Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Fourth Turning

Way back in 1992, my Grandma G gave me a great book for Christmas. It was called "Generations," and put forth the theory that American history may not only be defined by generational cycles; but, we may also use these recurring cycles to predict the country's future.

Well, now the authors (William Strauss and Neil Howe) have updated their book, looking both forward and back from their original publication.

By forward, I mean they had to take into account events like 9/11 that have transpired since the original publication.

Andy by back, I mean they have extended the outline of those generational cycles to medieval England.

Pretty interesting theoretical stuff. If it sparks any interest with those of you out there in the blogosphere, you might want to check out their website:

They can give you a lot more information and better explanation than I can in this limited space.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sanford book appearance, 06/14

Here's plenty of advance notice for you.

I have been asked to appear for a book-signing at Maya Books in historic downtown Sanford as part of the city's "Alive after Five" celebration on June 14th.

They do this the second Thursday of each month. Pretty cool. In addition to witty local authors, the street fair features all kinds of art, live music, food & beverages. As the name implies, it starts at 5pm.

Start planning now.

Maya Books is located at 205-A East First Street. Their phone number is 407-321-6504. You can ask for Yvette if you need additional information/directions.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Miss Chiquita

Can you believe that Yami has been on this planet for more than three decades and didn't know until this afternoon who Miss Chiquita is?!

I mean, I figured since she was from Puerto Rico, she probably knew her personally.

Boy, was I wrong.

But, what really floored everyone at the office was the fact that BECKY not only knew Miss Chiquita very well . . . she also knew her little theme song:

"Miss Chiquita Banana is here to say . . . "
I don't know how we got on the topic. All I have to say is she cuts almost as good a figure as Nicole Kidman.


And the winner is . . .

Nicole Kidman!

Actually, she wasn't even nominated for any awards at tonight's Oscars.

But, she was scheduled to present the first award of the evening.

So, I deigned to tune in, if only to see her before the ceremony descended into the Gore-fest I knew it would become.

I must admit that Nickie's star lost its luster for me recently when she married that loser Keith Urban. (Great singer/musician, but come on.)

So, it probably helped her to rebound on my mental list of the hottest women in the world when she walked the red carpet by her pretty little self.

Well, actually, she had Naomi Watts with her. But, she was easily cropped out of the picture.

Anyway, how 'bout that red dress?!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

School for Scoundrels

Okay, you know the guy from "Napoleon Dynamite"?

Alright, well pair him up with Billy Bob Thornton, and throw in a supporting cast that includes Horatio Sanz and Michael Clarke Duncan.

Not exactly high-brow stuff.

But, I did laugh more than once.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Anna Wells Burden

John, Kristen, and Jack Burden are pleased to announce the arrival of an addition to their family.

Little Miss Anna Wells Burden weighed in at exactly 8 pounds (20.5 inches), ten fingers, and ten toes.

Ain't life grand?!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A peculiar institution indeed

Ok, I can't let Black History Month pass without at least one posting on the subject, especially when it involves genealogy. History and genealogy have been passions of mine for a long time, and were the impetus behind my recent book.

But, only this morning did I learn of the research of Air Force veteran Carl Bryant of Nashville, Tennessee.

Over the last 6 years, he has been able to collect quite a bit of information on his direct ancestor Sherrod Bryant, who died in the Nashville area back in 1854.

Old Sherrod was apparently quite a wealthy man. According to Carl's documentation, he owned about 700 acres--more than his neighbor Andrew Jackson!

And, as was so often the case among large southern landowners of the time, he also owned a lot of human property.

So, slavery reared its ugly head in Carl's research.

The very ironic part of this whole story is that Carl Bryant is a black man.

And, so was his ancestor Sherrod Bryant!

You can read all about it in a recent article in the Nashville newspaper:

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Radio Serendipity

Isn't it cool when you get in the car and the song that comes on the radio just seems to "fit" with what's going on in your life?

That just recently happened to me. Not the first time. But, this time was probably the most appropos (sp?!).

I'm almost embarassed to admit the artist and title, but it was Nine Inch Nails' "Head like a hole."

If you know the situation I'm currently dealing with, you know why it's so appropriate and whose images were brought to mind by the lyrics.

Crank it up if it strikes you!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Still learning lessons from George Washington

Stayed up way too late last night reading Gore Vidal's book Inventing a Nation.

Of course, it pales in comparison to my own recent book. I was certainly put-off by Vidal's jarring interjection of left-wing satire on 21st century events in what I assumed was going to be a work focused on Washington, Adams, Jefferson, et al.

But, amongst his clap trap, were direct quotes from the founders that included several pearls of wisdom that I'm going to try to apply to my own day-to-day.

In particular, I was inspired by the spirit behind Washington's Farewell Address, in which he stressed the importance of remaining above the fray--political or otherwise.

Of course, he was warning his successors to avoid entanglements with the ornery foreign powers of 18th Century Europe.

But, the same lesson might be applied to a lot of the ornery people I encounter on a far-too-regular basis.

Keep your fingers crossed that I may be able to heed Washington's lesson!

Monday, February 19, 2007

A new anti-Keller blog in the works?

I am so ticked-off at my congressman today that I think I may start a brand new blog just to chronicle his idiocy!

Ric "Lawnmower" Keller has embarassed the people of Florida's 8th Congressional District for too long:

2000 - Pledges to serve only 8 years if elected.

2001 - In the hysteria following 9/11, supports legislation to put guns in airline cockpits.

2002 - Funnels thousands of dollars in campaign money to his twenty-something aide Dee-dee. (Yes, that is her real name.) He says she has earned the money as his "finance director." Yeah, right.

2003 - His wife of 10 years divorces him over the hole Dee-dee thing.

2004 - Begins crafting the crowning achievement of his legislative career (at least so far): the so-called "cheeseburger" bill.

2005 - Is not present to actually vote to pass the "cheeseburger" bill, because he's back in Orlando having by-pass surgery for his clogged arteries. Oh, yeah, and he finally makes an honest woman out of Dee-dee.

2006 - Announces that he has re-thought his 2000 pledge to serve for only eight years.

2007 - Joins other "white flag Republicans" in supporting Nancy Pelosi, Jack Murtha, and their ilk in a non-binding resolution to embarrass the Commander-in-chief, demoralize members of the armed forces, and give aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States.

In case you're wondering how he received the "Lawnmower" nickname, you should have seen the moronic speech he gave to justify his borderline-treason. In that stirring piece of oratory, he compared sending our troops to Iraq to mowing the yard of an ornery neighbor.

Absolute tripe.

This guy has got to go. Anybody else feel like he needs to be primaried out of a job next year?!?

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Yes, folks, NASCAR is back.

So, you can put away the Ricky Bobby DVD's for at least a few more months, and watch the real thing live every Sunday.

In keeping with tradition, the season got a big kick-off just a few miles up I-4 in Daytona. The associated traffic, coupled with the continued arctic blast, kept me indoors for another day.

I have to admit, I am only a passive observer of motor sports. Very passive.

I do have a number 8 sticker on the back of my car. But, that's more to annoy the Jenkses than anything else.

I generally don't turn on the races until the last 10 or 20 laps, because that's usually when the big action occurs.

That was another tradition the drivers kept today.

What an outstanding finish, huh?

Firey crashes, mayhem, and an almost photo finish!

Nugent's Cavaliers & Pioneers

Well, we got our first big arctic blast of the season. So, it was perfect weather to stay inside and boil up a big old pot of stew.

I also took the shutting-in as an opportunity to catch up on some research I'd been putting off for way too long.

This primarily consisted of going thru Nugent's "Cavaliers & Pioneers" series (3 volumes), and pulling all Morgan references to put on a sortable/searchable spreadsheet.

I'm hoping the data may help the online group of Morgan DNA researchers to find our as-yet elusive common ancestor.

Hey, quit yawning! This is what I do when it's too cold to go out and do fun stuff!

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Last Confederate

Well, I thought I had paid adequate tribute to my Civil War ancestors with my recent book.

But, now the Adams family has done one better.

They have put together a full-length feature MOVIE about their Civil War ancestor.

Check out the website:

Maybe, I need to be talking to a Hollywood screenwriter to do an adaptation of Like the Cats of Kilkenny?!?!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow . . . as long as it's somewhere else!

A heck of a way to spend Valentine's Day, no?!

This from my high school classmate Lisa.

She tells me it took her husband Paul an hour and a half to shovel the white stuff out of their driveway so he could go to work.

Brave man.

If I found that much in my driveway, going to work would be the last thing on my mind!

Anyway, the Troupes have the added benefit of living on a cul-de-sac. So, when the snow plows go thru their neighborhood, everything ends up in their front yard.

At least the kids seem to enjoy it.

But, the only white stuff I want to see is the sand on the beach!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Return of Jericho on CBS Tonight

After a way-too-long hiatus, one of my favorite shows is returning to the airwaves. In case you have forgotten who's who in Jericho, I will give you a list of characters (at least as many as I can recall). Feel free to add or correct:

Anderson, Gray – owner of a mine outside of town, in which some of the towns people take refuge against fallout after the attacks; he successfully opposes Johnston Green’s campaign for re-election as mayor.

Bailey, Mary – bar owner; girlfriend of the married Eric Green.

Cafferty, Mitchell – former friend of Jake Green and Chris Sullivan; the trio were involved in a failed armed robbery several years ago, resulting in jail time for him while Chris lost his life and Jake left town; after his release, he went to work for Jonah Prowse; after murdering store owner Gracie Leigh, he framed Prowse for the crime; but stock boy Dale Turner discovered his guilt and murdered him in cold blood.

Cale, Shep – implicated in the death of a man named Scott who sought refuge in Gray Anderson’s mine during the fallout after the attacks; he later disappears on a reconnaissance mission.

Clark, Mimi – IRS agent from Washington, DC; auditing the farm of Stanley and Bonnie Richmond at the time of the attacks; ironically, they agree to let her live with them afterwards; she gives Sean Henthorn her gold watch to steal fertilizer from Gracie Leigh’s store, to be used on the Richmond farm; eventually a romance blooms between her and Stanley; she gives bar owner Mary Bailey advice about her rocky relationship with the married Eric Green.

Dhuwalia, Kenchy – doctor; discovered amongst the survivors of fallout at Rogue River and brought back to town; he spends an inordinate amount of time in Mary Bailey’s bar; treated wounds of Jonah Prowse while he was a fugitive implicated in the murder of Gracie Leigh.

Doug – former boyfriend of Darcy Hawkins; presumed killed in the attacks on Washington, DC.

Goetz – leader of the Ravenswood mercenaries; pursues the Green brothers from Rogue River after they retrieve medicine from the abandoned town along with Dr. Kenchy Dhuwalia; prevented from entering the town, but threatens to return.

Green, April – wife of Eric Green (married 15 June 2001); a doctor; had divorced papers drawn-up shortly before the attacks, but never actually filed them; discovered she was pregnant just before her husband left her for bar owner Mary Bailey, but did not tell him.

Green, Eric – younger son of Johnston and Gail Green; husband of April Green; served as his father’s Deputy Mayor; left wife to begin new relationship with bar owner Mary Bailey.

Green, Eric Jacob – deceased former mayor; father of Johnston Green; Jake Green returned to town after his death to claim an old car as inheritance and visited his tombstone.

Green, Gail – wife of Johnston Green; mother of Jake and Eric Green.

Green, Jake – elder son of Johnston and Gail Green; left town after a failed armed robbery ordered by Jonah Prowse, in which his friend Chris Sullivan was killed; another friend Mitchell Cafferty was arrested and imprisoned for the crime and resents Jake for his escape from punishment; returned to town after death of grandfather Eric Jacob Green; attacks left him stranded there before he could return home; his activities since he left town are a mystery; to the consternation of Heather Lisinski, he rekindles a relationship with former girlfriend Emily Sullivan until her missing fiancé turns-up amongst a group of survivors.

Green, Johnston – mayor; sidelined by illness soon after the attacks and nearly died; recovered in time to run for re-election, but lost to Gray Anderson.

Hawkins, Allison – daughter of Robert and Darcy Hawkins.

Hawkins, Darcy – wife of Robert Hawkins; mother of Allison and Samuel Hawkins; used to live in Washington, DC.

Hawkins, Robert – husband of Darcy Hawkins; father of Allison and Samuel Hawkins; a newcomer to town; he is apparently an undercover agent of some sort.

Hawkins, Samuel – son of Robert and Darcy Hawkins.

Henthorn, Sean – shady teenager who torments Dale Turner; he accepts Mimi Clark’s gold watch to steal fertilizer from Gracie Leigh’s store to be used on the Richmond family farm; he apparently has a romantic relationship with Bonnie Richmond.

Leigh, Gracie – store owner; she takes the townspeople’s valuables and heirlooms in exchange for merchandise after the attacks, and works with Jonah Prowse to replenish her supplies; murdered by Mitchell Cafferty after refusing to work with him instead of Prowse; her will leaves everything to her young employee Dale Turner.

Lisinski, Heather – elementary school teacher; she wrecks a busload of children in the wake of the attacks and is rescued by Jake Green; her attempts to form a romantic relationship with him are thwarted by his renewed relationship with former girlfriend Emily Sullivan.

Miller, Victor – a survivor of the attacks on Denver; he is caught trying to break into the local pharmacy; he apparently knows Robert Hawkins, but the exact relationship remains a mystery when he dies from radiation poisoning.

Payton, Randy – a Ravenswood mercenary at Rogue River who is killed by his former comrades when he helps the Dr. Dhuwalia and the Green brothers escape with medicine they need to save the life of their ailing father.

Prowse, Jonah – father of Emily and Chris Sullivan; exiled outlaw; framed by Mitchell Cafferty for the murder of Gracie Leigh.

Richmond, Bonnie – deaf teenage sister of Stanley Richmond; she claims to have been operating the family farm by herself the last five years, but that is probably an exaggeration; she appears to have a romantic interest in bad boy Sean Henthorn.

Richmond, Stanley – friend of Jake Green; elder brother of Bonnie Richmond; their parents died when he was 18, and the siblings have been operating the family farm by themselves; they were undergoing an IRS audit led by Mimi Clark at the time of the attacks, but allowed her to live with them afterwards and an ironic romance bloomed.

Stevens, Skylar – rich teenage girl who lives in a big house just outside of town; her parents were away in New York City at the time of the attacks, but she holds out hope for their survival; struck up a relationship with loner Dale Turner, whose mother was killed in the attack on Atlanta, much to the annoyance of her friend Lisa Whalley.

Sullivan, Chris – deceased son of Jonah Prowse; brother of Emily Sullivan; friend of Jake Green and Mitchell Cafferty; killed in a failed armed robbery.

Sullivan, Emily – estranged daughter of Jonah Prowse; former girlfriend of Jake Green; she was to be married soon after the attacks, but her fiancé was away on business and presumed dead; relationship with Jake was rekindled for a time, but then fiancé turned-up in town with a party of survivors.

Turner, Dale – teenage employee at Gracie Leigh’s store; mother died in attack on Atlanta; inherited the store after Gracie’s murder; outcast by other local teens before attacks, but later strikes up a friendship with Skylar Stevens.

Whalley, Lisa – friend of Skylar Stevens; annoyed by Skylar’s new closeness with former outcast Dale Turner.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ski bunny

My brother-in-law just sent me this picture he took of my niece Morgan this weekend as further proof that people are not meant to live in temperatures under 32 degrees.

Actually, he tells me it was closer to half that . . . around 16 degrees.

Oh, and the hills were "too bumpy!"

But, I didn't need to hear the words. Just look at that face!!

I know somebody who needs a trip to a beach down here in Florida!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Billy Vann Lathem (1926-2007)

I am sorry to report the passing of Mr. Lathem, who many of you may know was the father of Be Bateman.

A native of Bessemer, Alabama, he served with the US Navy in the Pacific during WWII.

He and his wife May came to Orlando back in 1949, and he worked for many years as a journeyman plumber. He was also a meber of the CSS Florida Camp #102, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to Mr. Lathem's church:

Reeves Memorial UMC
1100 N. Ferncreek Ave.
Orlando, FL 32803

Services will be held there this Friday (2/16) at 4pm.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Lily got glasses

As mentioned in a previous post, my frat bro Steve in Texas got a new dog recently.

Unfortunately, it was only after he got her home that he discovered she had a vision problem.

Fortunately, the family optometrist was able to come to the rescue.

The FranClan

Drove up to see my cousin Joanna from Tallahassee and her three boys: JM, Bowden, and Harrison.

Had a great time just doing a whole lot of nothing.

The coolest thing was the new game they had, called "Apples to Apples." I'm definitely going to have to buy it when I get back home.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith (1967-2007)

The tabloids couldn't have scripted this one more dramatically, could they?

I don't think "shocked" is the right word to describe my reaction to the death of Anna Nicole Smith.

A tragic end seemed almost inevitable, didn't it?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Central Florida Memory Collection

I clipped this image of an ad my great-uncle George Macy ran in the "Florida Home, Farm & Field," back in December 1897.

(It was right next to a fascinating article about growing pineapples, and just above an up-to-date map of Orange County.)

Anyway, I found it on a great website that I would encourage anyone with roots in Central Florida to check out for themselves:

Even if you're not interested in Macys or wagons, you're bound to find something there to make your day like this old ad did for me!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Consider the Mustard Seed

I just found out about a great organization here in Central Florida that is helping recent storm victims.

As they put it, they give people a hand up, not a hand out.

Anyway, they collect furniture, clothing, and other household items in their Orlando warehouse.

Then, when families suffer a loss due to fire, flood, hurricane, tornado . . . whatever the reason . . . they open their warehouse to help the folks get back on their feet.

Obviously, this mission is a perfect fit for the current situation. And, I would encourage anyone looking for a way to target their charitable donations to specifically help victims of the recent tornados to make an online contribution at the Mustard Seed's website:

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Have diapers, will travel!

OK, I'm sure by now everyone has heard the story of the day about the pscyho astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak.

She drove all the way from Houston to Orlando to confront another female astronaut, a rival for the affection of yet another astronaut.

But, that's not what makes the story priceless.

What's got everyone talking down here is what Nowak was wearing when she was arrested.

No, she wasn't in a space suit.

In addition to a wig and a trench coat, she was sporting a pair of diapers!

That's right, a 40-something female astronaut in diapers.

And, she had her reasons, trust me.

The way she figured it, by wearing the diapers she saved significant travel time on her 1,000-mile odyssey; because, she didn't have to stop to relieve her bowels/bladder!

I am soooooo glad this idea never popped into my dad's head. Back in the day, when we were making the semiannual trek between Texas and Florida, he wouldn't stop until he ran out of gas. Then he gave us the time it took him to fill up the tank to conduct a potty patrol. And, not one second more. But, I shudder to think of the embarassment that would have ensued if he'd had that diaper idea . . .

Monday, February 05, 2007

Colts' kicker knows his family history

I love it when people are actually knowledgeable about their family history. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I read an article this morning about the Indianapolis Colts' kicker Adam Vinatieri by Dan Brown of the Northwest News.

Brown played a game of "20 questions" with Vinatieri, which included the following genealogy-related Q&A:

4. Does "Vinatieri" have an English translation?

It’s kind of like “wine, or fruit of the Earth” – that’s what was told to me, anyway.

5. Do you even like wine?

Ah, I drink a little bit every once in a while – I wouldn’t say I’m a big connoisseur. I enjoy a glass of it every so often.

6. What do you know about an ancestor of yours and Gen. George Custer?

My great-great grandfather Felix Vinatieri came over on a boat from Italy, entered the country somewhere on the East Coast and joined the military and got stationed at South Dakota as our government was heading west. He hooked on with Custer, who was a big music fan. My grandfather was a composer, and Custer really enjoyed him, so he did some symphony work for him. The band was there not only for marches but for entertainment, as a morale-booster. They knew at Fort Meade that they were going into some hostile areas, so they left the band behind. Thank goodness for my family that they decided that – I think one horse made it back from the Little Big Horn.

Pretty cool, huh? (The other 17 questions were boring football-related stuff.)

Not-so-super Bowl


Well, okay, the first half was pretty exciting, especially the touchdown that opened the game. And, the rain-slicked field made for some pretty cool turnover situations. But, I think everybody knew the Bears were toast by halftime.

The commercials this year were sub-par to say the least. The only one that actually got an out-loud laugh from me was the Blockbuster ad with the mouse.

Prince acquitted himself well. Should've gone to bed after his performance . . .

Can Peyton Manning be any more irritating?!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Chilly = chilli!

Could not muster the willpower to combat the chilly weather today. So, took the opportunity to hang around the house and catch up on stuff around here. Boiled up a big old pot of chilli, and let it simmer all day. Made the whole house smell great!

Funny incident from yesterday still has me chuckling. My nephew Tater, who only just turned 1 year old, got a hold of my sister's cell phone and called me! Now, before you think he's gotten too advanced for his year on the planet, I assure you he was hitting random numbers and managed to get the right sequence to access her speed-dial directory. Still, it does make me chuckle that he can figure out how to use my sister's phone when she seems to have such difficulty in that department!

Friday, February 02, 2007

No tornado damage in Apopka (or Orlando)

Thanks to everyone who's called or emailed since news broke this morning of the devastating tornados down here in Central Florida.

The good news is that we had no damage in my hometown of Apopka, or where I work in Orlando.

The bad news is the outlying areas were hit very hard. 14 confirmed dead so far--in Lady Lake and The Villages in Lake County. The really bad news is those numbers will probably go up as rescue workers are able to reach the affected areas.

The images on our local news reports are really horrrifying. Contrary to the stereotypical images of trailer park devastation, some very substantial homes--about 500 of them counted so far--have been destroyed in a wide swath that cuts across Lake and Volusia Counties.

The latest news is Governor Crist has activated the Florida National Guard to help in the rescue/recovery efforts.

I have not heard any real news out of the DeLand area yet, other than about 20,000 people are without power. But, some firsthand radio accounts I'm listening to right now sound horrible. One guy said, "This is worse than the 4 hurricanes of 2004."

If I hear anything new, I'll post it here.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Charles H. Evans, Jr. (1911-2007)

Condolences to Glenda Hood, former Mayor of Orlando, and her family. I just learned of the passing of her father, Charlie Evans, on Monday. He lived a good long life of 95 years, and I'm sure he will be missed by many.