Friday, June 30, 2006

Chuck Miller, RIP

Sad to report the passing of Chuck Miller of Calabash, North Carolina.

He was my buddy's brother-in-law, and an all-around good guy himself. He and his wife Monica always tried to come down to Apopka for our big 4th of July fesitivities, and again around Thanksgiving or Christmas.

I'll never forget the year our two alma maters tangled in the Tangerine Bowl. (That would be Texas Tech and Clemson.) He was too sick to go in person, even back then. But, that didn't stop me from giving him some good-natured ribbing when the Red Raiders stomped his beloved Tigers. He wouldn't have it any other way!

I'll also always remember how he and Monica made us feel so welcome in their home when we were passing thru on our way back to Florida. I wish I could be up there next week when his family holds the services.

But, I'll be there in spirit.

Rest in peace, my friend . . . and GO TECH!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Mom's home - new Tater pic

Florida Hospital finally released Mom about 10:30 this morning, with a brand new prescription for some fancy blood pressure medication.

We got that filled, plus a bunch of groceries at the Publix across the street.

Gotta stock-up on things since she's not allowed to drive for at least 30 days.

I'd hate that!

Anyway, got her settled back at her place and did a little cleaning-up over there before she ran me off.

All she wanted was to get some uninterrupted sleep, and I guess I was making too much noise rummaging around.

So, I came home and found this awesome picture of my nephew Tater.

Pretty cool way to end the day, no?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Mom flunked the tilt test

I'm not sure exactly what that means. But, she tells me she passed-out after 6 minutes on some tilting table.

I guess the length of time it takes you to pass-out tells the doctors something about your blood pressure.

Anyway, they didn't like 6 minutes, so are keeping her for another night at Florida Hospital.

That's the bad news.

The good news is, they say it's a problem that can be correct with the right prescription.

So, wait and see.

I'd like to say I'm getting used to that, but I'd be lying.

Hopefully, better news to report tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Mom pulled an Earnhart

I got a call first thing this morning that my mom "pulled an Earnhart."

That's NASCAR talk for "drove her car into a wall."

It happened at the SR408 exit ramp at Goldenrod Road.

For those of you familiar with the Orlando area, you'll realize how fortunate she was.

That interchange is practically within view of Florida Hospital East.

Anyway, she sounded fine on the phone, and doesn't want any visitors for the time being. They're running some tests on her, and I'm just supposed to sit and wait for the results.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Johnny Bulford - next country music star

You've got to check-out this guy's website:

Mark my words. He's going to be the next big country music star.

Certainly better than those Dixie Chicks. But, that ain't sayin' much, is it?!

Anyway, if you don't believe me, you can't argue with lyrics like these from my new favorite song "I'm Related to the Wrong People":

I got a cousin with a messed up Love life.
He don't know how to treat one woman
so he treats himself to 4 or 5.
It seems like every other day
I'm watching one of those poor girls cry.
I'm related to the wrong people,
I'm kin to the worst kin to the worst type.

Now my Aunt is not the kind
to be just one man's wife.
She'll tell you she did everything she could
but she can't tell you the truth to save her life.
For example just the other day she told me
that she was down a whole pants size.
I'm related to the wrong people
I'm kin to the worst type

I'm related to the wrong people
I'm kin to the worst type
it seems like all they ever want to do is
sit around, drink, smoke, and fight.
If they aint ticking me off
well they must be doing time.
I'm related to the wrong people
I'm kin to the worst type.

Now there's another member of the family
that just aint right
To say he aint the smartest man
well that's just being nice.
He's an S.O.B. with a G.E.D.
and a couple of D.U.I's
I'm related to the wrong people
I'm kin to the worst type.
I'm related to the wrong people
I'm kin to the worst type
it seems like all they ever want to do is
sit around, drink, smoke, and fight.
If they aint ticking me off
well they must be doing time.
I'm related to the wrong people
I'm kin to the worst type.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

New digs for the Troupes

I got an email from my high school classmate Lisa (Johnson) Troupe this morning.

She and her husband Paul are moving from Wichita Falls, Texas, to Crawfordsville, Indiana, and they found this great house in their new hometown.

It was built in 1959, and they are buying it from the original owners!

It sits on a half-acre of land. Plenty of room for their three boys to run and play.

Congrats, guys!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Long way to go for some seafood

I ran up to Barefoot Trace today. The Jenks clan is staying up there this weekend, and they asked me to bring some stuff they had left behind in Apopka.

A good excuse to go to the beach. Like I need one.

Anyway, I found them all lounging around the pool. Awful to say, but it was the first time I had gone down there. Call me crazy, but when I go to the beach, I don't care about pools. If I want to go swimming, I'll go into the ocean. But, that's just me.

Anyway, after they got cleaned-up, we decided to go grab some seafood at one of the many, many touristy beach shack type restaurants along A1A.

I was pleasantly surprised with the Sunset Grille, next to Barnacle Bill's. It wasn't fancy fare by any stretch of the imagination, but we weren't going for that. We just wanted a family-friendly, casual type place. And, we got what we wanted.

I had the scallop platter, and it was great! But, then I had to drive all the way back to Apopka. An awfully long way to go for some seafood, no?!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Lost mailbox key

Yep, that's right. I went and lost the key to my mailbox.

It's driving me crazy, and not just because I know mail is piling-up in there. What's bothering me most is the fact that there is absolutely NOTHING on TV tonight, an I KNOW there are two new DVD's waiting for me if I could just find that stupid key.

Well, I guess if that's the worst of my worries, I'm doing pretty well . . . still frustrating.

New Sectional Sofa

The sectional sofa I ordered from Z-Gallerie back in April finally arrived today.

I had to have it custom-made to fit my goofy-shaped living room.

That was an expensive undertaking, but it's worth it now. A perfect fit.

In a related story, I had to work late tonight.

So, when I got home and saw that fluffy new sofa, I just had to break it in.

Yep, that's right, I collapsed as soon as I walked in the front door, and fell asleep almost immediately. It's that comfortable!

Have you ever woken up in a puddle of your own drool?! Disgusting!

Well, at least I sprang the extra dough for Scotch Guard . . .

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Who was your mother's mother's mother's mother?

I got an email from the New England Historic Genealogical Society today, encouraging me to become a member.

I don't think it's something I want to do right now, but I did accept their invitation to browse their site. And, I found a neat online presentation by Julie Helen Otto called "Who was your mother's mother's mother's mother."

Check it out for yourself.

It kept me busy as I waited impatiently for the season premiere of Big Brother All-stars.

By the way, go to the CBS website and cast a vote for Janelle. We need at least one tall blonde to watch this season!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Happy Birthday, Linda!

Our dispatcher Linda is celebrating her birthday today.

Actually, she's not celebrating too much this year, due to a variety of personal reasons. So, she was only in the office for about 5 minutes this morning.

But, that didn't stop the rest of us from eating cake. Goooood cake!

And, it was twice as large as usual, because we also noted the 21st birthday of one of our superintendents, Derek. His big milestone was actually yesterday, but we only see him on Tuesdays, so he had to wait. (Incidentally, 21 is much younger now than it was when I was that age . . .)

I guess I should set aside a piece for Linda to enjoy when she gets back . . .

Chisholm Trail on The History Detectives

I just got done watching the lates episode of "The History Detectives" on PBS.

Sometimes, the show can be pretty lame.

But, this time, it featured an investigation of The Chisholm Trail, a subject that is near and dear to my heart.

The fellow pictured here is my great-great grandfather and namesake, who rode the trail in his youth. Actually, it's him and his whole family, photo dated 1900--about 11 years after he gave up trail riding.

The show really brought to life what he would have experienced aback in the 1880s. And, it dispelled the notion that the trail extended as far south as the Rio Grande border town of Donna. Instead, it began at the Red River in north Texas . . . right about where my family was living at Pilot Point!

Check your local listings to try to catch at least this episode.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Well, I thought I'd wind-down the weekend with a movie.

And, we all know that nothing goes better with a movie than popcorn.

So, I started a bag in the trusty microwave and went into the home theater to make a selection, when all of a sudden . . .


The microwave literally exploded!!

We're talking flames and smoke!

Fortunately, I maintained enough composure to put out the fire . . . literally . . . and have the situation under control.

But, now I have two problems: (1) no popcorn to eat with my movie, and (2) I have to go shopping for a new microwave.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Gone boatin'

A buddy of mine recently acquired a new pontoon boat, and was kind enough to invite me on a exploratory cruise on the Harris Chain of Lakes today.

We put in at Trimble Park on the southern shore of Lake Beauclair, just a few miles up 441 from our hometown of Apopka.

Beauclair is a small lake, and it wasn't long before we slipped thru the short canal on the opposite shore and into the larger Lake Dora. We saw a lot of traffic there, especially to the north along the Mount Dora waterfront. But, then we made it to the world-famous Dora Canal (formerly known as the Elfin River).

The canal was absolutely amazing, home to huge cypress trees that were over a thousand years old. We also saw countless alligators, turtles, and water fowl. It was like we had been transported back in time on certain stretches. Only the occasional canal-front "retirement villages" kept us anchored in 2006.

Anyway, the canal dumped us out into Lake Eustis. We skirted the southern shore to The Dead River, a definite misnomer. This natural canal was teeming with life, and we even saw a heron swallow a good-sized fish in a single gulp!

The river emptied into Lake Harris, the namesake of the chain. We found a public park to dock the boat and make a pit stop. Then, we went back out into the deep water off Long Island to do a little swimming before heading back the way we came.

We made it home just as the summertime Florida heat was kicking-in. Perfect time to get back into the AC! But, I'll carry these memories for a lifetime!

Addicted to corn?

I admit it. Stephen Colbert cracks me up.

By the way, his last named is pronounced "coal-bear." And, he reminds viewers of that in each of his daily reports . . . which he pronounces "re-pores."

But, I'll excuse his Frenchifying of the English language, because he peppers his re-pores with insightful guests from time to time.

Today's guest, Michael Pollan, is a good example. He has written a new book, called The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.

One of the most intriguing points Pollan made, despite Coal-bear's best efforts to throw him with his schtick, was a comparison between modern America's dependancy on corn and Ireland's pre-famine dependancy on the potato.

Now, there's a scary thought!

I've got to get a copy of this book to add to my summer reading list . . .

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Our Canadian Cousin

That title is sort of an homage to "Our American Cousin," the play that old Mary Todd dragged Father Abraham to see on a fateful April night. Can you tell I'm in the middle of a book on the Lincoln assassination?!

Anyway, the Canadian part refers to my cousin Cora Elkerton, who recently moved up to the Great White North.

She just started her first blog. Check it out and leave her some comments to encourage her to keep up with the posts at:

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sometimes you just don't want to know . . .

Ok, here' s the situation I'm in right now. Tell me what you think.

I found out something today about someone's kid that I'd want to know if it was my kid. And, that person may already know about it, but I'm not for sure. At the same time, I don't want it to come back on me if they find out that I knew before them and didn't say anything.

Is this making any sense at all?!?

It would if you knew the characters and situations involved.


Sometimes you just don't want to know some things.

What is it about me that people feel they not only CAN but MUST tell me things like this?!

I'm not going to get any sleep tonight. I can tell already.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day!

Well, all we seem to be getting out of Alberto is rain and rain and more and more rain.


I also discovered a drawback of having a corner office with a window. When it rains all day, you make like 15 times more trips to the bathroom than usual. Something about the running water, I guess . . . ok, too much sharing.

Anyway, judging by the volume and nature of the email I've been getting today, I guess all the rain has left a lot of people with not enough to do.

For instance, Uncle Bill sent me this link to a web site he's been surfing: -- I think he said he was perusing the 1859 edition of the New York City directory . . . hmmm.

And, Sarah Taylor sent this link, to put things into perspective:

Check em out, if you're housebound or trapped in the office due to the tropical weather. I did!

Monday, June 12, 2006

First hurricane of the season

Perhaps, I was a little too glib in my last post . . . Alberto has strengthened and will be a hurricane by the time it hits land tomorrow.

Projected landfall: somewhere between Sarasota and Tallahassee . . . like the entire west coast of Florida.

Time frame: 1 to 2pm tomorrow.

He's a big boy, too. We're already starting to get some of the outer bands here in metroOrlando.

But, we're far enough inland, all I'm anticipating is a gullywasher. That means "a lot of rain" to you Yankees.

Oh, yeah, and maybe a tornado or two. But, hey, when you've lived in Lubbock for as long as I did, they don't even raise an eyebrow.

Still gonna gas-up the Blazer and stop by Winn Dixie for some extra rations on the way home tonite . . . just in case. I mean, this ain't New Orleans. We take these things serious in this neck of the woods!

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Well, the '06 Hurricane Season is less than two weeks old, and we already have our first named storm: Alberto.

I'm not exactly shaking in my boots, yet. This despite local media efforts to put the fear of God into us all.

Indeed, Alberto's trek is supposed to cross the "Sunshine" State.

But, in all actuality, we can use the rain.

The land is parched, the lakes are low, and wildfires are becoming a concern. A little rain would be a good thing.

Besides, we can't have drought conditions curtail our plans for a fireworks extravaganza next month!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Find a Grave

Any genealogist worth their salt will tell you one of the most thrilling things to do in researching your ancestors is to visit a cemetery.

Of course, those who haven't been bitten by the bug think salty genealogists are just plain crazy.

Or, morbid.

But, it's fun to don your Indiana Jones hat and treat the visit as an expedition into the past.

And, the more remote or overgrown the cemetery is, the better. It's like you're re-discovering something that the rest of the world has forgotten. Kinda like that archaeologist guy on The History Channel.

Anyway, if you're like me, you'd have a pretty difficult time trying to track down the final resting places for everyone appearing in your family tree. Mostly because they weren't laid to rest within easy driving distance. Selfish of them, no?

Well, despair no more! The internet is coming to the rescue . . . at least in this instance . . . with a web site dedicated to creating virtual online versions of real bone yards around the world:

Check it out . . . if you dare! And, if you feel up to it, try contributing a few records yourself. I did.

Friday, June 09, 2006

A moustache, thoroughly modern?

Couldn't help but clip the following article off of Yahoo News. Get it? "Clip"? HA!

The thoroughly modern moustache? by Catherine Hours Thu Jun 8, 10:36 AM ET

Largely shunned since the 1980s, moustaches are enjoying something of a renaissance among young New Yorkers, following a comeback trail blazed by such hip role models as actor Nicholas Cage and the ultra-trendy fashion photographer Terry Richardson.

Jay Della Vale verges on the evangelical in his praise of the moustache's attributes which, according to the 26-year-old DJ, include intimations of virility, a relaxed style and a healthy sense of humor.

"You walk differently. You're more laid back. You dress differently," Della Vale said. "We're on a mission to bring it back."

Della Vale's devotion to facial hair prompted him to make a documentary "The Glorious Moustache Challenge" in which he persuaded 30 men to grow moustaches for a month to see what difference it made in their lives and the reactions of those around them.

"For the first month, everybody is against it, especially the women," he said. "They say, 'Please don't do that, you remind me of my father ... or a 70s porn star'."

According to Della Vale, most of his moustachioed guinea pigs weathered the early critical storm and actually became quite fond of their new accessory.

Love of "the stache" was taken for granted at the recent New York City Beard and Moustache Championships, which saw hundreds of hirsute aficionados turn out to root for their favourite styles. Iconic images of movie stars and characters who championed the moustache -- Clark Gable, Sean Connery, Inspector Clouseau, Marlon Brando in "The Godfather" -- were projected onto a giant screen to appreciative applause.

But the real adulation was reserved for a photo of the contestants' main hero, Tom Selleck, who brought stache-style to the masses in the early 1980s with the television cop series "Magnum."
But not long after those heady days, the moustache's fortunes took a dive in the popularity stakes -- it's fall from grace best summed up by the makeover forced on the "Brawny Man."
A brand icon whose lumberjack shirt and heavy moustache had promoted Brawny kitchen towels for decades, the Brawny Man was replaced in 2003 by a clean-shaven hunk who was seen as more in tune with the times.

New York-based French fashion designer Thomas Vasseur finds his moustache -- complemented with prominent sideburns -- serves as an open invitation to comment from just about everybody.

"For some of my friends, it suggests I'm looking for a new identity," said Vasseur, 32. "My mother tells me I remind her of my father who she divorced 25 years ago, my nephews tell me it scratches, and then there are also those, happily, who say that it suits me," he added.

No matter what the reaction, Vasseur insists he has no intention of taking a razor to his upper lip.

"It's a male accessory, just like highlights or make-up for women," said Vasseur. "I would feel naked without it."

As for the future, zealots like Della Vale optimistically predict an "epidemic" of moustaches spreading across the country . . .

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Abu Musab al Zarqawi (1967-2006)

Gotcha, Sucker! Rest in pieces!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Book preview

I received notice from my publisher today that they have set up a preliminary page to market my upcoming book.

I'll warn you that it includes an excerpt.

One that I wouldn't have chosen myself.

But, what can you do?

Anyway, it'll be another couple weeks before I get the final galley.

Once I check/approve/return it, it'll take another couple weeks to actually get it in print.

But, I'm thinking late summer . . .

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

D-Day Remembrances

I suppose June 6th will always be marked by remembrances of the D-Day invasion of Normandy back in 1944.

Personally, I also note the day as my parents' wedding anniversary. Sort of a bittersweet reminder nowadays, as Dad can't tell one day from the next anymore.

Also, a good friend called today, and I was reminded it was 3 years ago on this date that she lost her husband.

Now, I see on the news, all the yayhoos trying to draw some sort of profound significance from the date being 06-06-06.

Well, in case you've forgotten the lessons from CCD, you don't need to worry about the Antichrist suddenly appearing today. According to Revelations, the rapture has to happen first. And, even then, there's supposed to be a gap of a few years.

So, don't be surprised if absolutely nothing comes from all this nonsensical prattling-on.

Instead, put your time to better use by commemorating the guys who stormed Fortress Europe 62 years ago.

I don't know, fly a flag or something.

That's what I did.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Summertime reading

I told you I was going to try to catch up on my summertime reading while I was at the beach.

Well, I am now in the middle of Nathaniel Philbrick's Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War. [ISBN 0-670-03760-5.]

Probably something I could've left for late Autumn, you know while the Thanksgiving turkey was in the oven or something.

But, in reading this book, I'm reminded that our Pilgrim ancestors didn't just live in late Autumn. They had full, complete, year-round lives. And, Philbrick brings them back to life in a more readable fashion than I've ever enjoyed.

He also includes some trivial things that I've never encountered before.

For instance, did you know there were two dogs on the famous Mayflower?

Yep, it's true.

To quote the book, "a spaniel, and a giant slobbery mastiff."

Of course, you wouldn't find a cat involved in such a dangerous undertaking . . . or at least none who would allow posterity to discover the fact, trivial as it may seem today.

Anyway, back to the book!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Back to reality

Got out of bed fairly early this morning, especially considering the pitcher of Margaritas I consumed last night!

Anyway, I saw the most amazing thing as I drew the blinds: a school of dolphins dancing across the waves, just beyond the breakers!

By the way, do you call it a "school" of dolphins? I'm not sure. But, there were 5 of them jumping around out there this morning.

Heck of a way to start the day, but it was back to reality after breakfast. I had to start packing-up for the drive back home. But, that was ok. I've had enough rest and relaxation, and actually feel re-charged and ready to tackle the work week!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Rainy day at the beach

Got up early this morning, to take advantage of the few rain-free hours forecast for today. Drove up A1A to hit the package store, Winn Dixie, and Blockbuster. You know, to get all the essentials for a rainy day at the beach.

Anyway, as I was unloading my loot and watching the rain clouds roll in, I saw a notice on the public-access channel scroll by. The local genealogical society was holding their monthly meeting at a branch library that is just across the Matanzas River Bridge, less than 10 minutes away. So, I decided to brave the rain and check it out.

Wound up spending about 3 hours there. Shocked myself.

The rain was still coming down by the time I got back, so I whipped up a pitcher of Margaritas and popped-in a Demi Moore movie. It was pretty lame. Something about a writer whose son drowns, so she runs away to Scotland to finish her book in solitude and winds up having an affair with a lighthousekeeper whose actually the ghost of a maniacal killer. A little contrived, no?

No surprise, I dozed-off on the couch.

The great thing was I woke up as the credits were rolling, and looked out the window to see the rain had stopped!

Even more amazing, there was a double rainbow on the horizon. Looked like McDonald's golden arches, only multi-colored. I'd never seen anything like that before!

Well, I decided to jump on the lack of rain to go check out the beach. Unfortunately, everybody and their brother had the same idea after being cooped-up in the condo all day. So, it was unusually crowded for so late in the day.

Just came back in to refresh the Margarita and plan on watching a little tv and maybe reading a book.

It's so hard learning how to just relax . . . yeah, right!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Great Getaway

Ahhhh . . . a weekend ALONE at Barefoot Trace . . . just what the doctor ordered!

Each time I come up here, it feels like the drive gets shorter. Why is that? Anyway, I made it in 1 hour and 10 minutes. So close to home and work, and yet so far away.

I was surprised to find a bottle of wine in the refrigerator. Don't know if it was left by Johnny and Nancy last weekend or Alice and Keith the weekend before. But, I'm not going to complain. Mixed with a little Diet Sprite, it was the perfect thing to sip on after I changed my clothes and went down to inspect the beach.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to spend as much time down there as I would have liked, because some nasty storm clouds came rolling in from the west. So, I followed the example of the sandpipers and ran for cover!

As I was making my way back, though, I came across an unusual shell, not like any other one I've seen on this beach before. And, to add to the mystery, there's nothing like it in the shell reference book up in the condo, either. I think I'll go do some surfing to see if I can identify it.

Or, maybe, I'll just open the window in the master bedroom so I can listen to the combined rhythms of the pounding surf and the pouring rain . . .

I'm thinking the latter!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

June is the month for weddings

A friend of mine tells me today is her parents' 50th wedding anniversary.

That any two people can be together that long just astounds me. Props to them.

Then, reading the paper over lunch, I see a British couple has been married 78 years and are working on the 80-year record in their country.

But, here in the good old USofA, there was a couple named Lazarus Rowe and Molly Webber, who were married in 1743 and remained united in wedded bliss until 1829 - - that's 86 YEARS if you can do the math!

Only one other documented marriage has lasted that young, and it involved a pre-arranged union in India where the bride and groom were under age 5. So, that doesn't really count.

So, if my friend's parents are only at 50 years, they're just getting started, right?!?

Stupid choices, or life experiences?

As conservative as I am, I nonetheless came to the conclusion years ago that sometimes people just HAVE TO do stupid things.

That doesn't mean they're stupid people, they just make stupid choices.

And, that's okay . . . at least as long as they don't do any serious permanent damage.

I'm talking about the stupid little things that people feel compelled to do, if only to make themselves feel like they're living life.

And, no, you cynics, I'm not referring to marriage or childrearing.

I'm referring to the things like I've seen some otherwise-sane people doing lately. You tell me if I'm being hypercritcial:

1. Buying a boat . . . or, better, getting a bank loan to buy a boat.

2. Putting $50 into a chain letter in hopes of a return on the "investment."

3. Going parasailing.

4. Joining a racehorse syndicate.

5. Eating sushi.

I will probably never be accused of living life on the edge. And, I'm good with that. Something in my wiring, I guess. But, I don't need shocks to my system to remind myself I'm alive. It's the simpler things that give me the thrills I need.

Did I mention my most recent discovery?

The Dairy Queen on Curry Ford Road is now serving BLUEBERRY MILKSHAKES!!!

Now, is that a stupid choice or a life experience?!

Probably both . . . ah, well . . . slurp!