Thursday, August 31, 2006

Jim Revels, RIP

My thoughts today are with Duran and Lee Ann Jenks. They had to go up to North Carolina to bury her father, and the funeral is this afternoon. Here's the obituary:


James Allen Revels, 69, of 5848 McLeod Road, died Aug. 27, 2006, at Scotland Memorial Hospital.

The funeral will be 3 p.m. Thursday at Pleasant Grove Church in Rowland, the Revs. Kip Woods and Ronald Chavis officiating. Burial will follow in the church cemetery.

Surviving are a son, Todd Revels of Apopka, Fla.; a daughter, Lee Ann Jenks of Apopka; a brother, Calvin Revels Jr. of Dallas; two sisters, Martha Revels and Minnie Revels, both of Maxton; and three grandchildren [Joshua Redding, Jacob Hess, and Kelly Jenks].

The family will receive friends from 7 to 9 tonight at Boles Funeral Home in Rowland.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ernesto who?!

Maybe it was yesterday's anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Maybe it was erring on the side of caution.

I don't know.

But, Ernesto turned out to be the storm that wasn't.

I guess that's a good thing.

Anyway, we closed our offices today and took a bunch of "homework."

And, it all turned out for naught.

Well, sort of.

I actually got more work done here in my home office in one day than I usually get done in two days there, because I wasn't getting interrupted by phone calls and drop-ins.

I guess there's something to be said for telecommuting . . . at least one day a week.

Just a shame we have to have a storm warning bring that to light.

Oh, well.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Thanks, Kristen & John!

We had a great book-signing party at the Burdens' home last night.

Looked to me like a good time was had by all.

You can't go wrong with a sheet cake from Publix, after all. (They had it iced in red and black, Texas Tech colors, gotta love that!)

And, Kristen and John are such gracious hosts.

Hopefully, we'll get some photos posted here in the near future.

Keep watching this space!

For those of you who were unable to attend:
1. Shame on you!
2. I handed out a chart showing how all the characters in the book were related. If you'd like a copy, I can email it to you.
3. I asked everyone who bought a book to please go to the Barnes and Noble web site and submit a review when you get done reading it.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hurricane updates

Hey, for you out-of-towners who read this blog (and I know you're out there!) I'm offering this link to the Orlando Sentinel's hurricane blog:

They do a pretty good job of updating the goings-on in these parts.

Something tells me I'm going to be too busy dodging Ernesto to do many updates myself!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sometimes it doesn't pay to go to sleep

What happened overnight?!

I wake up this morning to find the Iranians are launching missiles from submarines, and Hurricane Ernesto is changing direction.

Looks like Florida's got a big bull's eye on it.

Guess I better run up to the WalMart and stock-up on the essentials.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Get out your magnifying glasses!

Thanks go out to my cousin Lois Lee, who recently finished reading my new book.

Being a former schoolteacher, she couldn't help but spot a few typos that made it past my feeble eyes:

Page 102 - Paragraph 5 - Line 1
Delete the word "HE" between "When" and "the old Oxford Furnace."

Page 104 - Paragraph 2 - Line 3
Should read, "as much misinformation AS he could," not HAS!

Page 124 - Paragraph 2 - Line 3
Should read, "his elegant dining ROOM," not GROOM!

Page 135, Paragraph 2, Line 4
Should read, "FEELING more miserable," not FILLING!

I would like to challenge everyone else out there to find any other revisions that need to be made before the 2nd edition is printed!

Seriously . . . take your best shot!

Although, let me assure you, as I did Lois, that the word "ASEA" on page 143 is in the dictionary. It is a contraction of "AT SEA." While no longer common, it was popularly used in both spoken and written communication of the 1850s and 1860s. This IS a book about the Civil War, after all . . . plus, the contraction saved me a few keystrokes and the printer a little ink!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Final primary endorsement

Finally, the Orlando Sentinel spared some of their precious ink to inform local voters leading up to the 9/5 primaries.

So, I can now give my pick for the last remaining race on my sample ballot:

County Judge, Group 17: Jim Sears.
He got the paper's endorsement, which usually goes in my "negatives" column. But, the editorial board actually seemed to make some sense with their reasons for choosing him over rival Maureen Bell. He's got a lot more experience.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Good mail

After yesterday's rant against junk mail, I am compelled to assure everyone out there that I do get good mail from time to time.

For instance, today I received two copies of my recent book with requests for autographs.

Pretty cool, huh?

One's for a guy in Arrow Rock, Missouri, whom I've never met. And, the other is for a couple up in Delaware who are celebrating their 3rd anniversary. (Apparently, the husband is a history buff, and the wife thought he'd enjoy the book.)

I guess this kinda makes up for all the political ads and credit card offers . . .

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Junk mail

Don't you just hate it?!

I picked up my mail after work this afternoon, and found my box was jam-packed. I have to admit, I got a little excited, because it didn't look like there were any bills in there.

But, then I started weeding thru it, and it was nothing but junk:

* Two credit card applications
* A bunch of coupons
* Three sales flyers for stuff I don't need
* Two reminders from Disney that my annual pass is about to expire, guess they're desperate
* Twelve political ads

The last item on the list was the most annoying. I mean, haven't these people been reading my blog?! I've already made up my mind on how I'm voting in the upcoming primary.

Well, except for that one judgeship race. And, don't you know that was the one race for which I received NO unwanted ad?!?!

Still don't know why the homeowners' association won't spring for a trash can to be installed by our community mailboxes. It would have gotten a lot of use today!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Two judge endorsements

Hey, I was able to dig up some information over the last 24 hours that allows me to call two more races on the 9/5 primary ballot:

9th Judicial Circuit Judge, Group 43: David Mallen
I will overlook Mallen's endorsement by the Orlando Sentinel's editorial board given the fact that his opponent Bob LeBlanc only recently became a citizen of the United States and failed to register to vote until he decided to throw his hat in the ring this year.

Orange County Judge, Group 18: Esther M. Whitehead
Her opponent Steve Jewett received the Sentinel's endorsement, which is pretty damning. Plus, he's a former public defender, while Ms. Whitehead works for state prosecutor Lawson Lamar. She has the support of Sheriff Kevin Bearry, whom I respect quite a bit. And, finally, she's married to Circuit Judge Reginald Whitehead, whom I found to be both fair and amiable during my last stint in a jury box. You can judge a lot about a person by the people they surround themselves with. She's got Lawson, Kevin, and Reggie. He's got the local print media. No brainer, right?!

Still can't find anything about Maureen Bell or Jim Sears who are running for County Judge group 17 . . . and, there's no space labeled "none of the above," either . . .

Monday, August 21, 2006

Some more primary endorsements

I still haven't sorted out all the names on my primary election ballot for 9/5, but can now call the following races:

9th Judicial Circuit, Group 5: Mary Ann Etzler
She has 10 and 13 years of added maturity over her respective opponents, an attractive quality in a judge. She is also a former law enforcement officer, whereas Jenifer Davis is a public defender and John Gray is a trial lawyer. Yuk, huh?!

9th Judicial Circuit, Group 42: John Pare
No-brainer. His opponent is Tim Shea, former head of the local Democratic Party. Double Yuk!

Orange County Mayor: Richard Crotty
He has the experience and the connections to get things done for the community, despite the local newspaper's best efforts to smear him for questionable (?!) real estate speculation. Sally Baptiste just does not have the gravitas to lead the community.

Orange County Commission, District 2: Fred Brummer
He is currently my state representative, and I think he's done more than a decent job for us up in Tallahassee. Two of his three opponents are from New York City, a definite strike against each of them. The third guy, Gary Metzger, did not respond to the local paper's request for info. So, I don't know anything about him.

Still trying to figure out Group 43 on the 9th Judicial Circuit, and county judge groups 17 & 18.

Really scraping the bottom of the barrel now! Hopefully, I'll get it all sorted out by 9/5!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Another date to mark on your calendars

I'm pleased to announce that I have been invited by Ruth Ann Wood of the Greater Orlando Civil War Roundtable to speak about my book at their regular meeting on 9/28.

The roundtable meets at the Marks Street Center in downtown Orlando. My presentation will begin about 7:40pm, and will be followed by a question and answer session.

Come one and come all!

Rediscovering the Saturday evening bath

Ok, before you accuse me of substandard cleanliness, pleae rest assured that I do shower at least once a day.

But, take a bath?!

Well, I haven't done that in years. Literally. Years!

In the hectic pace of the modern world, who has time for a bath anymore?!

I mean, I don't know about you, but I run on a pretty tight schedule. And, a good bath is a fairly time-consuming process.

But, today, I was suffering from some back muscle pain. And, since it was a lazy Saturday anyway, I thought, "What the heck, let's give a bath a try."

I figured floating in the tub might relieve some of the pressure on my poor spine.

And, I was right.

This bath stuff is awesome.

The pain subsided, and I am so relaxed now that I may just slip off to bed. Cleanliness is just a pleasant side effect.

I think I'm going to have to work this into my weekend routine . . .

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Noble Cowboy

Ok, I'm confused.

When did being a cowboy gain a negative connotation?

I ask this, because I read in today's news that the British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has called President Bush a cowboy . . . intending the label to be disparaging.

I may have mentioned this, but now that I have one book in print that I am already working on a sequel.

The new book is primarily set along The Chisholm Trail, and has a lot of cowboy characters. And, in doing my research on the American cowboy, I have found that he is by-and-large a noble figure in our folklore.

So, go ahead, Mr. Prescott. You're not insulting any American that you label a "cowboy." But, you and your countrymen really do need to stop calling us all "Yanks!"

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Primary endorsements

If you're like me, you are currently being inundated with campaign literature in advance of the 9/5 Florida primaries.

And, if you're like me, you're probably more than a little bit confused by the sample ballot that arrived in the mail this week.

I mean, I recognize most of the names at the top of the ballot, but who are all these judicial candidates? And, why isn't there some place on the web that you can learn about these people? Or, am I just missing something?!

Anyway, I do know how I'm voting for the federal and state races, and will give my endorsements here:

Leroy Collins, Jr. He's the son of a former governor, and the descendant of another (Richard Keith Call, for those interested in Florida history). He's got the deepest roots in the sunshine state when you compare him to the other candidates, and that's important to me. Plus, Katherine Harris' campaign has been imploding. I doubt either Collins or Harris will be able to unseat Bill Nelson in the general, but at least Florida Republicans can nominate a decorated war veteran with experience in the utilities and real estate fields.

US CONGRESS (District 8)
Ric Keller. I'm gritting my teeth on this one. Rival Elizabeth Doran scores points with me when she criticizes the congressman for his less than stellar family values. But, realistically, she has no chance to beat him, and I hope local Republicans will rally to give him a decisive win going into the general. We can't afford to allow this seat to fall into Democratic hands.

Tom Gallagher. Again, I'm gritting my teeth. It still looks like Charlie Crist is going to walk away with the nomination. But, he's had some serious stumbles lately. I do not like the ignorance of the FCAT that he displayed last week, especially given the fact that he is a former state education commissioner. I also don't like his stances on social issues. Of the remaining 3 candidates, only Gallagher stands a chance of defeating the Democratic candidate in November. But, he's only the lesser of two evils. Why can't this state produce some decent candidates?!?

Randy Johnson. I know Gov. Bush has thrown his support behind Tom Lee. But, I don't care. Johnson is a local guy. He lives down in Celebration, and he's been promoting local sporting events for quite some time.

More endorsements to follow after I figure out who the rest of the candidates are!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ahoy! And, avast ye, landlubbers!

Just got this cool picture from Sarah Taylor.

She spent the weekend up in Virginia with her son Steven on the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

That's her near the center of the picture, with her red hair flappin' in the breeze . . . as usual!!

Anyway, the families of Roosevelt sailors were treated to a cruise on Saturday.

Not exactly Royal Caribbean, mind you. But, it looks like they still managed to have a pretty good time!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mark your calendars

I have been invited to speak before the Central Florida Genealogical Society on November 2nd at 7:30pm.

In fact, they've already posted a notice online at:

This will be just a few days before the Veterans Day holiday, and they wanted someone to speak about researching military records, etc.

I guess their program chair, Anne Magee Tanner, thought I must've learned something on the subject while I was putting together my recent book.

Another shameless plug, I know.

I have some other groups who've asked me to speak, but we're still firming-up dates. Keep watching this space!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Just do it!

I know, I know. Stupid Nike slogan.

But, sometimes, we need to be reminded not to listen to the critics.

Don't let anybody tell you it can't be done, that you're not qualified, etc., etc.

All this because I just got my copy of Archaeology magazine, and there was a great article about a young guy named Stuart Wilson.

Stu was just a simple toll collector in Monmouthshire, Wales.

But, he had a dream.

It all began when a local farmer began unearthing a bunch of medieval pottery.

Wilson had a hunch the artifacts were evidence of a lost medieval city called Trellech.

The so-called "experts" poo-poo'ed this notion, though. They called him an over-eager amateur, and tried to assure him that they had found evidence elsewhere.

But, he would not be dissuaded.

In fact, he was so sure that he had discovered the lost city of Trellech, that he bought as much of the land as he could with the $59,000 he was able to scrape together. (Remember, he was doing this on a toll-taker's wages!)

Well, Stuart's hunch is now yielding some tremendous finds.

More importantly, the "professionals" have some serious egg on their faces. I love when that happens.

Thanks for the reminder, Stu.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Charley Retrospective

Remember where you were two years ago today?

I do.

Like millions of other Central Floridiots, I was "hunkering-down," getting ready for the whammy served-up by Hurricane Charley.

This is a picture of what it looked like when the outer bands made their way to Apopka.

It wasn't long after this that I regained my senses and stayed indoors.

Fortunately, the brunt of the storm stayed to the south and east of my house.

All I lost was one tree branch.

But, my parents' house lost its roof and a huge oak tree.

Oh, yeah, and they were without electricity for NINE DAYS!

That's right. That means NO AIR CONDITIONING!!

I think that was worse than the storm itself.

Not good times. But, maybe, fodder for a new book?!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Rebounding in Charlotte County?

Let's hope so.

I've been holding on to a piece of property for waaaayyy too long, now.

Just waiting for the real estate market to turn around.

Anyway, I got some good news today in the form of an article by Kevin Dale of the Herald Tribune.

He reports Charlotte County commissioners have unanimously approved a rezoning request by Lennar Corp.

This will allow the Miami-based home builder to devlop a 457-unit along the Butterford Waterway near South Gulf Cove, where my land is located.

Come on, you snowbirds! Check out the real estate down here!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Write your own review!

Ok, the new book has been in print long enough for somebody to have finished reading it.

Be the first to write a review at:

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Little visitor

Dan's granddaughter paid a visit to our office today.

Unfortunately, I was at a meeting across town, and so was Dan.

But, the girls thought quick, and snapped this picture.

Doesn't Cathy look maternal?!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Check the local warrants!

Woke up this morning to learn of the 37th homicide in Orlando this year.

Another reason I'm glad I moved to the hinterland several years ago.

But, I still have to work in the city.

A bit nerve-wracking given current circumstances.

Anyway, the Chief of Police was on the radio this morning. Trying to calm the general public, I suppose.

The most interesting piece of information he gave, though, was about this website:

It will allow you to search outstanding warrants with local law enforcement agencies.

Check it out.

If you spot a name you recognize and provide the authorities with information that leads to a felony arrest, Crime Line will reward you with a big fat check for one thousand dollars!

What was that I said yesterday about not all rewards being financial? Hmmm . . .

Book spawns cousin connections

OK, if you haven't read any of my posts over the last week and a half or so, you may not realize that I have a new book in print!

I'm just amazed at how much awareness it has already garnered.

I really am having a field day with all the phone calls and emails.

The most exciting are the ones that come from long-lost cousins, some of whom I was not even aware existed . . . so, can they really be considered "lost?"

Anyway, I'm enjoying it. Not all rewards are of the financial variety, in case you haven't figured that out, yet!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Five for Fighting: Two Lights


Just got done listening to the new Five for Fighting cd, "Two Lights."

Powerful stuff.

I first became aware of FFF right after 9/11. That's when their first big hit was on the charts, "Superman (It's Not Easy)."

Anyway, they followed-up on that hit in 2004 with another one of my favorite songs, "100 Years."

But, it's gonna be hard for me to pick a favorite from this cd.

They're all good.

Most folks have heard one called "The Riddle." It's been on the airwaves for the last couple of weeks already. But, don't ignore the rest of the tracks. "The World" is awesome, and so are the others.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

An Arlington Remembrance

In all of the hub-bub surrounding my new book, which deals with my father's side of the family, I cannot let today pass without remembering my mother's father.

He died 39 years ago today, up at Walter Reed Military Hospital in Washington, DC, and is buried nearby at Arlington National Cemetery.

His marker is near the McClellan Arch, pictured here.

I visited the site quite a few times while living up in the DC area. A little warm this time of year, but really stunning in Spring. If you get a chance to visit, try to get off the beaten path a bit, even if you don't find my grandfather's tombstone. Try to stray away from sites liike the tombs of the unknowns, the Kennedy graves, etc., and get a real, personal feeling for the place. It's pretty awe-inspiring.

RIP, Grandpa G!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Weekend Western Writing

Abbreviation "WWW"?

But, I wasn't just doing research on the web. I've been doing a lot of reading, too.

Finally, this evening, I decided I needed something of a break, and immersed myself in some Western movies.

The best was "Broken Trail," starring Thomas Haden Church and Robert Duvall. It's all about an uncle/nephew team who drive a bunch of horses from Oregon to Wyoming and wind up saving a wagonload of Chinese girls from a lovely lady known as "Big Rump," and a desperate prostitute from a loathesome jug-eared killer.

Pretty good flick, although I do have to admit it's hard for me to take Church seriously. Every time I see him, I am reminded of the goofy mechanic he used to play on the sitcom Wings.

Anyway, all of the surfing, reading, and movie-watching was done in an effort to finish and polish my new book. It picks-up where Like the Cats of Kilkenny left off, following the exploits of Willie Morgan along the Chisholm Trail.

In the process, I found this cool website all about the history of the American circus. (The prologue of the new book features a three-ring show.)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Article in The Apopka Chief

I've been subscribing to The Apopka Chief ever since I moved up here.

It's a great local newspaper. My only regret is that it only comes once a week.

Anyway, one of my great joys on Friday evenings, especially after a long, hard work week, is to retire to my study after dinner and read The Chief to see what is going on in and around town.

Well, I'm pleased to say that this week's edition includes a very nice article by Kerri Smayda about my new book.

It's not the first time I've seen my name in print, but have to admit it's the first time my photo has ever been published in a newspaper . . . at least as far as my feeble mind can recall!

I also would like to mention another Apopka author whose new book is mentioned in today's edition of the paper.

Mac McGuffin is the former publisher of The Chief, and recently released a suspense novel entitled Florida Rose.

According to what I read, "There is something for everyone as a love interest weaves its way through the book with murder plots and shady character on almost every page. Corruption is like salt adding to the flavor of small town politics."

Sounds intriguing, no?

If you'd like to order a copy of McGuffin's book, check out this page:

Thursday, August 03, 2006


James Lorenzo Morgan (1830-1873), pictured to the left, is a central figure in my new book.

I have been asked how he ended up with such an unusual middle-name.

Well, the simple answer is that he was named for a Yankee preacher from Connecticut by the name of Lorenzo Dow.

Of course, simple answers like that always lead to more questions.

I'll spare you all the details here. But, if you want to find out why so many Southern boys got stuck with the name Lorenzo in the 1800s, I think David J. Webb explains it best on this web page:

Different varieties of storms

First variety: Tropical.

Looks like we've got a new hurricane brewing in the Caribbean.


What kinda name is that for a storm?

Well, Charley didn't exactly sound too intimidating, either. But, everybody remembers how horrible he was.

Fortunately, I still have about 75% of the stuff I stocked-up on for Alberto earlier this season.

Second variety: Media.

Oh, ok, maybe it's not a full-blown storm around here, yet.

But, some press releases about my new book have generated some unexpected phone calls and emails from some unexpected places.

Most exciting for me was the one I got from the Texas Techsan, the magazine for alumi of Texas Tech University. They're planning on doing a write-up in their fall edition.

Also, heard from local newspapers and one from Charleston, South Carolina. All are going to run blurbs of varying lengths, probably this weekend.

Most exciting, though, are the invitations I've received to speak at civic and fraternal organizations, bookstores, libraries, genealogy & history societies, etc.

It's going to be a challenge to juggle this stuff and keep it all in perspective . . . kinda like those storms of the tropical variety.

Hmmm . . .

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

White Rabbit

Just notified that my new book is now available thru Barnes & Noble.

For those of you who are members of their rewards club, note the discounts may make buying thru them cheaper than buying thru the publisher.

And, even if you're not a member, they still offer free shipping on any order of $25 or more.

Also, note at the bottom of the item description link above that there is a section for people to add their book reviews.

So, after you've had a chance to get a copy and read it, I'd appreciate the feedback!