Saturday, February 28, 2009

Of haplotypes and subclades

If those terms don't mean anything to you, don't feel bad. You'd have to be fairly obsessed with the field of genetic genealogy to be familiar with them.

In researching my own genetic origins, I have found that my paternal ancestry is part of Haplotype I. You can see from this map of Europe, that it's fairly common on that continent.

The eggheads have computed the rise of the haplotype to about 28,000 years ago.

Obviously, it's splintered since then.

Those splinters are known as "subclades."

A couple of my recently-discovered long-lost Morgan cousins have had their DNA tested and been told that we belong to subclade I2b.

But, in reading about it online today, I am beginning to think there may be a problem with that. Our YCAII markers (19,19) don't seem to fit nicely into that pigeon hole . . . then, again, I'm not a geneticist, so what do I know?

Guess this means I need to do a little more reading.

It's stuff like this that will kill a weekend for a genealogy geek . . .

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Googling for genealogy

Well, ye socks, I got home from a long work week today to find one of my favorte genealogy periodicals waiting in my snail mail box.

Anyway, one of the articles had broader appeal than the study of family trees, so I thought I'd throw it in the dryer for your benefit.

When using the popular search engine GOOGLE, try these tips to generate the results you're really looking for:

* Put it in quotes. Don't just search for JOHN SMITH. Punch in "JOHN SMITH" instead.

* To narrow the results put a minus sign (-) in front of words you want to eliminate. For instance, continuing the above example, you could type: "JOHN SMITH" -Pocahontas. That would eliminate results about the Indian princess saving the intrepid English explorer.

* To add key words to the search parameters use either the plus sign (+) or the word AND (must be in all caps). For example: "JOHN SMITH" +Pocahontas. Or: "JOHN SMITH" AND Pocahontas.

* Throw in a wildcard by adding an asterisk (*). For example, if the John Smith you're looking for has a middle name, you might enter: "John * Smith". This would still give you all the "John Smith" results, but would also give you results for any page that included a phrase where the names John and Smith were only separate by one word/name.

* Remember that little squiggly line over the n that your Spanish teacher used (~)? If you put it in front of a word, you will get results not only for that word but for synonyms. For example, if you typed in: ~genealogy, you would also get results for family tree, roots, etc.

Good luck tracking down those elusive ancestors!


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Trish's list of 300 movies . . . did I see 191?

Ok, got tagged on this one by a high school classmate, so here goes . . .

Mark the ones you've seen. There are 300 films on this list. Copy this list, then put x's next to the films you've seen, add them up, change the title/header adding your number, and post. Have fun!
(x) Rocky Horror Picture Show
(x) Grease
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean (x) POTC2: Dead Man's Chest (x) POTC3: At Worlds End
( ) Boondock Saints
(x) Fight Club
( ) Starsky and Hutch
(x) Neverending Story
(X) Blazing Saddles
(x) Airplane
(x) The Princess Bride
(x) Anchorman
(x) Napoleon Dynamite
( ) Labyrinth
( ) Saw ( ) Saw II
( ) White Noise
( ) White Oleander
(X) Anger Management
(x) 50 First Dates
(x) The Princess Diaries [I am soooo ashamed . . .] ( ) TPD2: Royal Engagement
( ) Scream ( ) Scream 2 ( ) Scream 3
(X) Scary Movie (X ) Scary Movie 2 (X) Scary Movie 3 (X) Scary Movie 4
(x)American Pie () American Pie 2 () American Wedding ( )American Pie Band Camp
(x) Harry Potter 1 (x) Harry Potter 2 (x) Harry Potter 3 (x) Harry Potter 4 (x) Harry Potter 5
( ) Resident Evil ( )Resident Evil 2
(x) The Wedding Singer
() Little Black Book
(x) The Village
(x) Lilo & StitchTotal
(x) Finding Nemo
(x) Finding Neverland
(x) Signs
(x) The Grinch
( )Texas Chainsaw Massacre ( ) Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
(x) White Chicks
(x) Butterfly Effect
( ) 13 Going on 30
(x) I, Robot
( ) Robots
(x) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
(x) Universal Soldier
(x) Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
(x) Along Came Polly
(x) Deep Impact
() King Pin
( ) Never Been Kissed
(x) Meet The Parents (x) Meet the Fockers
() Eight Crazy Nights
(x) Joe Dirt
(X) A Cinderella Story
(x) The Terminal
( ) The Lizzie McGuire Movie
() Passport to Paris
(x) Dumb & Dumber () Dumber & Dumberer
() Final Destination () Final Destination 2 () Final Destination 3
(x) Halloween
(x) The Ring () The Ring 2
( ) Surviving X-MAS
() Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
( ) Practical Magic
( ) Chicago
( ) Ghost Ship
( ) From Hell
(x) Hellboy
( ) Secret Window
() I Am Sam
(x) The Whole Nine Yards (x) The Whole Ten Yards
(x) The Day After Tomorrow
(x) Child's Play () Seed of Chucky () Bride of Chucky
(x) Ten Things I Hate About You
(x) Just Married
( ) Gothika
(x) Nightmare on Elm Street
(x) Sixteen Candles
(x) Remember the Titans
(x) Coach Carter
(x) The Grudge ( ) The Grudge 2
(x) The Mask () Son Of The Mask
( ) Bad Boys ( ) Bad Boys 2
( ) Joy Ride
(X) Lucky Number Slevin
( ) Ocean's Eleven ( ) Ocean's Twelve
(x) Bourne Identity (x) Bourne Supremecy (x) Bourne Ultimatum
(X) Lone Star
( ) Bedazzled
(x) Predator I (x) Predator II
(X) The Fog
(x) Ice Age (x) Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
( ) Curious George
(x) Independence Day
(x) Cujo
(X) A Bronx Tale
() Darkness Falls
(x) Christine
(x) ET
(x) Children of the Corn
(X) My Bosses Daughter
(X) Maid in Manhattan
(x) War of the Worlds
(x) Rush Hour ( ) Rush Hour 2
( ) Best Bet
(x) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
() She's All That
(X) Calendar Girls
(x) Sideways
() Mars Attacks
() Event Horizon
( ) Ever After
(x) Wizard of Oz
(x) Forrest Gump
(x) Big Trouble in Little China
(x) The Terminator (x) The Terminator 2 (x) The Terminator 3
(x) X-Men (x) X-2 (x) X-3
(x) Spider-Man (x) Spider-Man 2
() Sky High
(x) Jeepers Creepers () Jeepers Creepers 2
(x) Catch Me If You Can
(x) The Little Mermaid
(x) Freaky Friday
() Reign of Fire
() The Skulls
() Cruel Intentions () Cruel Intentions 2
() The Hot Chick
(x) Shrek (x) Shrek 2
( ) Swimfan
(x) Miracle on 34th street
(x) Old School
(x) The Notebook
(x) K-Pax
() Krippendorf's Tribe
(x) A Walk to Remember
() Ice Castles
() Boogeyman
(X) The 40-year-old Virgin
(x) LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring (x) LOTR: The Two Towers (x) LOTR: Return Of the King
(x) Raiders of the Lost Ark (x) Temple of Doom (x) Last Crusade
(X) BASEketball
() Hostel
() Waiting for Guffman
() House of 1000 Corpses
( ) Devils Rejects
(x) Elf
() Highlander
(x) Mothman Prophecies
() American History X
() The Jacket
() Kung Fu Hustle
() Shaolin Soccer
() Night Watch
(x) Monsters Inc.
(x) Titanic
(x) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
() Shaun Of the Dead
( ) Willard
( ) High Tension
() Club Dread
(x) Hulk
() Dawn Of the Dead
(x) Hook
(x) Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
(x) 28 days later
() Orgazmo
() Phantasm
(x ) Waterworld
(X) Kill Bill vol 1 (X) Kill Bill vol 2
(x) Mortal Kombat
() Wolf Creek
(X) Kingdom of Heaven - AWESOME movie!
() the Hills Have Eyes
() I Spit on Your Grave aka the Day of the Woman
() The Last House on the Left
() Re-Animator
() Army of Darkness
(x) Phantom Menace (x) Attack of the Clones (x) Revenge of the Sith
(x) Star Wars (x) The Empire Strikes Back (x) Return of the Jedi
( ) Ewoks Caravan Of Courage ( ) Ewoks The Battle For Endor
(X) The Matrix (X) The Matrix Reloaded (X) The Matrix Revolutions
() Animatrix
() Evil Dead () Evil Dead 2
(X ) Team America: World Police
() Red Dragon (x) Silence of the Lambs () Hannibal
(X) Open Range
(x) The Magnificent Seven
(x) Tombstone
(x) Wyatt Earpp
(x) The Cowboys
(x) The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
(x) Rio Bravo
(x) El Dorado
( x) Red River
(x) Dances with Wolves
(x) The Godfather (x) The Godfather part II (x) The Godfather part III
(x) Analyze This (x) Analyze That
() Hoodlum
(X) Snatch
(x) Get Shorty
(x) Be Cool
(x) The Usual Suspects
(x) Pulp Fiction
() Reservoir Dogs
(x) Donnie Brasco
() Rounders
(x) Traffic
(x) No Country for Old Men
(x) Braveheart
(x) Transformers
(x) 300
(x) Casablanca
(x) Dead Poets Society
() The Red Violin
(X) Office Space
(x) Talladega Nights - "Greatest generation my ass!"
(x) Back to the Future (x) Back to the Future II (x) Back to the Future III
(x) Wedding Crashers
(x) Lost in Translation
() Varsity Blues
(x) Gladiator
(x) Walk the Line
(x) Ray
(x) Love Actually
(x) Glory
(x) Field of Dreams
(x) Stranger than Fiction
(X) Mallrats
() Tin Cup
(X) Beerfest
(x) Young Frankenstein
(x) Robin Hood: Men In Tights
(X) History of the World Part I
(x) Spaceballs
(x) The Blues Brothers
(x) Big Fish
(x) Big Daddy
(x) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

I think that's 191 total . . . but my eyes got crossed trying to count up all those little x's . . .

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Charlie Crist's plan to stick it to Florida homeowners

Any of ye socks who own a home in this little corner of heaven should be pretty steamed about a new property tax proposal that our illustrious tanned governor is trying to push thru the state legislature.

He wants to give an unfair tax break to first time buyers. Anyone who has never qualified for a homestead exemption before in the State of Florida would get an immediate 50% reduction in their assessment.

If passed, more of the tax burden will be shifted to existing home owners.

How fair is that?

Who elected this clown, anyway? It wasn't the unknown numbers of potential first home buyers out there who might take him up on this tax break. No, it was--by and large--the state's existing home owners.

And, now he wants to give us all the shaft.

But, despair not. Even if Snarlie Charlie's willing handmaidens in the legislature do succeed in getting this tripe passed thru both houses, it still must get voter approval as a constitutional amendment.

Time to contact ye olde state reps and senators and let them know what we think about the governor's plan . . .

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why has the stock market taken such a dive?

The simple answer is that too many politicans have been talking about nationalizing the banks.

Politicizing our banks will crush our economy, and prudent investors know that.

Study your history, ye socks! We used to have a national bank back in the early days of our republic. But, Andrew Jackson wisley dismantled it.

Governments are inherently inefficient machines, and they bring their inefficiencies to the market place whenever they take over any business.

They do not have the profit motive necessary to succeed in the private sector. Remember, it was governmental regulations that required banks to give mortgages to people who couldn't make downpayments--or, worse, whose only source of documented income was government welfare programs.

This lack of a profit motive has resulted in government-controlled institutions elsewhere around the world to engage in predatory pricing. In the case of the banks, they would be able to offer below-market loan rates (especially to applicants with the "right" political connections) and thus force any remaining private sector competitors out of business.

Scary though, huh? Yeah. The folks on Wall Street think so, too . . .

Hope and change!

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Educated atop a former toxic gas depot . . .

I learned this disturbing little piece of information today about Chickasaw Elementary School east of Orlando, where yours truly (and his favorite sibling) attended classes from 1979 to 1981.

The Army Corps of Engineer's office up in Jacksonville announced today that the campus was once used by the nearby Orlando Army Airfield as a "toxic gas and decontamination yard." And, they are going to spend some $1.4 million of our bitterly-forfeited tax dollars to screen the site for any residual contamination and debris.

It seems back during the Second World War "the greatest generation" was running hither and yon in what was then inhospitable swampland, learning how to combat mustard gas and other chemicals the dastardly fascists might send their way in the midst of battle.

Don't ask me why the corps is only getting around to checking the site out for public safety some sixty plus years after the war's end . . .

The real question is whether I (and the aforementioned favorite sibling) may now blame our years at Chickasaw for all foibles past, present and future . . .

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Land of Marvels, by Barry Unsworth

Well, ye socks, I just finished this novel about pre-WWI Iraq.

And, I struggled to get thru it.

Basically, it's the tale of a British archaeologist named John Somerville who is running out of time in his quest to unearth an ancient tomb in the Mesopotamian desert.

He has to contend both with an advancing German railroad that threatens to lay its tracks right thru the excavation site, and with violent competing oil interests.

Sounds like exciting stuff, right.


Unsworth's writing style is like a car with a bad transmission. There's a lot of higgety-jerk. Parts of it read fast, and advance the plot line(s). But, other parts are slow--full of excruciating details that simply are not as fascinating as he evidently thinks they are and do nothing to develop his nearly-one-dimensional characters.

In fact, I didn't care a whit that four of the main characters were vaporized at the end of this arduous tale.

Save your time and weary eyes, and leave this book on the shelf.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Feeling empty inside?

If so, you're not alone in this little corner of heaven.

Zack O'Malley Greenburg over at has declared Orlando one of the "emptiest" cities in America.

According to him, homes around here have a whopping 7.3% vacancy rate.

And, rentals are worse: 12.3%.

I can support his findings with some personally-collected anecdotal evidence. Some of the residential unit shells we built as far back as two years ago are not only still sitting empty, but were never finished by the homebuilders. You can peer in the windows (provided, of course, that they haven't been boarded-up) and see exposed wall studs, no drywall, no flooring, and no appliances.

It's that bad.

The flip side of all this excess inventory is there are some incredible bargains to be had. It's a good time to be a buyer, if you can find the financing. But, that's a big "if" in this new era of nationalized banks . . .

In case you're interested, here's Greenburg's top ten emptiest cities from across the country, some even worse-off than we are:

1. Las Vegas
2. Detroit
3. Atlanta
4. Greensboro, NC
5. Dayton, OH
6. Phoenix.
8. Kansas City
9. Jacksonville
10. Indianapolis

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Friday, February 20, 2009

This makes no census!

Well, ye socks, the latest over-reach by the ObamaNation really has yours truly reeling.

In case you haven't heard, Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) declined his nomination as the next Secretary of Commerce.

He did this, because he found out Rahmbo and the White House staff were going to yank control of the U.S. Census out of the hands of the Commerce Department officials who have traditionally overseen the enumeration every ten years. Instead, they want to run the head count from the West Wing . . . as if they didn't have enough on their plates when it comes to overseeing the downward spiral into socialism.

Why is this such a big deal, you ask?

Well, it's a big deal because the new maladministration wants to flout 220 years of precedent and a constitutional mandate to conduct an actual head count. Instead, they want to use "statistical sampling." Basically, they will make up the numbers to satisfy who THEY think lives in a given geographic area versus who is actually there.

No room for Chicago-style shenanigans with that approach, right?!

As an avid genealogist and amateur historian, the possibility of some partisan hack pulling numbers out of the air is even more distressing. It will do away with those handy enumerations full of biographical detail that have helped so many of us research our family trees and local heritage.

The good news is, we've survived this threat before. Ten years ago, Slick Willie tried the same thing and was slapped down by a Supreme Court ruling. Perhaps the ObamaNation will come to their census senses before we have to repeat history thru litigation.

Hope and change!

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

This man is a stooge

Yesterday, to mark Black History Month, our new U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder got up in front of an audience and called us a "nation of cowards."

I hate to take anything out of context. So, when I heard the outrageous news reports of the incident, I quickly got my hands on the entire text of his little speech.

He really said those words. And, he justified them with a rather poor argument that we are afraid to talk about race in America.

What a load of hooey.

The last time I checked, not only are Mr. Holder and the president he serves both African Americans. But, the heads of both major political parties are also black men.

Clearly, our country as a whole is a lot more comfortable with our multi-racial/cultural environment than is Mr. Holder.

Evidently, he will not be content unless we are constantly talking about our feelings. (More likely, he would expect us all to sit quietly while he pontificates.)

I say we have some bigger fish to fry, and maybe he needs to get to work administering some justice or something that fits his job description.

Hope and change.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Curses! Foiled, again!

Believe it or not, ye socks, yours truly has been making a concerted effort to eat more healthily this fine new year.

My own version of hope and change, I guess.

Anyway, it's really hard to do when a parade of well-intentioned folks come streaming thru your office on a daily basis to pimp their various versions of Kryptonite.

Today's culprit was our favorite salesman with a box of breakfast pastries from Charlies' Bakery.

If you're not from Orlando, you won't fully appreciate the implications of that statement.

Suffice it to say, it is impossible to ignore anything from Charlies. Will power, schmill power! What's a sock to do when they're sitting there on the kitchen counter calling your name over and over again?!

Ah, well . . . there's always tomorrow.

In the mean time, if you care to check them out for yourself:

Charlie's Bakery
3213 Curry Ford Road
Orlando, FL 32806


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Our new mortgage

Well, ye socks, at least those of ye of the American taxpayer stripe, today was closing day on our new mortgage.

No, you didn't miss the appointment with the closing agent. The ObamaNation took care of all that for you out in Denver.

They REALLLLLY took care of you.

What a flourish! What panache! How theatrical!

And don't worry, by signing this nearly $800 billion mortgage on our collective behalf, they are not expecting US to pay it back. (Sidebar: Isn't that how this mess got started in the first place?!)

No, instead, they will expect our children, grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren to tote the note.

Seen in that light, it kinda makes the knight on the white horse portrayed in the media look more like the Grinch who stole Christmas, huh?

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Ranking the Presidents

It seems like this day every year, a bunch of liberal eggheads try to spoon feed us their rankings of all the presidents. C-SPAN is offering a prime example today.

I decided to examine the list and rank them myself. Disclaimers: No one got any style points for looking good in a tux or for having a flashy smile. Also, no points were awarded for martyrdom. I only graded on what was accomplised AS PRESIDENT. What happened before or after was not considered.

And, of course, I examine everything from a conservative perspective the aforementioned eggheads will probably never quite grasp.

Ok, so here goes:

1. Ronald Reagan
2. James Monroe
3. Calvin Coolidge
4. James K. Polk
5. Abraham Lincoln
6. Theodore Roosevelt
7. Thomas Jefferson
8. George Washington
9. Dwight D. Eisenhower
10. Harry Truman
11. George H.W. Bush
12. William McKinley
13. Andrew Jackson
14. Ulysses S. Grant
15. Rutherford B. Hayes
16. James Madison
17. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
18. George W. Bush
19. John F. Kennedy
20. Gerald R. Ford
21. Millard Fillmore
22. Bill Clinton
23. William H. Taft
24. Woodrow Wilson
25. John Tyler
26. Chester Arthur
27. John Adams
28. Richard Nixon
29. Grover Cleveland
30. John Quincy Adams
31. Martin Van Buren
32. Lyndon Johnson
33. Jimmy Carter
34. Warren Harding
35. Benjamin Harrison
36. Franklin Pierce
37. Andrew Johnson
38. Herbert Hoover
39. Zachary Taylor
40. James Buchanan

Well, at least we all agreed on Buchanan being the worst.

Three names were left off the list due to incomplete records:
* James A. Garfield - assassinated only a few months after inauguration.
* William Henry Harrison - died of pneumonia a month after taking office.
* Barack Hussein Obama - current commander-in-chief (shudder!)

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

The big race

That's right, ye socks, we've been enjoying Speed Week in this little corner of heaven, topped off this afternoon by the Daytona 500.

Yours truly is not the world's biggest NASCAR fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I've always admired how they put their biggest event at the start of their season. That would be like making the Super Bowl a season opener. Sorta.

Due to the ongoing economic malaise, attendance at the big event was down this year. But, Daytona is still a magnet for the die-hards like my friends Duran and Monica. And, they tell me there was nearly as much celebrity spotting to be had this year as in previous years. Here's a short list:

* Urban Meyer, Gators football coach
* Tim Tebow, Heisman trophy winner
* Steve Spurrier, former Heisman winner, Gators legend, and current South Carolina football coach
* Joey Galloway, wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Bucs.
* Tony Sparano, coach for the 'Phins.
* Gene Hackman
* Tom Cruise

(What's with all the football guys and actors being so in to NASCAR?)

Anyway, I know why I was tuning in to the race. And, I think if ye socks were honest with yourselves, you'd admit to the same reason: We all want to see a big wreck. I'm not saying that we want to see anybody get hurt, far from it. But, we want to see a bunch of 360's and smoking tires.

Well, we weren't disappointed in this running of the 500. In Lap 123, Brian Vickers tried to block Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He failed. Some folks are wringing their hands and blaming Junior for the massive pile-up that followed. But, I was actually watching the tube when it went down, and the blame lies squarely with Vickers.

Later, the race was called due to rain, which was more than a downer. Didn't bother watching Matt Kenseth celebrate in victory lane. And, I probably won't spend much more time watching any more races this year, much less giving this sort of in-depth coverage in the dryer. I promise.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend, and stay out of Junior's way!

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

A folksy Valentine

Well, ye socks, not much going on in this little corner of heaven this holiday weekend.

Yeah, right!

There's always something, right?

Today involved a stroll down Princeton to the shores of Lake Formosa, where the Mennello Museum was hosting its annual Folk Festival.

An interesting, eclectic group of folks there.

Didn't buy anything, just some browsing.

Really, just a good excuse to take a little urban hike.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th bucket list

OK, there seem to be a lot of these lists floating around lately. This one apparently started after the release of the "Bucket List" movie. You're supposed to put an "X" next to the items you've already done. They don't say anything about the items you haven't done . . . and, frankly there are more than a couple that yours truly would scratch off the list completely. Anyway, ye socks, here goes nothing . . .

(X) Gone on a blind date
( ) Donated Blood
(X) Skipped school
(X) Watched someone die
(X) Been to Canada
(X) Been to Mexico
(X) Been to Florida
( ) Been to Hawaii
() Ran out of gas while driving
(X) Been on a plane
(X) Broken the law
(X) Been on a helicopter
(X) Been lost
(X) Gone to Washington, DC
( ) Hugged a homeless person
(X) Swam in the ocean
(X) Swam with Stingrays
(X) Been sailing in the ocean
(X) Cried yourself to sleep
(X) Lived in more than one state
(X) Played cops and robbers
(X) Done a back flip on a trampoline
( ) Recently colored with crayons
(X) Gone on a diet
( ) Ran a marathon
(X) Made a life-long friend
(X) Sang Karaoke
( ) Volunteered at a soup kitchen
( ) Been ice fishing
(X) Paid for a meal with coins only
( ) Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch
( ) Seen the Northern Lights
(X) Been Parasailing
(X) Been on TV
(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't
( ) Learned to play a musical instrument well
(X) Made prank phone calls
(X ) Been down Bourbon Street in New Orleans
(X) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose
(X) Fed an elephant
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
( ) Had a child
(X) Fired a gun
(X) Danced in the rain
(X) Been to the Opera
(X) Written a letter to Santa Claus
( ) Serenaded someone
(X) Seen a U.S.President in person
(X) Been kissed under the mistletoe
( ) Been to Africa
(X) Watched the sunrise with someone
( ) Driven a race car
(X) Been to a Smithsonian Museum
( ) Dyed your hair
(X) Been to a Wax Museum
( ) Seen Mount Rushmore
(X) Eaten caviar
(X ) Broken a bone
(X) Blown bubbles
(X) Gone ice-skating
(X) Been scuba diving/snorkeling
(X) Gone to the movies
(X) Been deep sea fishing
(X) Driven across the United States
(X) Been in a hot air balloon
( ) Been sky diving
() Gone snowmobiling
( ) Lived in more than one country
(X) Learned a foreign language
(X) Lay down outside at night and admired the stars while listening to the crickets
(X) Seen a falling star and made a wish
( ) Enjoyed the beauty of Old Faithful Geyser
( ) Seen the Grand Canyon
( ) Seen the Statue of Liberty
( ) Gone to the top of Seattle Space Needle
( ) Been on a cruise
(X) Traveled by train
( ) Traveled by motorcycle
(X) Been horse back riding
(X) Ridden on a San Francisco cable car
(X) Been to Disneyland OR Disney World
(X) Truly believed in the power of prayer
(X) Been in a rain forest
(X) Seen whales in the ocean
( ) Been to Niagara Falls
(X) Ridden on an elephant
(X) Swam with dolphins
( ) Been to the Olympics
( ) Walked on the Great Wall of China
( ) Seen a glacier
( ) Been spinnaker flying
(X) Been water-skiing/wakeboarding
(X) Been snow-skiing/snowboarding
( ) Been to Westminster Abbey
( ) Been to the Louvre
( ) Swam in the Mediterranean
(X) Been to a Major League Baseball game
(X ) Been to a National Football League game
( ) Been Married
( ) Been Divorced
( ) Swam with sharks
( ) Been White Water Rafting
( ) Seen a Broadway show
(X) Written a book or screen play


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lincoln bicentennial

Well, ye socks, it was two hundred years ago today that the venerable Abraham Lincoln was born.

I used the word "venerable," because a lot folks these days have elevated him beyond even the iconic status he has enjoyed since his assassination. He has become the secular saint of far too many. You've seen them using his memorial up in DC as an altar of sorts, and as an inexplicably potent backdrop to much of their carryings-on.


The truth about Lincoln is that, like all of us, he was painfully human.

Don't take that statement as an insult, though. I think it was his humanity that made him worthy of our collective memory.

As I have mentioned in a previous post in this dryer (see, yours truly has a round-about family connection to the "Great Emancipator." And, I believe it was that tragic episode during his youth and its aftermath that gave Lincoln the tremendous capacity he had for dealing with crisis situations despite personal emotional turmoil.

So, today, I would encourage ye socks to remember Lincoln the man, someone who succeeded despite his many flaws and tribulations.

But, save the veneration for Sunday.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Governor, or Media Whore?

Yesterday, the Florida cabinet was scheduled to meet up in Tallahassee to address (among other things) two huge issues facing our great state.

First, they were to consider how to handle State Farm's plan to leave 700,000 or so households without homeowner insurance.

Second, they needed to decide what to do about our bankrupt catastrophe fund before hurricane season begins.

But, despite the pressing need to do the people's business, our illustrious governor was AWOL.

Instead of doing the job he was elected to do, he was chasing the spotlight down in Fort Myers and pimping The ObamaNation's socialist agenda.

This might have gotten his overly-tan face and Q-tip hair on all the cable news networks. But, someone should have told him that all publicity is NOT good publicity. This stunt will be remembered when/if he ever has the nerve to seek public office in this state again.

What a tool!

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

One day of blog silence for Caylee

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Monday, February 09, 2009

They're not just buying jobs . . .

Stop the madness!

The ObamaNation would have us all believe that we need to pass an approximately one-trillion-dollar spending bill, and do it at lightning speed without any close examination of its contents, in order to create or save three million American jobs.


The numbers don't add up!

Take the $1,000,000,000,000 price tag. (That's a lot of zeros for our kids, grandkids, and their kids and grandkids to repay, isn't it?!?)

Now, divide that big huge number by the 3,000,000 jobs these disingenuous clowns claim to be interested in saving or creating.

That equals $333,333 per job.

At that rate, why don't we just hand out $100,000 annual salaries to the first 3 million out-of-work folks we can find? Even if we had to keep them on the public dole for three years, we'd still be saving money!!

The simple answer is, they're not just interested in saving or creating jobs. They could do that for a lot less than this exorbitant price tag.

No, they're much more interested in expanding the size and scope of the federal government.

And, they want to do it at YOUR expense.

Let your US Senators know how you feel about that.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Devil's Brood

That's the title of Sharon Kay Penman's final installment of her trilogy on Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

I have always enjoyed Penman's work. She has a unique ability to reanimate historic figures. And, the dysfunctional Angevin royal family were perfect fodder.

Some of ye socks may remember something of the saga from watching the classic 1969 film "The Lion in Winter," with Peter O'Toole, Katherine Hepburn, and Anthony Hopkins, in Mrs. Duncan's senior English class.

Penman has the advantage over the screenplay, though. After reading her version of this tangled saga of conspiracy and betrayal, you feel like you actually "know" the characters. This is particularly fascinating stuff if, like yours truly, you can trace your family line back to this period and these people.

I was surprised towards the end of the book, when I caught myself laughing out loud at Penman's account of King Henry's deathbed conversion. Not the sort of subject material that generally makes one laugh, right?

Well, in this case, the stubborn king lay on his deathbed bitterly refusing to reconcile himself with God, feeling He had foresaken his family. But, then, one of his household knights whispered something in his ear. And, Henry quickly ordered his servants to carry him to the nearest church to receive absolution.

Stunned at the quick turn around in the king's attitude, the other knights asked their comrade what he had whispered in his ear. His answer? He had simply remarked if the king went to hell an unrepentant sinner, he would have to spend all eternity with with his equally unrepentant sons!

If you like historical fiction, give this one a chance. And, if you like it, check out Sharon Kay Penman's other works on her website:

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Our first economic disaster

As we battle both bone-chilling weather and an historic economic downturn in this little corner of heaven, today we socks should also take pause to mark the anniversary of an even more dismal period in the history of Central Florida.

I refer to the "Great Freeze," which hit Central Florida on this date way back in 1895.

What was so "great" about it, ye ask?

Well, up until that point, it was cheap and easy to grow abundant citrus around here. That brought a bunch of new settlers to the region, and eventually we were shipping out about 6 million boxes of fruit every year.

But, after that point, trees of all types were destroyed, their sap freezing and splitting the trunks. Fruit blackened, and fell useless to the ground. Only about 100,000 boxes of edible fruit could be found . . . and you had to go south of the Manatee River to find it.

The economic consequences were immense. Many small-time growers simply abandoned their groves and fled the state. And, amazingly, Florida saw it's population decline for the first time in history.

It took the better part of a decade for things to bounce back around here.

Let's hope the current prognosis is not so grim.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

RIP Bill McIntyre

I am sorry to report the passing of my great-uncle Bill McIntyre.

Bill was a Marine veteran of the Second World War. He fought in the Pacific, and had the battle scars to prove it. I think I remember him telling me that he ran away from home when he was only 15 years old so he could fight in the war, had to lie about his age. If he ever regretted that decision, he never said anything to me about it.

I hadn't seen him since my dad's funeral a couple of years ago, but understand he'd been suffering a lot lately. So, while his death will be mourned, it also may be considered a blessing.

I'm kinda glad I didn't see Bill in that poor state of health. I'd rather remember him from those childhood summers back in the early 80s when he and my Aunt Carol would have us over to their apartment complex over on Conway Road to enjoy the pool.

Of course, there was also the SuperBowl party in Bill's cramped apartment, complete with door prizes. I think Mom still has the Holly Hobby plate she won hanging on the wall of her kitchen . . .

And, there was also the time we all piled into Bill's RV to go to dinner at Black Hammock under the watchful gaze of red-eyed gators. That's where he taught me how to eat catfish properly.

The end is not the sum of a man's life. Rather, the full measure may be taken by collecting all the anecdotes from the lives he touched. I'm sure a lot of story-swapping will be done on Bill's account over the next few days, because he touched a lot of folks.

Rest in peace, Bill. You've earned it.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Speaking truth to power

So, a bunch of guys were sitting around a table on a chilly morning in this little corner of heaven, talking about the woes of the Pharisees. Matthew says there were seven. Luke says there were six. Whichever one you believe, those Pharisees were a woeful bunch of folks.

Anyway, one of the guys pointed out how insulting it must have been to have those woes enumerated for you at your own dinner table.

I doubt that's the way it was intended.

Insult is really a one-way street. Just my opinion. You can choose to be insulted, or not.

I think the Pharisees' guest was simply speaking truth to power. That's not something that is easily done, even today. And, back then at least, it could get you killed.

But, rarely in the course of history have those in power needed truth spoken to them more than the modern Pharisees up in DC.

Let's hope they hear it.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Maggie breaks it down

The great thing about truth is that it stands the test of time. It doesn't flutter in the breeze of popular opinion, nor does it bow to the whims of fashion.

As a child of the 80s, I find a lot of my current opinions and viewpoints are still colored by a handful of iconic figures from that period. Of course, there's Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. But, right up near the top of the list is Lady Margaret Thatcher.

Remember, at the time, she was trying to shake-off generations of failed socialist policies in Britain so her country could be a full partner in waging the Cold War.

Her speeches and writings from that era ring just as true today, as the ObamaNation appears hell-bent on descending the spiral staircase of socialism, high taxes, big government spending, and increased regulation of our innate liberties.

But, today, I'd like to remind ye socks of one her best lines:

"The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money."

Keep that in mind as ye witness the wrangling and hand-wringing that will surely take place in DC over the next couple of weeks. The ObamaNation would have us believe the "stimulus package" they have endorsed must pass and pass quickly. But, they are simply wrong.

This is not a "stimulus package" at all. While it contains some items that *may* be stimulative to our ongoing economic woes, it is by and large an omnibus SPENDING package--a double-whammy assault on taxpayers, both living and as-yet-unborn.

First, it will shackle said taxpayers with an unprecedented level of debt, with no real plan on how to pay it down.

Second, and perhaps more worrisome, it will effectively expand the size of our federal government by 33%.

I would encourage ye socks who have not already done so to contact your US Senators, and encourage them to radically ammend the legislation before them. Cut out the fluff, piffle and nonsense! We cannot afford it on any level!

And, if they don't believe you, tell them to start reading some stuff by Thatcher . . .

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

That'll be the day . . .

The words that followed that Buddy Holly hit title almost seem prophetic on this 50th anniversary of "the day the music died."

He was not alone when his plane crashed in that Iowa field. We also lost The Big Bopper and "La Bamba" icon Ritchie Valens.

But, everybody knew then, and appreciates now, that Buddy was the biggest loss.

Looking back on the golden era of Rock n Roll, it is impossible to find a more electrifying figure, someone who better personified the emerging genre.

Not even Elvis. And, I say that even in anticipation of the hate emails the statement will surely elicit.

Perhaps I am biased as a result of spending so many of my formative years in Lubbock, Texas, but Holly's music can still make you jump out of your seat and dance. "Rave on," I say!

In a perverse way, maybe his fans are lucky they never had to see him bloat into a Vegas has-been or once-was like too many of his would-be peers.

Instead of mourning the anniversary of his passing, I'd say we should break out our old vinyl records and decide once and for all which is catchier: "Peggy Sue" or "Maybe Baby"?

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Monday, February 02, 2009

The morning after . . .

If the ObamaNation really wants to unite people in a common purpose, I would suggest one of two sollutions to all the butt-dragging that's going on across the country today:

(1) Move the SuperBowl to SATURDAY! That way, if it goes late on the east coast, we still have a whole day afterwards to recover and be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed little workers on Monday.


(2) Declare the Monday following SuperBowl a holiday.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Did he just say "collateral benefits"?!?!

I refuse to allow the ongoing freakshow that is Barney Frank ruin what otherwise promises to be an awesome day in this little corner of heaven.

But, I had to do a double-take while watching my usual round of Sunday morning news shows, because this buffoon actually got up there on broadcast television to defend wasteful government spending.

This is how bold the hope and change crowd have gotten.

One of the topics o' conversation was the ginormous boondoggle of a "stimulus package" working its way thru Congress and how it's on its way to becoming as big a disaster as the Wall Street bailout package. He pointed out that recipients of that bailout turned around and handed out $18,000,000,000 in bonuses.

Well, Bozo Barney actually had the #*)&*)&## nerve to compare all those dollars ending up in the wrong hands to the "collateral damage" that occurs in warfare. You know, friendly-fire incidents, or cases when innocent bystanders get hurt or killed. Great analogy, huh?

In his world, dollars ending up in the wrong hands are called "collateral benefits." And, they're acceptable, sort of a necessary evil, a by-product of delivering "most" of the money to where it was intended to go.

What kind of philosophy is that?!?!

This is the sort of fiscal responsibility that's trying to re-direct our economy, ye socks.

Stop the madness!

And, bring on the football! We need some distraction . . .

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