Sunday, September 30, 2007

'Clay Aiken Kids' Well-Designed Site

FALL CELEBRATION -- Cindilu2 created a dateless version of her beautiful October calendar that is also featured in this blog.

Wind Swoops by UPS Gig

'Clay Aiken Kids' Site Informative

With the beginning of American Idol Rewind, Clay Aiken fans have been presented a special opportunity to look back at Season 2, as well as the singer's journey as an entertainer, humanitarian, and teacher in a larger classroom than he ever imagined.

Clay Aiken Kids, a site dedicated to showing how we can make a difference, provides informative and delightful tours to accompany the current "Rewind" trips down memory lane.

Designed especially for the younger set, as well as the young at heart, the CAK site offers viewers a sojourn of well-constructed topics: Clay's Story, Make a Difference, Clay's Music, Clay's Journey, Clay's Photos, Clay's Classroom.

Each category corresponds with a beautiful blend created by Fountaindawg. The clickables below are used as CAK site links for Clay's Story, Clay's Journey, and Make a Difference.

Enjoy the tour at Clay Aiken Kids ... and pass it on!

As already admitted in the previous entry, procrastination landed me a weekend filled with last-minute income tax preparation. However, to welcome the new month with Cindilu2's beautiful, fiery October calendar, I dutifully tore myself away from "the project" to select additional Summer Tour graphics to form a visual intermission.

Sure was a lot more fun than the numbers!

PHOTO INTERLUDE -- Featured are designs by Amazing_CA, photos by Pink Cocoa, 1; ABeautifulMind, photos by ClayIzzaQT, 2; Cindilu2's October calendar; and Ambassador of Love, photos by LynninNJ; and Amazing_CA, photos by Invisibleson.

Trio Serenades UPS Celebration

Friday I joined my flute-playing sister and a cellist to provide background music for the UPS Centennial Luncheon in Greensboro. An online shopper, I have more than a passing acquaintance with UPS. However, the attendees at this catered luncheon were mega customers or business partners of this city's HUB.

Setting up in swirling wind gusts that reminded me of West Texas, our trio knew our biggest challenge was not playing the music but keeping it on our stands. Prepared with clear clips for just such weather, we launched into the first of Haydn's London Trios with the outdoor tent sides slapping our backsides.

Imagine our surprise when we were asked to step outside while employees determined if the tent was actually stable enough for the invited guests. The tent poles were deemed secure, but the side netting that had kicked us throughout the Haydn was removed.

We returned and simply restarted the second movement. The wind gusts weren't done, however; and a couple times, I finished a flute trill only to be slapped in the face by the fronds of a neighboring fern.

UPS Founded in Seattle

During a brief program of speeches, the reporter in me whipped out a notebook and jotted down some of the history our hosts were celebrating. We learned that the American Messenger Company, forerunner of UPS, was founded in 1907 by 19-year-old Jim Casey in Seattle, WA.

Casey started the company with $100 borrowed from a friend, and his motto was "best service and lowest rates." Deliveries were made on foot, bicycle, or motorcycle. In 1913, the Model T Ford became the delivery vehicle. Six years later the company expanded beyond Seattle and changed its name to United Parcel Service.

One of the Greensboro exhibits was an early UPS truck that reminded the sister flautists of our mother's old Chevy from the 1930's, complete with running board. That vehicle ended its colorful life as our childhood beach jalopy.

Not only were we paid for our musical services Friday, but we each left with a catered plate for dinner -- in fact, enough for two or three meals. That and our new wind-styled hairdos, of course!

Hooked on Clay's AI Rewind Narration

I added the finishing touches to this blog while listening to Clay narrate the first segment of American Idol Rewind. Now I am more anxious than ever to see the "rewind" of his Atlanta audition on Oct. 13.

Of course, it's not as if that moment isn't already preserved numerous time in downloads and montages on my external hard drive. I know I'm in good company on that one!

Below is a clickable of Cindilu2's beautiful opening graphic:

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!



Thursday, September 27, 2007

Season 2 'Idol Rewind' To Begin

FOND MEMORIES -- ABeautifulMind's graphic appropriately signals the opening weekend of "American Idol Rewind - Season 2."

'Grandma Fog' Takes Hold

Season 2 'Idol Rewind' Set

Sleeping contentedly more than a thousand miles away, my new grandson has no way of knowing his presence Thursday teamed with my natural tendencies toward procrastination and played havoc with some best laid plans for a productive morning.

After celebrating grandson Kai's birth for the past two outings, this blog was slated to return to its normal routine focusing on a very special singer from my home state, Clay Aiken.

"Grandma Fog," probably akin to the "Aiken" variety, literally whittled away my morning as I happily attached baby photos to email replies, searched online camera sites for a must-have grandparent purchase, and squeezed in a detailed telephone update from my daughter.

As the sun rose, the "fog" persisted, edging to the back burner not only a new Clay Aiken entry but also preparations for the afternoon's music lessons, a rehearsal and map-quest for Friday's flute gig, and -- the least desirable of all -- further organization of income tax records for the fast approaching October filing deadline.

In all my dilly dallying, I learned about Woot, an online store that features a new deal each day. Though I chose a different model, Thursday's focus was an excellent little camera and a great buy.

At 12 a.m. central time seven days a week, Woot releases a new product at a reduced price; so I have bookmarked this site for future daily visits.

Screen Cap links to the 'AI Rewind' Page at KHCW-TV

Aiken Fans Anticipate 'Rewind'

Bouncing around Clay Aiken Cyberspace is discussion of this weekend's opening telecasts of American Idol Rewind for Season 2. If you haven't already, check out the info and photos at Houston's KHCW-TV website by clicking on the above screen cap.

With Ruben Studdard as host and Clay providing commentary, "Rewind" will feature interviews, behind-the-scenes updates, never-before seen auditions, as well as footage from the Season 2 shows. Read all about it in the story from PRNewswire.

This clickable screen cap from the week's previews advertises Clay as the show's narrator:

Clickable Preview Cap

Stay tuned to the AI blog with the Atlanta Journal Constitution for further info. Need a review of the Season 2 contestants? Here is a page featuring the Top 12.

This weekend's telecasts begin with the New York auditions. To locate the times shows are scheduled for your area, check TV Guide or link to Zap2It.

Locate 'AI Rewind' telecast times at Zap2It!

Basic AI 2 Rewind Schedule

Sept. 29: NY Auditions
Oct. 6: Miami/Detroit Auditions
Oct. 13: Atlanta Auditions
Oct. 20: Austin Auditions
Oct. 27: LA Auditions
Nov. 3: Nashville Auditions
Nov. 10: Best of the Worst
Nov. 17: Hollywood Week, Part 1
Nov. 24: Hollywood Week, Part 2
December -- Reruns of the auditions/Hollywood episodes.
Jan. 5: Group 1
Jan. 12: Group 2
Jan. 19: Group 3
Jan. 26: Group 4
Feb. 2: Wildcard Show
Feb. 9: Top 12 to 11
Feb. 16: Top 11 to 10
Feb. 23: Top 10 to 9
Mar. 1: Top 9 to 8
Mar. 8: Top 8 to 7
Mar. 15: Top 7 to 6
Mar. 22: Top 6 to 5
Mar. 29: Top 5 to 4
Apr. 5: Top 4 to 3
Apr. 12: Top 3 to 2
Apr. 19: Final 2
Aprl. 26: Finale

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Recalling Clay's 2007 Summer Tour, this clickable interlude features graphics by Amazing_CA, photos by Invisible926, 1; Ambassador of Love, photos by HeatherW, 2; Cha Cha Trusty, photos by En Avant and Toni7babe, 3; Ambassador of Love, photos by FiveGoldens, Invisibleson, and Scrpkym, 4; and Amazing_CA, photos by Toni7babe, 5.

Friend Shares Grandparent Quotes

Many thnx for all your good wishes regarding the birth of our newest family member. My "Grandma Fog" is persistent, so I might as well switch topics.

With appreciation to Marlyne, below is a collection of quotes to be shared with a special grandparent in your life. I hope you enjoy!

What a bargain grandchildren are! I give them my loose change, and they give me a million dollars' worth of pleasure. ~ Gene Perret

Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting. ~ Author Unknown Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild. ~ Welsh Proverb

Becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you're just a mother. The next you are all-wise and prehistoric. ~ Pam Brown

When grandparents enter the door, discipline flies out the window. ~Gene Perrett

Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day and now the day is complete. ~ Marcee DeMaree

Grandmas never run out of hugs or cookies. ~ Author Unknown

Grandmas hold our tiny hands just for a little while, but our hearts forever. ~ Author Unknown

Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children. ~ Alex Haley

If your baby is "beautiful and perfect, never cries or fusses, sleeps on schedule and burps on demand, an angel all the time," you're the grandma. ~ Teresa Bloomindale

What is it about grandparents that is so lovely? I'd like to say that grandparents are Gods gifts to children. And if they can but see, hear and feel what these people have to give, they can mature at a fast rate. ~ Bill Cosby

Below is a clickable of the opening graphic by ABeautifulMind:

I'm off to find my flute. Have an wonderful weekend, Clay Nation!


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Monday, September 24, 2007

So Now We're Into Photography!

Grandson Changes Our World - Photos edited by Sally

Entire Family Taking Notes

Learning To Shoot Good Photos

It is sheer torture being a first-time grandmother 1,466 miles away from the action; but I am surviving, even learning a thing or two about photography. And I don't even have a camera -- yet!

In West Texas, life revolves around feeding, changing, and bedding a one-week-old baby. The last thing on anyone's mind is interrupting that schedule to snap photos for relatives several states away. On the other hand, we North Carolinians check our email many more times daily, hoping for new pictures of the youngest member of our family.

After giving her baby a most meaningful name -- Tavarrius Kai'mana Mata'uaina -- my daughter and her grandmother have been calling him "Baby" and "Baby Love." This weekend I suggested "Jack" in honor of her late Texas grandfather.

Meanwhile, Tav, Tavis, Kai, Mata, etc., are also under consideration. I really love that Kai'mana means ocean/strong and Mata'uaina is Samoan for powerful speaker.

Still more than two weeks from his original due date, Jack sleeps much of the time. This trio of clickables shows him laughing, waking up from his favorite pastime, and proudly displaying his "Clay Aiken" feet and Grandmother Caro's natural limberness.

Now that's funny ... Just five more, please!

The Clay Connection
Photo edited by Sally

An outstanding photographer and photo editor, my friend Sally offered the family five main suggestions for obtaining better baby pictures:

* Use higher resolution.
* Use natural light when possible.
* Fill the frame with your subject.
* As a variation, get down on the baby's level.
* Check for distractions before you shoot.

Higher resolution will provide more pixels. In my experience, if allowed plenty of pixels, Sally's photo-editing expertise knows no bounds.

Natural light coming through a window or sliding door behind the photographer and falling on the subject is the best illumination for indoor photography. If it's nighttime or too gray for good natural lighting, use a flash. Red eye is no problem for a good photo editor.

To fill the frame, one may need to use the camera's zoom. Fill the view finder with the baby, not a lot of background. Having to crop away a busy background can result in very small pictures. On the other hand, when shooting landscape photos, include lots of background.

For a variation when photographing infants, get down on the baby's level, and fill the frame with his face. To vary your shot, lay down on your tummy and get as close as you can while maintaining focus. This also helps stabilize the camera.

Before you shoot, take a moment, look through the view finder, and check your shot. Remove any distractions or unnecessary items (cell phone, ash tray, glass, etc.) before taking the picture.

Sally also suggested we study the excellent photo tips at The Purple Stork.

REVIEW: Provide plenty of pixels, use natural light if possible, fill the frame, get down on the infant's level, and check for distractions just before shooting.

I look forward to the day when these are my assignments. That ... and holding my new grandson. Meanwhile, anyone for a nap?

Clickable - Photo edited by Sally

There is more than enough room in my life for two very special guys. The Aiken is bound to return to this new grandmother's blog next time around.

Actually, he already did. Sweet Carolina Girl reported that due to the "CA feet" reference, she received a Google alert for this entry.

Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!

Grandma Caro

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Grandson Enters World Wailing!

Grandson charms nursing staff in Odessa, TX.

'Grandmotherhood' Takes Over

New Life Begins Sept. 17, 2007

According to Google Maps, I am exactly 1,466 miles and 22 hours away from the newest member of our family; yet he already has had a profound effect on my ability to function normally.

Ironically, this little guy's birth was scheduled at the exact time I was to teach a cello lesson in nearby High Point Monday afternoon. "Be careful on the drive over," a friend warned. I was, but the person drifting into my lane on a curve wasn't. Thankfully, I swerved quickly enough to be here to report the birth of my first grandchild.

The minute I finished the 30-minute cello lesson I checked in with family in the waiting room and headed home with my cell phone on to await the birth news. This little guy who was about to steal my heart was already following his own agenda.

Within the hour -- at 2:24 p.m. CDT, to be exact -- Tavarrius Kai'mana Mata'uaina entered the world howling at the top of his lungs. Three weeks shy of full term, he measured 18.5 inches long and weighed in at 5 lbs. 2 ozs. A cellist with a beautiful voice, his mother has excellent relative pitch. Dare we hope for the pipes of Clay Aiken?

Daughter Jen's love for her adopted state of Hawaii is reflected in her son's middle names. She has always liked the name Tavarrius, which I think sounds musical and quite appropriate for our clan of instrumentalists. Kai'mana means ocean/strong, and Mata'uaina is Samoan for powerful speaker.

His North Carolina grandmother has friends who suggest there are several possible nicknames -- Tav, Kai, Mat, TKM, Tavis -- but we will just have to see what fits.

Meanwhile, mother and son are bonding and doing very well. As for grandmother, this morning she turned on the microwave oven with absolutely nothing in it. I look forward to the day I can travel to Texas and hold my precious grandson in my arms.

Thank you very much for your celebrations, good wishes, and many kindnesses along the way.

Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!



Saturday, September 15, 2007

'My Favorite Things' Recalls Aiken Tour

Amazing_CA highlights Clay Aiken's West Palm Beach Concert in her graphic featuring photos by dc4clay.

My Favorite Things (SRHP)

Montage Replays Summer Tour

Although ticket gathering is in full swing for Clay Aiken's 2007 Christmas in the Heartland Tour, fans are continue to enjoy the summer's "Soft Rock in a Hard Place" concerts in retrospect through abundant coffers of clack.

In her third such compilation, SmartyPantsSuz has assembled memorable video and photo highlights of the summer symphony tour with a classic montage based on "My Favorite Things" from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical "The Sound of Music."

In addition, Suz has also provided clickable versions of the video's 12 photo grids, each containing 20 pictures. That's high math, diligence, and 240 visual rewinds of summer memories.

Many thnx to Suz for creating such an amazing medium of reminiscence for CA fans. View the montage on the player here or click on "YouTube" in the lower right corner to link to the site where members can leave comments and rate the video.

If you would like your own copy, download the 40MB 2007 "My Favorite Things" montage with this Sendspace link.

My Favorite Things (SRHP)

These are the 12 double clickable photo grids (1023 pixels each) from "My Favorite Things (SRHP)":

So Many Memories

Jackets, Jeans, and Rivets

Fun-Filled TV Medley

Newest Clack Gatherer

Bugs, Serenades, 'n Spotlights

Jesse Comes Through

Letters from the Fandom

Cool Songs for Clay

Bringing Sexy Back

Antics, Laughs Galore

Measure of a Voice

Because You Loved Me

More 'Favorite Things' Moments

For fans who haven't seen the previous MFT montages or would like a review, below are players for "My Favorite Things 2006," which begins with Clay's American Idol 5 Finale appearance, and the original version commemorating special moments since the singer first appeared on American Idol 2.

My Favorite Things 2006

My Favorite Things (Original)

The picture grids for the 2006 montage can be viewed in this blog's 12/30/06 entry here.

Below is a double clickable version of Amazing_CA's opening graphic:

GRANDSON UPDATE: The little Virgo was born Monday afternoon (9/17) while I was teaching a cello lesson in High Point. He and his mother are both doing quite well. No name yet, but our grandson has long arms and legs and dark curly hair. According to his grandfather, pictures are forthcoming.

We appreciate all your prayers, good thoughts, and kindnesses. This proud new grandmother has some celebrating to do.

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

From GoodShop to 'The Aiken Fog'

Clay Aiken performs during Summer Symphony Tour. -- Graphic by Amazing_CA, photos by Scrpkym.

Balloting To Begin for Claymmys

Online Shopping Benefits TBAF

For whatever reason, I have always been the rare gal who could care less about shopping, window or otherwise -- that is until the online phenomenon came into being. Christmas lists are a breeze when my computer and credit card get together.

During all the "grandmother-to-be" excitement of the previous entry, I was thrilled to learn that my online shopping for this special little tyke can now be funneled through GoodSearch's GoodShop to help raise funds for The Bubel Aiken Foundation's projects and curriculum of inclusion.

More than 100 great stores have teamed with GoodShop so that a percentage of each sale goes to one's designated favorite non-profit organization.

Just this brief sampling of merchants under the "most popular" tab is enough to inspire an online spree -- Amazon, Barnes&Noble,, Circuit City, Gap, iTunes, Macy's, Nordstrom, Old Navy, Staples, Target, and Wall*Mart.

The process is quite simple. Be sure to designate TBAF as your charity, click on the store's logo from the GoodShop link, and then shop as you normally would. This takes you to the "GoodSearch Shopping" page where you click on the yellow bar: GOODSHOP THIS STORE.

That maneuver lands you at the designated site where if you have an account, you are welcomed. If not, you are asked to establish one.

One Penny per Search for TBAF

Clay Aiken fans already help raise funds for TBAF by conducting online searches through GoodSearch, a Yahoo! based engine that shares a portion of the advertising profits with non-profit organizations. Each search launched earns about 1 cent for the charity of one's choice.

Since inception, supporters have raised $4,637.88 for TBAF through GoodSearch and in the year 2007, $2,519.31. While the search revenues are calculated in real time, GoodShop data will be posted weekly.

Here are examples of how much TBAF can earn annually through GoodSearch and GoodShop with 100 supporters:

Two searches per day by 100 people = $730 per year. Purchases by 100 people totaling $500 @ 3% donated revenue = $2,230 annually.

With 1,000 supporters, add a zero: $7,300 through searches and $22,300 via shopping.

With 10,000 supporters, add another zero: $73,000 via searches and $223,000 by shopping.

GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!

Obviously, Clay fans need to spread the word. At this link, GoodSearch has provided several options for getting the information to family, friends, associates, readers, etc., via email, flyers, logos, footers, etc.

Ideally, each set of friends will spread the word exponentially. What an awesome way to make a huge difference for TBAF and inclusion!

Voting Set for Claymmy Awards

Voting is expected to begin Thursday mornig for the Fifth Annual Claymmy Awards sponsored by It's All About Love. Categories include avatars, banners, blends, concert pics, essays, fan art, miscellaneous, montages, poetry, stories, wallpapers, and websites. Multiple votes will be allowed.

This blog features many graphic artists, many of whom are entered in the blends and wallpapers categories.

Two montages I highly recommend are the latest by Aspiegirl: "More Than a Feeling" and "Listen." The images below link to these montages at YouTube.

Screen cap links to 'More Than A Feeling' by Aspiegirl

Megan Aiken's photo links to 'Listen' by Aspiegirl

All the best to those nominated for a 2007 Claymmy Award!

Fans Share 'Aiken Fog' Experiences

Recently, I wrote a blog describing how The Aiken Fog has played havoc with my normal routines of coffee-making, food preparation, and the surprising substitution of conditioner for hair shampoo.

Apparently I am not the only one in this boat, as reader comments were brimming with similar examples with no offers whatsoever for an intervention or desire for a cure. Below is the mailbag collection from the Sept. 4 blog.

Already, this entry's comments on the topic include such occurrences as drinking "invisible" coffee for extended periods, wearing sweat pants backwards, substituting shampoo for hand lotion, et al.

Galadriel even went so far as to offer a news flash from the near future: Today it was reported that a scientist discovered the cure for the ailment known as "The Aiken Fog" or TAF. The Nobel Peace Prize went to the lab assistant who accidentally destroyed all existing copies of his research data.

wildaboutclay: I can really relate to The Aiken Fog. During concert season, I've been known to stick things in the cupboard that belong in the fridge, put dinner in the oven and forget to turn on the oven. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

xMakeMeFeelItx: Poor you about the conditioner. I tend to forget how I've driven somewhere or what I'm doing there.

elizabethgerencser: I have to put things away as soon as I use them or I will leave them out until they spoil. When I deviated from my routine, I [once] lost a whole jar of mayo. Have you experienced TAF version where you put the cereal in the fridge?

kimmerstaraiken: At least we know that we are not alone in this fabulous yet frustrating fog!

cindilu2: I count at least two saucepans, several spatulas, and many, many side dishes down the garbage disposal in my list of things I've sacrificed to the Aiken Fog. I'd wish you a speedy recovery, but I'm thinking you don't *really* want that, do you?

Aspiegirl: I have put a cup in the microwave to heat and forgotten it was there. Then I turned around and put in another cup and knocked over the first one.

1H20uandme: Boy are you in trouble if you are expecting an intervention around here! I'm afraid TBAF has taken over just about everyone.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: This clickable interlude features the talents of seven visual artists. They include Amazing_CA, photo by Toni7babe, 1; Katt45, photos by KarenEh, 2; Amazing_CA, photo by Invisible926, 3; Ambassador of Love, photos by Irishbookgal and Toni7babe, 4; and Amazing_CA, photo by Toni7babe, 5.

Fog Victims Want No Relief

Marlyne: I call The Aiken Fog "Clayitis," and I sure have a bad case of it. It makes me happy, so I'm not trying very hard for a cure.

Margaret5828: I must still be in the Aiken Fog, too. I put a potato in the microwave for 60 minutes instead of six last night. It look a long time to rid the house of smoke because I did it twice, the first time between the Sterling Heights and Cary concerts. I think this Clay thing is getting worse. I had to buy a new microwave today!

Galadriel: Thank you for a much needed laugh. I drove the wrong way down a one-way street immediately after hearing the recorded version of "Solitaire" for the first time.

Siol: I've left the food out on the cupboard all night, and I've exploded things in the microwave also. I've made mistakes at work because of having Clay's music playing. It's got to be his fault/The Aiken Fog, right?

Freckles: I loved reading about your TAF and the results of the same. I know now that I'm not alone.

marianhookailo: I go about my day not realizing that in my head I not only hear but SEE Clay and the girls performing IWTKWLI. I am used to having music in my head all the time, but now this particular masterpiece just does not leave me. Thank you for allowing me to acknowledge that indeed I am and have been for a long time in a Clay Fog.

Ashes2: Everything you wrote I've done. I can add making the coffee and finding a nice ot of hot water because the coffee was still sitting on the counter.

Sally888: I've come to the conclusion that TAF is a permanent condition, and I'm not really interested in a cure anyway.

Below is the clickable of Amazing_CA's opening graphic:

THANK YOU for your kind expressions in thoughts, prayers, candles, and online shower gifts for the upcoming birth of our first grandson. According to my daughter's doctor, the little guy currently weighs 5 lbs. 7 ozs., has good muscle tone (a whole lot of leg and arm exercising, his mother says), and is practicing his breathing exercises.

Anytime the ultrasound camera comes near, he displays his manliness and waves. Thursday the doctor set a delivery date of Sept. 27 for our family's newest Clay Aiken fan.

This little guy has already altered his grandmother's three-day blogging routine, which this time extended to five, inspiring several inquiring emails. I guess there's no more setting clocks by my blogging schedule, LOL!

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


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