Sunday, September 30, 2007

Starting off fresh this morning

Ok, yes, like so many members of the Gator Nation, I stayed up way too late last night watching Auburn beat us by a stupid field goal in the last 3 seconds.

But, nothing like a Sunday morning for wiping the slate clean. I can't believe I'm over it already. I guess it's the knowledge that we still managed to pull off a national championship last year after a loss to the same team . . .

Anyway, my mood is also buoyed by the fact that I got the mold issue off my "to do" list with the help of a heavy-duty pressure washer. So, now my home looks as good as new . . . at least from the outside.

The inside is a different story . . .

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Moving day

I got back up to my nice, cool home in Apopka this afternoon after an absence of 4 months.

Some good things and some not-so-good things to deal with.

The good things included my stuff, my space, my bed, etc.

The not-so-good things include a mold issue on the front of the house, evidently caused by all the recent rain and my big oak trees that block-out the afternoon sun that would normally dry things out before things like this could happen.

Also, the "tenants" managed to rip a towel rack off the wall of my upstairs guest bathroom.

But, if that's all I have to worry about, I'm doing better than most, I suppose . . . and, hey, at least the AC works, right?!?

Current thermostat reading = 75 degrees.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

This is so un-cool

Q: What do you do in Central Florida when you get home from work on a Friday afternoon in September to find your air conditioner is not working.

A: You sweat. A lot.

Current thermostat reading = 87 degrees.


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Apple core! Baltimore! Who's your friend?!

Did you ever play that game as a child?

Anyway, if you were playing it in Baltimore tonight, the answer would NOT be Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, or Fred Thompson.

Each of those supposed "top tier" candidates failed to appear at the PBS broadcast of debates hosted by Tavis Smiley in the Murphy Fine Arts Center at Morgan State University--an historically black school.

And, with justification, many in the black community are taking offense. As former Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele told his fellow Marylanders in the introduction, it has been far too long that the GOP and African Americans have "stood at arm's length." The divide needs to end. But, that's not going to happen if we follow the lead of the "top tier" guys.

I will point out that Mike Huckabee was in Baltimore to participate in the debate and addressed important issues to minority voters like unemployment, criminal justice, and health care.

Remember, he's the same guy who has spoken to groups as divergent as union conventioneers and values voters right here in the great State of Florida.

That's what we need to see MORE of in our "top tier" candidates: uniters, not dividers.

I hope I'm not alone in my disgust with the status quo. I yearn for the election of a president next year who is unafraid of speaking to ALL Americans--not just those whose special interests have traditionally supported his/her party with cash or votes.

So far, in my opinion, only Mike Huckabee fills that bill.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Updated Ahnentafel

After an email from distant cousin Bryan Godfrey yesterday, I was inspired to tinker with my online ahnentafel and expand it to 9 generations:

And, before you ask, "ahnentafel" is a German word we high-falutin' genealogists like to throw around to baffle the otherwise disinterested.

Ahnen = ancestor
tafel = table

So, don't be so impressed with the chic foreign lingo. It's just an ancestor table.

But, one of the best in my "humble" opinion!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My submission went vertical!

I've been teasing you socks about the literary masterpiece I submitted to the Huckabee campaign for over a week now.

Well, I'm pleased to report that it made the final cut, and appeared on the governor's blog on Vertical Day!

You can read it for yourself by clicking this link:

I must admit that I was in good company. Others who made the final cut were:

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
David Beasley, former Governor of South Carolina
Dr. Laurence White
Bob Vander Plaats, Iowa State Chair of the Huckabee Campaign
Larry Perault -
Amy Tucker -
John Witt -
Nuke Gingrich -
One Mom -

Pretty cool, huh?!

Go, Mike, go!! - I Like Mike!

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Vertical Day is here! - I Like Mike!
So, what is "Vertical Day?" You might be asking yourself.

Well, it's quite simple, really.

Everyone's favorite presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is, once again, raising the tone of our public discourse--at least for the next 24 hours, which he has declared "Vertical Day."

The name comes from his astute observation that solutions to our societal problems cannot be seen as left or right, red or blue, etc. Instead, they should lift America up . . . thus the "vertical."

If you agree with this point of view, I would encourage you to participate in the event by visiting Huckabee's web site:

Beginning at noon (Eastern time), Governor Huckabee will spend 24 hours addressing the most vital issues facing our nation today in a variety of formats, including webcasts, video posts, blog entries, etc.

And, perhaps, he will even choose my submission from last week on "Why I like Mike Huckabee!"

But, don't worry. If my literary masterpiece doesn't make the final cut, I'll post it in its entirety here in the dryer for you loyal socks to read later this week.

Now, go vertical!


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Choosing Wisdom

Something I've learned during my finite time on this planet: Some of the worst decisions you will make will be the result of emotion or excitement. They'll make you feel good quick, but not in the long run. On the other hand, some of the best decisions you will make will come only after thoughtful consideration. They may make you wait for the "big pay-off," but they will be worth the wait.

I think they call the latter "wisdom."


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Kathleen Norton Kinney (1922-2007)

I am sorry to report the passing of my grandmother's cousin Kathleen "Kay" Norton Kinney. Kay was a daughter of my grandmother's uncle, Dr. Jim Norton.

Like so many of the Nortons, Kay was educated at St. Aloysius Academy in Jersey City. She later graduated from Manhattanville College in New York City.

On 29 Septembrer 1945, she married at St. Aloysius Church to John E. "Jack" Kinney. As a young couple, they lived in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati before settling-down in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There they joined the parish of St. Francis of Assisi and were charter members of the Huron Valley Swim Club.

Kay was known for her creative knitting, but also for her literary skills. Not only did she edit and title her husband's acclaimed speeches, but she also published volumes of her own poetry and limericks to the delight of her family and friends.

In her spare time, Kay played bridge, volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House, and helped the Father Pat Jackson House.

She was preceded in death by her husband; parents; sisters Margaret Mary Cunniff and Patricia Mullins; and granddaughter Amy LaFata.

Survivors include her children: Kathleen, Patricia, Sheila, Marian, John, Barbara, and Eileen; grandchildren Sarah & Katy LaFata, John, Peter & Maura Diamond; Mercedes Tipre, Grace Broderick, and Theresa & Winston Murphy; and brother James F. Norton, Jr.

The funeral Mass will be held at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Ann Arbor on Monday at 11am, with burial to follow at St. Thomas Cemetery. Family will receive visitors at Muehlig Chapel tomorrow, 4-8pm, with rosary to be prayed at 7:30pm. They suggest, in lieu of flowers, that donations be sent to either the Ann Arbor Ronald McDonald House or Father Pat Jackson House.

For you socks not in the Ann Arbor area who may wish to express your condolences to the family, there is an online guestbook at:

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Eustis tornado

I went to bed early last night, right after Survivor. (Off topic tangent: How GREAT was that season premiere?! Although, Ashley should have gone instead of Chicken.)

So, I missed out on last night's "excitement."

Apparently, all those tropical disturbances off our west coast spun off a heck of a twister.

As I type this, they're telling us 50 homes were damaged or destroyed just up the road in Eustis. And, the storm(s) knocked out power to hundreds of other households in Lake, Marion, and Sumter counties.

The good news is, no one was killed or even seriously injured.

"Survivor" has a whole new meaning this morning than it did last night!!

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gary Neikirk, RIP

Condolences go out today to the family of a fellow Apopkan: Gary Neikirk. Particularly to his daughter Suzanne, who is a hiking buddy.

The funeral is noon tomorrow at Woodlawn Cemetery, just west of Orlando.

If, like me, you are unable to attend services, you can still express condolences to the family by signing the online guestbook:

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wakey, wakey!

I did NOT want to get out of bed this morning.

I rolled over to see my clock at 5:57 and groaned. Just three more minutes until the alarm would blare.

And, just at that moment of realization, a bolt of lightning struck the transformer down the road, making the pre-dawn hours as bright as high noon (if only for a moment).

Needless to say, this caused me to bolt out of bed quicker than any stupid alarm clock.

Perhaps, that's just what I needed.

What I did NOT need was the lack of electricity as I tried to get ready for work. I mean you try to take a shower that goes from lukewarm to freezing. Then try to shave your face by candle light and try not to slice off your lower lip. And, as if I don't already have problems in this department, try finding some clothes that actually match and get into them!

We won't even talk about the drive to the office with all the traffic lights not working.

This day has GOT to get better, right?!?!


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Another year older, definitely . . .

another year wiser?!?

Now, that's debatable!!

I wish you didn't live so far away from home . . . mostly so I could Bogart a piece of birthday cake.

Oh, but if you're buying it from Publix instead of baking it, remember to wear your car key on that shoe string around your neck!!

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Monday, September 17, 2007

So, why do YOU like Mike Huckabee?!

OK, socks, I've been singing Mike Huckabee 's praises in this forum and elsewhere for quite some time.

So, now it's your turn to tell the world why YOU like the former Arkansas governor. Tell us why he should be the next President of the United States!

Chris Maiorana of LCM Strategies, a consulting firm helping the Huckabee campaign, is asking you blog-o-philes to email him a post on the topic "Why you like Governor Huckabee." The address is:

The top 10 posts will appear on Huckabee's campaign blog during the week of 9/24 thru 9/30. And, Chris assures me they won't necessarily be the "best" posts, but ones that are "most unique." A focus on a particular issue (or issues) and a discussion of Huckabee 's position is welcome, as are video posts. But, try to be concise!

The deadline is tomorrow, 9/18/07. So, get cracking! (I've already sent off my submission!)

Oh, and even if my literary masterpiece isn't selected, you faithful socks may rest assured that it WILL still appear here in your beloved blogo-dryer.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

A blast from the past

My high school friend Lisa emailed me this old photo over the weekend.

Don't even ask.

I have no idea what the occasion was for taking the picture in the first place. It's been too many years. I'm also having a difficult time identifying all the hooligans in it, but I'll give it a try.

Yours truly is "hiding out" in the center, behind Tawnya Tipton's big hair. I can't place the girl in red, but squatting next to her is Jamie Douglas. Standing in back (l to r) are Jimmie Oswley, Lon Hillis, Patty Banuelos, Billy Baker, another girl I can't remember, and Trey Whitton.

Yes, it was the 80's. The picture says it all.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lake Proctor Wilderness Area

Last night, I joined the Florida Trail Association for another of their great "night hikes."

This time, we traipsed thru the Lake Proctor Wilderness Area. For you socks who live in Central Florida, it's just a hop, skip, and a jump from Oviedo in Seminole County. And, it's definitely worth all the hopping, skipping, and jumping to get there--especially if you've never experienced the "real Florida."

The LPWA is a 475-acre preserve on the shores of Lake Proctor. It has about 6 miles of hiking trails. And, no, yours truly did not follow them all last night. Just a good portion of them. But, give me a break, it was DARK out there!!

We were accompanied by Dr. Patti Smith, an ecology professor at Valencia Community College, who was able to point out all the different ecosystems as we made our way thru the wilderness: piney woods, sand hills, bayhead swamps, oak hammock, etc. She did NOT have to point out all the goldenrod blossoms. They were everywhere, it seemed.

Dr. Smith did teach me how to spot the two different types of bay trees that grow in these parts. Their sweet aroma made our hike all the more enjoyable. She also taught us how to distinguish three different types of pine trees. I mean, I knew there were different species, but now I know why they're different!

Anyway, it was a fun get-back-to-nature evening, and I'm looking forward to more as the temperatures around here abate a little.

But, for now, I've got some serious college football watching to do.

Go Gators!

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Iraq progress report

I don't know how many of you socks stayed up late enough to catch El Presidente's live address to the nation on the success of the troop surge in Iraq.

Suffice it to say that progress is being made, much more remains to be done, but the success of the surge to date means several thousand of our troops will be returning home by Christmas (and will not be replaced with fresh units).

Overall, I'd say that was pretty good news, echoing the report delivered to Congress by General David Petraeus earlier this week.

So, imagine my surprise at the Democrats' response to the news.

Ok, ok, I was NOT surprised at all.

I've been saying for quite some time that the Dems have vested interest in seeing our mission fail in Iraq. They want our troops to have to withdraw in disgrace. I guess they see it as the best way to improve the pitiful public opinion of their Congressional leadership.

Just pathetic.

Here's an exercise for you. Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On the left hand side, write down the names of everyone who have a stake in a stable Iraq. I come up with the American people, our troops, the Iraqi people, etc., etc.

Now, on the right hand side, write down the names of those who want to see democracy fail in Iraq. If you're an honest sock, you'll come up with Al-Qaeda, Iran, Syria, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, etc., etc.

Like it or not, Dems. You shall be judged by the company you keep.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Norman Hsu, who are you?!

Why, he's one of Hillary Clinton's top campaign fundraisers, that's who he is!! He helped her gather $850,000 for her current run for the White House. That's probably why she's smiling so big in this recent picture with Hsu.

She's not smiling so much today, though.

That's because Hsu's personal history has surfaced. It turns out he stole millions of dollars from would-be investors in what can only be described as a Ponzi scheme. He even plead no-contest to grand theft charges related to this scheme back in 1992. But, instead of showing up for sentencing, he fled to the mountains of Colorado.

Fortunately, he's in jail now. And, Hillary has finally announced that she is going to return the money he gave her campaign.

But, what I'm wondering is whether she'll have to bear all the outrage, self-righteous indignation, condemnation, and personal attacks that she and her fellow Democrats enjoy inflicting on others.

Of course she won't.

Remember you heard it here first. The "H" stands for "Hypocrite."

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Animal Rescuer

Yami just emailed me this picture she recently took of her son Justin.

I really dig his shirt and career ambition to become an animal rescuer.

Too bad he wasn't up in Altamonte to save that alligator at Lotus Landing recently!!

Oh, well, give him a few more years . . .


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Never forget

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Doing a little "de-cluttering"

I spent an inordinate amount of time this past weekend preparing for a garage sale this upcoming weekend, and found a few things that were just "too good" to be included in the event.

But, they weren't too good to be listed on E-bay! Check 'em out by searching for the following item numbers:

220148645641 - a beautiful pewter vase

220148658675 - a pair of Cabbage Patch mugs dated 1984

220148668349 - a pair of 1984 Olympics mugs

220148672950 - a Mickey Mouse coffee mug by Anchor Hocking

220148679980 - a pocket watch and fob commemorating Columbus

220148688500 - a piece of Wedgewood pottery

Bid to your heart's content. And, free delivery may be arranged for local socks.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Let's revive the Lincoln-Douglas debates!

I just learned of a great idea being tossed around by Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson.

Actually, credit is due to Newt Gingrich for putting the idea forward in the first place.

But, Huckabee and Thompson are the first two presidential candidates to seriously entertain the notion of a good old-fashioned debate.

Enough with the crowded stages and media-friendly soundbites.

Let's have two candidates actually engage each other on the issues facing our country.

Let's have a serious DISCUSSION for once.

If you agree with me and would like to see a series of Lincoln-Douglas style debates between these two great public speakers, I encourage you to co-sign the letter found at this link:

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Congratulations, Amy and Sean!

I really wanted to be there with you and your families this evening to celebrate your wedding.

I wish you many years of happiness together.

Thanks to Cathy for forwarding the great pictures. I picked a few of my favorites to create a very basic web page commemorating the event:

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Road trippin'

Wow, I can't believe it's already been a week since I was getting ready to go on the big Labor Day road trip up to South Carolina.

I also can't believe it's taken me this long to post one of the pictures we took while we were there.

That's my mom, sister, nephew, and niece, in case you were wondering.

Nothing quite so exciting planned for this weekend. The road trip just leads HOME this afternoon. And, that's a good feeling, too!

Hope all you socks out there have a good weekend yourselves.


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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Huckabee Shines in New Hampshire Debate

Was it just me, or for awhile during last night's debate up in New Hampshire, did it seem like there were only two men on the stage?!

The exchange between Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul was nothing short of riveting, as they argued their views on the War on Terror. And, of course, Huckabee came out on top.

I love watching Huck in these settings, because it allows voters to see him side-by-side with everyone else in the crowded field. And, he never fails to stand head and shoulders above them all. Dare I say, "Reaganesque?!"

This guy has a gift for communication, connecting with his audience in a way I haven't seen since the days of the Gipper. He actually brought a tear to the eye of this otherwise jaded observer when he reminded Rep. Paul that we are One Nation Under God, and NOT the "Divided States of America." That statement put into simple terms my own complex feelings about all the Red State vs Blue State nonsense.

If you look at the field of candidates--and I'm not just referring to the Republicans--Mike Huckabee is the only one speaking in terms of unifying the country. He needs to be the next President of the UNITED States of America.

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More of our Florida heritage up in smoke

I was sickened to learn of the destruction of the historic "Woodlea House" up in Tavares this weekend.

Apparently, two transient jackasses decided to set it on fire because they thought it was haunted.

Captain Melton Haynes (1827-1883) returned from serving in the Civil War to settle in the area, and built "Woodlea House" in 1871.

The City of Tavares had the historic structure moved in 2005 to save it from demolition, and locals were raising funds to have it properly restored before the tragic events of Sunday night.

The one piece of good news in this otherwise depressing tale is Police Chief Stoney Lubins succeeded in nabbing the culprits. But, that's only small consolation when such an important piece of our regional history has been lost.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

My 2nd favorite team won their season opener!

If, like me, you were unable to stay up to watch the carnage in Death Valley last night, you missed a great Nole drubbing.

And, no, the Clemson Tigers are not my new 2nd favorite team. That illustrious distinction changes every week of football season, depending on who FSU is playing.

I do have to salute Junior for beating Daddy this week, a great way to start the season. My only criticism is that he could have at least done what Wake Forest did last year and handed that lumbering dinosaur a shut-out.

Nevertheless, last night's performance should push the Tigers into the AP-25. (Not to mention, drop the Noles out of it!) So, congrats (and thanks) to all the Clemson fans out there in the blogosphere, especially my brother-in-law Keith.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Thanks, Cousin Patricia!

Happy Labor Day to all the socks out there.

I'm still up here in South Carolina visiting my sister and her kids, but will be back in the fun and sun that is Central Florida later today.

In the mean time, my cousin Patricia Rivero sent me this really cool family photo she scanned over the holiday weekend.

That's my great-great grandmother Lola Blakesley Morgan (1872-1954), otherwise known as "Mammy," wife of the ORIGINAL William Swinney Morgan. The four girls are their daughters Agnes, Laura, Lola, and Isabel.

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Letter to the editor

I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Orlando Sentinel not only made the editorial decision to INCLUDE my recent letter, but to include it in the SUNDAY EDITION!

In case you don't get the print edition of the paper, or if you're an out-of-town sock, you can check it out here:,0,7343409.story


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Turning a negative into a positive

So, I'm up in Charleston visiting my sister and the niblings, and our big "adventure" for the day was SUPPOSED to be a trip up to the neighborhood Publix.

I know, I know, how DO we pack so much excitement into a single day?!

Anyway, after all the shopping was done (and, you socks who know me well, know how much I like shopping) we got out to the car to discover my sister had lost her keys!

That was the bad news.

The good news was her friend Eric also happened to be shopping at the same store at the same time.

So, he was able to run my sister back to her house to get another set of keys. And, in the mean time, I got to take the niblings to a kid-friendly restaurant in the shopping center.

We had a blast!

So much so, we almost forgot about the lost key situation until my sister returned.

Then, to top it all off, we decided to check with the grocery store "lost and found" one more time before we headed back home. And, lo and behold! Someone had returned the keys!

Anyway, what could have been a frustrating situation actually turned out to be a lot of fun.

I love it when that happens!

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