Sunday, October 24, 2010

Expectant Mother Ship

If a Beluga Whale and a 747 had a love child, it would surely look a lot like Boeing’s 787 DreamLifter. 

The DreamLifter came about after Boeing realized they needed a faster way to move parts between suppliers in Japan, Italy and the United States. The company transformed a 747 into a bloated, oversized cargo plane capable of hauling three times the capacity of a normal 747 cargo plane, allowing the company to move parts faster than the previous method of by cargo ship.

This DreamLifter is parked near the Boeing facility in North Charleston, SC. The plane is used to ferry parts for the 787 DreamLiner back and forth from North Charleston to Everett, WA.

When the North Charleston plant starts full production in 2011, it is expected to produce three 787 DreamLiners a month.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Blessing All God's Creatures, Big and Small. And a Banana Too

They circled the field in front of All Saints Episcopal Church in Florence, SC, on a cool October morning. Waiting for the priests to make their rounds.

The blessing of the animals is held in remembrance of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, and for his love of all God’s creatures.

It was quite the menagerie. The cages at the zoo must have been empty. St. Francis would have been proud.

They came alive and stuffed - not the trophy type hanging above the mantle. And in singles and in pairs. There were even photos subbing for those too cumbersome to fit in the backseat. 

There were cats, dogs, birds, ferrets, fish, turtles, hermit crabs and a guinea pig or two.

And we can’t forget Banana, the California Kingsnake.

One by one and two by two, the animals received their blessings. “…a blessing of health and wellness. And that they may continue to be a source of joy and wonder for their owners. For the rest of their lives. Amen.”

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Visitors taking a tour of the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology, in Florence, SC, get a special treat as they step into the “Cave” located on the second floor. They walk into what appears to be more of a lounge than an actual “lab” Several tv’s and a projection screen line the room. One of the few clues to what awaits them can be found on the arm of a couch. A very industrial-looking pair of sunglasses. 

Put them on and the room starts to pop.

One of the highlights of these virtual displays is the projection of a jet engine. To those unfortunate enough to get the short stick and miss the first round of 3D glasses, the image looks blurry and out of register. 

But to the lucky ones, the image comes alive.

Like a scene from a sci-fi movie, viewers can take the engine apart with simple hand gestures and not worry about getting grease on their hands or that recently pressed white dress shirt.

As 3D becomes more mainstream - just look at the movie listings and the new 3D tv’s starting to pop up - you realize how forward-thinking this program is at SIMT.

It’s not the future. It’s here today.

Now if you could just get a pair of 3D Oakley’s or maybe a pair of Versace’s, then it will truly be mainstream.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sticking Your Neck Out

No, this isn’t a miniature giraffe or even a super-high rez Google Earth picture of the African plains. This aerial view is courtesy of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo’s giraffe feeding station.

Just outside the zoo’s African Village, visitors are able to feed the giraffes with pieces of lettuce and interact with the long-necked curiosity seekers. But, to my surprise, this fella wasn’t interested in eating his veggies and thought my camera looked more appetizing as he came in for a closer view. 

Or taste.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Once Bit, Twice Spurred

Jay and Lyn Ocken met in college where both competed on the Ball State equestrian team. They soon fell in love and got married.

Jay teaches machine shop and Lyn teaches art. But, it wasn’t until about 2003 that they started toying with the idea of making their own pieces of equipment for their horses. The duo applied for, and received, a Lilly grant from the Lilly Foundation and soon left for Canada and Texas to learn their respective arts.
Jay is the metalsmith, using a welder or jeweler’s saw to shape and meld the pieces together. Lyn, using her own designs, or those supplied by the customer, steadily engraves the pieces with what is equivalent to a miniature jackhammer. 

Together, they form Ocken Bit and Spur Makers, making handmade custom cowboy gear. Some of their pieces can take over 40 hours to shape and are created for customers from as far away as New Zealand.

But in the end, it’s their love affair with horses that gives them the inspiration to continue crafting and sharing their one-of-a-kind pieces with other horse lovers.

(This is from a story for My Indiana Home)