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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The brushfire

If you've been following the comments section of my Sunday post, you'll see it triggered a brushfire (which I, being me, encouraged) of comments that swiftly veered off the beginning intent of challenging the "government is there to protect the minority" statement and has tumbled into faith, evolution, "neurotheology", and atheism as a religion. In fact, Joshua has just posted that he had three pages worth of comeback that accidentily got deleted and he'll be back later. I look foreward to it, responding to well thought- if from my perspective misguided- challenges only sharpens my own focus. But I, being me and not "anonymous", feel it is time to remind anyone who cares that the REAL point of my post had only to do with the idea that "protecting the minority" should be a minor part of what government does, not the focus that the ACLU and various other like minded groups would like it to be.
I would also like to address a point I took from Joshua during the original discussion so long ago- the impression I got that he believes man capable of evolving into something better. Even if I believed this possible, I see plenty of evidence that that "evolution" comes at a price. If signs like technological improvements, spiritual and/or scientific "liberation", advances in medicines and health techniques, international "co-operations" like the UN are to be considered birth-pangs of a new evolutionary state, why are their applications so haphazard? If a species evolves due to hardships, why then are not the people of the third world not evolving ways to survive while we are not? Even if we live in the godless world Joshua sees as logical, I think that the only evolution man can expect was best put by Zager and Evans:

In the year 2525
If man is still alive
If woman can survive
They may find
In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lie
Everything you think, do and say
Is in the pill you took today
In the year 4545
Aint gonna need your teeth ,won't need your eyes
Won't find a thing to chew
Nobody's gonna look at you
In the year 5555
Your arms are hanging limp at your side
Your legs have nothing to do
Some machines doin' that for you
In the year 6565
Won't need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your sons, pick your daughters too
From the bottom of a long glass tube wouwo
In the year of 7510
If God's a-comming,he oughta make it by then
Maybe He'll look around Himself and say
Guess it's time for the Judgement day
In the year of 8510God is gonna shake his mighty head then
He'll either say I'm pleased where man has been
Or tear it down and start again wouwo
In the year 9595
I'm kinda wondering if man is gonna be alive
He's taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain't put back nothing wouwo
Now it's been 10.000 years
man has cried a million tears
For what he never knew
now man's reign is through/But through eternal light
the twinkling of starlight
So very far away
Somewhere its only yesterday...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Man, it was too hot for a walk!

But with a nice breeze, we tried it anyways. Coming home, Scrappy actually had to stop and rest. Still, he managed to find some energy when we met laurie's baby bunny at the door. Oh, and before I forget, there was a deer in a meadow behind the industrial park we work at Friday morning, so we're up to 13 deer and 10 rabbit sightings. Anyway, when we got home the temp was 88.6- in the time it took to type this it is now reading 89.1. That gives us a heat index of 100 right now.

What government is for

Last night Laurie's brothers and I had a debate with your typical young liberal. You don't want to stereotype, but here it is- basing arguments on emotion rather than logic, making generalizations based on revisionist history, and unwilling to hear when his own words contradicted themselves. The type exemplified by Paul McCartney last week when he said that doubters of global warming are comparable to those who don't believe there was a holocaust. (Let's see: one is a theory, which by definition is an unproven assumption based on observation and one is a proven fact attesteded to by eyewitness testimony and mass graves. Yeah, I see the connection, Paul.) Anyway, I don't want to rehash the whole conversation, but I am going to quote one phrase of his that sums up the whole argument and the wrong headedness of it:
"The government is there to protect the minority from the majority."

NO IT IS NOT!!!!!!

Our friend spoke alot about the founding fathers' intent ( a subject I told him he would be well served reading George Washington's diaries to get some real facts about) but if you look at that intent, a goal such as he expressed would have been better served by never revolting. The government they fought against was protecting the interests of the minority- the elite that were running the colonies from England. They revolted because the majority, living in the colonies, were not being served by absentee landlordship. You see, Joshua, the truth is that a government such as you described is what was already in existance. It goes by various names: monarchy, one-party state, dictatorship. You can use that last one in the old Roman sense. I'm not necessarily hinting at oppression, just the lack of majority voice.

What the founding fathers created here was a - in our friend's own words- a representative democracy. In this Government, the goal is THE GREATER GOOD FOR THE MOST PEOPLE. The declaration of Independance (surely a good example of the founding fathers' intent) says, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. "
That does not mean that a lone man can say, "I don't believe in God, the government should eliminate all places and events that expose me to religion." That is tyranny of the minority, which is what the founding fathers were trying to escape. What it can be applied to is, "I don't belive in God, I don't think I should be isolated from my classmates in a public school setting because of it." While that does happen- to no great extent- our friend seems to think government persecuting him for the sake of religion includes "in God we trust" on his money and "under God" in the pledge of alliegiance and moments of silence. He honestly belives that the government is harming him by allowing these! To this, I say: Don't read your money! Leave "Under God " out when you pledge alliegiance! Don't pray when you keep silent! The Muslims might have a case on these things, saying that they might be committing a sin if they did them. An atheist or agnostic only has annoyance, it's not like the God that doesn't exist is going to send them to the hell in fairy tales to punish them for doing so. If you are truly atheist, religion is foolishness that cannot harm you anymore that a group of people playing a game across the street. If you belive you are being harmed by these things, you are not being an atheist- YOU ARE BEING AN ACTIVIST AGAINST GOD. Thus, by giving any notice to it, you are implying belief that there is a god of some sort.

Now, our friend was intelligent and well spoken. But as Chuck said, "There is 'education' and there is EDUCATION."

One last way to look at it. My theory of government says that, if a senior class votes to have an invocation at graduation and one person is opposed, find a way to accomodate the person without disrupting the happiness of the majority. Our friend's way says that everyone else must suffer to placate the minority. Which really makes more sense? Keep in mind that our friend's theory of Government is not limited to its affect on religion. What if the lone man wanted no girls present? Or blacks, or Mexicans? What if he was offended by kids with long hair, or black shoes? The ACLU protects minorities, thus we have cases where homeless child predators are allowed to live in parks across the street from schools because chasing them out would violate their rights. Tell me again who we want to protect.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Step into my time machine, week nine

This week we have 12 hot 100 debuts, 4 joining the top forty for the first time, two top ten debuts, a party that got out of control, a great song to play for a baby, and -yet again- a new top dog. Let's go!

The hot hundred debuts included the Hudson Brothers one big hit. You may or may not remember that they had a variety show the summer before; you may not know that brother Bill was married to Goldie Hawn (before Kurt Russell beefed up and moved in) and is Kate Hudson's daddy. The song was a Beach Boys-esque number that played on CKLW when I was a kid of 13 called Rendezvous. Love that song. At 97 came David Bowie with Fame; 95 was the Amazing Rhythym Aces with a song I always thought (back then) was Kenny Rogers, Third Rate Romance. 93 was the first big hit for KC and the Sunshine Band, Get Down Tonight; sweet baby James Taylor came in at 92 with How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You). And at 82 was the first run for Judy Collins with Send In The Clowns; it would crack the top forty later on, and return again in 1977, this time breaching the top 20.

Our big movers this week are, on the upside, Freddie Fender's Wasted Days and Wasted Nights, jumping 22 to land at 51; on the downward spiral, Grand Funk's Bad time, dropping 14 to 30. Just one each this week, unlike last week's mess.

Coming into the top 40 were Hot Chocolate at 40 with Disco Queen (didn't recognize it); Mike Post's theme to The Rockford Files at 37; Glen Campbell returns to the 40 for the first time since 1971's Dream Baby with the future top dog Rhinestone Cowboy; and riding the fame of Jimmie Walker and his catch phrase, studio band Bazuka comes in at 32 with Dyn-o-mite.

Our almost-but-not-quite salute this week
goes to the Average White Band with their follow up to the top dog Pick Up The Pieces, called Cut The Cake. This basically instrumental tune (which again, no recollection upon playing) peaked last week at 12 and began its descent this week at 23. Notable about this Scottish band was a Hollywood party the year before, in which the band's drummer died of a heroin overdose, and the bassist would have as well except that Cher managed to keep him awake until help arrived. I must have lost my invitation.

Two come into the top ten, two drop out. Bailing were Sister Golden Hair, who at 13 spots just missed the big dropper, to 20; and the Doobies, having been taken into our arms and rocked before they left, dropped the one crucial spot to 11.

This week's tour of other year's top dogs takes us through the terrible twos. Mariah Carey in 1992 with I'll Be There was starting a 3 week run at the top; in 1982, the Human League was just starting a 4 week run with Don't You Want Me. In 1972 Gallery was stopping in for a week with Nice To Be With You; in 1962, at which point I was about a month-and-a-half old, David Rose's Orchestra was #1 with The Stripper. In 1952, her nibs, Miss Georgia Gibbs, was number one with the tango-flavored Kiss of Fire- and had been keeping the likes of Eddie Fisher and Al Martino out of the penthouse at that point for 5 of her 8-week run. Nifty song.

Here we go to the top ten. Leading off, Alice Cooper makes his second foray into the upper crust with Only Women, up one. In the 9th spot, up three, is another Scottish band with -outside of this week's number one- the most played song of the summer, Pilot with (Oh Oh Oh, It's) Magic. John Denver stops off at 8 with former top dog Thank God I'm A Country Boy; batting cleanup is Van McCoy's The Hustle, up 2 to 7. Wings also rise 2 to 6 with Listen To What The Man Says; Jessie Coulter moves up one to 5 with I'm Not Lisa. Linda Ronstadt got her answer- she was loved last week. Not so much this week, as she tumbles from top dog to 4. once and future Delfonic Major Harris holds in the 3 hole with Love Won't Let Me Wait (apparently the chart will, though). Michael Murphy moves up 2 to the runner up spot with Wildfire. And if you were here last week, the new top dog is no surprise; it hit the top ten running at 2 then and is number one now- The Captain and Tennille with Love Will Keep Us Together.

Martin Index set new highs the last two weeks; 43 last week, 44 this one. See you next week and we'll see if Toni and Daryl can last more than one week at the top.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The end is near- maybe

Well, this Tuesday we were informed that we were dropping to 11 hour days, getting off at 5:30. Still had Saturday posted as a nooner, though. However, at 4:45 it was announced to screams of rejoicing that the day was done at 5 pm and no Saturday!
Believe thou me, we are very happy that the mad dash to get your patio replacement cushions is ebbing at last. I know I personally caught myself in a month's worth of mistakes the last three days. Last week, I missed a day, Victor missed a day and a half, Jose missed Firday morning, Gustavo missed Saturday, and this week a new girl evaporated and Laurie missed Monday and Tuesday. And that's just the cutters. Hopefully, we can get in a few weeks of manageable hours before the whole thing bottoms out.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A typical walk part 2

So here are Scrappy and I, getting ready to take you a tour of the north end of our walks.

We start out crossing over to Plex territory and crossing the feeder bridge. Turning to our north, we'll follow the greenway trail.

Here coming up is a view of how big the Plex fields really are.

Once upon a time, huge honeysuckle bushes shielded the trail from the apartments. Last year, I&M had them removed so they could more easily maintenance their power lines. The aesthetic value is dubious at best. The bees that feasted on the spring flowers weren't real impressed, either. That's I&M, an enviromentally responsible utility (they tell us).

This is the first bridge we discovered when we moved in, which lead us to the trail itself.

Along the majority of the trail, the land drops off into the river forest. It makes for some beautiful overlooks.

And here, much more hidden than before by recent grading, is the trail to Scrappy's landing. As you can see, this is a very overgrown footpath. I almost missed it today, but Scrappy always finds it.

Winding our way between piles of rusting junk on one side and another dropoff on the other, we emerge at the landing and its beautiful river view.

Here there is another trail that leads away from the landing. It's even more overgrown, but Mr. Dog loves it. It leads eventually to the ditch that once fed water from the river to the feeder. At this point were are at the bottom of that dropoff we were looking at.

Trying to turn back here is always an adventure. Scrappy is good at following the trail down, but is clueless on the return trip. Combine that with the fact that this is my first trip here wearing my new bifocals (so I can operate the camera), and he soon has me tripping. This scares up a large deer about twenty feet away, who then bounds across the ditch. I rush back to try to get a shot of him, but of course, I had to turn the camera back on since it eats batteries like candy; by the time it does its musival "do-do-do-do" and the screen comes on, I'm watching the deer's butt about 5 feet in the air as it clears some obstacle at the top of a ridge on the other side and dissappears.

By now we've awakened every mosquito in the area. Amazingly, 95 % of them are content just to bump into us as they mill around. Nonetheless, we return to the trail. Soon we come upon the wooden bridge that formerly crossed the feeder. This year's flooding floated it from the north side of one electrical tower to the north side of the next one south.

Here's where it was.

In their recent grading, the construction crew decided finally that this COULD be a dangerous dropoff and fenced it off.

This is one of those spots where I can shut up and hear God's song of creation.

The trail ends in a gate to keep cars with stupid drivers out at Washington Center. Along the way, we (actually I) see a chipmunk going up a tree and a smaller groundhog than the one on the last walk heading into the now-plastic-less feeder.

Now it's time to turn back around and head home. We keep an eye out to see if we might have another chance at capturing Mr. Deer on this miserable camera. We trailed along the edge of the river for a while in the attempt, and I thought I might have heard him once. But the combination of the glare from my glasses, the thickness of the undergrowth, and the four-legged bowling ball dragging me around made it a hopeless cause. Actually, though, Scrappy doesn't have near the stamina he had when he was younger, so nowadays we run out of gas pretty much the same time when it's warm like this (low 80s). Next time, we'll try going down to the IPFW bridge and along the Tree Walk they have. It will be a much cooler day than this, though, and probably after you people finally get done ordering all these damned patio replacement cushions.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Step into my time machine, week eight

This week, we make a quick stop about three weeks shy of a year after our usual destination. It was the week of June 5, 1976, that Jimmy Dean's last sizable chart hit peaked. It was called I.O.U., and it tipped the scales at 9 on the on the country charts and 33 on our Cashbox survey. Jimmy passed this Sunday past at the age of 81. In addition to being a star on the Daniel Boone TV show- the second one to die this year- He was a great singer and entertainer. When I was little, the records I got to play were basically his Big Bad John, Johnny Horton's Battle of New Orleans, and Bill Hayes' Davy Crockett. Godspeed Jimmy, you'll be missed. Maybe that Cajun Queen will come around and do for you what she did for John. On to June 21, 1975.

We have a big week this week- 10 top 100 debuts, 5 into the top forty- including the King- and a whopping 4 new top tens, and yet another new #1. Also, our two new features, with a little twist to one, and all the usual fun. Let's go!

Coming into the hot 100 are 10 debuts, and we know a bunch of them this week! At 95 is Falling In Love by Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Reynolds (who were actually Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Dennison by this point, but decided not to mess with a good thing); at 94, Ambrosia with the haunting Holding On To Yesterday; 89 was Janis Ian's At 17; in at 88 roared Sweet with Ballroom Blitz (OOOOOOOOOOO YEAHHHHH...); Barry Manilow took 85 with Could It Be Magic, built around Frédéric Chopin's Prelude in C Minor, Opus 28, Number 20; At 83 was Bad Company with Feel Like Makin' Love; and way up at 71, a song that is yet another example that my favorite song by any artist will tend to be one of their most obscure, Morning Beautiful by Tony Orlando and Dawn. What a crop that is!

A lot of the high and low movers have top forty and top ten implications, so things are going to get a bit intertwined after I announce that the Beach Boys' Sail On Sailor moves up 4 to 62 this week. There is a two way tie for biggest dropper this week: the lower drop was the 30-notch plunge by the Temptations with Shaky Ground, down to 58; the other is Ace's former top dog How Long, with its 30-spot drop landing them at 51. The top gainers- 3 of them- all climb seventeen spots, two of them into the top 40. the lower one is Aerosmith's Sweet Emotion at 63.

So now we hit the top 40 debuts, and they start with Elvis at 40 with T-R-O-U-B-L-E; Then we have that sounds-just-like-all-the-rest Barry White song that debuted in the hot hundred 5 weeks past- and I guess I should mention that this verse to the song that doesn't end is called I'll Do Anything You Want Me To (see why I avoided naming it till now? BJ Thomas' competition); The Bee Gee's just miss the big movers logjam with Jive Talkin' coming in at 37; and the remaining big movers, the Eagles at 25 with One Of These Nights, and Olivia Newton-John with Please Mister Please (hey! weren't you the big mover last week?) at 24.

At this point we interject our salute to the guy that just didn't make the top ten- and this one it may be no surprise but it is a shame. After peaking at 17 last week, Roger Whittaker slips to 20 with the rich ballad The Last Farewell. Roger sold 55 million records worldwide during his career, and 11 million of them were this song, which topped the Adult Contemporary chart and peaked at 2 in the UK. Next, we salute our birds that have fallen from the top 10 nest: Get Down, Get Down by Joe Simon at 14, Grand Funk's Bad Time at 16, Chicago's Old Days at 22, and the former top dog Before The Next Teardrop Falls at 29.

Leading off the top 10, moving up 5, is a former high debut and big mover winner: the Doobies' (Take Me In Your Arms) Rock Me; hustling up to 9, a ten spot dance is Van McCoy and The Hustle. Another ten spot jumper, as if it had wings, is Wings with Listen To What The Man Says, at 8; America slides exhausted from 2 to 7 with Sister Golden Hair at cleanup. Jessie Coulter's I'm Not Lisa climbs 4 to #6; and last week's top dog, John Denver's Thank God I'm A Country Boy, drops all the way to 5. Michael Murphy speeds to 4, up 3, with Wildfire. Now, if you're keeping track, we still have a new #1, and a top ten debut to come... but let's draw out the suspense just a bit, shall we?

Last week, we did the number one's from twenty, thirty, etc., years ago. To avoid monotony, I changed it up and added one year to each decade on this trip. Thus, in 1991 we had Paula Abdul at 1 with Rush, Rush; in 1981 it was the constantly playing Stars On 45 Medley; in 1971 the top dog was Ringo Starr's It Don't Come Easy; in 1961 Rick Nelson was in the middle of a 3-week stay at the penthouse with Travellin' Man; and in 1951, it was a delightful little duet between the Lennon-like voice of Mary Ford and the instrumental virtuosity of guitar god Les Paul, How High The Moon. I didn't know this one, but if I ever get back to burning cds again, I will have to remember it then.

All right, let's wrap this up. Number two is the remaining debut, skyrocketing up from 11 - the Captain and Tenille with, of course, Love Will Keep Us Together. And our new number one? Linda Ronstadt- When Will I Be Loved.

And with that, it's sadly time to return home again. See you all next week!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Trying out video capabilities

In hopes of seeing how to post a video, I give you Scrappy preparing for a walk. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How to make cushions, Arden style

When we are supposedly 1,000 orders behind, and having to work Saturdays and 12 hour days to gain back ground (ha ha), this is the kind of thing that really helps. American Hotel Register orders their lot for this week. Most of it was stuff that was already made and thus crossed off; two lines, a kind of seat pad called a S30 (25 of these) and a chaise cushion called a W25 (5 of these) were highlighted as being rush. This was on Tuesday, a day I missed sick. The order was given to Laurie, and then taken away (presumably because the particular special fabric for the 2 rushes was not in-plant yet). Thursday morning it is given back to Victor, who despite allegedly dogged efforts, never got a chance to do them. I was given an order for Grandin Road (where do we find these people?) with the understanding I was going to get the AHR order afterwards. This was right around 9 am. The Grandin was amazingly (for them) easy, and I flew through it until I got to the 30 pillows out of a particularly obnoxious striped fabric that, no matter how careful you lay it up, it finds ways to twist and bend and screw up your project. Midway into this, supervisor Rhonda asks about 3 items for Meijer that I was supposed to do yesterday. I replied that while I had UPC labels for them, they were not on the work order, so I tossed the labels and moved on. She says (this is 11 am) that she will bring new UPCs soon so I can make these too. I tell Laurie at lunch, in three hours Rhonda will bring me the labels, because that's the usual snail's pace she works at.

Of course, a good quarter of the pillows were messed up, and I just finished them when I got the labels from Rhonda (just prior to 2 pm, three hours on the dot). As I finish that, big boss Lisa comes by and asks am I still cutting Grandin Road. I say no, this is the 3 chairs that missed the Meijer work order, and she says, when you're done, the fabric came in to finish the last pieces of the order that was all but done early last week. Then came two requests for fabric ties, a pair of mysteriously misplaced pillows, and finally it was time to do the rush order.

It is now ten till 4. The fun starts.

First thing I see is S30- a pattern I have no idea what it is or where to find it. I ask Victor, no go. I ask Lisa, she says ask Bob the engineer. Bracing for a 2 minute task to blossom into 10, I brave Bob's office and tell him what I need. He prints a cut sheet for me, whereupon we see that this has one of those exotic radii on the top which requires he print me a paper pattern. This takes a minute, so I go to get the fabric. This fabric is on the rack right behind Victor, with a big sticker saying L919 right on it, staring at Victor for the last day and a half. Victor, do you know what L919 is? No, ah never heard of it. OK, so I'll get our material handler Jamie. He remembers receiving it and goes to fetch whilst I measure the table for the W25s. He brings me a 19.5 yard roll and says there's another roll "Right behind Victor on the rack". Ha ha. Now I've already wasted more time than I like, so I go to get the now-printed pattern from Bob. Bob decides we shouldn't trust the printer without checking the pattern (I never do, believe me) and so he proceeds to attempt confirming a 27.5 inch dimension with his trusty 12-inch ruler. Satisfied at last, he lets me go.

I quickly decide that due to trying to get bands out of limited fabric, I'll be better off doing them separately. I pull the fabric the requisite 79 inches down the table and begin securing it. Annoyingly, I learn that on top of being a very busy stripe which I have to get each stripe to line up on, it's also a fabric that has a tight final string along the edge. This makes the fabric ravel and you have to make little cuts along the edge to make it lay flat. And then I discover, unlike most of these types of fabric, it does this on both sides. Sigh.

As I'm laying this up, over comes the new girl with instructions from Victor to help me by filling out our information labels that go on the completed shells (henceforth known as a 4X4). I get her started, fight the fabric, show her where to find this thing, fight some more, etc. Just as I finish the 5th and final ply, she notes that the cut sheet doesn't name the welt cord size (we have 2). Grateful for the interruption, I go seeking out QC Monika to look it up for me. Don't find her, settle for the computer babe Shaylee. She looks it up. It says "weltcord". No size. Lovely. I go find Monika, she says its "100% sure it's 8/32" but also brings up that virtually every time we do a W25, the customer wants the sew-across in a different spot. Usually we get an e-mail as to where it goes, and I should check with Bob. I find Bob, Lisa, Bob's lackey Jeff, and two guests from corporate all huddled together in the front office. Explain the situation. Lisa says set it aside, she'll have to e-mail for an answer. Sigh. It is now 5 pm.

Now I roll up the fabric I've so lovingly laid out, set it aside, and start on the S30s. Two across, three down and room on the side for bands. Halfway through, the first roll runs out and I get the second. I wonder why the plastic wrap is all shredded and the fabric is dirty. Then I see that the person at our North Carolina plant who sent it to us put the address label and packing envelope on the fabric itself and then wrapped it in the bag. I guess UPS kinda decided they might need to know where to send it, thus the shredded bag. Finish laying it up, draw the bands, a good 5 inches left on the side. What to put there- ties? Zipper bands? Zipper bands...

Zipper bands are two pieces of fabric that get the zipper put between them the have to be big enough that when sewn they are the same width as the band. Usually no problem. But this is a stripe, and thus I have to make them special so that when the are sewn, the stripes match with the band. And I have 3 strips of band, 3 different stripes. Ugh. So I draw ties- wait a minute, this is AHR, so I'll bet they get the special wide ties. Check with Bob yet again, yes, Chris, you are right. So one strip for ties, good for 1 tie each times 8 plies. I'll only need 42 more.

So I start cutting, and as I do I think with my fine Photographic memory and say, something(else)'s wrong here. Sure enough, the width of the zipper the cut sheet calls for is too narrow for the band. Back to Bob. Yes Chris, right again. I think the band is right, let's change the zipper. Thanks ever so, Bob, considering I'm already half done cutting the bands. Sigh.

Finally, the shells, all the bands save one (3 bands X 8 plies is 24 and I need 25), and my whopping 8 ties are done. Next comes the process of drawing a correctly matching set of zipper bands - six different spots on the fabric- and then repeating the process eight times. Then carefully tying the proper bands with the proper zippers so they can be sewn together properly. Then get a sheet of fabric 178 inches long , folded so the stripes continue to match, and draw 25 1 1/2 inch strips for welt and about 8 2 1/2 inch strips for the rest of the ties. Got it drawn? Good. It is now 6: 25 and time to clock into screw off. Time spent: 2 1/2 hours. Overtime spent: 2 hours. Completed cushions, ready to sew? Zero.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Just what you weren't expecting...

... is to see a monument you'd reecently seen for the first time burn to the ground. From USA Today via the Cincy Enquirer:

MONROE, OHIO — Monroe fire officials set damage at $700,000 after lightning struck and burned down a 62-foot-high Jesus Christ statue and an adjacent amphitheater at Solid Rock Church late Monday.
Church leaders are vowing to rebuild the iconic "King of Kings" statue — also dubbed "Touchdown Jesus" — which alone was valued at $300,000.
Monroe Fire Capt. Richard Mascarella said the other $400,000 in damage was to the amphitheater when flames from the sculpture spread to the back wall and roof.
"The heat coming off the statue singed the entire back wall of the amphitheater and burned through it," Mascarella said. "Portions of the roof are destroyed, so they will have to replace a large part of it."

A pond surrounding the statue that used to be full of fish is now filled with remnants of the structure, made of fiber glass and foam. All the fish are either dead or dying, Mascarella said.
Church leaders also plan to repair the amphitheater and the pond and the structures were all insured. Insurance adjusters were expected at the site Tuesday afternoon.
The fire is not suspicious. It was ignited about 11:15 p.m. Monday during a severe thunderstorm that spawned lightning across the Greater Cincinnati region, Mascarella said.
John Centers, a Monroe assistant fire chief who lives about a mile from the church, said he was outside on his deck watching Monday night's storm when he saw a very bright flash of lightning accompanied by loud thunderclap. At first, he didn't think much of it, "because there had already been so many ground strikes that night," Centers said. But he could tell that the lightning had struck fairly close by and "it was a very significant ground strike."
"The pattern of light flashed all the way to the ground," and was in the general direction of the church, Centers said.
He soon realized that must have been the lightning that struck the statue because within four minutes of his witnessing the strike, firefighters were being called to the blazing statue.
And it burned quickly: "It burned to the ground. The whole statue is gone," said Kim Peace, a police dispatcher.
Authorities on Tuesday were urging motorists to resist the temptation to stop on Interstate 75 and snap photos, fearing that drivers pulling on and off the berm could cause crashes.
The large "King of Kings" statue was a Butler County landmark since it was erected in 2004 outside Solid Rock Church, 904 N. Union Rd., along northbound Interstate 75 in Monroe just north of the Ohio 63 exit.
Fire crews were called to the church at 11:15 p.m. after several people phoned 911 to report the blaze as a severe thunderstorm swept through Greater Cincinnati, producing a spectacular lightning show, Peace said.
"The lightning was just amazing," she said, wryly adding: "It was a lot of fun in here last night."
When fire crews arrived, they found the statue fully involved and an adjacent amphitheater burning. The fire extended into the attic of the amphitheater, destroyed equipment, before fire crews contained it, Peace said.
No one was injured.
There were grounding devices built into the structure, Neu said.
"Everything around the structure and even the structure itself has lightning resistors and grounding rods," but he added that the unpredictable nature of lightning doesn't make those devices entirely effective.
The sculpture stretches 40 feet wide at the base. It was made of plastic form and fiberglass over a steel frame. The frame is the only thing visible this morning.

To say that seeing that statue unsuspecting as we did on my birthday trip to Cincinatti was awesome was an understatement. It was a moment in which the most eloquent of men would quote Frank Barrone: "Holy crap!" Alas, perhaps the Solid Rock Church- and we ourselves, forgot what God Himself said in Exodus 20:4:

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Perhaps not what the Divine Author meant, but once again we see the manifest difference between God's awesome power and man's conception of it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

fun with numbers

Decided to look at the rosters of the Champions of the leagues we followed this year and see how the nationalities fell out. First, here are the totals for the top ten nations:
Canada, 73
Finland, Slovakia 37
Sweden 29
Czech Rep. 25
Korea 23
Russia 22
Switzerland 21
USA 19
Italy 16

The most glaring things that stand out are the high number for Korea (with Anyang Halla winning the Asia League title) and the relatively low one for Russia (which will be explained later). But now let's look at the players outside their home nation's league, keeping in mind that the NHL is home for Canada and the USA, and the Asia League is also multinational.

Canada 53
Finland 19
USA 11
Slovakia 10
Sweden 9
Czech Rep. 4
Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, France, Hungary, Latvia 1

That's right- with all the Russians playing in leagues around the world, not one was on a championship roster outside of Ak Bars Kazan! As you can also see, the USA did much better in exports, and despite the rush for Czech players after the world cup, they also didn't find their way onto many championship rosters. One last thing I want to look at is, who had to take in the most imports. So here are the nations who had the lowest nationals on their champs.

France 8
Great Britain/Ireland 9
Norway 11
Austria, Germany 13
Denmark 14
Italy 16
Finland 18
Sweden, Switzerland 20

Here the USA becomes a special case of being intertwined with Canada and thuis doesn't chart although only (!) 8 Americans were on the Blackhawks. Finland also seems to be a special case, because although they had the fewest nationals on their champs out of all the elite teams, they had even more on other nations' champs(18 to 19). However, I don't know how to explain Russia, who had a devastating trifecta of no players on foreign champs, a poor showing in the Olympics, and losing the world cup to the Czechs. Finally, I'll give a shout out to the one nation who landed a player on a championship roster and hasn't yet been mentioned: Japan, who had one player on Anyang Halla.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Step into my time machine, week seven

This week, we had nine top 100 debuts, 5 top 40 newbies, 2 in the top ten, a brand new numbe one, and 2 new features on an experimental basis. So let's get started. Coming in to the charts this week amongst the 9 rookies are Feelings by Morris Albert at 97, Fight the Power pt. 1 by the Isley Brothers at 93 ( a song handicapped on the chart by using the term "bulls**t" in the chorus), and Freddy Fender's follow up to his just fallen #1, Wasted Days and Wasted Nights at 88. The big dropper this week belongs to the former number one Jackie Blue, who spends what is most likely its last week on the charts dropping 41 notches to 60. The week's high climber has something to do with that number 41 as well; that is where Olivia Newton-John landed with Please Mister Please after a 20 spot leap. And we close out the look at the lower end of things with a note that Sail on Sailor moves up 4 to 66 this week.

Coming into the airplay section of town are 5 tunes: Smokey Robinson sneaks in with another song I just don't recognize, Baby That's Backatcha at 40; Steely Dan edges in at 39 with Black Friday; Melissa Manchester appears at 37 with Midnight Blue; War roars in at 36 with a song I spent a lot of that summer singing on the back of my nephew's mini-bike, Why Can't We Be Friends; and 10cc's attempt to finally take themselves serious (listen to some of their older stuff once), I'm Not In Love, shoots 10 to number 31.

At this point, I interject one of the new features. A lot of good songs get lost on the road between top 40 debut and top 10, and I thought I'd give a shout out to one each week. This week, I salute the late, great Teddy Pendergrass and Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, who appear to have peaked at 13 with Bad Luck, a song I'd forgotten about for years until I saw the title a while back looking for songs to burn to CD and said, hey, I remember that! Unfortunately, the song appears well-named as far as top 10 success goes.

Our 2 top ten dropouts are Ace's How Long at 21, falling 17 (which seems funny, because I always associated it with I'm Not In Love popularity-wise, but it seems they were 2 ships that pass in the night), and EW&F's former top dog Shining Star- a falling star that dropped from 9 to 25.

Leading off the top 10, up two spots is Mrs. Waylon Jennings (or if you prefer, Jessie Colter) with her #1 country hit I'm Not Lisa. Up two to 9 is a song by veteran r&b man Joe Simon, his biggest crossover in his career, Get Down, Get Down (and no, after playing this, I still don't remember it. Sorry, Joe!). Freddy's got his new one coming, so he grabs a parachute and drops from 1 to 8 with Before the Next Teardrop Falls. In the cleanup spot, as is so often the case, is last week's # 10, Michael Murphy's Wildfire. Chicago edges up one with Old Days; Grand Funk Railroad does the same with Bad Time. Love won't let Major Harris wait; the hit by the former Delfonic jumps "4 big notches" as Casey used to say, to number 4. Linda Ronstadt gets a fair idea of when she'll be loved, as her latest moved up 2 to 3. Sister Golden Hair by America moved up one into the runner-up spot; and our brand new #1 is John Denver's live version of Thank God I'm a Country Boy.

The other new feature I'm modelling this week is "all those years ago"; a look at what was Number one 20, 30, years ago. On this week in 1990, the legacy band Wilson Phillips was tops with Hold On; 30 years ago this week, one of my least favorite offscourings of the disco era, Funky Town by Lipps, Inc., was number one; 40 years ago, the Beatles had come to the end of their Long and Winding Road (40 years? is that right?); 50 years ago, the Everly Brothers were Cathy's Clowns; and 60 years ago, the number one song had a neat little story to it. Movie director Carol Reed was putting the finishing touches on a movie called The Third Man which featured Orson Welles, among others. In a Vienna cafe, he heard a cafe musician of no fame named Anton Karas playing the zither. Inspired, Reed had this unknown musician do the entire score for the movie- with the result that no less an expert than Roger Ebert said, "Has there ever been a film where the music more perfectly suited the action than in Carol Reed's 'The Third Man'?" His version of the theme, just him and his zither, and a orchestral version by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians, combined to sell an estimated 40 million records. Again I listened to both, and it's a catchy, wistful number, but alas once again one I didn't remember. Of course, being 12 years from conception at that point, I guess I do have an excuse.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bits and Pisses, chapter 2

Let's start out with, on the way home, I saw my first longhorn steer. In a pasture on CR1000. I told Laurie if he was in he back seat (obviously a theoretical exercise and not a physical possibility), his horns would have points out both windows. Then, a mile or so later saw Mr. Bunny Rabbit.

Next, let's go on to the reason Pete Carroll and his basketball buddy Tim Floyd deserted the USC program when they did- a 30 scholarship penalty, vacating 14 wins from Dec. '04 through the 2005 season, and possibly losing the national title they "earned" against Oklahoma in the 2004-5 season. Funny how that Seahawks job seemed so much more attractive this year. I'm sorry, but I sense a certain amount of gutlessness about a guy who knows what's coming and ducks and runs. Kinda points to that character issue, and leadership coming from the top. Have a happy 2010-11, Lane Kiffin!

Not that I wanted to, but its time to give my two cents on the Big 12, now that its demise is beginning with the defection of Colorado to the PAC 10. Congratulations to the Buffs (and to whichever teams follow them into the PAC- whatever). You are now a member of a conference stuffed with dishonest bastards like the aforementioned USC Trojans, not to mention the worst elite conference referee crew around (the Big 10 refs ain't bad, they're just dishonest) and a fan base situated across the rockies, where nobody (again excepting USC and maybe UCLA) cares who you are on this side of the rockies. The Big 12 had become my favorite conference over the last couple years, but between the Mike Leach screw job, the firing of Mangino, and now this, maybe I'll just pay more attention to St. Francis this year. Word is the Big ten will grab Nebraska and maybe Mizzou, and UT, Tech, OU, Oklahoma St.,and A&M joining the big "let's get a big network deal and roll in $$$" party out west. Frankly, I'm disgusted. Big East, look out; you are no doubt next contestant in Consolidation Follies.

Thirdly, Hey Chicago whaddaya say? The Blackhawks are the North American champs after a 4-3 OT win in Philadelphia (home of the nation's lowest drinking age, apparently).
The 'Hawks go from last in division to NHL champs in 3 seasons. Philly goes back to being an overrated collection of goons bookended by Briere and Pronger. Enjoy your fluke playoff run this summer, because unless Leighton grows a clue over the offseason you won't be back soon.
And as promised, here's more about the 2 new KHL members, including proper spelling. HC Budivelnik is out of Kiev, Ukraine, and is the first Ukrainian team to play at an elite level in years. Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk is based in the eastern Russian city of Khanty-Mansiysk, an oil-boom town of 54,000 about 1180 miles east of Moscow.
Finally a tip of the hat to Bob Sachs, president of Arden corporation. After reading the letter I sent him (see "the breaking strain" last month), he sent me a letter back thanking me for "sharing my concern" and updating me on the efforts being made to "minimize the problems we faced this year" in the future. I have said this before, and I'll say it again- no matter what I occasionally think of he company as a whole, Mr. Sachs is personally a very kind, very generous man. A lot of the nastiness began after the company went to the "bankers" to whom we sold our corporate soul, men whose only concern is who's making me my money. I do not number Bob Sachs among them.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bits and Pisses

Lotsa little things to talk about today. First off, I'd like to thank everyone for their comments this week on the "time machine" column. And to Suzanne- I bow to you on the Partridge family thing. There is a certain song that they DO do, that I won't name to save myself any further embarrassment (A genuine Marvel Comics No-Prize to anyone who can figure out which) that I constantly confuse for no good reason with Burning Thing. A little more research would've served me well there.

Next, remember the story with Scrappy and Mr. Bunny Rabbit last week? Round to came the next day. Exact same location and circumstances. This time, Bunny follows the fence and takes a right at the bush, going through a hole under the fence. Beagle follows the fence as well, skipping the right and dashing on behind the bush. Upon figuring out that that was fruitless, he once again decided to try the ditch, oblivious to Mr. Chipmunk scurrying away on the other side. I do have to give him one credit, though, he was able to identify and notice a dead chipmunk Sunday (albeit after he walked halfway over it and backed up to see what it was). In the meantime, we have no more stopped to reflect that it has been a while since our last deer sighting when Laurie spots one standing in the trail through the fence row, watching us with more bemusement than the excitement we watched her with. So, the new animal count for the year is adjusted to 12 deer, 8 rabbit, and 2 chipmunk ( not the dead one; I remembered one I saw months back and forgot to tally).

Thirdly, Congrats to the Blackhawks on an exciting game 5 win in which they finally made Chris Pronger look less than invincible. Also, the Czech world cup win has suddenly made Czech players hot property in the KHL. Goalie Domenik Hasek ( a sure NHL hall of famer) signed on with Spartak in the biggest name news: others included former NHL star Petr Sykora travelling to Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Extraliga's leading scorer Roman Cervenka joining countryman Jaromir Jagr at Avangard Omsk, and league champion Pardubice's head coach Vaclav Sykora becoming the new assistant at SKA St. Pete. And in other KHL news, the merger of MVD and Moscow Dynamo and the booting from the league of Lada Togliatti brings in two new teams, of which I will look up more later- Budyvanik and Yurga Khanty Mansijsk.

And I couldn't live with myself without wishing a happy retirement to Helen Thomas.

The announcement came after the White House Correspondents Association decried her remarks as "indefensible" and began to consider whether Thomas should continue to have the privilege of a front-row seat in the briefing room. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called her remarks "offensive and reprehensible" on Monday, as other former White House spokesmen called for Thomas to be fired.
The announcement Monday marked an abrupt end to a career that has spanned decades. Thomas, known as the dean of the White House press corps, has covered every president since Dwight Eisenhower. Her 90th birthday is Aug. 4.
The controversy escalated quickly over the weekend after the video surfaced online showing Thomas last month saying Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine," suggesting they go instead to Germany, Poland and the United States. The video, shot by New York Rabbi David Nesenoff, was posted on several prominent websites and prompted a swift apology from Thomas on Friday.
"I deeply regret my comments," she said in the statement, claiming they "do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance."

I am truly surprised that her employer didn't take into account her heart-felt beliefs before making this superannuated excuse for a journalist walk the plank. Rather than be unflattering to such a paragon of liberal ass-kissing and show a current picture, I found a slightly more flattering image:

I believe this was taken by Matthew Brady during one of the press conferences Lincoln held about the Emancipation Proclamation. I think her story had to do with transporting the freed slaves to Africa or Poland, but I could be mistaken.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Step into my time machine, week six

I'm supposed to be at work right now, but Friday left me exhausted, disheartened, and needing a break from the constant push-push. They tell us four or 5 more weeks of this garbage. It can't come soon enough.

Anyway, on to happier things. 11 top 100 debuts the week of June 7, 1975, along with 6 new top 40s and 2 new top tens- and another new number one. Among the new hot 100s that actually did something, we had Lynyrd Skynyrd at 98 with Saturday Night Special, Donnie and Marie coming in at 88 with Make the World Go Away, Aerosmith at 87 with Sweet Emotion- which would sputter out this trip and make a comeback after Dream On hit big- and Mac Davis with his original of Burning Thing, a song that would be more widely heard done by the Partridge Family and Kenny Rodgers. As we ease on up the chart, we see Sail On Sailor move a pair of baby steps to 70; then we hit the countdown's "biggest loser", Led Zepplin with Trampled Under Foot, having been trampled to the tune of a 37-notch drop to 65. Into the top 40 comes Carly Simon with Attitude Dancing, a song I didn't recognize upon playing and was not upset at my loss; Seals and Crofts with I'll Play For You, which sneaks into the big boys club after a creeping 12-week journey through the lower regions; Tanya Tucker with a song I'd forgotten about until I started time-machining, Lizzie and the Rainman, a really neat story-song that comes in at 38; Wings with Listen To What the Man Says, the biggest jumper in the countdown leaping from 69 to 37; BTO goes up 12 notches to debut at 27 with Hey You; and 3 notches ahead, Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony makes a similar move with the quintessential disco hit, The Hustle.

As we head into the top ten we look at the 2 dropouts. Former number one Jackie Blue fell to 19 this week. And though it seems like Only Yesterday the Carpenters peaked at 8, they fall this week to 22.

Number ten and climbing like wildfire 7 spots to land the leadoff spot, is Michael Murphy with Wildfire. Falling 7 to 9 is EW&F's former number 1, Shining Star. Climbing 4 spots to 8 is the number one r&b song by Major Harris, Love Won't Let Me Wait. Chicago claims the cleanup spot with Old Days going from10 to 7. Grand Funk's Bad Time moves up one to 6; Linda Ronstadt leapfrogs them, up 4 to 5 with When Will I Be Loved. Last week's top dog, Aces' How Long, drops to number 4. (thus, the answer to "how long?" is, one week.) America climbs two spots to 3 with Sister Golden Hair; John Denver does likewise to 2 with Thank God I'm a Country Boy. And it is tex-mex veteran Freddy Fender who ascends to the top spot this week 35 years ago with Before the Next Teardrop Falls.

Just a non music note before I go: To our animal sightings list we add a chase between Scrappy and Mr. Bunny Rabbit Thursday night (bunny went straight into a bush; dog decided to turn left and see if he wouldn't be easier to find in the ditch), and a sighting of Mr. Possum ambling along the fence row around midnight last night. So our updated sightings list is now at: 11 deer, 7 rabbits, two skunk, two possum, a raccoon, one needlessly panicking ground hog, a pheasant, and a black squirrel.