damn whether the  U.S. wins a particular event...I just want to see the best athletes surmount!  

This idea of 'pride' of homeland is woefully off the mark when it comes to important 'concerns' on a world-wide scale.  Too, as long as 'we' believe in a superiority complex and a 'good/bad', 'better/worse'mentality, we won't 'get it' per spiritual values that will make a Universal difference. A sad truth that rears it's head in the Olympics venue, among others.  


Friday, February 19, 2010

"Fried Fridays: This isn't rocket science..."

I grew up listening to a variety of music, including older Elton John albums (yes, real vinyl!).  "11-17-70" was one of my favorites because there was so much pure piano work in it, sans orchestra.  Good ol' piano, bass, and percussion, unleashed.

Quick trivia question:  How many grooves are on one side of a standard 33 1/3 rpm album?  One.  We now return to my trip down memory lane....

"Honky Chateau" was another album that had many a needle track through its groove. Some jazzy, bouncy tunes like "Honky Cat" got played more than others, but I knew 'em all by heart.  One slower song therein, however, left me wondering where the idea for the lyrics came from...until now.


"And I think it's gonna be a long, long time
'Til touchdown brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home,
Oh no, no, no...I'm a rocket man....
Rocket man, burning out his fuse up here alone..."

At 62 years young, this identity-withheld adventurer has an annual winter party in Independence Township, a celebration highlighted by an unusual if not stupid stunt he whips up.  

Back at the first of February, he did not disappoint.

His recipe for excitement was rather simple, really:

one 62-year old fearless body
one motorcycle helmet
one orange snow sled
one auto muffler turned into a backpack
unknown amounts of gas and gunpowder
unknown amounts of alcoholic beverages
one person to light his wick

Our "Indiana Jones turned Rocket Man" thought his guests would get a bang out of this project.  He filled the muffler with gas and gunpowder, strapped it on his back, and before he shoved off downhill on his Orange Peal he had someone light the muffler's wick.

Do I really need to say anything more?

Miraculously, he is alive, with burns and injuries, as you might suspect.  Just a wee bit of an explosion part way down the slippery slope, that's all.  I also hear he's up to seeing visitors and has been moved to Room 207, 208, and 209...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Unique book selection...worthy read

(click pics to enlarge)

In my cleaning and organizing recently (trust me, you have NO idea how incredulous that is) I came across a book that I'd ordered in Asheville, NC many moons ago, a book someone else had and suggested.  It's one of those books that is an easy read even for children, but with a far reaching message that resonates with adults...not unlike the old Bugs Bunny cartoons!  "hope for the flowers"....

 While an 'easy read', this creative book is chock full of messages we would all do well to hear and heed...if you are of the rat race mentality, or keeping up with the Joneses, or just sleepwalking through life doing things that everybody else does 'just because', well, then this book is especially written for you.

It's all about not only 'hope', but discerning what's important and what's an illusion, and seeking the beauty and truth in Life, and what it's really all about.  The graphics and text are simple, and while a thickish book, it reads rather quickly....

We often limit our very own selves because we limit our perception of situations and 'what is'.  We jump on bandwagons so as not to be left out, thinking that many people doing it must know a good thing...or do they?

It has been said, and for good reason, that some of the most incredible beauty in life comes from the smallest and simplest of things.  Stop and smell the roses.  Don't be afraid to not only question but stand up to the status quo if it doesn't strike "Truth" inside your Soul.

Basically, don't be a lemming...

Monday, February 15, 2010

New flute: "Kingfisher" mid-G ~27" long


I guess I should be thankful I can turn out any flutes at all this especially wintry winter, given my lack of a shop!  The latest one to be finished out is a wonderful playing mid-G closed-end flute of a Kingfisher.

In a closed end flute, when the two routed blanks are glued together, the very end of the flute isn't an open circle...that bore is stopped with (in this case) 4" of wood left solid...the 'exit hole' to let the flute know its the end of the routed barrel is an oval cut out of the bottom.  The leftover chunk of wood at the end allows you to carve whatever you'd this case, I had been seeing lots of Belted Kingfishers, so I figured that was good enough 'message' to go that route.  I do have one other Kingfisher close to this design that was adopted several years ago...I don't make too many of these flutes as they take a lot more time and can be a bit tricky to voice out to my high standards.  This one is a one bold player.

Flutemakers who put carvings on the end do so in many ways.  Some add wood to make the head taller/wider, and some glue on the carving after making a regular flute.  I like to make the carving withing the flute's parameters without adding anything, just my choice.  The Kingfisher's eyes are jet black, so I inserted Hematite beads and painted them black.  While the head tufts are noticeable in real life, like the back of a Merganser's head, that's a bit impossible to carve/create on a flute, hence my 'stylized' burned ridges on the nape.  I opted to apply the same gloss finish I did on the flute, though I may go back and put a satin finish on just the head...or give a potential 'parent' that option if they want it.

It's made of quartersawn Southern Red Oak, only the second flute I've made from that wood, mainly because it takes a lot longer to finish well because of the significant open grain.  There is an inserted Ebony band behind the block, simply there for a design and color balance.  Once the flute was voiced out, I overdrilled each playing hole with a 1/2" bit and glued in Walnut plugs...once dried, I sanded them down and drilled out the centers, returning the flute to pitch.  The 'rings' around the holes give the flute a very nice 'look' without too much extra trouble. 

The block is a piece of Claro Walnut...well, technically Claro is a grafted Walnut with intense figure, and this may just be crotch Walnut (where two large trunks or limbs branch apart - always full of figure, that part of any tree).  As I started to shape the block, I really didn't know how I was going to shape it, so I started with the arcing concave top, shaping the 'tail' to a point.  The block looked too chunky at that point, so I decided to thin the 'waist' of the block, and kept going until I had this trapezoidal shape that I found pleasing to the eye.  I often gravitate towards simple sweeping lines in blocks for their aesthetic beauty...each being custom made, such blocks require lots of hand-sanding.  

(FYI, there is a sound sample of it on the flute website under 'Specialty' flutes.  Blogger lets me add video, but not purely audio samples, sorry!)

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Fried Fridays: Getting into the swing of things"

The economic bust has fueled unending frustration in the lives of many.  Yea, outright depression.  While it may be easy to think "well, things could be a lot worse", the fact is the average person is hurting in one way or the other.

We've got one long row to hoe, too.

Modern medicine has come a long way with medical technology and the development of medications to help in the treatment of myriad health conditions.  And, yes, you could successfully argue that all too many people over-medicate with too many prescriptions, and that we'd do well to turn towards more holistic solutions.

Or hole-istic ones....


Westley Strellis is either 23 or 24, depending on whether you believe him or the police report.  The young man has a history of severe depression and was/is currently taking Effexor XR to help him cope with life as he knew it.

Depression is still not terribly well understood, and can be downright crippling.  It imprisons you in a sea of hopelessness, making you feel almost immobile, unable to do anything...or feel like doing anything, anyway.

Just this past Wednesday, February 1o, Westley decided to shop at his local Wal-Mart, or Wally World as I call it.  There is no mention if he went for groceries, sundries, clothing, or more medication.  But it's safe to say he was able to pick up some of that hole-istic help...

Louisville Slugger style.

We do know he went to the sporting goods section and checked out the lineup of aluminum bats on hand, selecting one that had just the right feel for a comfortable, power-swing.  Once that item was checked off his list, he headed next door to the electronics section...for his therapy session.

With at least 29 swings, Westley "The Babe" Strellis systematically bashed the screens of 29 television sets.  The news accounts mentioned shocked customers slowly stepping back from the sets while the bashing took place...had I been there I'd suspect it was a hidden camera filming some sick joke for Reality TV, but I digress.

When he ruined #29, he immediately plopped on the floor and waited for security,  which upon their quick arrival he quietly held his hands forward for the automatic cuffing.  And that's all we know about this week's "fried" winner.

Oh, except for one more tidbit of information.  The drugmaker's website did list a disclaimer for possible side-effects from using Effexor XR: 

"(Patients should) be watched for becoming agitated, irritable, hostile, aggressive, impulsive, or restless."

Imagine that...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Too cute not to post...

Here is a pre-Valentine's Day gift for you...
a 90 year-old couple that's still doing it!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A whale of a flute!

...and it's no fluke!  Well, part of it is, I guess...

(click on pics to enlarge)

I think it was 1.5 years ago that while walking Mercy on a trail I found a little 3-inch plastic Orca some child had dropped.  At the time I thought I should make an Orca flute or make a block like the toy, as it had a neat shape.  Basically, I just started messing around with ideas. I had a foot-long chunk of Sapele (suh-PEE-lee) that I mused could serve as the body for a very different style of flute, building the flute mechanism into the body itself.

I cut the large rectangle about a third up from the bottom, lengthwise.  I routed only the thinner section, given my limited flute length, which makes the design like one of my flat-bottomed half-pipes.  As you'll see in the photos below, to play this flute you roll the Orca over and blow through its mouth.

The fins and fluke are made of Bubinga, and only until a week ago I had no base on which to display the flute.  I was originally thinking of driftwood, though I didn't have any on hand.  But I did unearth a big piece of Manzanita root I'd forgotten about, and decided to scoop a big piece out of the top to look like a wave and hold the flute.  Some hand-rubbed finishing set it off handsomely.

To hold the Orca in place, I added a small wooden peg that goes into one of the two top playing holes.  The large hole in the photo below is simply the 'end' of the flute...air has to exit somewhere for these flutes to work.  The bigger challenge was to design a block that was integrated into the flute and didn't use a leather tie...the answer was to take small thin pieces of wood, angling the inner edges to 45 degrees, thus building a snug slot for the block.  Once I got the design working properly, I sanded down the outside so it blended beautifully.

With a simple pressure the block can be slid out easily...

The flute is a tad under 12" long, and is tuned to ultra-high Bb Verdi tuning (A432).  The aerosol can gives a good size reference...

...and it was 'adopted' just last night!  Haven't even made a recording with it yet, but that's on my to-do list today.


Batten down the Carolina hatches lest ye and everything else not nailed down blows away today.  This winter definitely has an attitude and takes no prisoners!

Friday, February 05, 2010

"Fried Fridays: Today, It's FUNNY Fridays!"

Let's just say the winter weather, in large part, has so screwed with my schedule week after week that if I were a train I'd have no wheels on any track.

I love the "Fried Fridays" column; however, some weeks there just aren't worthy stories, or stories that are worthy but are too politically incorrect, and best avoided (says my internal filter).  

I thought many might know of this video, but in case you haven't seen it, it's beyond a hoot.  It came well before it's time, like many miracles.....


Apple unveiled the iPad recently.  Yeah, neat, but not necessarily revolutionary, not like the iPhone.  No one really knew what was going to be unveiled, thanks to Steve Jobs' marketing prowess.

"I now present to you...the iPad!"

I've heard it quipped that there must not have been any women in the audience.  iTablet, I could see.  iPad, a bit of an immediate double entendre.

The hoot is, MAD TV did a skit for an iPad several YEARS ago...and many say that skit is what immediately came to mind.  Was not Apple aware of it?  Was it a purposeful piggy-backing of ideas for maximizing marketing efforts?  Make your own decision.  

Here is the iPad skit...I don't think a 'caution' is necessary as it's self-explanatory before you begin watching it!  Just mouse over the words below and click to see it:

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Cute story and update...

First, in case you haven't read it, I've posted Chapter 3 to "Milepost 50" (link in upper left of this blog).  It's the wonderful story of how my flutes, and as I say 'kids', came to be known as Ugly Boy Flutes...good read and story to be heard...


In an earlier post I wrote about a dear friend who has fallen on bad luck cancer issues just before reading through her "Caring Bridge" sight, someone posted this story that I'd not heard before, and one worth repeating.

It goes like this....


A wealthy man decided to go on a safari in Africa. He took his faithful pet dachshund along for company. One day, the dachshund starts chasing butterflies and before long the dachshund discovers that he is lost.

So, wandering about, he notices a leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the obvious intention of having him for lunch. The dachshund thinks, "OK, I'm in deep trouble now!" Then he noticed some bones on the ground close by, and immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap, the dachshund exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious leopard. I wonder if there are any more around here." Hearing this, the leopard halts his attack in mid-stride, as a look of terror comes over him, and slinks away into the trees. "Whew," says the leopard. "That was close. That dachshund nearly had me." Meanwhile, a monkey, who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So, off he goes.

But the dachshund saw him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figured that something must be up.

The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard. The leopard is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here monkey, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine." Now the dachshund sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back, and thinks, "What am I going to do now?" But instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet ... and, just when they get close enough to hear, the dachshund says..................

"Where's that darn monkey? Sent him off half an hour ago to bring me another leopard."


SMILES to all y'all!!!!!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Groundhog Day Poem

Roses are red,
Groundhogs are brown,
If "Phil" sees his shadow,
He's going DOWN!

...and I ain't talkin' his burrow, either.  If he sees his shadow, I'm gonna poison that rodent.  

Been many a year since I've seen such a problematic winter in the Southeast.  Models now flipping on this coming weekend's storm, with a significant bullseye of 20-24" pointing toward central Virginia.  Typical model in NC the big question is does the precipitation get here before the cold air...and there is arctic air coming in behind it for sure, unlike the relative warmth we've had behind last weekend's system.  We shall see! 

I'm sure we've all had days reminiscent of the movie "Groundhog Day", deja vu and the same ol' same ol'.  "Oh, it's the weekend.  Let's have some wintry weather."  Where's Andie MacDowell when you need a good face slap, eh? 

Found a few cartoons that were cute, too....enjoy!

(you'll have to click on this last one to enlarge it)

Monday, February 01, 2010

"Say it ain't so..."

I know other meteorologists have had it as hard and even harder at times, and my hat is off to 'em.  Saturday's snow followed by a nice coat of sleet and freezing rain (with air temps in the low 20s) made for a long day, longest I can remember.  Starting at 4a I gave 57 consecutive 'live' forecasts that were either 2 or 3 minutes long.  That's a ridiculous amount of talking, so much so that after the weekend shifts were over for me, I pretty much threw in the energy towel and didn't want to say a word to anybody.

It is interesting what goes on in your head as you're talking so much, saying much of the same things but trying your best to come up with different ways of saying the exact same thing.  When a serious weather situation is in progress, you really don't use a lot of pre-made maps; rather, you fly the radars all over the place and show current conditions, what I call 'now-casting'.  

One neat thing News 14 Carolina has been able to do, thanks to their fiber-based cable architecture, is give the meteorologist access to all the DOT cams to show on-air at the push of a button. News 14 Triad has weather done from a Charlotte studio, so being able to see current conditions is invaluable, especially with all the treacherous thoroughfares in the Triad.  7-10" made up probably a good 75% of the snow reports that came in from that market.

Lovin' the sunshine and warming afternoon temps to fire up the melting process.  The blog title today is in honor of this coming weekend's forecast.  Much has to settle in with the models, but this one could be the biggest wintry hombre yet this year.  Classic Carolina coastal storm with cold Canadian air feeding in from New England.  

My joy cup runneth over....