Thursday, May 31, 2007

Isn't it still 2007?!

I don't know why so many people are already talking about the 2008 elections, but it seems to be infectious.

How much longer must the City of Orlando endure Mayor Buddy's focus on entertainment venues at the expense of fighting crime?

Will a credible Republican emerge to oppose Ric Keller in the primary? How 'bout Orange County Chairman Rich Crotty?

What's Jeb Bush up to? He's been keeping a low profile since he left office in January, but surely he's not completely done with politics . . .

Is our new governor Charlie Crist really aspiring to become Vice President?!

And, of course, who to support for President?

Each party has its stars. But, in my opinion, none of them shine very brightly when it comes to the practical aspects of the job.

Sure, their faces might look good on the cover of newspapers. And, some of them are even good at dazzling broadcasters with their simplistic one-liners about complicated issues.

But, is that what we should really be looking for in a president?

Not in my opinion.

That's why I'm leaning toward Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas.

I know. Who'd a thought I'd support a former Arkansas governor for President?!

So far, he's my favorite. But, in retrospect, we're not very far along in this process at all, are we?!?

Opinion subject to change.

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It's the journey

How many times have you heard the people in your life declare, "I'll be happy as soon as -----(fill in the blank)----."?!

Like, "I'll be happy when I get my driver's license."

Or, "I can't wait til I graduate from school."

Or, "I'll be glad when I get that promotion at work."

Etc., etc., etc.

Just a gentle reminder, folks: Sometimes the journey is as important as the destination.

Go ahead and set admirable goals, and work to achieve them.

But, that doesn't mean you have to forego happiness in the mean time.

I guess that's just my overly verbose way of saying, "Remember to stop and smell the roses."

Nuff preachin.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Waiting for a star to fall

Last week, a song came on the radio that brought back a lot of old memories from my high school days. You know, the Stone Age!

Anyway, it was by a one-hit-wonder husband/wife duo called "Boy Meets Girl."

You socks are no doubt familiar with the one hit: "Waiting for a Star to Fall."

But, there are some other pretty good songs on the self-titled album, too.

I used to play it over and over again in the cassette deck of my old 1979 Honda Civic as I scooted around the dirt and cotton fields of West Texas. So many times in fact, that the tape wore out and the lyrics became warped and I eventually had to trash it.

Fortunately, nowadays, folks like me who are still lost in the 80s can now get the soundtracks to their youth on CD!

Mine arrived today, and I've really been enjoying the good non-warped quality of the sound. And, something I almost forgot: I no longer have to sit thru a song I don't like. I can just hit the "skip" button on my CD-player. Back in the day, you either had to endure it or try to time your "fast forward" button just right, and that was next to impossible.

Anyway, if there's anything that's better than modern technology, it's an old song on the radio . . .


Monday, May 28, 2007


Perhaps feeling a little guilty about the mattress shopping, etc., I chose to mark Memorial Day the old fashioned way this year.

Traditionally, the holiday was spent sprucing up loved-ones' grave sites. And, I am luckier than a lot of people in this mobile "society," because I still live in close proximity to my relatives' final resting places.

Plus, my addiction to genealogy has familiarized me with the cemetery locations.

But, if you're not so fortunate, you may want to check out this web site in preparation for NEXT Memorial Day:

It's a government-run search engine that will allow you to pinpoint cemeteries and other landmarks anywhere in the United States.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Short-sheeted by Kohl's

What better way to mark the Memorial Day weekend than to go out and buy a new bed, right?!

I know, I know. That's not what the holiday is supposed to be about. Nor is it about grilling burgers and dogs or marking the beginning of summer. Believe me, as a military brat and patriotic American, I know what it's all about. But, the real holiday is TOMORROW. The weekend leading up to it should still be spent buying new beds.

At least that's what the marketing geniuses on Madison Avenue have convinced most of us . . .

Anyway, I was part of that mass market yesterday. I went up to Mattress Giant and bought two new twin beds as a gift to my mom.

Now, she'll be able to actually use her front bedroom as . . . well . . . a BEDROOM!

But, trouble arose when we bought the bed linens at a nearby Kohl's store.

Of course, we didn't know there was a problem until we got all the way back home and opened the packaging.

Then, and only then, did we discover we had been short-sheeted!

So, now, I've got to go back up to the store and see if they'll make good on the sale.

You socks out there who know me well also know how very much I hate shopping. But, I figure if this is my biggest worry, I'm doing a lot better than a lot of folks . . .

Hope your weekends have had fewer hassles!

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

A shout out to Darrell

One of my old fraternity brothers (and, now an occasional sock in the dryer devotee) called me yesterday afternoon to catch-up.

And, I promised to send him a "shout out" on the blog.

So, here it is.

He did offer me some criticism, though.

Too much genealogy-related posts, he thinks.

Guess he hasn't been bitten by the bug, yet.

So, as if I have to justify my addiction, I want Darrell and the rest of you socks to know of my most recent genealogical discoveries.

It turns out that my great-great grandfather and namesake W.S. Morgan the First was a maternal cousin of the fellow pictured in today's post.

Now, Darrell, if you studied your "Son of the Stars" pledge manual diligently back in the late 80s, you should be able to tell who this fellow is.

But, in case your memory fails, I'll have you know it's John Holt Duncan, "of ever honored memory." He was one of the 8 founders of our fraternity, Beta Theta Pi. In fact, he served as the first president of Alpha Chapter before moving to Texas--yes, Darrell, Texas. And, to make him an even greater person to claim as a cousin, he also served as a captain in the Confederate Army during the War Between the States. Even lost a leg to "the cause."

So, the next time you want to criticize my genealogical addiction, remember this post.

- kai -

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Open a savings account

I think we've all seen the stories on the news about how we Americans are terrible about saving money.

Well, here's your chance to turn those statistics around.

First National Bank of Omaha (yes, as in Nebraska) is offering SIX-PERCENT (6%!!) savings accounts online.

That's way more than a traditional bricks-and-mortar bank. Probably because FNBODirect is a "bricks-and-clicks" bank . . . meaning they don't have the overhead costs of maintaining traditional banking facilities, because they do the vast majority of their business online.

Anyway, if you're like me and want to earn a better rate of return on your savings, you really should check out their web site and consider filling out an online application:

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Good news, bad news

If you're interested in researching military records while building your family tree.

First the good news: is making its massive database of 90 million military records available to the public FOR FREE, from now thru D-Day (June 6th). Usually, they charge a pretty stiff subscription before they'll give you access. But, I guess they're feeling patriotic this time of year, as we all should.

Now the bad news: Word has gotten out. I tried to do a quick look-up to test the site's ease-of-use, and all I got was a generic apology. You know the "either/or" variety. Either they were doing technical work on their server, or there were just too many people trying to gain access at the same time.

Bummer, huh?

Oh, well, I guess I can try back at some off-hour and hope for better results.

Happy huntin'!


The voyage of the Lady Juliana

The PBS series "Secrets of the Dead" continues to shine in obscurity--though with a decidedly Australian flavor this season.

Tonight's episode described the voyage of the Lady Juliana, a ship of female convicts sent to populate the British penal colony down under.

It was really an interesting account, and the producers are to be credited for tracking down and interviewing a handful of descendants.

Again, I don't know why the "big" networks continue to force-feed tripe like American Idol.

Or, could it be that I'm just "out of step" with the rest of the tv-viewing public.

Sadly, I think the latter is the case.

Oh, well . . .

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A concise visual history of the Civil War

As many of you loyal socks in the dryer know, the book I published last year was about my family's experiences during the Civil War.

Well, now thru the wonders of YouTube, you can get another good comprehensive account of that horrible conflict. Click on this link to check it out:

In about four minutes, you can get a good visualization of how the battle lines moved as the war progressed. And, as a grim reminder of the war's staggering death toll, the video includes a running casualty total in the corner of the screen.

Pretty sobering history lesson, actually.

You know, you might be better off sticking with my book. It's a lot less grim.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Happy Monday to you!

How cute is this picture?!

In case you don't recognize him, that's my favorite nephew Tater.

All that stuff smeered on his face is what was left of an ice cream dessert he shared with his mom this weekend.

Anyway, stuff like this helps make Mondays bearable.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Perspective adjustment

Wow, I can't believe how stressed-out I got about the whole move to temporary quarters.

I mean, in the grand scheme of things, how big a deal is it REALLY?

Especially, when we got the bad news this morning that George Murphy died early this morning . . . just one day after the family buried his wife of 60+ years.

I guess I don't have things so bad after all.

Just needed to get some perspective, I guess.

Still, moving ain't a cake walk . . .


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Sorry, Casey!

Couldn't make it to my cousin Casey's high school graduation party today, as I am frantically trying to get "it" together.

I have to vacate these premises tomorrow so the Jenks clan can move in for a few months.

And, as the time to move gets frighteningly closer, I find I still have a lot of loose ends . . . ARGGHHH!

Procrastination is just way too easy, and it got me again.

Anyway, sorry I couldn't be there, Casey! But, I think you know I'm proud of your achievement(s)!!

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Florence Haggerty Murphy (1918-2007)

Condolences to the Murphy family on the loss of a truly remarkable woman.

Florence was of good Irish stock, born up in New York to Michael Francis Haggerty and the former Ann O'Keefe. They raised her and four siblings in Brooklyn.

She obtained a nursing diploma at Kings County Hospital in New York, and married at the end of World War II to a Florida Cracker by the name of George Davis Murphy.

The Murphys settled in George's hometown of Arcadia, where Florence worked at the General Hospital and with Dr. C.H. Kirkpatrick.

They later relocated to Winter Park, which is how they crossed paths with my family. In a good way.

George was a resident in the first ALF where my dad lived after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.

So, Florence and her extended family could really identify with our situation.

Anyway, we take solace that Florence lived her 88 years to the fullest. She was always the life of the party, and is asking that NO ONE wear black to her funeral services tomorrow at St. Margaret Mary's in Winter Park or at the "celebration of life" to be held at Hot Olive's in Hannibal Square.

In addition to George, she is survived by four children Johnny, Jimmy, Joanna, and Gen; five grandchildren Christian, Allison, Nick, Jeremiah, and Sharon; five great-grandchildren Jared, Veronica, Kelsey, Will, and Aidan; and one "granddog" Miko!


Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Even if you can't make it up to Virginia to commemorate the big 400th anniversary this year, you can still play a role in both marking the occasion and preserving our colonial heritage for future generations by contributing to The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

I did. And, they sent me a cool plush animal from their historic breeds collection as a "thank you." Last year, they sent me a sheep, which I promptly gave to my niece. And, this year, they've sent me a cow of some sort. Hope my nephew enjoys this one.

But, even if you're not the donating kind, I would encourage you to visit their web site. It's full of really neat information/activities for "kids" of all ages:

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The Catalpa Rescue

I just watched an excellent documentary on the "Catalpa Rescue."

The rescue got its name from the ship Catalpa pictured here, an old whaler from the port of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Anyway, it was featured on the PBS series "Secrets of the Dead," which usually includes a lot of forensic detective work in its episodes.

But, that was not the case tonight. There were no bones, no DNA testing, no botanical consultants.

Just the recounting of this fascinating story, one that (despite my lifelong love of history) had completely escaped my usually astute radar.

Anyway, it seems the British imprisoned 6 Irish soldiers for treason back in 1866 and sent them to a remote prison at Fremantle (near Perth) in western Australia.

One of the men, James Wilson, managed to sneak a plea for help to Irish nationalist John DeVoy, who had been exiled to the United States.

DeVoy rallied the American Irish group Clan na Gael to free the "Fremantle Six," as they were called. He soon had thousands of dollars pouring in to his office, enough to buy the Catalpa and finance a bold raid on the British prison.

If your local PBS station airs this episode, I can highly recommend it. True stories are always the best, and this one is full of a lot of drama, adventure, etc. And, it ends with an emotional unfurling of Old Glory by the captain of the Catalpa as a warning to the British navy vessels pursuing them that all those aboard enjoyed the protection of American sovereignty on the high seas.

I like any such reminder of America's long association with the cause of liberty. I only wish examples like this weren't relegated to PBS. The "Big 4" networks should be taking note.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Country Music Awards

This year's show was a big reminder of how Country Music (and its fans) are at odds with the liberal "main stream" media culture.

At least that's my take on things.

I mean, can you imagine the Grammy Awards or Oscars prominently featuring Christian-themed entertainment like Rascal Flatts' tribute to Virginia Tech?

Or, how about the standing ovation for our troops overseas?

No wonder the Dixie Chicks don't fit in anymore in Nashville.

And, how great was that duet with Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson?!

Anyway, it's encouraging to know there is at least a subculture around here that's pro-America and supports traditional values.

So, go out there and buy the heck out of some country music CD's!

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Alexander Hamilton

He's been called "the indispensible founding father."

After finishing Ron Chernow's epic biography recently, I know why.

Alexander Hamilton played so many key roles in establishing our republic, it is quite literally amazing.

And, to make him more compelling, he had a very colorful personal life.

Anyway, if you don't feel up to wading thru Chernow's work, consider tuning in to local PBS channel 24 tonight ( for "The American Experience." Show starts at 9 and lasts til 11, a bit past my bedtime. But, I think Hamiltonian Hijinks are worth losing a little sleep!

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

I'm probably the only person you know who marked at least part of the day in contemplating mitochondria.

Abbreviated "mtDNA," it's the part of your unique genetic code that was inherited exclusively from your mother. And, she inherited it exclusively from her mother, and so on, and so on, ad infinitum.

Anyway, from a genealogical standpoint, it is much harder to trace these maternal lines--at least in western cultures--because surnames change with each generation.

I've only been able to trace my own mtDNA back to an Irish emigrant named Elizabeth Gallagher, who lived in Brooklyn, New York, in the 1850s.

My dad could trace his line to a Sarah Brown, who was born in the old Fairfield District of South Carolina in 1768.

And, my cousin Joanna can trace hers all the way back to 1600s Connecticut.

Well, before I get off on too much of a tangent, I hope those of you reading this in the blogosphere take time today to think about the unique things your mom passed on to you!

Oh, yeah, and two words for my mom: Ham and Cheese!

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Bass Tournament

I attended our company's first ever bass tournament today, down at East Lake Fishcamp in Kissimmee.

I hadn't been down to that neck of the woods in a long, long time. So, I was really surprised by how much growth there has been out there. I guess the sprawl is everywhere!

Anyway, they had some really nice facilities, including some air-conditioned cabins. But, the big attraction (for me, anyway!) was the full-service BBQ restaurant they have onsite. They catered our little post-tournament lunch, and I can tell you the baked beans were some of the best I've ever had.

So, who won the tourney, you ask? Well, it was some guy named Randal. I think he works for Engle Homes, but not real sure about that. I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention during the awards ceremony as I was much more interested in a drumstick at the time.

Needless to say, a good time was had by all.

Same time, same place next year? Guess Randy will have to let us know if he's up to that challenge later . . .

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Prayer request for Uncle BG

I heard from my Aunt Diane this morning that Uncle BG is not doing very well lately.

He had to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance last week after developing some unexplainable rectal bleeding.

After 6 units of blood transfusion, a colonoscopy, and a variety of esophagus, stomach, and other tests, the doctors are still unsure where all the blood was coming from.

Fortunately, the bleeding HAS stopped, and he is now being moved to a rehab floor where the hope is he will be able to improve enough to go home in a few days.

Anyway, Aunt Diane would like all of you in the blogosphere who believe in the power of prayer to join in the recovery efforts.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Alice be bloggin'

My sister has joined us here in 2007 land, and started her own blog.

Check it out at:

She's already posted some pretty neat stuff, including her aspirations to break in to Reese Whiterspoon's inner circle.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Brick Walls - - - genealogically speaking

Anyone who has engaged in the pursuit of genealogy for any amount of time has encountered a "brick wall."

That's the term we root-searchers use to label "end of line individuals," those most elusive of ancestors who seem to have appeared out of thin air because we can't find any documentary evidence of their origins.

Anyway, one of my brick walls has been a young lady by the name of Mary Eliza Robertson. She married a fellow named John Patrick in Wayne County, Georgia, back in 1836. Sadly, she was killed by those dastardly Seminoles who were raiding Nassau County up in North Florida in May 1840. And, that's about all I know of her.

Her widower John quickly remarried to his sister-in-law Linnia Robertson, and the two of them came down here to Central Florida. In fact, they homesteaded land not far from where I live in Apopka.

But, I digress.

Despite many years of digging, I have not been able to find anything about the origins of Mary Eliza. (Or, her sister Linnia, for that matter!)

That is, until today. I think I am finally beginning to assemble enough pieces of the puzzle to at least form the hypothesis that they were daughters of a dude named Josiah Robertson.

Here's a link to the notes I've collected so far. Any input would be appreciated!

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Take a hike!

I want to get back into a regular walking routine, so am turning to Steve Rajtar for inspiration. He organizes groups to hike historic neighborhoods in and around Central Florida. And, I find I am much more apt to go walk if it's not the same boring route every time. I need a little more mental stimulation than the average hiker, I guess.

Anyway, Steve did not disappoint. Here's a list of his upcoming guided hikes:

5/11 (Fri) 6pm - Lake Lucerne area - meet at Moe's, 1621 S. Orange Ave in Orlando - distance 3.9 miles.

5/18 (Fri) 6pm - Lake Eola area - meet at Panera's, 227 N. Eola Dr downtown - distance 3.3 miles.

6/1 (Fri) 9pm - Greenwood Cemetery by moonlight! - distance 2 miles (if you can't make it this night, try alternate dates of 7/6, 8/31, or 9/28)

6/16 (Sat) 9am - Maitland - park at Lake Sybelia - distance 5.2 miles

6/23 (Sat) 6pm - Lake Helen - park at Cassadaga Hotel - distance 5.5 miles (mediums will meet hikers at trail's end to do discounted readings in honor of the summer solstice -- yikes!)

7/13 (Fri) 6pm - Lake Ivanhoe - park at O'Boy's BBQ, 924 W Colonial Dr in Orlando - distance 5.8 miles (I've joined Steve on this one before, and can highly recommend it.)

8/24 (Fri) 6pm - Lake Cherokee - park at Mills Market, 903 S Mills Ave in Orlando - distance 4.4 miles.

Join us at your own peril! You might actually learn something!

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I-4 is more than a nightmare

Anyone who's had to use Central Florida's most infamous road can tell you that.

But, now it seems we finally have proof of who's to blame:


That's right, ghosts.

It seems back when the notoriously traffic-clogged highway was inflicted upon the region back in 1960, the builders neglected to relocate a small Catholic cemetery on the south shore of Lake Monroe.

Instead, they unceremoniously dumped a bunch of fill dirt on top of the graves.

According to compiled statistics, this disrespect has caused some 2,000 accidents (of varying degrees of severity) along the quarter mile strip of east bound lanes just before the St. Johns River Bridge. That makes it the most accident prone section of highway between Daytona and Tampa.

One of our local tv stations had several "experts" on the air this evening to testify about this so-called "I-4 Dead Zone." They told of orbs, produced some spooky photos, etc.

And, it's not even Halowe'en yet, folks!

I say, fine. So, we've identified the problem. Now, what are we going to do to solve it?!

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Fun with numbers

Well, it just happened.

With my bloated sinuses affecting my reasoning capabilities, I somehow found this so fascinating that it needed to be shared with the blogosphere.

Just a few moments ago, my digital clock/calendar read:

02:03:04 - 05/06/07

Is that neat, or what? Or, do I need to take another dose of Nyquil?

Probably the latter . . .


Saturday, May 05, 2007

El sicko de Mayo

Well, I had all kinds of good intentions to celebrate el Cinco de Mayo today.

You know, that's the Mexican holiday that only non-Mexicans seem to care about.

Anyway, I went out yesterday and got all the fixings for a really awesome Mexican feast.

But, I woke up this morning sick as a dog.

Thanks to Valda for the Claritin. Never tried it before, and it doesn't seem to be working just yet. But, I'm keeping my fingers crossed . . .

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Happy Alice Day!

On this date back in 1852, the inspiration for "Alice in Wonderland" was born.

Her full name was Alice Liddell.

As you can see from this old photo, however, she was obviously NOT the inspiration for Disney's popular blonde-haired, blue-eyed cartoon version.

Anyway, I marked the occasion by calling my favorite Alice, and we had an amusing conversation about what you call people from Tampa.

The Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit would have appreciated that, don't you think?!

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sunny ain't a teenager anymore!

My crazy friend Sarah threw a 20th birthday party today for "her boy" Sunny.

I say "crazy friend," because Sunny is her horse.

That's right, a birthday party for a horse. Complete with cake and all the trimmings.

Well, I guess if you have to have an excuse to throw a party and eat stuff that's bad for you . . . . I've just never had either of those problems!

Anyway, happy birthday, Sunfire!

And, pass me a slice of cake.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Thanks, Be!

I spoke to Be Bateman this afternoon. She wanted to let the family know that she and the UDC were thinking of us as they commemorated Confederate Memorial Day this past weekend.

In addition to marking the graves of all the Confederate veterans out at Greenwood, they also placed a small flag by Dad's marker.

He would have loved that!

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Where's Smokey the Bear when you need him?

All the smoke around here from the Georgia forest fires is wreaking havoc with my allergies.

I feel like my sinuses are going to explode.

Think I'm going to call it an early night and hope for better tomorrow.


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