Friday, November 30, 2007

Mrs. McGaughey's biology class

My high school classmate Lisa just forwarded this photo that I thought might make ye socks chuckle.

That's yours truly sitting in the front row.

I don't remember the name of the girl sitting next to me (typical, right?!) But, I remember everybody else.

1st row (l to r) me, ?, Blenda Thomas, and Jay House.

2nd row (l to r) Elizabeth Greer, Mrs. McGaughey, Sharla Swinson, Rene McCain, and Lon Hillis.

3rd row (l to r) Tommy Franklin, Angie Morris, Rosie Llanas, Trish Arredondo, Christie King, and Norma Rios.

Quit laughing so hard!! You were a goofy-lookin' teenager once!!

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Huckabee wins St. Petersburg debate!

Apparently, I was not alone in that assessment. The Florida Chamber of Commerce polled the audience last night, and came up with the following figures when they asked who won:

Rudy Giuliani - 18%
Mitt Romney - 13%
John McCain - 10%
Fred Thompson - 5%
Ron Paul - 4%
Duncan Hunter - 1%
Tom Tancredo - 1%
Undecided - 4%

The most fun to be had, though, was observing the political pundits' response to Huck's great performance.

Andrew Sullivan over at The Atlantic apparently couldn't understand how someone could be so comfortable talking about his faith in public, and arrogantly dismissed it as "religious schtick."

CNN's analyst Jeffrey Toobin gave Huck credit for being the best debater, but went on to say he "lacked seriousness" for pledging to abolish the IRS. Well, Mr. Toobin, he is indeed serious about that. It's called "The Fair Tax." Look into it.

Anyway, if you want to get an unfiltered view of the debate, you can watch our favorite presidential candidate as he makes his rounds on the cable news networks tonight:

4:15pm - CNN - "The Situation Room," with Wolf Blitzer.
5:00pm - MSNBC - "Hardball," with Chris Matthews.
10:00pm - FoxNews - "On the Record," with Greta van Susteren.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Webster endorses Huckabee

In case you missed it, our favorite presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was in Orlando last night.

Not only did he attend a fundraiser downtown, he also picked up the endorsement of Florida's Senate Majority Leader Daniel Webster.

Momentum is building for the Huckabee campaign here in the Sunshine State, as it is across the nation.

Look for another outstanding performance from the former Arkansas governor at tonight's CNN/YouTube debate down in St. Petersburg. Coverage starts at 8pm.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Huckabee beats Hillary

That could indeed be the headline you read in your local paper next November, if the most recent Zogby Poll is accurate.

They matched up all the Republican front runners agains the presumptive Democratic nominee and came up with the following responses.

John McCain beat her 42% to 38% - margin of 4%

Rudy Giuliani beat her 43% to 40% - margin of 3%

Mitt Romney beat her 43% to 40% - margin of 3%

Fred Thompson beat her 44% to 40% - margin of 4%


That's right, while all Republicans should be encouraged, it was the former Arkansas governor (and this dryer's favorite candidate) who did the best in a head-to-head match-up.

Shouldn't be too surprising to you socks from Arkansas. After all, Mike Huckabee has had to go up against the Clinton machine in every political campaign he's run. He knows how to beat them.

And, the polling data indicates he is our best shot to beat 'em again!

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You be the somebody!

As Americans, we have been given the challenge by preceding generations to be good stewards of our common heritage. And, no one in the current field of presidential candidates reminds us of that challenge better than Mike Huckabee. Check out this awesome video, then you be the somebody!


Monday, November 26, 2007

On the road again . . .

I couldn't believe how easily we made it back to The Sunshine State today.

Yes, it did take nearly 7 hours. But, the traffic was nowhere near what it was cracked-up to be.

There were only two "slow patches" along our 400-mile stretch I-95.

The first was in Georgia, between Savannah and New Brunswick. No surprise. People in Georgia don't know how to merge.

The second was in Palm Coast. But, it was at least anticipated and familiar. They've been doing construction there for an eternity. So, we knew what we were getting in to , and it didn't last very long.

Anyway, we got home with plenty of time to decompress, unpack, etc.

But, now I see the date on the calendar: 11/25. That means only one more month til Santa arrives.

My, how this year has flown!

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Last full day in Mount Pleasant

And, it was a good one.

Not only was it Mom's birthday, we celebrated it by skipping cake in favor of a big steak dinner! I guess, you have to take you calories where you can get them after Thanksgiving . . . Actually, my brother-in-law and I were hoping for a big old rack of ribs, but Publix up here apparently doesn't carry such delicacies. So, he'll have to wait til his next trip to Florida for an education in Cracker grillology.

Of course, it wouldn't be a fall Saturday in the South without some college football. I was actually more than a little irritated by the quadruple overtime in the Tennessee-Kentucky game, because it delayed coverage of the annual Gator romp over the 'Noles. By the time they switched to The Swamp, it was already the second quarter and I missed Tebow's first big touchdown run.

The South Carolina-Clemson game was actually the most exciting game of the afternoon, and not just for the opportunity to watch The Evil Genius stalking the Gamecock sidelines. It was a real nail-biter, went down to the wire. Fortunately, it turned out the way Keith wanted it, so he can hold his head high in church tomorrow.

All in all, a good day. Kinda dreading the drive home tomorrow. But, all this makes all that worth it.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Not-so-black Friday

The day after Turkey Day, and we're all still recovering from the feast my sister prepared last night.

We had turkey, mashed potatoes, carrot soufle, and some zucchini casserole she made from a magazine recipe. Oh, and Keith made some Easley dressing (not stuffing!), and Mrs. Smith made THREE pies: minced meat, pecan, and pumpkin.

Yes, we are all bloated this morning.

But, mostly we're all just grateful that Alice didn't follow-thru on her threat of dragging us all out of bed during the wee hours of the morning to participate in all the Black Friday shenanigans in thriving downtown Mount Pleasant.

If left up to her, we'd have been at Kohl's at 4 AM!!

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey, shoot!

Well, as soon as I got up here to Charleston last night, my brother-in-law Keith took me to a turkey shoot with some of his friends.

I was a little concerned, hoping that our Thanksgiving feast would not be dependant upon our marksmanship skills (or, the lack thereof).

Fortunately, my sister had a back-up plan, because the waiting list was so long that none of us ever got to fire a gun!

Anyway, I hope all ye socks are enjoying the first full day of the holiday weekend.

And, pass the gravy!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Road trippin'

Well, socks, I need to ask for your prayers today, as I'm heading on a road trip up to my sister's house in South Carolina for the long Thanksgiving weekend.

I don't usually hit the highway for the holidays, so not quite sure what I'm getting myself into . . .

Anyway, my postings here may be somewhat sporadic until I return to civilization.

So, if you don't hear from me for a couple of days, enjoy your time off, eat lots of turkey, and join me in cheering for the Gators on Saturday!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Roots Television

My latest genealogical obsession may be found at . . . sorta YouTube meets Family History in that you can pick and choose videos of interest, but they all have root diggin' as a common denominator.

And, of course, once I stumbled across this particular gem, it just had to be posted here in the dryer:


Monday, November 19, 2007

Vanity License Plates

We've all seen them as we drive down the highway, personalized messages on other folks' license plates. If you've ever wondered whether any of your personal messages could be stamped into metal by inmates in the state penitentiary, check out this cool new site I discovered:

It allows you to "test" your personalized message and see if it is available before you have to make the trip down to the DMV.

Oh, and FYI, all of the following were available as of this morning:



Sunday, November 18, 2007

What leadership looks like

The Huckabee campaign began airing a humorous new commercial in Iowa this weekend, featuring Chuck Norris in all his "Walker Texas Ranger" glory.

I don't mean this to be a criticism of Norris or the Huckabee campaign staff, but I would have preferred them to use this video on "What leadership looks like" on the Iowa airwaves.

Judge for yourselves!

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How 'bout them Red Raiders?!

Judging by their performance at Jones Stadium this evening, I can only assume the O in Oklahoma stands for "over-rated."

Mike Leach and his motley crew from Lubbock really put the hurting on "the #4 team in the nation."

But, then again, they did have The Donald on their side, so failure was not an option for Texas Tech.

And, with the deadly combination of Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree, the Sooners really never stood a chance, did they?!

Oh, yeah, and the Gators won, too. So, all in all a good day for college football . . . unless, of course, you're a Clemson fan. (Sorry, Keith, but there's always next year!!)

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Long Sleeves

That's right. For the first time this season, yours truly actually wore a long sleeve shirt to the office.

Ye out of town socks may not fully appreciate the significance of this, but it did not escape the attention of my cold-blooded co-workers who want to crank the heat if the temperature outside dips below 80.

"If HE's wearing long sleeves, it MUST be cold outside!"


I find the cold weather envigorating.

Heat + Humidity = Lethargy

If winter is (finally) here, I say BRING IT ON! I've got plenty more long sleeved shirts where I found this one!

Now, pass the hot coffee . . .


Thursday, November 15, 2007

A clean fridge

That's right, in case you missed it, today is officially "Clean out your refrigerator Day."

I took the media hype as a hint, and was shocked at some of the items that were lurking in my fridge.

How 'bout the strawberry jam that expired in 2005?!

Anyway, I'm glad this special day is followed by Friday . . . one of the days the wonderful folks at the City of Apopka send garbage trucks thru my neighborhood.

They're going to get more than their fair share from me this week!

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The Huckabee Name

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Three Cheers for Ken Follett!

Okay, after the negative tone of yesterday's posting, some of ye socks asked what book I would actually recommend for holiday reading.

I am pleased to respond: World Without End, the recently-published sequel to Ken Follet's awesome The Pillars of the Earth.

This book is also set in the fictional medieval English village of Kingsbridge, with characters who are descended from those in TPOTE. For you genealogy addicts in the dryer, I have compiled a genogram that might help sort out the principal characters in both books:

If you don't have GenoPro installed on your computer, you will have to download it from to make any sense of the file.

The sequel begins with four youngsters who witness a double murder in the woods beyond Kingsbridge. Caris is the daughter of the town's alderman and leading wool merchant. Gwenda is a peasant whose father brought her to town to pick pockets. And, brothers Merthin and Ralph are the sons of one of her targets.

Almost a thousand pages follow this incident, detailing the four main characters interwoven lives. I won't spoil the fun by revealing all the twists and turns their paths take. Suffice it to say, you will not be disappointed if like me you are susceptible to well-composed tales of love (won, lost, unrequited, and otherwise), violence, intrigue, plague, and human spirit.

And, no you can't "borrow" my copy, Philemon.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Phooey on Edward Ball

Ye socks are all too familiar with my attempts to encourage people to read with my numerous book recommendations in the dryer. So, it is with a heavy heart that I feel it necessary to tell you all NOT to bother reading a certain book.

You may recognize the name of Edward Ball as the best-selling author of "Slaves in the Family," in which he explored several generations of relations between his white southern family and their slaves/descendants. It was a good read.

But, his latest book "The Genetic Strand: Exploring a Family History through DNA" is absolute tripe. Don't bother spending good money on it.

I was fooled by the premise: Ball finds nine locks of hair in an old desk and sends them off to some genetics labs to find out what they could reveal about his ancestors' DNA. Sounds interesting, no?

Unfortunately, this guy is so condescending. He even went so far as to point out that most people have eight great-grandparents. Well, duh!

He also quickly reveals himself as one of those self-loathing liberal elites who have nothing nice to say about Western culture and traditions, and looks down his nose at "average" Americans. Here's one particularly offensive quote (pages 129-130):

Most people who do family research are white,
and most of them look for ancestors with the goal
to unearth the whitest, most moneyed forebears
they can.
What an absolute load of crap and nonsense! I know lots of genealogy buffs, both amateur and professional. I can tell you they are not all of one ethnic background, and actually do their research to find out the truth--palatable as it may or may not be to prats like Mr. Ball.
Ball concludes this unworthy book by urging his readers (if indeed he has any left at this point) not to trust science in general and DNA testing in particular. Now, to be sure, scientists make mistakes all the time, and DNA testing is not yet a perfect science. But, they at least try to support their claims with fact--something Ball miserably fails to do.
On the other hand, if you'd like to get your hands on a true literary masterpiece, might I suggest Like the Cats of Kilkenny: A True Story of the Civil War? Autographed copies are available upon request to yours truly.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Til it's over "over there"

Tom Brokaw and his ilk are constantly harping on us to recall the bravery and sacrifices of the WWII generation, but almost everybody nowadays overlooks the lessons of their predecessors who fought in WWI.

Not me, not today. Those who fought in the "Great War" that was supposed to "end all wars" showed the courage and conviction that (sadly) is not found in large amounts anymore. I mean, how many people outside of the dryer do you hear making the vow they made: "And, we won't come back til it's over over there"?!?

In memory of those steadfast heroes of the First World War and in hopes it may strengthen the resolve of modern Americans , I am proud to include in this post a copy of the poem that has become so closely identified with their generation's struggle:

In Flanders Fields
by Lt. Col John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

FSGS in Orlando

The Florida State Genealogical Society held their annual meeting right here in Orlando today.

Actually, they started yesterday, but some of us socks have jobs to attend to on Fridays . . .

Anyway, I enjoyed checking out the vendors and got a new Florida Pioneer Descendant pin. Also, talked to a lot of nice people.

Now, it's back to the promised land of Apopka to get some serious college football game watching done this afternoon.

Orange and Blue!

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Estate Sale Find

You socks who've known me for any length of time have no doubt heard me railing about the "missing" chest of drawers.

I don't want to go into the whole story, because I'd pretty much put the whole incident behind me and resigned myself to living without it.

So, imagine my surprise this afternoon when I was asked to help a friend load a truck of furniture at a local estate sale and found a replacement just sitting there, neglected in a corner of this musty old house.

I had to rescue it.

Now, I just have to figure where the heck to put it.

We should all have this as our biggest worry, no?

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Add this address to your Christmas card list

Just got this from my cousin Sharon. It's not too soon to start compiling your Christmas card list, so consider adding this address:

A Recovering American Soldier
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001
A word of encouragement would, no doubt, be greatly appreciated this time of year.
It's the least we can do for someone who is serving to defend the freedoms we all hold so dear.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Going bananas in Orlando!

I just love it when Central Florida makes national news, especially when we are portrayed as idiots (which is not hard to do).

Well, we did it again.

Just as our infamous rush hour was coming to a close this morning, a truckload of bananas found its way all over the east-bound lanes of I-4 near the Par Avenue exit to fashionable College Park.

No big deal, right? Accidents happen.

Well, that's not what attracted all the media attention. That credit has to go to all the amazing local commuters who put their vehicles into park right there on a major interstate highway to pick up as many armfuls of free bananas as they could carry!

Come on, folks! They only cost 49-cents a pound at the Winn Dixie! Stop holding up traffic!!

How embarassing . . .

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Congress is out of control

And, that's probably a good thing as it only serves to highlight the fact that the Democratic Party has been hi-jacked by its left wing fringe lunatics.

For you socks in the dryer who missed it yesterday, Dennis Kucinich and 21 other Looney Tunes began pushing for the impeachment of the vice-president.

You will remember Kucinich as the fellow who proudly admits to visiting with extraterrestrials at the home of fellow Looney Tune Shirley MacLaine.

Somehow, he and the other intellectual giants in his circle of friends were able to thwart the "leadership" of Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer. Doesn't that speak volumes about the Democrats' unity?

What was awesome about this whole impeachment nonsense was the Republicans in Congress decided not to fight it. Instead, they're stepping back and allowing the lunatics to run the assylum. What better advertising could they possibly get than news coverage of these hi-jackers foaming at the mouth about Dick Cheney?!

So, pop some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the show. It should be a good one!

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Blinded by the light

Ok, this post is NOT going to be a complaint about adjusting to the recent time change.

I actually enjoy not having to leave the house when it's still dark outside.

But, my morning commute takes me from the western fringes of metro Orlando into the city center.

That means driving eastbound.

That means directly into the rising sun.

I need some new sunglasses . . .

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Yep, that was my letter

For you local socks who still read the Sunday Sentinel's editorial page, you will find a letter I wrote after posting my diatribe here on Thursday.

If, like me, you don't buy the print edition of the paper, you can find the letter in question here:,0,7254120.story


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Visiting with the Franclan

Spent the day with my cousin Joanna and her three . . . yes, THREE . . . boys.

It was great weather for visiting, too, as we finally got our first cool snap down here in Florida. Way too long in coming.

Anyway, we took advantage of the brisk, envigorating weather to do a little Christmas shopping and nearly got thrown out of an Applebee's (a la Talladega Nights!)

It seems wierd to be Christmas shopping this early, but the temperatures were right and you have to take advantage of that down here . . . they're likely to go back up into the 80s at a moment's notice, which just kills the holiday spirit.

Well, at least we're getting it done early and avoiding the crowds!

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Friday, November 02, 2007

The office merry-go-round

It was moving day at the office today, dear socks.

I left my old dungeon to a move into a spacious new corner office with (what I hope will be) a lot more privacy, which should allow for greater concentration, etc.

The previous tenant has moved to more commodious digs, as well.

All of this was made possible thru the departure of a former co-worker. Heck of a way to go about doing this, but refer back to yesterday's post . . .

Anyway, moving 3 and a half desks, toting boxes, kicking up dust, trying to sort things out that haven't been moved in over 2 years . . . . I'm whipped.



Thursday, November 01, 2007

Residential construction continues to slide

Well, the Federal Reserve disappointed a lot of people yesterday when they cut their prime rate by only 0.25%. I guess they were expecting twice that, 0.5%. But, this Fall has brought me to the belief that the sluggish housing market cannot be remedied by dropping rates.

To be sure, after their last cut back on 9/18, the industry index (symbol XHB) immediately jumped 5.2%. But, so what?! I mean, this is a bull market, so the increase was simply following the overall trend in its immediate response to a cut. The long term numbers of the fund tell the true story, the industry's stock value has dropped more than 50% since the index was created in February 2006.

There are too many negatives in residential construction right now to expect a Fed cut to turn things around!

The number one problem is record inventories of spec homes, the highest in nine years. If the builders can't sell them, they don't have the cash flow to build more.

The number two problem is the skittishness of lenders, skittishness that is justified given recent events. They are making things harder on would-be borrowers by demanding larger downpayments and tougher property appraisals. But, you can't fault them for taking these actions. They're protecting themselves.

In Florida, at least, it seems the solution to these two real problems is in the hands of the state legislature. They need to tackle the two-headed monster that is prohibiting people from buying up all those spec homes in the builders' inventory. Of course, I'm referring to the soaring cost of property insurance on the one hand, and our ridiculous property tax system on the other.

So far, the gutless wonders up in Tallahassee have failed us by not taking on these issues, generating lukewarm ballot measures that may not even be constitutional.

I assume the situation is the same in other states.

If we could get these state legislators to take action, it would have WAY more of an impact than a Fed rate cut. But, they're not going to do that until we socks in the dryer hold them to account!

Enough ranting. I've got leftover Halloween candy to eat . . .

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