Friday, March 31, 2006

Survivor Exile Island - Episode 7

Wow, it was hard to get back into this series after a two-week break!

Two weeks ago, they did a re-hash of the season-to-date. It was supposed to contain some new footage, but who really cares?!

Then, they skipped last week, bowing to the March Madness.

Now, they expect us to be able to pick up where they left off.

Long story short, the two tribes merged. While building a bigger shelter, Nick hit Samurai Bruce in the mouth with a machete, but no major injury, just a bunch of drama. Shane continues to be too annoying for words. Terry won individual immunity. Remember, he also has the hidden idol. So, when Shane orchestrated the majority against Terry's "ally" Nick, he had the power to save him at Tribal Council. If he had, Shane would have been sent packing. Instead, Terry sat on his hands, at least figuratively.

Sorry, Nick, but the tribe has spoken (and Terry didn't).

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Husband on Strike

This has got to be the most ridiculous news item of the day.

Some yayhoo up in Michigan is upset because his wife lets their 2 year old and 6 month old sleep with them in the same bed.

If you want to check out his inane rantings, check out his website at:

But, I warn you, this whole situation is just absurd.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Castle Garden

If you're like me, once you started digging around for your family's roots, you quickly discovered that your people did NOT come thru Ellis Island.

Most Americans' forebears arrived before that immigrant processing center opened, or are recent arrivals, or are descended from Native tribes, or came in thru another port, or, or, or . . .

In fact, my mother's family is proud of the fact that her great-grandfather Bob Irving was the plumbing contractor at Ellis Island.

But, what most folks don't realize is that there was an earlier entry point for immigrants arriving in New York. It was called "Castle Garden."

Check out this web site and see if you can find one of your ancestors among the passenger lists:

Happy hunting!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I was clapping for the Tina Turner tribute

Thought I'd let you know that before you asked the question, "What were you doing with your hands?!"

This photo from a recent hoe-down was kindly forwarded to me this afternoon as evidence why I should always run when someone breaks out a camera.

But, what do you think of that Resistol hat? Pretty cool, huh? Okay, maybe not.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A wedding, a "vetting," and some betting

The wedding: My great-aunt and uncle Diane & BG Brown are pleased to announce their eldest granddaughter Jennifer Howerton will be married this Saturday, April 1st, to one Aaron Morris. The big event will be held down in Tampa. And, BG will deliver a prayer of blessing as part of the ceremony.

The "vetting": My high school classmate Lisa Troupe sent me this picture from her husband Paul's recent US Air Force retirement ceremony. Don't they look like the all-American family?!

The betting: I'm not much of a betting man. Not because I have moral objections to wagering, but because I'm just not good at it. I should have kept that in mind before I put $10 down on the Longhorns to win the NCAA tourney. Call it March madness. But, while my money may be gone, I still have a dog in the fight. How 'bout them Gators?!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A day at the beach can wear you out!

Well, we did get a lot of hard work done at the condo yesterday.

In fact, some people may have over-done it.

Don't look at me! I was in bed by 11:30. And, that was late enough.

Some overzealous "stagers" were up into the wee hours, and got caught sleeping-in this morning!

But, we did get out the door by 10 or so, and I treated my crew to a special lunch at the Columbia in downtown St. Augustine.

We still have a few minor things to do. You know, one project always leads to another. But, for the most part, I think we did a tremendous job.

So . . . if you're interested in going to the beach this season, drop me an email. I'll cut you a good deal!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Staging Barefoot Trace Condo

Took my "in-house staging crew" up to St. Augustine this morning to work on the new condo, and really got a lot done.

We're hoping the improvements we make this weekend will increase the unit's marketability, both in terms of attacting short-term rentals and possible re-sale.

Ironically, the unit immediately below ours was having an open-house. We couldn't resist being nosey. Saw some interesting modifications that might or might not work in ours. But, the asking price was what floored me. Looks like we're already ahead of the game . . . if they get anything close to their asking price.

News flash: The realtor hosting the open-house told us that the unit next door to ours will be having an open-house next weekend. Hmmmm.

More digipics will (hopefully) be available later, so you can see the results of our "staging." So, stay tuned!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Charlie Sheen and other luminaries

Doesn't it just amaze you when people who don't know what they're talking about but have no problem shooting their mouths off?!

The lastest out of Hollywierd: Charlie Sheen apparently thinks 9/11 was some vast right-wing conspiracy.

This is going to make it very difficult for me to watch Two and a Half Men on CBS, and I like that show.

Oh, well, I guess if I can get over his looney-tunes daddy being on The West Wing, I can divorce his tv character from his real-life insanity.

But, it's kinda hard when the character has the same name as the real-life whack-job.

Continuing from yesterday's posting, I did not get much sleep last night. Tossed and turned quite a bit as I stewed over some other recent stupid behavior.

Why do I let ignorants people bother me so much?!?!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Anger management

People never cease to amaze me.

I guess sometimes, despite my tough exterior (yeah, right!), I can be a little naive sometimes.

I found out today that I can definitely be a little too trusting.

Anyway, fool me once, shame on you. But, you'll never fool me twice.

I'm going to be stewing on this one all night, I can tell already!


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Maybe pony express woulda worked better

I got a phone call from my sister today, letting me know that she only just received the birthday card I mailed to her daughter.

I sent it out WEEKS ago.

The irregularity of the mail between Orlando and Charleston never ceases to amaze me.

Sometimes, she gets stuff in 1 or 2 days. And, sometimes it takes weeks.

What gives? Anyone? Anyone?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

DigiPics of the Jenks girls

Not to be outdone by Cathy & Yami and their digital cameras, old Valda of Monroe Manor forwarded this picture of her daughter Kelly.

Definitely has a "spring" feel to it, doesn't it?

Hard to think about Spring, when it feels like we went straight into Summer this year!

It's supposed to be 90 degrees out there today.


I think I'll just stay inside and enjoy the AC.

Oh, and this Disney pic just received from Mammy Jenks up in Sanford. She took little Alyssa down to Shades of Green this past weekend to see Aunt Laverne and Uncle Alex, and got to see Mickey Mouse, too!

Monday, March 20, 2006

DigiPics from Cathy & Yami

Just got this cool picture of Cathy that she emailed back from her cruise.

That's her Costa Maya drinking buddy with her.

Kinda makes you want to go on a cruise yourself, doesn't it?!

Not to be outdone, Yami sent me this photo she took of her son Justin with the new digital camera she got last week.

It's so nice to get email like this instead of the usual spam!!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival

Ok, in case you've been living under a rock for the last 47 years or so, there's this sidewalk art festival over in Winter Park every spring. And, it's sort of a tradition for me to take my mom. We have it down to a science.

First off, you don't go til Sunday. Let the early-birds feel like they're getting one up on you on Friday, and let the gobs and gobs of people on Saturday do their thing. By Sunday, all the ribbons and awards have been distributed and displayed, and the crowds are significantly thinner. So, you can easily spot the prize winners and gravitate in their direction.

Secondly, make sure you go first thing in the morning. That cuts out most of the church crowd, but it also guarantees you a better parking space. Plus, you can avoid the heat of the day. By 11am, the Florida sun is usually more than I want to endure. And, by some odd coincidence, that's when attendance shoots-up.

Thirdly, don't miss the tents on the west side of the railroad tracks. That's where they display the works of local school kids. A lot of times, they're better than the "professional" artists.

Finally, remember to buy either a poster or a t-shirt. Personally, I'm all about the posters. Some years are better than others, but they almost always end up being collectors' items.

Too late to heed this advice for 2006, but it's never too late to start planning for '07. And, for practice, Winter Park has a fall art festival in the same general vicinity. Think it's October sometime. But, that's getting ahead of myself.

Oh, yeah. Go Gators! More on March Madness later.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

My fancy new duds

Howdy, y'all! I was invited to a hoe-down tonight but, much to my dismay, found out all the western wear I used to keep on hand had either disappeared or seen better days. So, on the recommendation of a good friend, I went down to Festival Bay this morning and checked out a great store I'd never heard of, called Shepler's. Check 'em out!

I got myself a pair of Cobalt Ariat Ropers, just like the picture above. Also got a black Resistol hat and shirt. So, I looked like quite a dude struttin' outta there!


Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Isn't it wierd how the Irish are the one ethnic group that everyone wouldn't mind belonging to, at least for one day?!

Well, that day has arrived again this year. March 17th. St. Patrick's Day.

I understand back in the mother country that this is not traditionally a day of boozing it up. But, unfortunately, that's what it's become in the good old US of A.

Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but I'd rather take the time to reflect on just how lucky we Irish are as a people, especially those of us whose ancestors were smart enough to leave the Emerald Isle and settle in America.

We've come a long way, baby!

Now, if you'll excuse me. I've a Guiness calling from the next room.

Erin go bragh!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A picture is worth 1000 words

I've heard that expression my entire life. Now, the internet has proven it's true. Check out this site:

There are some pictures there that are bound to crack you up. I particularly liked the "political drag" category, as I have often wondered what would have happened if Marilyn Monroe gave birth to JFK's baby . . .

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bad fishing analogy

Sometimes you have to know when to fish or cut bait.

Isn't that just about the most over-used fishing analogy ever? Or, do I just live in the heart of bass-fishing country?

Either way, it may be tired, but it is SO true.

And, no, this has nothing to do with yesterday's election.

By the way, Billie beat Joe, if anybody out there cares.

I don't. Not today, anyway!

Bah! Humbug!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Election Day in Apopka

Yep, the thriving metropolis of Apopka held an election today, to pick someone to occupy a seat on the City Council for another four years.

That's it. That's all that was on the ballot. Do you want Billie or Joe to be your representative? Seriously. Those were the names on the ballot.

Only in Apopka.

Well, at least I did my civic duty, and continued my unbroken streak. Since November 1992, I have excercised my right to vote in EVERY local, state, and federal election, as well as a handful of referenda. (sp?!)

Call me a "super voter!"

I don't think it's right to complain about politics or politicians unless you take an active role in the election process. So, I believe my streak gives me a better right than most . . . unless, of course, you've been voting without fail since before November 1992.

Can anyone else beat that streak?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Any New England Ancestors?

For those of you who may be interested in researching your New England ancestry, the New England Historic Genealogical Society is offering free access to one of the thousands of databases on

The New England Historical and Genealogical Register

Normally available only to NEHGS members, the Register database will be accessible to all from Monday, March 20 through Wednesday, March 22, 2006.

Published quarterly since 1847, the Register is the flagship journal of American genealogy and the oldest journal in the field. The database includes issues from 1847 to 1994.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sunday Driving

Got a slow start today. Really dragged my feet, because I did not want to leave Barefoot Trace. Already planning my next trip back.

Anyway, headed out about noon. Couldn't get a hold of my Uncle Dan to thank him for the accomodations, so decided to swing by the house he's fixing-up near the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. I was going to leave a "thank you" card inside the door, but was pleasantly surprised to find him and Uncle Pat Curtis sitting on the front porch, recovering from a fishing expedition.

A tour of the house renovations, etc., followed. Really impressive, and I was glad to see him in a relaxed environment for a change. I now know why he's so anxious to drive up to St. Augustine every weekend!!

They were planning on walking over to a nearby Greek restaurant, but I was anxious to get back home (fool that I am). I need to do some decompressing, laundry, work preparations, etc. So, had to get back on the highway to fight the Sunday drivers.

Things actually weren't that bad headed back into Orlando. But, northbound I95 was a nightmare. Looks like all the bikers are headed back home. Can't say as I'm not relieved. Just wish they'd take the college kids with them.

Wow, do I sound like a buzz-kill, or what?!

Oh, well.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Beach Bumming

Spent the day up here in St. Augustine just beach-bumming.

Checked out a local flea market. Didn't find anything I couldn't live without, but got a big kick out of all the characters.

Then went to my favorite place to eat in the historic district: The Columbia Restaurant. Had the Ropa Vieja. Can't go wrong with that. My waitress was really cool, recommended a place around the corner where she and the rest of the staff hang out after hours. She said to make sure to try the jalapeno poppers. So, I'll have to add that to my agenda.

Worked-off lunch by strolling down St. George to the galleries near the Bridge of Lions. How's that for a varied experience. From a flea market in the morning to fine art galleries in the afternoon?!

Things started getting crowded and hot by 2:30, so headed back to Barefoot Trace. Still have all the windows open to enjoy all the beach sounds, especially the surf. It's actually lulling me into "nap mode." So, will sign off for now.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Barefoot Trace

This weekend couldn't come quickly enough for me! I hit the door running at quitting-time, so I could get on the highway and head up to St. Augustine.

Despite the multitude of motorcycles and and a slew of Spring Breakers crowding I-95, I made it up there in pretty good time. And, the reward of tremendous accomodations at Barefoot Trace made all of the hassles worthwhile.

Check out this web site about the property:

My unit was on the 3rd floor, almost all the way on the southern tip of the building. So, it was isolated from pedestrian traffic, etc., and offered a TREMENDOUS view of the Atlantic Ocean from almost every spot.

I couldn't resist the temptation to throw open all the sliding glass doors and windows to let the beach sounds rush in. The pounding of the surf was AWESOME!

More later, gotta go enjoy some more of this!!!

Survivor Exile Island - Episode 6

I have to 'fess-up. I missed about 90% of the show today due to the infernal I-4 traffic.

Had a dinner date that began at 5:30 in downtown Orlando. I figured that would give me plenty of time to be home by 8, because you know life revolves around the tv schedule.

Well, we had a great time, and I didn't leave the restaurant til 7:30. Still plenty of time to get back to my couch in Apopka, right?


Never underestimate the stupidity of Central Florida motorists.

I-4 was crawling all the way up past Lee Road. And, all of it was due to rubbernecking. I hate that! The accident (which was a big one) was all off the right shoulder, not impeding the flow of traffice at all. ARGGHH!

Fortunately, old Valda of Monroe Manor called to inform me the show was simulcast on local 87.7 FM. So, at least I was able to hear the goings-on as I rode my brakes up the interstate. But, hearing isn't the same as seeing. And, I'm sure I missed a lot as a result.

Bottom line, I can't go into much detail, other than Casaya won immunity again this week, banished Sally to Exile Island, and forced the Four Horsemen to sacrifice one of their own. The choice was Astronaut Dan. Too bad, so sad.

The tribe has spoken.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Termites in the mulch?! Say it ain't so!

If you use mulch around your house be very careful about buying it this year.

Apparently, Hurricane Kaqtrina blew over so many trees out in New Orleans that clean-up crews are anxiously trying to get rid of tons and tons of mulch.

So, it will soon be showing up in Home Depot and Lowe's at dirt-cheap prices. There's just one problem with that: Formosan Termites.

New Orleans was one of the few areas in the country were Formosan Termites had established a stronghold, and most of the trees blown down were already badly infested.

Now, we may have the worst case of transporting a problem to all parts of the country than we have ever had.

These termites can eat a house in no time at all, so tell your friends and neighbors to avoid this cheap "Katrina mulch!"

For more info, check out this website created by the Ag Dep't at Louisiana State University:

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Wealth vs Health

Continuing the deep philosophical questioning from yesterday, I have to ask, "What good is all the money in the world if you haven't got health enough to enjoy it?"

The answer I've come up with so far is, it isn't any good at all.

Any opposing viewpoints?

Didn't think so.


Monday, March 06, 2006

All hail "The King"

Is money the root of all evil?

That's something Elvis Presley apparently contemplated before his untimely end in the commode.

Say what you will about his questionable life choices. But, I think The King hit the nail on the head with his response:

"Money isn't the root of all evil. Greed is. Sharing money is what gives it its true value."

He may not have been as wise as Solomon, but that's pretty deep for a rock star, no? And, apparently, he lived by that belief. Just ask his momma.

Now, go and git you a 'nanner sammich!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Act on Impulse

I wish I had followed that advice at Christmas-time.

I have been looking for a new sectional sofa for my livingroom for several months, but have only run across one that appealed to me.

But, I didn't want to blow my holiday budget on a piece of furniture for myself.

Anyway, today I decided to trot back to the store where I'd found the couch (three months later!) to see if it was still out on the floor. I thought maybe I could negotiate a discount or something.

Well, no luck.

Turns out somebody had been in the store just 24 hours earlier, and the manager had sold it to the lucky impulse-acting fool for 40% off the ticket price!

Yes, I'm kicking myself.

Learn from my mistake. Take those leaps.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Somewhere in Germany

That's the by-line my great-grandfather's cousin included in many of his letters written during World War II.

His name was William M. Stokes, Jr., and he was quite a fellow.

At least, that's what I'm learning from the collection of transcribed letters forwarded to me by his daughter Wayne S. Goodall of North Carolina.

I have to admit, the history of the 2nd World War has never captured my fascination like the Civil War or the Revolutionary War. But, these letters are changing that.

After the war, Cousin Stokes continued his career in the U.S. Army, and rose to the rank of Major General. He then served on the board of governors at VMI, and helped establish the George C. Marshall Foundation.

Check-out the latter organization's web presence at:

Friday, March 03, 2006

Update on Mrs. Cerruti

There have been a couple of prayer requests posted here lately for Mrs. Cerruti. Here's an update from Lisa Troupe:

I have an update on Samuel’s teacher and it isn’t very encouraging. Her brain tumor is malignant and it is a very aggressive form of cancer. They are going to have to do chemo and radiation for 6 weeks. They were able to remove 95% of the tumor during surgery, although they said it had grown since initial tests they had done on it.

So, I don’t think we are going to have Mrs. Cerruti back this year as a teacher. Please, keep her in your prayers!

On a lighter note, Paul is retired, as of today (although his official date is June 1)! He had a wonderful ceremony and a great day with a lot of friends. Paul’s uncle came here from Colorado Springs, which was really nice. Thanks so much for all the cards and phone calls-we all appreciate it so much. I will be sending out some pictures soon of the day’s events.

Love to all,

(Wow, it's hard to believe that one of my high school classmates is married to a retiree!! Makes me feel old!!)

Survivor Exile Island - Episode 5

Okay, let's start with the reward challenge, which involved retrieving bags of rice and beans and 8 fish from some boats. Each item had to be tossed from one tribe mate to another to a chopping block, where the last person had to chop off the tails and heads.

Has this not been the most gory/brutal/morbid season of Survivor, already?

Anyway, Casaya had problems at the beginning, because they put Bonsai Bruce at the chopping block. But, they eventually figured out that it took more brute strength than samurai finesse. So, Big Bob took over, and they won.

The prize was all the food plus some spices and wine. They also got to choose a member of LaMina to send to Exile Island. Of course, they chose Terry . . . again.

Probst was merciful enough to allow the starving LaMina to take a bag of beans back to their camp. But, the shock of food in their digestive systems had Nick and Austin up all night. Won't go into the disgusting details.

Amazingly, despite the recent reward challenge loss, and the Montezuma's revenge, LaMina came back to win the immunity challenge. (This involved diving for a collection of skulls and assembling them in a pyramid. Again, why so morbid this season?!)

After some campaigning to evict either Big Bob or Bonsai Bruce, the cracks in Casaya turned into canyons. Shane couldn't bring himself to vote against either one, and tossed a vote against Courtney. (Previews for next week imply this will come back to haunt him.) But, in the end, Big Bob took the walk of shame.

The tribe has spoken.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Why I moved to Apopka

We had some crazy stuff go down by my office today. Check out the coverage from The Orlando Sentinel:,0,4270317.story?coll=orl-home-headlines

A maniac bankrobber sped right past our office on Bumby Avenue with I don't know how many cop cars and helicopters in hot pursuit. He later committed suicided a few blocks away. Guess he didn't want to be taken alive . . . what is this the "Old West?!"

Anyway, stuff like this just reminds me why I moved to sleepy little Apopka. Not that we don't have some crazy things go on up there from time to time. But, nothing like this.

I thought about this a lot this evening as I treated my neighbors to dinner at a local restaurant. Note that all 5 of us had no problem WALKING down there. And, we got good, friendly service.

Couldn't get all that in Orlando. Not anymore. It's a shame.