Wednesday, January 30, 2008

An Unsinkable Survey

I apologise for the survey but I was tagged because I lurked!

1. Do you wear a name tag at work? Nope, but my name pops up at the bottom of the screen when I'm on.

2. What kind of car do you drive? a 2000 Ford Explorer Sport

3. What do you order when you go to Taco Bell? Usually the meal that has three tacos and a drink. I now it sounds boring but when I add my cheesy fiesta potatoes and nachoes it becomes the cheapest way for Taco Bell food to fill me up.

4. Have you ever had a garage sale? Yep, growing up we had a few at home. I have held two at church to benefit the teens. I'll never do it again!

5. What color is your iPod? I'm a 29 year-old who doesn't feel the need to carry his music around with him wherever he goes.

6. What kind of dog do you have? That's kind of presumptious ain't it?

7. What's for dinner tonight? Margarettia Grill. It's a quick mexican joint for which we often get GREAT coupons!

8. What is the last alcoholic beverage you had? This Mountaineer Brewing Co. beer called Nut Brown Ale. FANTASTIC! Could be my new favorite beer of all time! Sorry Shiner.

9. Stupidest thing you ever did with your cell phone? Took pictures of me burning my expired contract with my first TV station. I was paid $15,000 a year. It was stupid because I made myself work for that little.

10. Last time you were sick? About two months ago. Ailing throats and me don't get along very well. At the first twinge or difficult swallow I'm at the doctor. I just can't afford to call in sick thanks to my job. Stupid live television.

11. How long is your hair? About as long as my consultant/talent coach will let me have it.

12. Are you happy right now? About what?

13. What did you say last? "And go to sleep you will". Amy is currently asleep on the couch behind me.

14. Who came over last? Thad. He came to patch up some dry wall in our guest room.

16. Have your brothers or sisters ever told you that you were adopted? Yep. But in my family that can be pretty believable since no one really looks like anyone else. That is, until my little brother came along. He and I are the only ones who look even remotely related.

17. What is your favorite key chain on your keys? The one that says "Canterbury". My sister-in-law got one for each of us when she went to Canterbury, England.

18. What was the last movie you watched at home? The Princess Bride. I especially like the bonus featurettes on Andre the Giant. I almost cry everytime he is asked if he liked working on the movie and he answers without hesitation, "Yes, because here no one stares at me".

19. What is in your pocket? Nothing. My pajama pockets don't get much action.

20. Who introduced you to your crush? My sister. She asked me if I was going to be attending my little brother's football game that night to which I replied in the affirmative. She responded, "Good. Because I'm introducing you to your wife tonight". She was right.

21. Where do you hurt? My tongue. No lie. I get these crazy aggressive canker soars on all tissues in my mouth. Right now I have some weird one on the left side of my tongue and it scrapes along my teeth when I talk.

22. Has someone ever made you a Build-A-Bear? Nope.

23. What DVD is in your DVD player? A Disney vacation planning DVD, Disc 2 of season 7 of M*A*S*H, The Princess Bride, and the bonus disc to POTC:The Curse of the Black Pearl.

24. What's something fun you did today? I blogged about our trip to the Cast Iron Cook-off. See below.

25. Who was the principal of your high school? I don't remember. Orr I think.

26. Has your house ever been TPd? Yep.

27. What do you think of when you hear the word 'meow'? Probably that stupid cat food commercial where the cats sing.

28. What are you listening to right now? The humming of the furnace and the laptop. Amy isn't snoring yet.

29. Drinkin? Nothing at the moment. Hot Apple Cider when I get finished here.

30. What is your favorite aisle at Wal-Mart? Like most is the one I'm searching for at the moment. The sooner I find it, the sooner I can get the heck out of here.

31. When is your birthday? You're asking because you forgot it last year. August 23rd.

32. What's the area code for your cell phone? They didn't give me one.

33. Where did you buy the shirt you're wearing now? It was given to me while I was working a Celebrity Wait at the Texas Roadhouse to benefit CASA.

34. Is there anything hanging from your rear view mirror? Yep. My college tassel and a necklace given to me by one of my former teens that she got in Hawaii.

35. How many states in the US have you been to? Not as many as I'd like.

37. What are you going to do after this? Apple Cider, duh! Boy you have a short memory.

38. Who was the last person you went shopping with? Amy. She is the world's best shopper because she will buy nothing at full price. NOTHING! Everything MUST be on sale. I love her!

40. What about your favorite dessert? What about it? You wanna make something of it?

41. What is something you need to go shopping for? My next Ohio State DVD.

42. Do you have the same name as one of your relatives? Yes. I was named after both of my grandfathers. My first name is my Dad's dad's name and my middle name is my Mom's dad's name.

43. What kind of car do your siblings drive? Good gravy, I don't know. I have five siblings, three of whom are married, and a few have college-aged offspring (...come out and play...) of their own. Do you KNOW how many cars that is?

44. Do you like pickles? Yep. Just point me to the pickle tray and I'll be a happy camper.

45. What about olives? Olive oil = yes. Olives = no.

47. What is your favorite kind of juice? 100% Cranberry. Either that or grape.

48. Do you have any tan lines? That assumes I have any color at all. Hello?! It is OHIO...

49. What hospital were you born in? Grant Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

50. Do you remember the name of your kindergarten teacher? Mrs. Formals. She rocked!

Wine, Knives, and the Whole Hog

We are truly blessed!

Amy and I had a grand time at the 2008 Cast Iron Cook-Off and we have the Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia to thank for it!

The Welcome Reception on Friday evening was the perfect lead-in to the weekend's events. Everyone gathered in the rustic lobby of the Stonewall Resort Lodge with glass in hand to toast the reunion of old friends and celebrate the meeting of new ones. We walked into the mass of humanity centered near the over sized fireplace and almost immediately connected with Dr. Allen Arnold, the director of the 21C. He could not contain his joy that the event had finally come nor his excitement for the grandiose pork-processional which we were about to witness. After glad-handing a few more dear friends including Executive Chef Dale Hawkins, Nancy Bulla, my co-emcee for the weekend, and Dr. Elaine Bowen, the brass and strings proclaimed the arrival of a whole hog, cooked and ready to be carved.

No head nor apple but he was carried by four chefs from the kitchen through the lodge foyer and into the ballroom. Everybody cheered and raised their glasses! It was a sight that's equal I've yet to encounter. We were instructed to follow the hog where we were greeted by candle lit tables and an Appalachian buffet with a hint of down home hospitality. Everyone loved it!

Following dinner, Nancy and I grabbed our microphones and jumped into our jobs with both feet. We introduced the judges for the weekend and the teams and chef who would compete the next day. As each head chef was announced, each team member was introduced then given a chef's coat to wear during the cook-off. I have to admit I always get a little jealous when it's coat time.

To my surprise, Nancy and I were both given snazzy Cast Iron chefs jackets as well! Truth be told, it was not total surprise because I had remarked just days before that it would be nice to have the Emcees wear some official looking 21C clothing. It would allow us to stand out as 21C representatives. It was agreed that it would make a great addition to our station and I thought we might get chefs coats but didn't think it possible so close to the event.

Thankfully, I was wrong. ;)

The Cook-off started promptly at 10:00 the next morning after Amy and I had a quick breakfast of pastries, muffins, and juices. Off she went to her massage treatment and some luxurious pool time while I entered West Virginia's version of Kitchen Stadium. Staggered throughout the morning/midday, 14 teams of Gastro-gladiators walked, scurried, or danced their way into the hour long battle. The prize: dethroning the two-time Grand Champions, Team Provence Market (headed by Chef Anne Hart) and becoming Grand Champion.

With every whisk, chop, puree, and glaze Nancy and I were there calling the action and chatting up some "did-you-knows" about cast iron, our judges, or anything else we thought interesting to keep the nearly 6-hour competition running at high energy. With every fry, saute, steep, and sear the competitors shared smiles, laughs, and songs as they worked to create a New Appalachian menu with time-honored tools and methods. If they felt the pressure of winning they didn't show it. There was so much hootin' and hollerin' that one would have thought he/she had entered a mountain family reunion by mistake.

Meanwhile, Amy would check in a time or two to see how everything was going. After a quick jaunt around the working stations, she'd be off to take advantage of Stonewall's little known secret; the Library. A cozy place complete with fireplace, extra comfy furniture, soft lighting, and walls of books, the library is quaint. We both enjoy it's quiet reprieve from the frantic pace of the cook-off. It's a wonderful place to take off your shoes, wrap your feet under your "seat" and curl up with someone you love beside the fire and read...or sleep...or just zone out.

After the cook-off, we made way to T.J. Muskies for lunch. This is Stonewall's rendition of a rustic, fireside bar, grill, and billiards hall all rolled into one. The mood is relaxed and the food is familiar. We snagged a table for two by the screened-in fire pit and devoured an overdue midday meal. We each had our Stonewall favorites: Amy loves to order the Appalachian Egg Rolls as an appetizer and I had the Fried Green Tomato B.L.T. This was the first creations of Dale's that after having done a segment about it on TV, I went home and tried immediately. As I recall, I made it for Amy when she came in for a visit while we were still dating.

At the end of the day, all of the teams, chefs, judges, and friends returned to the ballroom for a 5 course wine pairing dinner prepared by Chef Dale and his staff. Every plate was teaming with fresh produce, locally raised proteins, and Appalachian love. I'd have to say that is what makes Dale's recipes stand out: his love of food and his friends.

You can probably deduce that after 5 different glasses of wine to be had, some didn't treat the proceeding awards ceremony with exactly the same level of composure as they did the meal. Appropriate or not, it wasn't hard to tell that everyone was having a good time! Especially the newly crowned Grand Champions! Congratulations to Chef Hans Friedman and the rest of Team Lightburn's for their well-earned victory!

Something tells me that they'll be back next year to defend the title. And, as long as the welcome mat is out, the Canterburys will be back at the Cook-off with bells on!

Photos Courtesy: The Media Center

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, Fire Up Those Grills!

Cast iron chefs do battle this weekend!

No, this is not Food Network's wildly popular version of Japan's Iron Chef TV show. I'm talking about the 3rd Annual Cast Iron Cook-Off taking place at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, WV on Saturday. Amy and I will be there and we can't wait!

This event is the brain-child of a dear friend along side whom I had the pleasure of working during my WDTV days, the Executive Chef of Stonewall Resort, Dale Hawkins. As the man in charge of all of the food enjoyed by resort guests, Dale has a passion for the locally grown produce and farm raised protein used in his restaurants. So zealous is his passion that he, along with several other like-minded folks in the hospitality and agriculture industries, introduced the world to the Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia - a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and providing programs that connect local farmers and growers to chefs and consumers while invoking the storied utensils, recipes, and ingredients of their mountain heritage.

21C's largest (fun)draising event is the Cast Iron Cook-Off - an Iron Chef style cooking competition featuring multiple teams consisting of one head chefs and amateur cooks hwo must prepare 5 gourmet dishes featuring locally grown/raised products while implementing the use of cast iron. Each team has one hour to prepare their menu from start to finish then present each course to the judges. Their dishes will be judged on originality, taste, presentation, cast-iron uses, team work, and amount of local ingredients used.

Last year, I was invited to enjoy the great honor of being the Emcee for the 4-hour competition with my co-emcee Nancy Bulla. We had such a wonderful time running all over the conference hall to talk to the chefs and other cooks, then racing to the judging table for their reactions and comments to what was going on and the plates of food coming off these teams' tables! By the end of the competition, I was just about spent...but I loved every minute of it! I never knew playing Alton Brown could be this much fun!

Following the cook off Dr. Allen D. Arnold, 21C's founding director, asked me to join the Collaborative as the Co-Director of Marketing. I have served for a year now and it has been a pure joy! We have come up with some fresh ideas for the future and continue to receive grants to allow us to bring these plans into fruition. I'm really excited about our new promotional DVD that we'll be sending to the Food Network and other corporations in the hospitality and agriculture industry. With any luck, we'll have the folks from Chelsea Market, NY coming to the mountains for a taste of Appalachian goodness!

Well, I've been invited back to the Cook-off this year and Amy and I will be going down this Friday to the Stonewall Resort for all of the festivities. This go 'round, Nancy and I will be Emcee-ing the whole event from the Welcome Banquet and Team Introductions on Friday night, through the competition on Saturday that now features 18 teams, to the 5 course wine-paring/awards ceremonial dinner on Saturday night. In addition to taking care of our room and food needs while we are there (like they did last year), 21C has allowed me to treat Amy to pampering spa treatments and relaxing massages while I'm in the throws of competition. Their hospitality is boundless!

Here's to you having as much fun this weekend as we will!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Perpetuating a Myth

I was all set.

It was 4 o'clock on Monday afternoon and I was chomping at the bit to begin my rest-of-the-week vacation. Freedom was one-hour away when I got the call that threw my plans into suspension.

I had to fill-in the next morning for a sick co-worker. While I was very disappointed to have to push back my time away from work, I completely understood and was sympathetic to the situation. That was yesterday.

Even if your vacation doesn't take you anywhere, the day feels different when you know you don't have to go to work. Today was no exception. After having slept in until 10am, I jumped on my computer with a renewed vigor.

I checked my work e-mail and found this press release sent to me by my chief meteorologist. This is what it said:

An analysis of 2007 global temperature data undertaken by scientists at
Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), New York, reveals that 2007 is tied with 1998 as the second hottest year on record. The unusual warmth of 2007 is noteworthy because it occurs at a time when solar irradiance is at a minimum and the equatorial Pacific Ocean has entered the cool phase of its El Niňo-La Niňa cycle.

The greatest warming in 2007 occurred in the Arctic. Global warming has a larger affect in polar areas, as the loss of snow and ice leads to more open water, which absorbs more sunlight and warmth. The large Arctic warm anomaly of 2007 is consistent with observations of record low Arctic sea ice in September 2007.

The eight warmest years in the GISS record have all occurred since 1998, with 2005 ranking as the hottest. Barring a large volcanic eruption, NASA scientists predict that a record global temperature exceeding that of 2005 can be expected within the next two to three years.

Folks, there is something you need to know about NASA and the GISS. It started back in August when a blogger who just happens to be a thinker began investigation the techniques and mathematics behind the results posted by NASA. It didn't take long before he saw red flags in their methodology.

NASA scientists this month corrected an error that resulted in 1934 replacing 1998 as the warmest year on record in the U.S., thus challenging some key global warming arguments, but the correction is being ignored, a conservative climate expert charged Wednesday.

Yet at the same time, announcements that support global warming are considered "front-page news," said H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

For his part, James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has called the correction is "statistically insignificant."

Burnett challenged that assertion, saying the correction made it clear that NASA's conclusion -- that the majority of the 10 hottest years have occurred since 1990 -- is false.

"Time after time, Hansen and other global warming alarmists present their data as 'the facts,' and [say that] 'you can't argue with data,' " he said. "Well, it turns out their data is just wrong. And when it's wrong, they want to say it's not important."

So, here is the new Top 10 Warmest Years on Record:

1. 1934
2. 1998
3. 1921
4. 2006
5. 1931
6. 1999
7. 1953
8. 1990
9. 1938
10. 1939

It seems that NASA and GISS is perfectly fine with carrying on a proven error in calculation. Why are they trying to act like the corrections never happened? It is obvious that there is an agenda here.

Anyone even somewhat paying attention to the national news understands that if you cry "global warming is threatening our world", corporations, non-profit organizations, and private citizens will line up to throw money at you for research.

NASA and GISS...for shame! Here is the truth...2007 may indeed go down as one of the warmest on record. Why so warm? Science doesn't know for sure. Zealots claim to know it all.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Sting WILL Fade

It feels good to be back on a regular schedule after working like a dog through most of December. Now that things have slowed down and I have a bunch of comp time to burn, I'll be writing more regularly on here.

The following is an article that I just submitted on our station's blog site. It is written for an audience that is rich in Buckeye fans so please keep that in mind. I am not suggesting that everyone who may read this is a Buckeyes fan. ;)


You may have thrown your hands up in disgust. It is entirely possible that a TV remote control took off from the vicinity of your couch and landed with a hard smack on the kitchen floor. If you are like me you said something to the effect of, “Why do I even bother”. One way or another you made your disapproval known after Ohio State’s crushing loss to LSU in this year’s BCS National Championship game.

Join the club.

When you are as emotionally invested in your favorite team as I am, you can’t help but feel the pain of a loss right along side the players. Not feel for the players…feel the pain with the players. When they lose a tough one you go along for the ride. There is a whimsical and fascinating connection that exists between team and fan. A win is the shear definition of exhilaration and a loss, unfortunately, is utter devastation.

Such was my mood driving home that night after the game in New Orleans. The funk of defeat hung over me like a tormenting fog. The only sounds in the car were the faint mutterings of two late-night ESPN radio jocks, the rhythmic staccato of a wind-driven rain pounding the windshield, the screeching of the windshield wipers dragging across the glass, and an occasional heavy-laden breath…my own. Sigh.

My face: expressionless. My joy: replaced. Visions of leaping Tigers and yellow and purple confetti precipitating from the heavens were dancing in my head. Memories of gloved hands thrusting a crystal football to the sky were playing so vividly in my brain. Alas, those hands were not that of Buckeyes.

It is to weep!

An ever-spreading case of sports depression continued to overwhelm me as I arrived home. Try as it might, the familiar warmth of domestic tranquility could not lift me from my lowly state. In the corner of the family room sat my stuffed “Brutus the Buckeye”. I’ll never forget his face when his telepathic greeting of “O-H” went unanswered as I drudged to the foyer closet to hang up my raincoat (which had become completely saturated in the time it took me to walk from the car to the front door). I felt that nothing would lighten my mood.

I was wrong.

As had been my routine since Christmas, I grabbed my copy of, Then Tress Said to Troy to read a chapter before bed. Having brushed my teeth and accomplished all other pre-sandman tasks, I opened to the night’s scheduled passage. I began reading the exploits of great OSU pigskin soldiers like Chic Harley, Rex Kern, and Howard “Hopalong” Cassady. Past players recounted tales of Buckeye coaches like Paul Brown, Earl Bruce, Woody Hayes, and yes, Jim Tressel. I slowly poured over highlights of Woody and Bo’s Ten Year War and that of Jim Tressel’s success in navigating through Michigan again and again and again and again and…well you get the point.

Then it dawned on me. Sure, the loss to LSU stings right now but it does not define the entirety of a football program that is one-hundred eighteen years in the making. These last two national championship defeats are two paragraphs on a single page in the vast encyclopedia that is Ohio State football history. The storied tradition of the school that rest on the banks of the Olentangy River has recorded down times like this before but it will live to tell a brighter tale another day!

Suddenly, I felt myself brake free from the darkness holding me captive. The depression began to lift and my heart cast its burden. I smiled, briefly. Then I closed the book, turned off the bed-side lamp, and fell asleep.

Sure Ohio State will have to walk the streets of college football for another year sporting a black-eye but just as sure as Troy Smith’s record against that school up north; the Buckeyes will achieve glory once again.

Just give it some time.


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