Saturday, June 30, 2007

Don't waste any time this weekend!

I know you're supposed to relax on a Saturday, but this link will motivate you NOT to let any grass grow under your feet:

It's the coolest online clock I've ever seen, because it shows you not only the hour, minute, and second; but, also the day, month, and year.

And, all of this is done with a single, stationary line. Check it out for yourself, as my poor descriptive skills are not doing it any justice.

Then, turn off your computer, and get out there and spend your time this weekend doing something a little more awesome than reading this little old blog. (As if that were possible, I know!)


Friday, June 29, 2007

Look who's playing with his photo scanner

No, it's not yours truly.

My Uncle Bill apparently had enough time on his hands today to scan some old photos, and sent this one to me (among others).

It's about 10 years old, and was taken in the master bedroom of my Grandma G's old house in Orlando.

Sadly, the "Pretty Kitty" on the right went to the big catbox in the sky a few months ago.

But the "Other One" is still with us, and an endless source of entertainment with all of her Siamese shenanigans.

Hope this gets your holiday weekend kicked-off on the right note!

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Curriculum Vitae

So, I learned something new today. A rarity, I know. But, it does happen.

Today, I learned what a curriculum vitae is after being asked to prepare one to submit with a personal financial statement.

Well, if you're in the dark about it as I was, let me enlighten you. The words are Latin for "course of a life."

In other words, "a glorified resume'."

They want contact info, personal data, employment history, educational background, professional achievements, publications, affiliations, language skills, hobbies, etc.

So, why did they have to go all Latin on me?!

A bit pompous, if you ask me.

Oh, well. Live and learn. (Then add the details to your curriculum vitae!)


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

No, HNN isn't a cable news network . . .yet!

Ok, the history geek has to share his latest greatest internet find:

HNN stands for History News Network.

And, it's a lot better place to devote your attention than Wolf Blitzer's "Situation Room" on the Cut-and-run Now Network.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Last Sin Eater

You've got to check out this movie, directed by Michael Landon, Jr. Recognize that name?!

There are a couple of other names and faces you might recognize in this low-budget giant of a film. (They include Oscar-winner Louise Fletcher, the grown-up Elliott from ET, and one of the dudes from CSI.)

But, unlike so much of the crap churned out by Hollywierd, this movie isn't about who's in the starring role, or how much money was spent to produce it.

This movie is about the story, the characters, and the message.

And, all of these will stick with you long after the rolling credits.

What makes it better is that you can watch it with your kids, yet it's still mentally engaging for the adults.

So, why haven't you added it to your Blockbuster or Netflix queue, yet?!?


Monday, June 25, 2007

What's wrong with the "Old Folks at Home"?!

In case you didn't know it "Old Folks at Home" is the official song down here in the great and sovereign state of Florida.

It was written way back in 1851, and has references to plantation life in its lyrics which apparently offend modern sensibilities.

You know, everything has to be politically correct nowadays.

So, it looks like more of our heritage is doomed to the dustbin of history. We might as well accept it, and divert our focus to the much more entertaining endeavor of selecting a replacement ditty.

Here are my top 5 suggestions (in no particular order):

1. "Seminole Wind," by John Anderson (an Apopka native). You've got to love the fact that he so closely associates Seminoles with the word "blow." Remember, the alligator's lurking in the dark. Be afraid!

2. "Big Yellow Taxi," by The Counting Crows. You know the one, "They paved paradise, put up a parking lot . . ."

3. "Snow Bird," by Anne Murray. I wish some of the real snowbirds would take her suggestion: "Spread your tiny wings and fly away . . ." Then, maybe there wouldn't be such an uproar about all this nonsense.

4. "Walkin' on Sunshine," by Katrina and the Waves. Unfortunately, I think the State of Louisiana has dibs on this one.

5. "The Boys from Old Florida," the Gator anthem. You've probably heard it during every 4th quarter. ("F - L - O - R - I - D - A") But, something tells me the feministas would have a problem with the gender specificity.

Any of you socks care to add to this list?!

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

My car got bombed overnight!

I went to run errands this morning to find that a flock of geese had apparently been using the Blazer for target practice.

And, they had pretty good aim.

There was a big white blob in front of the driver's side of the windshield. And, even more goo had slid down the entire length of the window and down the side panel.


But, it did remind me of a funny poem from my childhood:

Birdy, birdy in the sky,
Why'd you do that in my eye?
Me no holler,
Me no cry.
Me just glad King Kong don't fly!!

Kinda stupid, I know. But, it kept me grinning as I had to drive with the window rolled down so I could see my way to the car wash.

Did I mention it's like 95 degrees out there today?!

Stupid birds.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Wiley Alexander Morgan

That's the name of the earliest known ancestor of one of the participants in our Morgan DNA project.

All we know about him is that he was born in North Carolina about the year 1819, and that his father may have been named James.

My interest in him is somewhat selfish. I hope, since my DNA markers match his descendants' exactly, that I will be able to find a common ancestor somewhere and trace my own roots further back.

So, I spent several hours. I won't bore socks like Darrell with all the gory details. But, I got my hopes up pretty high, only to have them dashed this afternoon.

And, all of this because some jerk had "knitted" old Wiley into a pedigree instead of doing any real research.

Ok, do I sound like a total genealogy geek right now, or what?!

Let's try to salvage what remains of this fine Saturday . . .

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Property Taxes - a step in the right direction

You out-of-state socks may be unaware of the fact that Florida homeowners have been bearing a heavy burden when it comes to property taxes since property values have skyrocketed these last few years.

Well, now the state legislature has enacted some reforms that should save us a LITTLE money.

If you want to check your own savings under this new system, go to this online calculator:

I was quite disappointed to discover my personal savings will be just $86.54 per year.

But, what was encouraging is the news that there will be a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot, January 29th. If it passes, we will finally do away with the "Save Our Homes" system in favor of a "supersize exemption."

Basically, this will exempt 75% of your home value up to $200,000 PLUS 15% of the next $300,000.

This is a much better deal, at least for me personally. (The savings would be $375.55 per year, according to that online calculator.)

More importantly, this may finally get the fence-sitters to start buying houses again.

OK, nuff boring tax talk. Hope all of you in the blogosphere are planning fun weekends!


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Play Boggle Online!

You know we authors are always working on our verbal dexterity . . .

If you'd like to stetch your own vocabulary, try playing this online version of Boggle:

You're doing well if your final score puts you in the top 10 percent of players per round.

You're doing even better if you find words the other players don't find!!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Giving back a little

All you socks out there with geneaddiction have no doubt found online treasure at the LDS website

Well, now you have the opportunity to give back a little.

They are seeking volunteers to help transcribe the 1900 Census.

It's really easy to get signed-up and started on this important project.

Just go to

Thanks in advance from all the researchers you will be helping!


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

1/3 of the way there!

In case you're wondering why I'm renting out my house in Apopka and taking up temporary quarters in Orlando, I can now show you photographic evidence.

That's Duran (aka "the tenant") standing in what will be the doorway of his new mansion.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Hey, Buddy, here's another "wake-up" call for you.

Recently, a long-time co-worker was in my office expressing his relief that his 22-year-old son had survived an attack by a Taliban sniper in Afghanistan. Though he did have to be temporarily evacuated to Germany for medical treatment, he is back on active duty stateside.

Sadly, I found out today from the same co-worker that his 14-year-old son was seriously wounded after being caught in the crossfire of some gang members in downtown Orlando. Again, the family was blessed, and the boy has been released from the hospital. (Though the bullet still remains lodged in his shoulder and will have to be surgically removed at a later date.)

I couldn't believe it when I heard this news and began considering the impact on this family.

Then, I got mad.

How can it be that Mayor Buddy Dyer of Orlando can allow the city's crime problem to get so out of hand that our young people are in as much danger going to a convenience store to buy a soda as they are when deployed with the US military to the outskirts of Kabul?!

And, yet, the front page of today's local daily proclaims the mayor's intention to proceed with his plans to spend over a billion dollars (yes, that is billion with a "b") on his pet "cultural corridor" project downtown.

Hey, Buddy, how about spending some of that cash on putting more cops on the steet?!?

In his world, it is more important to use taxpayer dollars to build a new arena for our local NBA franchise.

Hey, Buddy, in case you haven't noticed, the owner of the Magic is a billionaire!

In his world, it is more important to use taxpayer dollars to renovate the archaic Citrus Bowl.

Hey, Buddy, in case you haven't noticed, the University of Central Florida is already putting the final touches on a state-of the art stadium.

In his world, we need to use taxpayer dollars to build a new performing arts center downtown.

Hey, Buddy, if you don't do something about the crime rate downtown, you're never going to get any audiences to attend those performances.

In his world, money will continue to roll into municipal coffers to be spent on fluffy feel-good projects instead of the nuts-and-bolts services that citizens expect to receive in exchange for their tax burdens.

Hey, Buddy, in case you haven't noticed, the state legislature just slashed your future revenue streams.

Time to wake up and smell the coffee, Buddy.

Or, the smoking guns.

Take your pick.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Whittling down the beach reading list

So, after yesterday's post, some socks enquired about what literary masterpieces share the honor of inclusion on my summer "must-read" list.

I must warn you, the qualifier "must-read" simply means these titles are piled-up next to my bed (in no particular order):

1. Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe that Ended the Outlaws' Bloody Reign, by Stephan Talty. (ISBN 978-0-307-23660-9) Obviously, the protagonist named in the title was the reason I selected this one. And, I'm actually on Chapter 9. So, this one is well on its way OFF the list . . .

2. Jonathan Dickinson's Journal: A True Story of Shipwreck and Torture on the Florida Coast in 1696, edited by Evangeline Walker Andrews and Charles McLean Andrews. (ISBN 0-912451-00-9) This guy from Philadelphia gets shipwrecked near what is now Jupiter, Florida, and has to literally walk hundreds of miles thru hostile Indian lands to "civilization" in Charles Town. (That's what they called Charleston back in 1696, Alice!)

3. James Monroe, by Gary Hart. (ISBN 0-8050-6960-7) I guess the former senator from Colorado decided, if he couldn't be President himself, he'd at least write a biography about one of them . . .

4. The Bounty of Central Florida, by Valerie Hart. (ISBN 0-9748676-0-8) Cook books don't generally make my list. But, beyond the obvious local connection, I love the fact that at least one-third of the recipes in this one seem to include intoxicating spirits as primary ingredients. A good way to beat the summertime heat, no?!

5. Happy Days are Here Again: The 1932 Democratic Convention, the Emergence of FDR--and How America was Changed Forever, by Steve Neal. (ISBN 978-0-06-001377-6) Should be interesting to compare and contrast how the Dems used to select the top of their tickets versus 75 years later.

6. Beyond the Theme Parks: Exploring Central Florida, by Benjamin D. Brotemarkle. (ISBN 0-8130-1657-6) Couldn't resist buying an autographed copy I found at Wolf's Head Books in "uptown" St. Augustine recently. Thanks, Harvey!

7. Wekiva Winter, by Fredric M. Hitt. (ISBN 1-58939-759-2) Another autographed copy, though this one was purchased from Yvette Comeau at Maya Books at my signing on Thursday. (Can't just make money, gotta spend it, too!!)

8. Christmas in Florida, by Kevin M. McCarthy. (ISBN 1-56164-208-8) Sadly, it may indeed be Christmastime before I make it this far into my pile. But, who knows, right?!

Anyway, if any of you out there in the blogosphere have suggestions for inclusion on this list, let me hear them!

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Self-imposed exile

Well, it's as good an excuse as any to retreat to the beach, I guess.

As some of you senior members of the Sock Patrol may be aware, yours truly suffered thru some public embarassment yesterday at the Orange County Courthouse. Suffice it to say, a certain local official by the name of Lydia Gardner would do well to clarify the rules of foreclosure auctions on her stupid website.

Oh, and she could also hire some better deputy clerks around there.

Anyway, I was so humiliated by the whole experience that I am "going coastal" today, and trying to catch-up on my summer beach reading.

Hopefully, you're all following similar pursuits . . . and avoiding embarassments!

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Tater loves Gators!

My sister snapped this (only slightly doctored) picture of my nephew Tater at "Game Day Central."

Makes an uncle proud!

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Who knew Sanford was such a fun place?!

Getting home a little late tonight after the awesome book-signing appearance at Sanford's "Alive After Five" festivities.

I am a bit ashamed to admit that I have never attended in the past. But, after seeing things from the sidelines this month, I am already looking forward to July 12th when I can walk up and down First Street myself!

Thanks again to Yvette at Maya Books for playing the gracious hostess. You are awesome, and so is your store!

Thanks to "homey" for the ride, keepin' it real, and kickin' it old school.

And, a "shout out" to the many nice people I met during the course of the evening, particularly:

T. Brown, the friendly lady who had the space adjoining mine

Mr. & Mrs. Bob McManus

Pete & Ann from Osteen

Nancy Miller (Chuck Wight's generous mother-in-law)

my "neighbor" Bill Newman

the friendly folks for the fair tax

April's mom

And, with that, I bid you all a good night . . . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

So . . . what is this "Alive After Five"?!

Well, after yesterday's posting, I got a few questions about tomorrow's "Alive After Five" festivities.

A while back, the merchants in Sanford's historic district decided to get together to sponsor an "after hours" party on the second Thursday of every month.

You know how most small towns "roll up the sidewalks" after the 5 o'clock whistle? Well, they wanted to change that . . . even if it is for just one evening a month.

This month's theme is Summertime Blues and BBQ. For a $5 pass, you can go from storefront to storefront sampling food, beverages, etc. But, of course, the highlight of the evening will be the big "get to know the author"at Maya Books!

Hope to see some of you socks out there tomorrow!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Final book-signing for "Like the Cats of Kilkenny"?!

That's right, Thursday could be the last time I do an appearance for this particular book.

It's not that I'm not still proud of it, or anything like that. It's just that it's been nearly a year and I'm trying to wrap-up the sequel.

I want the new book to be my focus for the rest of this summer.

And, hopefully, the appearances I do this Fall will be for the NEW book!

Anyway, if you'd like to be there for this big Cats of Kilkenny "finale," it will be at Maya Books, 205-A East First Street in Sanford's historic district, during their montly "Alive After Five" celebration.

For more information, directions, etc., please feel free to contact the wonderful owner of the bookstore, Yvette, by phone (407-321-6504) or email (

Hope to see you Thursday!

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Wanna visit Rome?!

Yes, I'm talking about Rome, Italy!

Now, you can take a visit to this awesome city without even leaving your desktop, thanks to some eggheads up at the University of Virginia.

They got together with some other eggheads across the US, Britain, Germany, and (of course) Italy. (By the way, why weren't the French involved?!)

The product of all these geniuses getting together may be viewed at:

I warn you it is still a work in progress, and needs a lot of fine-tuning. But, when all is said and done, you will be able to "walk" thru the streets and buildings of ancient Rome.

Safe journeys!

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

It's pronounced "Fay-ver"

Is it just me, or are some of you socks out there suffering from a major case of football withrdrawals?

It didn't help me at all when I saw this article about that QB up at Green Bay:

Arena ball ain't cuttin' it with me.

It's more than the hot summer temperatures that have me longing for the fall . . .

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Wow, Oviedo has grown-up!

Taking advantage of my new temporary quarters "on the East side," I decided to continue yesterday's mission to explore the nether regions of Seminole County.

Well, I guess they're only "nether" if you're looking at the county from an Apopka perspective.

Anyway, today's conquest was a lot more urban and (I'm sure) less redeeming than yesterday's hike in the wilderness: The Oviedo Marketplace.

I mean, how can a mall be redeeming, right? You socks out there know how much I detest such things. But, after today's "adventure," I believe my disdain is the result of having so many negative experiences at the better-known "mauls" in Central Florida.

It pays to get off the beaten path, and today proved that for me.

No fighting for parking spaces. No rude extranjeros.

I should probably shut up about it so it stays that way, no?

Anyway, the highlight was lunch at a place called R.J. Gator's, a home-grown success story with franchises across the great state of Florida (and a few others in less-great states). You socks from Texas will be pleased to know there is one in Hurst (near Fort Worth). But, Carolina socks may be disappointed to know that all three locations in your neck o' the woods are in the Charlotte metro area.

If you are successful in finding an RJG's near you, I can highly recommend the Garbage Nachos. But, don't order them unless you have at least 4 people at your table, because the portions are so huge that you'll ruin your appetite by the time the entrees arrive.

Will close for now, hoping everyone out there in the blogosphere is enjoying similar pursuits this fine summer weekend!!

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

A shuttle launch and some amphibians

A group of us got together to participate in a night-time hike at the Geneva Wilderness Area up in Seminole County this evening.

Things got started with a spectacular Space Shuttle launch.

Then, Jim Duby, Principal Coordinator of the county's Natural Lands Program, led us off into the wilderness.

We got a bit of a break at the Ed Yarborough Nature Center, where Jim taught us how to differentiate the different calls of the native amphibians we were hearing along the trail.

Yes, that's right. The focus of tonight's trail was frogs and toads, which left certain hikers' skin crawling . . . especially when Jim passed around plastic containers with live specimens!!

Anyway, it was a beautiful night for hiking, and "a good time was had by all" in what is left of the old piney woods around here.

Happy trails to all of you socks out there who were not fortunate enough to have joined us this time, but hopefully there will be many more opportunities in the future!

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Fire up the blender!

I know it's Summer when the blenders are working overtime down here in Florida. But, it's not that type of blender I'm having fun with today.

I'm talking about the "cliche blender"!!

As any good author will tell you (and I am any good author!), you should avoid using cliches in written works even if you cannot avoid them in general conversation.

But, BLENDED cliches should never be avoided. Instead, they should be encouraged, because they're outright hysterical!

Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Strange bedfellows shouldn't live in glass houses.

2. A fool and his money is a friend indeed.

3. You can take that to the bank and smoke it.

Can any of you socks out there top these?!

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dead Fred

Have you ever been to a rummage sale, flea market, or other such event and found those sad piles of discarded old photographs?

I guess, I just think it's sad because I'm such a passionate genealogist and cannot fathom the thought of being so careless with heritage.

Anyway, I can't afford to buy all those stray photos I encounter personally. But, sometimes, I'll write down the names and dates and post queries on the internet to try and track down a surviving family member who might treat these treasurers with the respect they are due.

And, I've had some successes with this method of reuniting people with their ancestors.

But, now, there is a website devoted to this awesome endeavor:

Check it out. You can search by surname or location, and you might even uncover some of your own long-lost relatives!

I quickly located the above photo of my own kinsman Abraham Blakesley (1842-1923) who served in an Iowa regiment (the horror of it!) during the War Between the States. Check out the uniform on Abe, huh?!

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

William Addams Reitwiesner

That's the name of an oft-quoted genealogical expert of sorts, whose research on prominent figures I have enjoyed perusing over the years.

Now, he's created his own website:

It includes a great archive of his previous works and genealogical essays.

I particularly liked the (rather lengthy) one he did to show his calculations of the ethnic background of the two princes William and Harry.

Following a similar approach, some time ago I came up with my own set of numbers. If you care, they break down as follow:

37% = Irish
33% = English
20% = Scottish
5% = Welsh
3% = French
1% = Dutch
1% = German

That should total to 100% if my math is right . . . had to do a lot of rounding, I'm afraid. (Rounded-down as much as possible on those French numbers!)

If you're interested in checking-out your own genetic/ethnic background, I would point you to an awesome program being conducted by the Sorensen Molecular Genealogy Foundation:

Happy hunting!

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Monday, June 04, 2007

The Write Stuff

In case it escaped your attention, I wrote a book last year!

Ok, ok, ok. I know. That is not news.

But, I mention the fact yet again, because I got a royalty check in the mail today.

They seem to be getting smaller and smaller with the passing of time . . .

Anyway, included with the check was a notice of an upcoming writer's conference down in Fort Lauderdale (10/19 - 10/20) and a few web sites that you socks with literary ambitions may find useful:

Maybe, I'll find some inspiration out there to get around to completing the sequel . . .

Oh, and if you still haven't bought a copy of my book: First, shame on you! Second, I am doing a book-signing at Maya Books in the historic district of Sanford, Florida, next Thursday evening, 6/14.

Write on!

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Does Billy D have cold feet?!

All this according to the rumor mill, but don't be surprised if there is a grain of truth in all this.

It seems AD Jeremy Foley flew up to Richmond yesterday to offer Anthony Grant the UF head basketball coaching job. (A $6 million contract over 5 years.)

But, when he got off the plane, he discovered Grant had skipped town.

Is this an indication that Donovan is having second thoughts about leaving Gainesville for Orlando?

I think so. Grant wants to be able to say that he hasn't talked to the Gators about replacing the head of their b-ball dynasty. He must have a pretty good reason . . . like the position isn't going to be available after all!

Magic GM Otis Smith must be thinking the same thing. He ran up to Gainesville after hearing about the Foley/Grant story, evidently hoping to calm BD's nerves and convince him to honor his NBA commitment.

But, don't be surprised if you open your paper tomorrow to find the headline reads, "Billy Backs-out!"

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Barry is a joke . . . a sad one

And, no, I'm not talking about any local ambulance chasers you socks out there may know. Although, I suppose a case could be made . . .

No, what I'm referring to is this so-called "tropical storm" that blew in last night, the first night of Hurricane Season 2007.

It managed to ruin the Blue Moon Tour of Greenwood last night, which I'd been looking forward to for weeks. Blue moons don't come around that often, you know. The last one was 2-and-a-half years ago! Thanks a lot, Barry!

And, because it was so rainy, windy, and otherwise gross outside today, I couldn't venture beyond the Publix and Blockbuster on the corner without putting myself at the mercy of other idiot drivers. Cabin fever is setting-in. Thanks again, Barry!

Oh, well, at least Super Duper Doppler-man Tom Sorrels is assuring us that blow-hard Barry (no, again, not the trial lawyer) will be getting out of town later tonight. So, maybe we can actually enjoy our Sunday.

Actually, I guess our drought-ravaged lawns can use the rain the storm dumped on us. And, maybe, our water bills will be lower this month?!

I think this is what one would call looking for a silver lining . . .

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Surely, I'm not the only Gator fan who's feeling conflicted today . . .

Billy D says he had to leave the University of Florida after back-to-back NCAA championships so he could grow as a coach and a person.

Of course, his bank account will be growing substantially, too.

But, now, I'm afraid he's going to get tangled up in the mess that is the Orlando Magic.

I'm sorry, but our local NBA franchise just hasn't been the same since that low-life Penny Hardaway launched his coup against Brian Hill in the late 90's.

Oh, and you can laugh-off GM Otis Smith's assurances that BD isn't being brought to Orlando as a bargaining chip in the team's ongoing effort to squeeze dollars out of local tax coffers to expand the O-rena (or "better" yet, build a new one).

But, the Magic front office is always trying to spin one story or another, aren't they?

The inmates have been running the assylum over there for a long time.

I hope the dawn of the Billy-ball Era will change all that.

But, you know what they say about hoping in one hand, and doing something else with the other.

So, the question remains: Who will have to come down to Gainesville and try to fill Donovan's sneakers? Odds are it will be his former assistant Anthony Grant, currently coaching up at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. But, who's to say what AD Jeremy Foley will do?!

Sometimes, the off-season is more fun than the actual sport. Certainly filled with a lot of drama and pointless speculation! A lot like reality tv, no?!

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