Categotry Archives: Misc.

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Bill Moran

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Categories: Misc.

William Francis “Bill” Moran Jr., an innovator in custom knifemaking, died on Feb. 12 of cancer. He was 80.
The Maryland native began making knives when he was only 12 years old. Working in a smithy on his father’s dairy farm, Moran used discarded tools as his main source of steel. By the time he reached his teens, he had learned how to form, temper and heat treat the blades into homemade knives.
Moran dropped out of high school in the ninth grade and earned a living as a farmer, even as he continued honing his knifemaking skills. By 1958, however, Moran’s reputation as a bladesmith allowed him to sell the farm and make knives full-time. He built his own forge using stones taken from the fences on his family’s farm.
Moran always placed an emphasis on quality over quantity, and preferred to give each blade an individual sense of intricate and artistic beauty. By the mid-1960s, there was a four-year waiting list for one of his hand-forged creations. The backlog of requests eventualy grew so large that Moran finally stopped accepting down payments — the demand for his work simply exceeded the amount of knives he could create in a single lifetime. In response, the popularity of his knives skyrocketed, as did the prices for them in the collecting world. One of his Bowie knives, named for 19th-century pioneer and soldier Jim Bowie, recently sold for $30,000.
Known as “The Father of Modern Damascus,” Moran was credited with reinventing Damascus steel, a highly specialized craft of forge-welding that dates back to the Middle Ages. He was the subject of several books, including “Moran: Fire and Steel,” by Wayne V. Holter and “Master of the Forge” by B.R. Hughes and C. Houston Price. In 1976, he co-founded the American Bladesmith Society, and served as its chairman for 15 years.
Moran was inducted into the Knifemakers Hall of Fame in 1986. He was entered into the American Bladesmith Society Hall of Fame a decade later. The Moran School of Bladesmithing was opened in Washington, Ark., in 1988.
The world-renowned artisan loved telling jokes, chewing tobacco and playing with his dogs. He spent the final years of his life forging knives and teaching knife-making skills at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y. Moran willed his forge and tools to the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation. A museum featuring these items is being planned in Frederick, Md.

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Sam

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Categories: Misc.

sam.jpgSam, a three-time winner of “The World’s Ugliest Dog Contest,” was put to sleep on Nov. 18 after being diagnosed with chronic heart disease. He was 14.
The mostly hairless pooch never let his unattractive appearance stop him from attaining stardom in a society where cute and fluffy puppies are prized. In fact, Sam’s unsightly teeth, wrinkled brown skin, acne-covered face and milky-white eyes earned him numerous television appearances and a meeting with millionaire Donald Trump. Strangers even created fan Websites devoted to him.
At the time of his death, the 13-pound hound was scheduled to appear in an upcoming Discovery Channel series on the world’s ugliest species. Sam’s owner, Susie Lockheed, also marketed his visage on T-shirts, calendars, magnets and coffee mugs.
Lockheed rescued Sam in 1999 after his former owner moved to a place where dogs were not allowed, and an adoption agency rejected him for being too homely. Although she was also repulsed by his ugliness, Lockheed soon fell in love with the pedigreed Chinese Crested Hairless.
Lockheed’s boyfriend at the time was not as charmed by her new pet, and soon broke up with her. Sam’s appearance didn’t deter Lockheed’s next beau, Mark Tautrim, who responded to a profile posted on the online dating site Match.com that featured a picture of Susie and Sam.
“Sam owed his very life to Susie Lockheed, who fostered and then adopted him when no one else dared. In turn, Sam brought Susie untold joy and a fianc

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Mira

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Categories: Misc.

Mira, Copyright 2005 - Michael Durham, Oregon Zoo. Used with permissionMira, the blind elephant seal who was a popular attraction at the Oregon Zoo in Portland, died on July 24. She was approximately three-and-a-half years old.
Mira was only six months old when she was found stranded on a northern California beach in 2002. Veterinarians at the North Coast Marine Mammal Center in Crescent City, Calif., took in the female seal and soon discovered that her retinas were underdeveloped. Due to this condition, the center decided Mira should not be returned to the wild, and asked the Oregon Zoo to care for her.
For the past three years, Mira has resided in the zoo’s Steller Cove exhibit with her two sea lion companions, Julius and Gus. To work around her visual impairment, marine life keepers learned how to feed and train her using tactile and audio cues, rather than visual ones. They placed noise-making beads on a target-training pole and blew a whistle to call Mira for feedings.
Since the Stellar Cove exhibit was not designed to be used by visually-impaired animals, Mira had trouble getting in and out of her tank for feedings and physical examinations. To fix this problem, the zoo asked the Mechanical Engineering Department at Portland State University to design a system that would allow her to get in and out of the pool unharmed without having to raise the water level in the habitat. In May 2004, the student design team produced a lightweight, aluminum and plastic seal ramp. When the ramp was placed at the edge of Mira’s tank, two zookeepers could easily pull the 325-pound seal out of the water.
“Mira was an awesome animal to work with. We learned a lot not only about elephant seals, but also about working with an animal with special needs. She was more responsibility because of her special needs, but it was a pleasure,” said marine life keeper Karen Rifenbury.
Although Mira was undergoing treatment for an eye infection, her condition was not considered life-threatening. A necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of her death.

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W. Pauline Nicholson

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Categories: Misc.

W. Pauline Nicholson, one of the cooks that prepared Elvis Presley’s favorite meals, died on July 7 of cancer. She was 76.
Nicholson met the King of Rock ‘n Roll in the mid-1960s after his neighbor praised her cooking skills. The legendary singer hired Nicholson to work at Graceland and soon became an ardent admirer of her peanut butter and fried banana sandwiches, meatloaf and banana pudding. When he learned her husband, Ossie Nicholson Sr., had lost his job in 1974, Presley hired him as a guard.
Nicholson also worked as the Presley’s housekeeper and occasionally babysat for their daughter, Lisa Marie. She remained on staff at Graceland until her retirement in 1990. In later years, Nicholson cooked for Lisa Marie and her mother, Priscilla, whenever they requested her services. In fact, she prepared a home-cooked meal for them last Christmas. In 1981, Nicholson was featured in the documentary, “This is Elvis.”
“Elvis was like a son to her, to hear her talk about it,” said her daughter, Roslyn Guest.
Nicholson is survived by her husband of 55 years, nine children, 24 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

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Meimei

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Categories: Misc.

Meimei, the world’s oldest panda held in captivity, died on July 12. Cause of death was not released. She was 36 — or the equivalent of 108 in human years. The average life expectancy of a panda is 20 to 30 years.
Up until 1985, Meimei lived in the Wolong Natural Conservation Area in the Sichuan province of southwest China. The Wolong Park is the country’s main center for the study and breeding of pandas. Meimei was taken into captivity out of fears she would starve because of a shortage of bamboo.
For the past two decades, she was a popular resident at the Guilin Zoo in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region. Due to her advanced age, however, Meimei suffered from eating difficulties, respiratory tract and lung infection and organ failure.
Giant pandas are threatened by a loss of habitat and poaching. Birth rates among pandas are also notoriously low because they mate for only three or four days a year. In 1989, experts attempted to impregnate Meimei through artificial fertilization, but failed.

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