Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pre-dating the Salem nonsense

In keeping with yesterday's theme of 17th Century colonial ancestors, I will reveal the title of another book in the current rotation:

Jamestown: The Buried Truth, by William M. Kelso. [ISBN 978-0-8139-2563-9]

Kelso is the archaeologist who heads The Jamestown Rediscovery Project.

I picked his book for my personal reading list in anticipation of a trip up to Virginia and DC this Spring to mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown.

And, I have really enjoyed it so far, particularly the sections of mtDNA comparisons and the facial reconstructions. (Those images are eerily intriguing.)

Check it out!

Genealogical footnotes: My Jamestown ancestors included (at least) Thomas Bayley (1596-1620), John Brown, Sr. (? - 1632), William Hancock (1580-1622), Thomas Harris (1586-1649), Audrey Hoare (1604 - ?), Peter Jones, Sr. (1599-1662), William Powell (1585 - ?), and Cecily Reynolds (1594-1662).

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In the Devil's Snare

Those of you who know me well, know that I am reading at least 4 books at any given point.

Well, the latest addition to the reading rotation is In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, by Mary Beth Norton. [ISBN 0-375-40709-x]

As the title suggests, this book primarily focuses on the witchcraft nonsense. But, what has intrigued me are three references to my great-great-uncle Thomas Gardner in the discussion of King Philip's War (1675-6), which conflict Norton gives at least some credit for the collective paranoia:

Page 87:
Thomas Gardner ran a trading post at Pemaquid in 1675. He wrote Governor John Leverett of Massachusetts that Indian hostilities were the result of his government's confiscation of firearms, which the tribes used for hunting food. He warned the governor that the Wabanaki tribe would likely turn to the French for aid.

Page 88:
After the hostile Indians assaulted Falmouth in 1676, Thomas Gardner and the residents of Pemaquid fled to Monhegan Island. He wrote to authorities in Boston, requesting a ship to carry them away to safety.

Page 89:
Thomas Gardner gave three causes for Wabanaki hostility: (1) the influence of the Southern Algonquians, (2) a lack of gunpowder, and (3) English raids in Acadia led by William Waldron.

Pretty cool, huh?

Ok, anyway, back to the reading. I'll let the blogosphere know if I find any other relatives mentioned later in Norton's narrative.

Genealogical footnotes: Thomas (1618-1689) was the eldest son of Thomas Gardner, Sr. (1591-1674) of Salem, Massachusetts. I descend from a younger son, Richard Gardner (1626-1688) of Nantucket Island. Another son, Capt. Joseph Gardner (1629-1675) was killed while fighting the Narraganset in The Great Swamp Fight, another theater of King Philip's War.

No me gusta Nacho Libre

I just got done watching Jack Black's recent comedy "Nacho Libre" on DVD.

Don't waste your time.

I mean, I know Tuesday nights are pretty bad for tv watching. But, even the Home Shopping Network would have been a better way to spend the last two hours.

A shame really, because I have always enjoyed Jack Black in the past. "Saving Silverman" is a classic, and "School of Rock" was awesome.

But, this was utter tripe.

I think he was trying to be the next Napoleon Dynamite.

If so, he failed. Miserably.

Still, it's not going to stop me from checking out "Tenacious D" and that other new Christmas movie he's got in the theaters now.

Will probably wait til they both come out on DVD, though.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Cyber Monday

OK, I can honestly admit it here, but I have never heard of "Cyber Monday" until this year.

How long has this been going on? Is this the first year, or am I just completely out of the loop?!

I'd almost swear that it's a brand-new creation of the mass media, but I hate buying-in to conspiracy theories.

Anyway, if you must participate in this online buying frenzy, I will take the opportunity to post a shameless plug for my recent book. You can find a variety of online outlets here:

And, if you can catch me before Christmas, I'll be glad to autograph a copy for gift presentation purposes.

Just a thought.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Back to reality

Well, I made it back home . . . finally . . . 2 whining cats and 2 and a half hours after leaving the condo.

I didn't anticipate all the traffic on I-95.

Stupid me.

Everyone else and their brother decided to head back to Orlando at the same time, so I literally sat at the Exit 298 offramp for 35 minutes.

Anyway, I made it thru by cranking the radio and trying to re-count all the blessings I had enumerated over the last four days.

A little traffic ain't gonna dampen my spirits.

Think I'll go pull out the Christmas tree now.

Back to reality.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A win is a win, but sometimes it's not enough

I was really hoping Urban and the boys in blue and orange would head up to Tallahassee this year and really hand Coach Cornpone his hat.

We needed mucho style points to keep hopes of a 10th anniversary national championship alive.

But, that didn't happen.

The Gators eked out a 21-14 victory.

And, that's great.

Anytime we beat the Noles is great.

But, it was not an impressive performance against an unranked opponent.

You read it here first, folks.

Unless something apocalyptic happens in the next 40-or-so days, this just ain't our year.

I hate it, but that's the way it is.

Oh, and I can't let this posting draw to a close without pointing-out unranked South Carolina's victory over instate rival Clemson. So, both Bowden head coaches lost this afternoon. And, with Larry Coker getting the axe down in Miami, could it be that The Evil Genius may be coming back to The Sunshine State to coach the 'Canes next year?!?

I'm not making THAT call . . . yet!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Mom's birthday

It was kinda rough, following-up on a big Thanksgiving meal with a birthday celebration.

But, someone had to do it.

So, after pigging out on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sundry vegetables, pumpkin and minced meat pies, I started off "Black Friday" with a breakfast of birthday cake.

Is that decadent, or what?!

The diet starts on Monday.

In the mean time, I trotted the old girl out to see how bad the retail environment would be over here on the coast.

Boy, were we shocked.

Living in metro-Orlando, we've come to expect a lack of convenient parking, a surplus of rude behavior, and grueling lines.

That's why I generally stay home on this most horrible day of the year for folks like me who hate shopping on any day of the year.

But, even I was pleasantly surprised by what we found here at the coast.

Best of all, we were done and back to the condo by 2pm.

Can't beat that with a stick, and the birthday girl was happy. So, all in all a good day.

Time to do some beach-combing before the sun goes down . . . til later!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving Thanks and Thoughts

Well, it's Turkey Day, again.

It's a shame that's the central image most of us have of the Thanksgiving holiday, but such is modern America.

I am taking some time today to actually give thanks for a lot of great things that have happened in my personal life over the past year, in addition to giving some thought to the trials and tribulations of our pilgrim forebears.

(For more details on the pilgrims, see my rather lengthy post from last year. For more details on the other great stuff, you'll have to read the other 364 entries since last Thanksgiving.)

At the top of the "thankful" list today is that Fidelma has recovered enough to travel, so it's off to the beach we go!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the blogosphere!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A cold day in . . . Florida!

Hey, we actually got some snow last night in Apopka!!

Granted, it was mixed with rain and didn't stick to the ground or anything.

But, snow is still snow, right?!

The last time I remember seeing any of the white stuff in these parts was back during the "winter from hell": 1989.

That was the year my family made CNN coverage, because my dad insisted upon defying the border closures on I-95 leading into Jacksonville.

Somehow, he slipped a 1979 Chevy van across from Georgia using backroads obscured by the already fallen snow.

Then we got back to the interstate, and all the "fun" began. Imagine slipping and sliding past wrecked cars, and careening down access ramps.

Fortunately, we all made it thru without a scratch. (In fact, my sister slept thru the entire ordeal.)

Needless to say, I do not have many fond memories of snow as a result of this experience. So, I was pleased by the weakness of last night's flurries.

Now, I've had enough for another 17 years or so!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Alyssa montage

Auntie TT just sent this link to a pretty cool montage she assembled of her daughter Alyssa:

Check it out!

Monday, November 20, 2006

I expect such from Buddy, but what happened to Rich?!

I read in today's Orlando Sentinel that city mayor Buddy Dyer and county mayor Rich Crotty have signed a joint letter "welcoming" a Nemours Clinic for Children in Lake Nona.

But, they inserted what is being termed a "poison pill" in the verbage.

Basically, they don't want Nemours duplicating any of the services currently being provided downtown at ORMC's Arnold Palmer Hospital.

Maybe, I've been too indoctrinated in the principals of free market capitalism here, but doesn't this smack of an anti-trust law violation?!

I expect such socialist crap and nonsense from Dumbocrat Dyer. But, what happend to Rich Crotty?!

I mean, I actually voted for this guy because I assumed his affiliation with the Republican Party meant something.

Deeply disappointing.

What neither of these "public servants" seem to understand is that competition drives down (or at least restrains) costs for consumers.

And, if there's one area where costs NEED to be held down it's in the field of medical services.


If ORMC's so great, let them go toe-to-toe with Nemours! Keep the politics out of it, and let the market decide!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Double the blankets!

Well, autumn is definitely here in force!

I woke up to a chill in the wee morning hours, and had to add an extra blanket to the bed. (You knew a cheapskate like me wasn't going to crank the thermostat, right?!)

Really, though, I find chilly mornings like this really invigorating, and popped out of bed earlier than usual for a Sunday, eager to get the day started.

The only real stress was battling the sick cat over taking her antibiotics. Do you know how fun it is to cram a pill down the throat of an unwilling feline who hasn't been de-clawed?!

But, that was my biggest problem today, so I count myself very fortunate indeed.

Made myself a REAL bowl of cinnamon oatmeal (not the instant kind) and a pot of hot English breakfast tea.

After loafing in front of the tv (ain't football great this time of year?!), I started a big pot of stew.

I almost wish we could have temperatures like this all year round. That way, I could always double my blankets, eat oatmeal, drink hot tea, and make stews.

But, I guess I should be careful what I wish for, because I'd end up laying around all day getting fat . . . er . . . fatter?!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Homecoming for our little patient

Many thanks go out to Dr. Lindman and her staff at the Sheeler Road Animal Hospital in Apopka, for Fidelma's successful surgery yesterday.

The doctor called me last night to report that kitty had wolfed-down an entire bowl of cat food and was drinking water, way earlier than expected. So, she said I could pick her up and bring her home this morning.

Her technical diagnosis was "Pyometra," which is a uterine infection fairly common among older cats . . . especially those who have never produced a litter of kittens. The only viable cure is to spay the animal, because there is a high risk of the uterus rupturing . . . thus allowing all the infectious gunk inside to spread throughout the cat's body.

Gross, huh?

Fortunately, Fidelma is quite a trooper.

I cancelled a trip down to see my dad in Pembroke Pines so I could stay home and keep an eye on her. I set her up with a food bowl, water, litter box, etc., up in the master bath so she wouldn't have to run up and down the stairs . . . or should I say limp. But, she was having none of that!

As soon as I opened her carrier, the little bugger sprang out and ran right up the stairs to her favorite spot at the foot of my bed!

Anyway, I am really pleased at how quickly she has rebounded from this experience, and continue to keep an eye on her.

But, I am hopefully optimistic that she will be well enough by Turkey Day, so I can keep my plans to run up to the beach for a few days. By the looks of things, I should get my wish.

And, that's another thing to be thankful for today!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fidelma has surgery

Yes, her name is Fidelma. It's an Irish name, means "true friend."

Anyway, I got her to the vet first thing this morning, and was told she had an infected uterus.

Dr. Lindman is performing the surgery this morning, and I'm really sweating the outcome given Fidelma's age.

I'm worried about my cat

OK, I've got two Siamese cats. Had 'em for 9 years now. They're sisters, from the same litter.

Go ahead and laugh, if you must. But, it's true: I have a set of Siamese twins running around my house.

Well, at least I did until today.

One of them is having a problem getting up and down the stairs, and I'm worried about her.

I mean, I know she's not a kitten any more. But, her sister isn't having any trouble.

And, tonight, I had to practically force her to drink some water. She wouldn't touch her food.

So, that's why I'm worried.

Taking her to the vet first thing tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Emmitt Smith, dancing star

Ok, I just don't get this whole "Dancing with the Stars" thing.

I mean, I though "American Idol" was the most inane drivel on broadcast television.

But, somehow, half of my office has fallen under the spell of this stupid concept.

I am told that former Gator Great and Dallas Cryboy star Emmitt Smith is poised to win this season.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Orlando is still Gator Country!

And, I'm not just talking about that awesome football team from Gainesville.

Just when I thought urban sprawl had conquered Mother Nature, at least in the downtown area, I get the news that a real life gator stunned parkgoers today . . . much like the nation will be stunned when the Gators (note capital "G") win the national championship.

According to Leo Falcon, who manages Lake Eola Park for the City of Orlando, there hasn't been a gator (note little "g") in the park in its 100 year history. At least, none that were reported!

Anyway, Leo called his buddy Darrin Riley with the state's Fish & Wildlife Management office. And, between the two of them, they managed to coax the offending reptile out of the lake.

Really, it was much ado about nothing. The little bugger was only 3-feet long.

And, you ASPCA types will be pleased to note that Leo and Darrin released their captive in the nearby St. Johns River.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Civil War newspapers from Richmond, Virginia

Suzanne Levy up in Fairfax County, Virginia, forwarded me this link last week, and I passed it around to some folks on my email list that I thought would find it interesting:

Thought I'd post it here, too, so the blogosphere could take advantage of this really cool history resource.

It allows you to search contemporary news accounts from the Confederate capitol, unfiltered by time and revisionist historians, which is great. You can draw your own conclusions. What a concept!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Democrats breeding with evil aliens?!

OK, since there was no NFL action today that was of any particular interest to me, the Bucs being scheduled to lose on Monday Night Football, I decided to waste 2 hours of my life on a horrible old science fiction "thriller" called "SPECIES."

It was so painful to watch, that I almost gave in to the urge to engage in self-destructive behavior. Fortunately, my soup spoon is not very sharp.

The greatest disappointment was that it promised to be a fairly good flick, with stars like Ben Kingsley and Forest Whitaker.

But, there were only two redeeming features of this sad piece of celluloid:

1. The opportunity to watch Natasha Henstridge cavort about in her scanties.

2. The hillarious choice of the name John F. Kerry for one of the dudes the she-alien selected for a breeding partner. (Note, he proved inadequate, and she ended up drowning his sorry butt in a hot tub.) Makes you think, doesn't it? I mean, wasn't Teresa Heinz an alien before she married the REAL John F. Kerry . . . hmmm . . .

Oh, wait a minute, I see the Bears are playing the Giants in the late game . . . finally some quality programming!

Now, do we like Chicago because former Gator great Rex Grossman is their quarterback, or New York because Tiki Barber is on Fox and Friends?!?

Defeating the Evil Genius

How sweet it is.

I have loved Steve Spurrier's visor-throwing sideline antics for nearly two decades.

The only thing that could make that more fun is watching his successor be the cause of the Old Ball Coach's frustrations.

Way to go, Urban!

Seriously, though, we only barely managed to scrape past South Carolina this afternoon.

We will earn ZERO style points for this one, and I doubt we'll move up in the BCS poll.

But, a win is a win, and we'll take it.

#1 & #2 take each other on next weekend, so one of them will fall. That's good for us. So, I'm still keeping the faith . . . could the Sultan of Spread-offense lead us to . . . dare I even whisper it?! . . .a second national championship?!? . . .would be one heck of a 10-year anniversary gift to the Gator Nation!

Oh, yeah, and thanks go out to the doddering old coach up in Tallahassee, who was handed his first home field shut-out today. 30-0 at the hands of WAKE FOREST?!? Do those numbers spell a long-overdue retirement for this dinosaur? Let's hope NOT, because it's good to watch the Noles lose . . . especially when the Gators are chomping up the gridiron turf!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Putting the Christ back in Christmas

Well, it looks like super retailer WalMart is finally waking-up to the fact that their target demographic says things like "Merry Christmas," and not "Happy Holidays."

Oh, and I apologize for saying TARGET.

But, really, WalMart's marketing strategies have been pretty questionable until just recently.

They really scored points a few weeks back when they annonced their $4 prescriptions.

Now, they're going to put the Christ back in Christmas.

And, I hear they're actually going to be offering a LOT of bargains on clothing and toys thru the end of the year.

All of these moves will be great motivators for the typical WalMart consumer to frequent their stores.

Certainly more motivating than their recent attempts to secularize our high holidays.

And, I won't even attempt to offer a cogent criticism of their 2006 clothing lines.

I will say this, though: Blue jeans and t-shirts.

That plus Christmas, they're what real WalMart shoppers love!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The first step is admitting you have a problem . . .

Don't you just love celebrity mugshots?

This one of Billy Nelson may not exactly qualify, because he's not a celebrity in his own right.

But, he is the son and namesake of the Sunshine State's recently-reelected U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.

It seems Junior went a little overboard celebrating Daddy's "surprise" victory over Katherine Harris on Tuesday night, got arrested for disorderly conduct, battery on a law enforcement officer, and resisting arrest.

All this went down just outside the Embassy Suites in downtown Orlando.

I've seen worse mugshots, to be sure. Remember Jeb Bush's daughter a couple of years ago?!

But, the toughest thing about this picture for me was believing this miscreant is only 30 years old! I guess alcohol abuse and the pressures of being a senator's son will age a guy . . .

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Now, what?!

I think every neighborhood has that crazy dog that chases cars.

He runs up and down the street, barking his fool head off, trying to catch any moving vehicle the way a normal dog chases after squirrels and rabbits.

But, have you ever noticed what that crazy dog does when a driver hits the brakes and slows down enough for him to actually catch-up to the car?

He stops and stares at the tires with a stupid look on his face, as if he's saying "Now, what do I do?"

Well, that's what I was thinking of when I saw the Dumbocrats seized the majority in Congress last night.

At least, Nancy Pelosi looks like that stupid dog in my neighborhood.

She's been pretty good at running rabid around Capitol Hill the last few years, criticizing Republicans and pimping her San Francisco values.

But, now she's faced with actually governing. A scary prospect for the governed to be sure.

Have faith, though. She may just sit there staring at the tires for a long time.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day

Notice to registered voters!

There has been a change in the election law.

Registered Republicans vote on Tuesday (today). Get to the polls. Vote early, and vote often.

Registered Democrats vote on Wednesday (tomorrow).

Independents go somewhere and find yourselves, then get back to us when you've made up your mind.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Go Gators!

Lest we forget that UF Athletics encompasses more than the gridiron greats, I am posting the following article off the AP wires:

Florida runaway preseason No. 1
By JIM O'CONNELL, AP Basketball Writer, November 6, 2006

The same starting five that left the court in Indianapolis with Florida's first national championship will start this season with the No. 1 ranking.
The Gators were the runaway choice Monday in The Associated Press' preseason college basketball poll -- no surprise, since they have everyone back for a run at being the first repeat national champion since Duke in 1992.

Florida received 63 first-place votes and 1,788 points from the 72-member national media panel to easily outdistance North Carolina, which got the other nine No. 1 votes and 1,704 points.

"We appreciate and respect that people think this highly of our basketball team," Gators coach Billy Donovan said Monday. "That being said, this ranking has everything to do with what we were able to accomplish last year and nothing to do with this year. We're very honored to be the preseason No. 1, but at the same time, we fully realize we have a lot of work ahead of us."

Some of that work comes early in the season with a game against third-ranked Kansas in Las Vegas on Nov. 25.

The last preseason No. 1 to win the national championship was Connecticut in 2004, and before that it was Kentucky in 1996.

Pittsburgh was fourth, matching its highest preseason ranking ever in 1987-88.
LSU, a Final Four team last season, and UCLA, which lost to Florida in the championship game were fifth and sixth. George Mason, the first mid-major to reach the Final Four and the team the Gators beat in the national semifinals, received just one point, a single 25th-place vote.

Ohio State had what was considered the nation's best recruiting class, though 7-foot-1 center Greg Oden won't be available until January while he recovers from offseason wrist surgery. Still, the Buckeyes were seventh, followed by Georgetown, Wisconsin and Arizona.

The last team to return all the starters from a national champion was Arizona in the 1997-98 season. The Wildcats, who also won the title in Indianapolis and were the preseason No. 1 the next year, lost to Utah in the 1998 tournament, one win shy of the Final Four.

Florida became the fourth team to win the national championship after not having been ranked in the preseason poll. The others were Texas Western in 1966, Villanova in 1985 and Syracuse in 2003.

Alabama was 11th in the preseason poll and was followed by Duke, Texas A&M, Memphis, Boston College, Marquette, Washington, Connecticut, Creighton and Syracuse.

The last five ranked teams were Texas, Kentucky, Georgia Tech, Nevada and Tennessee.

Duke was No. 1 the final rankings after the last regular season ended. This marks the Blue Devils' 186th consecutive poll appearance, the second-longest streak of all time.

UCLA was ranked in 221 consecutive polls from 1966 to 1980. Duke's current streak started with the preseason poll of 1996-97. Connecticut has the second-longest current streak at 59 weeks, a run that started with the final poll of 2002-03.

Kansas and Kentucky have the longest current streak of consecutive appearances in the preseason rankings having been in every one since 1991-92.
Florida was 11th in last season's final poll and all but seven members of the preseason Top 25 were in the last rankings of last season.

Texas A&M, which has four starters back from a 22-9 team that made the Aggies' first NCAA tournament appearance since 1987, is ranked for the first time since Dec. 30, 1980.

Bucs v Saints - tailgate party

Well, our company hosted its annual Bucs tailgate party today.

That meant having to get up way too early to make the drive from WDW to the rendezvous point.

Got everybody a light breakfast, wrist bands, and on the bus.

Then, we had to break down the table, clean-up and follow the bus down there in our own car.

The big pay-off was an awesome private, catered tent right across the street from Raymond James Stadium: hotdogs, hamburgers, bbq ribs, chicken, all the fixin's . . . plus all you could drink soda and beer (the guys loved the latter).

The smaller pay-off was a free t-shirt for everybody when you walked in the staidum.

But, the neatest thing was our block seating. We were right in front of that pirate ship that fires its cannons when the Bucs score.

Unfortunately, there was not a lot of belching smoke from those cannons today.

The Bucs went down in flames . . .

Oh, well, at least the food, drink, and company was good!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Coronado Springs Resort

Went back down to WDW to enjoy the tail-end of the EPCOT food and wine festival today, and got a room at the Coronado Springs Resort.

Had a great time, and Cathy Craft even met us for lunch. (Fish & chips at the British pavillion.)

But, it got so crowded by 3, that we decided to call it a day and went back to the resort.

This place is so all-inclusive, that you'd never have to leave it to go to any of the parks. You can have a great time right here!

As for me, I found a nice corner table at a little place called "Francisco's" that offered complimentary chips and salsa, some great margaritas, and a huge tv.

That's where I had the pleasure of watching LSU beat the Vols in front of their home crowd.

What a perfect way to end the day!

(Oh, yeah, and the Gators beat Vandy, to clinch a spot in the SEC championship game next month!)

Friday, November 03, 2006

A bit premature?!

Ok, let me know what you think about this . . .

So, I got an email from my sister up in South Carolina, asking me (and apparently everybody else in her address book) to "hold the date" of 12/2.

She's planning a big 1st birthday party for Tater.

But, the thing is, his birthday isn't until 12/15 . . . almost two weeks after the date she wants saved . . . hmmm . . .

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Reminder - CFGS meeting tonite

Just a reminder.

I will be speaking at tonight's meeting of the Central Florida Genealogical Society at the Marks Street Center in downtown Orlando.

Things get under way at 7:30pm. Stop by if you dare!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fall is here?!

I'm getting some clues thru my post-trick-or-treating fog that fall may be here.

First there's the cool weather.

Second is this even cooler picture I got from my high school classmate Lisa Troupe.

Leaves around here don't turn colors like that . . . but, then again, we don't have to do a whole lot of raking, either!