Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Time Out From The Shop

Hello, it's been half a year since I posted to the blog. Good grief! I think that happens because I'm posting smaller posts on Facebook, and even some smaller posts on Twitter. I'm trying to figure out what content customers and potential customers might find interesting, and how best to share it. 

I don't think it matters that I've taken a liking to "McCann's Irish Steel Cut Oatmeal (Ready in Five Minutes)" or that I learned a new set of reels that I really like. But if it has to do with changes in my shop or my whistle making which impacts the quality, price or availability of my products, I guess that's worth a few words. Or even a picture or video. So if you are a Twitter or Facebook user, here's where you can find me:

To bring you up to date here, I've had a pretty busy year filling orders to individuals and dealers. I think I've got enough dealers now and am not currently taking on more thanks to the internet which allows me to interact directly with my customers. (Like this.) 

I did get pretty far along on the new G/A/Bb alto whistles in November. I have recruited a dozen or so players to give me feedback on some prototype, or in software lingo "beta," whistles, and was preparing the whistles for the testing. 

Then in addition to the up-tick in direct orders, several large dealer orders came in so I put the final work on the new whistles aside until those orders went out. 

During that effort I started having trouble standing in the shop for long periods and found I had developed a hernia. Doc says "Just lucky I guess." With the holidays, the surgeon's schedule, and the games we need to play with our health insurance, I decided to try to make it to 2011 before having it repaired. He said I risk permanent damage if I don't take it easy until it's fixed, so I'm avoiding anything that hurts, doing a lot of computer work like improving my internal database for tracking orders, customers and product serial numbers as well as WIP stock levels. 

I am also working on a new website which will be done in the simplest way possible - just typing the html into a text editor - to allow (encourage?) me to make more frequent updates to the site and hopefully avoid some compatibility issues. I do the current website with Microsoft Visual Studio which is the normal Microsoft overkill for what I need. Hopefully I'll have the new site up in the next week or so. 

Since I just have a few more operations on the prototypes before they can be tested, I'm going to try and complete them in the next couple days so the trials can proceed while I'm following doctor orders to "do nothing" while the repair takes root. 

But I'm pretty pleased with how the alto whistles turned out, and am curious to see what others think of them.

Oh, one fun bit of news that has only indirect impact on my products. I have been wondering and looking to some degree for a link to the Parks who came over from Europe. I really enjoy listening and playing ITM, so I've been thinking there's got to be some Celt in there somewhere, but I couldn't prove it.

One tale my father told was that our name used to be spelled Parkes, but an ancestor got mad a the family, took the "e" out an moved to the Pittsburgh area. Well, that appears to be a red herring, no doubt created when "Irish need not apply."  As well as the single census in 1850 when the person who came over claimed to be from Scotland. Or maybe that's the truth, and the biographer in 1905 who wrote the following didn't chase up the name change:

"WILLIAM B. PARKS, a prosperous business man of Greensburg, was born September 13, 1838, in the vicinity of Courtney Station, Allegheny county, Pennsylvania, a son of James and Mary (Woods) Parks. James Parks (father) was born in Tyrone, Ireland, where he was reared and educated, attending the common schools adjacent to his home. When twenty-five years of age he determined to seek a new home for himself amid new surroundings and accordingly emigrated to the United States, settling in Allegheny county, Pennsylvania, where he spent the remainder of his days. At the early age of fifteen years he married, and the death of his wife occurred nine months later. He married a second time, this wife dying one year later, survived by one child, and at the age of twenty-five year? he married his third wife, whose maiden name was Mary Ann Woods, in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, and they had eight children: Alexander, deceased; Martha, Nancy, Alice, deceased; Ann Jane, William B., mentioned hereafter; Thomas, and James, deceased." from "History of Westmoreland Co" by John N. Boucher

If that turns out to be true, and I expect it will, that means the two fellows in the photo at the top of this blog - my good fiddler friend Ian Barksdale and I - both came from the same county in Ireland several generations ago. 

So if anyone reading this has any more information on the Parks family in Co Tyrone, or in Westmoreland Co, Pa, I'd be happy to hear it. 

Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Duit!
(Happy New Year! )


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