Sunday, January 31, 2010

Compiling ye olde reading list

Yes, ye socks, it's that time of year. Yours truly is crafting his reading list for the next 365 days.

One of the tools I use for this is the New York Times best seller list. (IMHO the only reason to peruse said "newspaper.")

A whopping 36 books topped the list last year, which doesn't say much for their staying-power and tells me there's a lot of pulp fiction out there that probably wouldn't appeal to me.

In fact, more than half the books were just the latest in a series.

And, the overwhelming majority seem to fall into one category of crime story or another.

All in all, this is a pretty stinging indictment of our country's literary taste, no?

Anyway, getting back to my own list, I decided only to add the "outliers," those books that didn't fall into the crime series formula . . . or, if they did, only those who topped the list for more than just one week. This is what I came up with, in no particular order:

1. Handle With Care, by Jodi Picoult. The tale of a child with a peculiar disability.

2. South of Broad, by Pat Conroy. A family drama set in Charleston, South Carolina.

3. The Last Song, by Nicholas Sparks. A teenager moves to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, after parents divorce.

4. The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown. Symbologists shift their focus from the Vatican to DC.

5. Ford County, by John Grisham. A collection of short stories about a fictional Mississippi town.

6. Under the Dome, by Stephen King. A glass dome descends on yet another fictional town, this one in Maine.

7. U is for Undertow, by Sue Grafton. The 21st, yes 21st, in a murder mystery series. I only added it because it managed to stay atop the list for 5 whole weeks.

Plenty of spots still availble on the list if ye socks have any suggestions . . .


Saturday, January 30, 2010

1910 Census

OK, getting off the political soapbox I've been on lately . . .

Today, yours truly is contemplating the census, instead.

I saw on TV today, that we should be receiving our 2010 census forms in the mail in March.

It got me wondering how this year's stats will stack up to the data collected a hundred years ago.

I pulled out the file of 1910 Census data I've collected on my forebears.

I found my Morgan ancestors were living over in Crystal River, while my Cox family was already living here in Orlando. Within a couple of years they would become next door neighbors in the latter place.

My Macy great-grandfather was still living with his folks in Pine Castle, a little town south of Orlando. His wife was still living on her father's farm up in Chambers County, Alabama.

My mother's people were still clustered in the crowded neighborhoods of Jersey City, New Jersey; though her Jackson forebears were working in the not-too-distant beach resort town of Long Branch. Every one of the households included at least one person who was born in a foreign country (Ireland).

The average household included six people. Nearly half were engaged in some form of agriculture. And, one was still working as a blacksmith, a line of work that has definitely tapered-off over the last century.

As peculiar as these enumerations may seem to those of us living in 2010, I wonder how much more peculiar they will seem to some as-yet-unborn descendants in 2110. Probably only slightly moreso than the data we'll be submitting on our own households this year . . .

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Presidential Identity Crisis

Did any of ye socks catch any of the coverage of the Republican retreat up in Baltimore today?

I know, I know. This is not the sort of event that generally attracts a lot of attention.

But, it was really worth watching this time, because they invited Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., to appear as a guest speaker.

You really have to give the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue some credit for accepting that invitation.

When I heard he had agreed to be there, I'll admit there was a glimmer of "hope" that he was going to undertake some "change" we really could believe in.

But, that glimmer was quickly dashed.

The ObamaNation is not interested either in learning from its many mistakes over the past year or in compromising with the current minority party in Congress.

Instead, the rabble-rouser-in-chief took this opportunity to tell his hosts what he is NOT.

Apparently, he's neither a Bolshevik nor an idealist.

Well, you have to give him that. Bolsheviks at least gave lip service to the working class, while this administration is clearly more interested in keeping people OUT of work than anything else.

And, as far as the idealist thing goes, did anyone else out there think his rejection of the label sounded an awful lot like Nixon's infamous claim, "I am not a crook?!?"

Baltimore was not about dialogue for Mr. Obama, just another opportunity for pontification and grand standing. He's pretty good at that theatrical kind of stuff. It's the legislating and governing stuff he's still struggling with . . .

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

A coupla billion here, a coupla billion there . . .

Confession: yours truly avoids Orlando International Airport like the plague.

Until this afternoon, I don't think I'd set foot on the property in years.

And, my aversion to air travel isn't the only reason.

Just driving down there to pick someone up means taking your life into your hands.

Seriously, who were the traffic engineers that designed that piffle and nonsense?!?

Anyway, it seems that our illustrious commander-in-chief is bent on making OIA an even more interesting place to visit.

He and his second banana were down in Tampa this fine day to announce they are going to spend billions of our tax dollars to connect that city to our own. One of the terminals will be at OIA. Great.

I guess this is supposed to make up for the billions they are apparently going to cut from the NASA budget. Sounds like a great big ponzi scheme to me . . . one that's going to displace a lot of Central Florida workers.

Hope and change!

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pre-empting the State of the Union

Unlike so many of ye socks (tongue planted firmly in cheek), yours truly does not plan to watch this evening's State of the Union address.

Instead, I plan on tuning-out the coverage that is blanketing the airwaves and cable channels more heavily than the recent Haiti earthquake coverage. The alternatives offered by our friends at Netflix are far more palatable.

I did, however, read an advance copy of the speech.

Not only did it reaffirm my viewing choice for this evening, it also made it abundantly clear the White House still doesn't "get it."

The American people want the economy (and JOBS!) at the top of the priority list, not a federal takeover of our healthcare system.

And, even if we did, the manner in which the president's minions in Congress have been conducting business should be repudiated.

At the end of the day, Americans of all political persuasions prefer basic fairness to back door deals like the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisana Purchase, union exemptions, etc., etc.

It's piffle and nonsense like this that is causing people to turn to DVD's in their mailbox instead of their representatives in DC these days.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Obama's not his only distant cousin . . .

The New England Historic Genealogical Society has let it be known that our illustrious commander-in-chief is a distant cousin of the recently elected Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

That "kinnection" was made thru a fellow named Richard Singletary, who died at Haverhill, Massachusetts, back in 1687. The way the genealogists figure it, this common ancestor makes the current occupant of the White House and the latest Republican sensation no less than tenth cousins.

Well, ye socks, after doing some sleuthing of my own, I have discovered a slightly more recent "kinnection" to Brown. Like yours truly, he is descended from a woman named Sarah Starbuck--albeit his line springs from her second marriage whilst my own comes from her first marriage to a fellow named Joseph Austin of Dover, New Hampshire.

My descent from Sarah and Joseph's daughter Deborah Austin is spelled-out in detail on my oft-cited ahnentafel page:

Senator Brown's descent goes like this:

1. Sarah Starbuck married secondly 2 March 1664 to Humphrey Varney; and died at Dover on 6 June 1719. Their son:

2. Ebenezer Varney (1670-1753) married Mary Otis, and had

3. Samuel Varney (born 2 April 1712), who had by his wife Mary

4. Timothy Varney (1 Sept 1742 - 30 Sept 1808) married 4 January 1764 at Dover to Abigail Hussey, and had

5. Mercy Varney (8 March 1771 - 31 Oct 1840) married 30 Dec 1790 to Amos Hill of Berwick, Maine, and had

6. Timothy Varney Hill (28 Dec 1808 - 22 Jan 1883) of Wells, Maine, who married Rosamond Blaisdell and had

7. Mercy O. Hill of Wells, married Frelinghuysen Moody of Lynn, Massachusetts, and had

8. Charlotte W. Moody (23 Aug 1881 - 2 May 1964) married Charles W. Coleman, and had

9. Bertha Louise Coleman (2 July 1905 - 26 June 2001) married Phillip Newton Rugg, and had

10. Judith Ann Rugg (born 9 May 1938) married 23 November 1937 at Pease Air Force Base to Claude Bruce Brown, and had

11. Scott Philip Brown (born 12 Sept 1959 at Kittery, Maine), the senator-elect in question.

This common descent makes us ninth cousins, one generation removed.

Anyone else out there got a closer "kinnection?"

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Winds of change?

Given the windy weather in this little corner of heaven today, it is probably little wonder that yours truly finds his thoughts turning to the staked plains of his youth.

When we moved to the "llano estacado," we were warned that we would have to compensate for the high winds.

"Either lean into it, or back from it, but don't try to stand up straight in it or it'll knock you down!"

For the record, I chose the lean into it strategy. And, on only one occasion did that have negative results.

With all we've got swirling around us these days, I'm trying to figure out what kind of wisdom might be drawn from that old lesson . . .

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Apologies in advance

I got tagged by one of those Facebook quiz thingies, so here goes . . .

The phone rings. Who will it be? FB or Twitter update

When shopping at the grocery store, do you return your cart? yes

In a social setting, are you more of a talker or a listener? both...depending upon the person and situation

Do you take compliments well? at times...

Do you play Sudoku? yes, but it's not playing. Sudoku is serious stuff.

If abandoned alone in the wilderness, would you survive? yep, ask me about Order of the Arrow some time . . .

Did you ever go to camp as a kid? often, see preceding answer

What was your favorite game as a kid? escape and evade

Use three words to describe yourself? looks for humor

Do any songs make you cry? plead the 5th

Are you continuing your education? daily, but not formally

Have you ever taken pictures in a photo booth? yep!

How often do you read books? daily

Do you think more about the past, present or future? present

What is your favorite children’s book? anything by Richard Scarry

What color are your eyes? blue

Where is your dream house located? I live in it

If your house was on fire, what would be the first thing you grabbed? the cat

When was the last time you were at Olive Garden? YEARS ago

Where was the farthest place you traveled today? Conway

Do you like mustard? yep

Do you look like your mom or dad? good combo of both

How long does it take you in the shower? depends on what I'm doing in there!

Can you do the splits? never tried

What movie do you want to see right now? 500 Days of Summer (just arrived courtesy of Netflix)

What did you do for New Year’s? went to EPCOT with my sister & niblings

Do you own a camera phone? yep

How many hours of sleep do you get a night? shoot for 8, often succeed

What do you buy at the movies? usually just a Diet Coke

Do you wear your seat belt? always

How many meals do you eat a day? 1 real good one, and graze the rest of the day

Do you like funny or serious people better? appreciate both

Ever been to L.A.? nope

Did you eat a cookie today? no, but I did have a cracker which is kinda close . . .

Do you hate chocolate? no . . . who really "hates" chocolate?!?

Are you a gullible person? probably

Are you easy to get along with? as long as I get my way 100% of the time!! :P


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Updated ahnentafel

Ye socks who were not completely bored by the genealogical nature of yesterday's post in the dryer, may also appreciate the fact that I have finally sifted thru all the new material I recently uncovered and have updated my ahnentafel at:

New surnames include Besserer, Buffler, Cox, Depew, Dorge, Dorman, Golzborn, Hagin, Hamerin, Hickman, Hopkins, Jones, Kappel, Leibfried, Mayr, Metz, Necker, Oedacker, Ott, Outten, Partridge, Purnell, Raffensburg, Rottner, Slemp/Schlemp, Shepherd, Smith, Steiger, Twyford, and Zangmeister.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

And the walls came tumbling down . . . well, maybe!

Anyone who has attempted to research their family tree for any length of time has encountered what are known as "brick walls." This term applies to those ancestors who seem to take great delight in thwarting all efforts to trace their roots. When you've been pursuing genealogy as long as I have, you start collecting quite a few of these nuisances.

One of my most frustrating forebears has been my third-great-grandmother Mrs. Martha J. Macy of Pine Castle, Florida. According to family tradition, her maiden name was DEAN. But, while compiling documentation for the General Society of Mayflower Descendants several years ago, I uncovered something of a scandalous discrepancy in the marriage records of Orange County, Florida. They revealed that Martha did not marry my assumed ancestor William H. Macy until 1874--some six years after their son Paul Macy was born. Further, the marriage certificate listed her as MRS. Martha Jane Dean, which left me questioning Paul's paternity. Was he really a Dean by birth, who assumed the Macy surname of his stepfather?!

Over the years, I have undertaken an exhaustive search of the local records, and those of surrounding counties in an effort to solve this mystery. While those efforts proved mostly fruitless, I did discover that Martha and William Macy were living together as a married couple for several years before making it a legal arrangement. They signed deeds together, and were listed as man and wife in the 1870 census of nearby Volusia County (page 739a) . . . though their surname was recorded as MASON instead of Macy!

Recently, that census record and subsequent enumerations encouraged me to pursue a different tactic in the ongoing effort to break down the brick wall. All of these records agreed that Martha, whatever her maiden name was or whoever her first husband may have been, was born in Tennessee about the year 1835. I had already found her second husband William H. Macy living in Tennessee before he came to Florida. So, I began wondering if perhaps the two had known each other up in the Volunteer State, and if records there might reveal not only information about Martha's first marriage but also give some clues about her parentage.

Long story longer, the 1860 enumeration of Germantown (near Memphis) in Shelby County, Tennessee, includes not only the household of William H. Macy and his first wife (nee Mary J. Brandow, Hudson, New York) on page 351. A few pages earlier (331) it also included this family:

* Dean, Galston B., age 32, farmer, born in Tennessee.
* Dean, Martha, age 25[?], born in Tennessee.
* Dean, William, age 5, born in Tennessee.
* Dean, Amanda, age 4, born in Tennessee.
* Dean, Desalma, age 2, born in Tennessee.

Obviously, further research is needed to firmly establish that Galston B. Dean's wife Martha is the same woman who later married his neighbor William H. Macy in Florida some 14 years later. But, this is the first good lead I've had in quite some time!

I did find that G.B. Dean served in Compay I of the 38th Tennessee Infantry Regiment (CSA) during the Civil War. So, it is entirely possible that he left Martha a war widow . . . (See .)

If all this bears out, I also see that another researcher named Angela Wilhite has identified Dean's wife as the former Martha Twyford, and carried her ancestry back to the 15th Century at

I'll keep ye socks posted on the progress of this ongoing search!

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

To be truthful or helpful, that is the question . . .

Are the two things mutually exclusive?

They can be.

Or, so I've discovered.

I guess it's just a matter of tailoring your message to your audience.

Call it self-censorship, if you will.

Besides, you can still say an awful lot using nonverbal communication!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Breathe! We're 25% thru this nightmare!

Yours truly is wondering, given last night's results out of Massachusetts and the earlier reverses in New Jersey and Virginia, if our esteemed "leader" would revise the letter grade he so humbly awarded himself on the Oprah show. ("B")

What is blowing my mind this morning is the level of criticism he is receiving from liberals.

Folks at Human Rights Watch and the ACLU aren't happy with him. And, the anti-gun Brady Campaign went so far as to give him a big fat "F" for his first year's work.

All I can say, ye socks of whatever political stripe, is that this maladministration is like a kidney stone. And, this too shall pass!

Hope and change, y'all! ;)

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Who saw this one coming?!

In Massachusetts, the bluest of blue states, the same Senate seat has been held by a member of the Kennedy family or their surrogate for half a century.

That's going to change as the poll results roll in from the Bay State tonight.

It looks like former Democrat "shoo-in" Martha Coakley is going down in flames.

Behaving as arrogantly as her would-be peers on Capitol Hill, she discounted the political acumen of her Republican rival Scott Brown and the dismay of her would-be constituents . . . so much so that she took time off the very short period of time leading up to this special election to take a Caribbean vacation.

May this give Harry Reid and his ilk pause in their on-going effort to ram Stealth Scare down our throats.

The people have spoken.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Who's calling, please?!

Ok, ye socks, I had something unusal happen yesterday that's worthy of tossing in the dryer for your opinions.

Within the span of 20 minutes, yours truly received three separate phone calls from "unknown callers."

I don't make it a habit to answer such calls, so relegated them to voice mail.

But, none of the mystery callers bothered to leave a message.

Anyway, I did a reverse directory look-up and found all three numbers were traceable to the same small town north of Orlando.

Only one of the searches produced a name, but it was not one that I recognized.

Very odd.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dreams of trees

Heard an interesting homily this morning, thought I'd share it with ye socks.

Three trees were standing around, as they typically do, talking about their dreams: an olive tree, an oak tree, and a pine tree.

The olive tree said its dream was to have its wood used to build a treasure chest. The oak tree said its dream was to have its wood used to build a ship that would carry noble men beyond the seas. And, the pine tree said its dream was to have its wood used to make signs to point the way for travelers.

Well, as dreams so often go, the dreamers were (at least initially) disappointed.

The olive tree was used to make a trough at a humble barn. The oak tree was used to make a simple rowboat. And, the pine tree was cut up into timber and piled-up in an army camp.

But, their dreams were not dashed.

The trough (sometimes called a "manger") was eventually used as a cradle that did in fact hold the greatest of treasures.

The rowboat eventually carried the king of kings over the Sea of Galilee.

And, the timber was used to fashion a cross that was set up as a sign that continues to guide wayward folks to this day.

So, I guess the message ye socks may take from all this is that, even when your dreams don't come true exactly as you envisioned them, they may yet come to fruition according to a bigger plan . . .

Chew on that the rest of this fine Sunday!


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Clear my schedule!

With so much going wrong in this world, yours truly is looking forward to a little escapism this weekend.

The overarching theme is FOOTBALL.

I plan on spending a lot of time with the over-stuffed sectional, engaging in some January-style bracketology.

Here are my picks:

Colts over Ravens.

Jets over Chargers.

Saints over Cowboys. (Sorry, Steve!)

Vikings over Cardinals.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Any more loop holes we should be aware of?!

So, the latest absurdity surrounding the Stealth Scare legislation up in DC involves the Amish.

That's right, the Amish. You know, the people who have sworn off all modern conveniences and tool around Pennsylvania in quaint little horse-drawn carriages.

We all know about the Cornhusker Kickback, whereby Senator Ben Nelson exempted his home state of Nebraska from the increased costs that the other 49 states will have to pay.

Here in Florida, our own illustrious Senator Nelson (Bill) got a similar exemption for the three southernmost (and most-Democratic) counties.

We also know about the Second Louisiana Purchase, whereby Senator Mary Landrieu netted her home state hundreds of millions of dollars to buy her vote.

We learned recently of the unions winning exemption from the new "Cadillac Tax" on their health insurance plans.

Now, we hear that the Amish are going to be exempted.

I guess my question is this: If this is such great legislation, and is going to be such a good deal for the American people, why are SO many people scrambling to find a loop hole to escape being subjected to it?!?!? Hmmmmm . . . .

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Of Corinth and Corinthians

The Thursday Morning Bunch embarked on a journey to Ancient Greece this week.

I suppose it would be more accurate to say that we're starting to read St. Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, but that doesn't sound nearly as exotic . . .

I try to make it a point to learn something new every day, and I got that checked off my list early this morning as we established the historic foundations for our journey.

For instance, I did not realize that Corinth--not Athens--was set up as the administrative center of Greece by the Romans after they conquered the country. And, the "capital" of this puppet state quickly became known for vice.

I guess it would kinda be like someone invading/conquering the United States and establishing the occupation government in Las Vegas or New Orleans or Hollywood . . .

With that kind of an historical backdrop in place, we should be in for some colorful material over the next few weeks . . .

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Debt kills

As the disaster in Haiti continues to unfold, television viewers here in the United States are getting a crash course in the island nation's history.

The historical tidbit that gained my particular attention was the stinging indictment of the French that appeared on CBS news.

That may be in part to my natural predisposition against French politics.

Anyway, it turns out that Napoleon and his successors put a 150 million franc stranglehold on the emerging democracy back in 1825.

This was supposed to be for reparations the French slaveholders "suffered" during the Haitian revolution.

The slaves themselves received no reparations for their years of forced servitude.

Anyway, it took Haiti more than a century to pay off that staggering mountain of debt . . . 1947 to be exact.

I'm not saying that Haiti could have emerged as the proverbial shining beacon of light to the rest of the world if not for French extortionists, but we Americans could learn a vital lesson from this bit of history about the long-lasting impacts of carrying a massive national debt . . .

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010


For the sake
of His
sorrowful passion,
have mercy
on us
on the
whole world!

~ St. Faustina Kowalska

Chaplet of Divine Mercy

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Yet another movie review

Wow, if ye socks didn't know any better, you'd think someone in this little corner of heaven got a new DVD player for Christmas from all the movies being reviewed in the dryer lately . . .

Today's feature "My Life in Ruins," is not a melodrama as the title may imply.

Rather, it is a fairly predictable romantic comedy "starring" the quirky yet attractive Nia Vardalos. Though, the only real star power in the ensemble cast belongs to Richard Dreyfuss.

Basically, Vardalos plays an over-qualified tour director in Greece, who has to learn to have fun and do a little less lecturing as she leads a bunch of oddballs from one set of ancient ruins to the next.

It's fairly obvious from the beginning of the film who the boy would be in this girl-meets-boy scenario, but I won't ruin it for you . . . get it? "Ruin" it for you?!?

Anyway, this DVD made for some good brainless entertainment after a hard day at work, kinda like vicariously traveling to the Aegean . . . ok, well, maybe not that good.

Bottom line: If you like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," you'll like this one, too.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Movie Review

Seeing as the cold weather that has so brutally descended upon this little corner of heaven is of such historic and epic proportions, yours truly determined to remain as close to the home fires as possible today.

And, that generally involves the overstuffed sectional and the DVD player.

So, this Sunday's selection (thanks to our friends at Netflix) was "My Best Friend's Girl."

The only thing I can assume is that someone out in Hollywood was jamming to The Cars on their iPod and decided they just had to make a movie out of the 30 year old song of the same name.

The premise they employed is no less original.

Remember "Hitch" from a couple years ago, the movie in which Will Smith's character gets paid to give dating advice to a hopeless loser played by Kevin James?

Okay, well the "twist" this go-round is that the hired help is played by comedian Dane Cook, who is hired to date the target woman (played by Kate Hudson) and behave like such a horse's rear end that she'll go running back into the arms of the latest hopeless loser (this time played by Jason Biggs).

Oh, yeah, and did I mention that Cook and Biggs' characters are roommates and cousins?

Let the craziness ensue . . .

Alec Baldwin is the only reason this flick was not a complete waste of time. He appears (far too late in this trainwreck, imho) as Cook's wretched letch of a father.

Bottom line: barely better than braving a blizzard . . . but, just barely.


Saturday, January 09, 2010

Surname Saturday

In keeping with yesterday's genealogy theme, I give ye socks the following list of surnames that appear in my direct ancestry (at least as far back as 9 generations):

Airey Anderson Andrews Arnett
Barker Barnard Blakesley (3x!) Blount Bonnell Bonner Boyd Brown (3x!) Burton
Cameron Cartwright Coats Cocke Conner Cox Cullen
Daly Davis (3x!) Dean Dees
Evans Everett
Gaines Gallagher Gleeson Griffin
Hall Hanna Harris Hendricks Hill Hollinger
Irving Ivey
Jackson Jernigan Jones (4x!) Judd
Kellogg King
Leary Lighthall Lorance Lowry Lynch (twice!)
Macy Madison Marriott May Meachum Miller Mizell Morgan
Patrick Pleasant Portis
Reid Robertson (twice!) Rowan Rushton
Selman Simmons Smith Sponable Stith Stockdale (twice!) Swan
Taylor Timmons Touchstone
Walker Webb Wilder

More details can be seen on my ahnentafel:

Let me know if you see any points of possible kinnection!

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Follow Friday

For ye socks who care about such things, here's a list of the genealogy-related blogs that I follow on a regular basis:

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

2 more dvd reviews

OK, given that I still haven't gotten the new Bright House remote, it's a lot easier to watch DVD's around this little corner of heaven lately.

Fortunately, the folks at Netflix stepped up to the plate and delivered two selections this week.

#1 was "Funny People," starring Adam Sandler as a comedic actor (big stretch, right?) facing a terminal illness. He hires Seth Rogen to help him write jokes. Beyond that, the premise of this film is really contrived.

Be forewarned that this film employs a lot of blue humor, which might offend some of ye socks. It also features numerous celebrity cameos. The highlight (?!) was probably the exchange that occurred between Eminem and Ray Romano . . . Suffice it to say, not everybody loves Raymond!

Some of the one-liners produced chuckles around here, but all the cursing and vulgarity eventually seemed gratuitous.

Selection #2: "Lost in Austen" features modern London banker chick Amanda Price (played by Jemima Rooper) who would rather read "Pride and Prejudice" than spend time with her semi-loser boyfriend.

Somehow, Amanda's bathroom shower becomes a porthole to the Georgian England setting of said novel, and she swaps lives with the protagonist Elizabeth Bennett.

Well, at least this premise was better than its predecessor . . . assuming, of course, that the viewer is well-versed in Jane Austen. If you're not an Austen fan, though, you probably won't like this film.

Bottom line: Funny People and Lost in Austen both target niche audiences. Make sure you fit in the niche before ordering either flick.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Nollaigh na mBan

I'm sure many of ye socks have heard (or even sung) the familiar carol that begins "Have yourself a merry little Christmas."

But, were you aware that "Little Christmas" is actually a special day in the calendar of Irish folklore?

Well, it is.

In celebrating the proverbial 12 days of Christmas, the last day is designated by the Irish as "Nollaigh na mBan" (in Gaelic) or "Little Christmas" (in English).

But, a more literal translation of the native name would be Women's Christmas.

That literal translation would be quite appropriate, given the way the day is celebrated.

Traditionally, the women of the family spend Nollaigh na mBan hitting the town, while the men are expected to tend to the household in their absence.

I guess, having spent weeks shopping, baking, cooking, etc., in preparation for the other 11 days of Christmas, the ladies are due at least one day to regroup!

So, have yourselves a merry Little Christmas!

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

I know, marshmallows woulda tasted better . . .

Considering the weather forecasters are saying it will drop down to 26 degrees in this little corner of heaven tonight, and given the fact that the master of the house is unwilling to crank the heater above 66 degrees, yours truly decided a cup of hot cocoa would be a good accompaniment for some much-anticipated NCIS viewing.

Unfortunately, as I was getting situated in "command central," ye olde clicker fell straight into my steaming mug of chocolatey goodness . . .

Now, none of the buttons below the first row of numbers will work. Or, I should say, they don't work as intended.

I'm wondering how difficult it's going to be to get Bright House to give me a new one. (Already know how hard it's going to be to get up to change the channel and adjust the volume!)

Keep warm out there, ye socks!

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Monday, January 04, 2010

RIP, Mary Fitz

My first day back to work after the blur that was the holiday season, and it has to start off with some sad news from one of my New Jersey kin . . .

My Grandma G's cousin Mary Fitz (more properly Mary Elizabeth Irving FitzGerald) died in her sleep on New Year's Day. She was 86 years old.

Mary Fitz was born 11 September 1923, a daughter of Alex Irving, youngest son of my English emigrant ancestor "Honest Bob" Irving. (Yours truly is a great-grandson of Alex's sister Lil Irving Norton.)

My grandmother often told me stories about how she would babysit for Mary Fitz and her siblings after their mother's untimely death. Babysitting in those days apparently involved taking the kids to see the "picture shows."

Anyway, Mary Fitz grew up to attend Seton Hall University and worked as a public health nurse for many years in Jersey City.

I have several letters that she sent me over the years, each containing tidbits of family history.

She was a passionate promoter of literacy, and was named Literacy Tutor of the Year in 1997 by the Literacy Volunteers of America.

Mary Fitz didn't actually become Mary Fitz until late in life, when she married a Canadian fellow named John T. FitzGerald. He preceded her in death many years ago. They had no children. She was also preceded in death by her brother George Irving. Her sister Anna Mae Ness survives, as do numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Visitation will be Thursday at the McLaughlin Funeral Home on Pavonia Avenue, Jersey City, on Thursday. Funeral Mass will be offered at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church on Friday at 10am, with interment to follow at Holy Cross Cemetery.

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Weekend double feature

Following up on yesterday's post . . .

Thanks to our good friends at Netflix and Santa Claus for the new DVD player. They kept yours truly from going stir crazy with cabin fever on an unusually cold Central Florida weekend.

Selection #1 was "Angels & Demons," the sequel to last year's hit "DaVinci Code" adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling novel. Tom Hanks returned to star in it. And, there was a lot of neat scenery as he ran all over Rome trying to thwart a quadruple assassination and bomb threat. Not as good as the first film. Glad I didn't pay to see it in the theater. But, well worth a DVD rental, especially if it keeps Mother Nature at bay this winter.

Selection #2 was "Star Trek," the summertime hit that told the story of how Captain Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov, Dr. McCoy, and Scotty met. I was chided for not seeing this one in the theaters, as the space-diving scene was supposed to be really cool on a large screen. Somehow, I managed to survive. Then again, I'm not a trekkie . . . er trekker. Bottom line: Same as Selection #1, just ok but better than dealing with the cold weather.

Now, off to update my Netflix queue . . .


Saturday, January 02, 2010

Feeling a little irresolute . . .

Nothing like being a day late to start off 2010, but I was too busy with out-of-town company this past week to worry much about compiling any list of resolutions for the new year.

I really don't put much stock in them, anyway.

Probably, because I don't have the greatest record of checking-off the items on them.

But, for auld lang syne sake, I decided to give it one more whirl today.

How sad is it that the most-ambitious-yet-still-achievable thing I could come up with was to clean out my car?!

I mean, I even scratched out the second half of the original draft of that resolution. (Which was, "and keep it cleaned-out!")

I think I'm just gonna set this fruitless task to the side for the moment, and pop in one of the Netflix DVD's that arrived in the mail . . .

Pass the popcorn!

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Friday, January 01, 2010

12 Hours at EPCOT

This is what one's niece looks like after a VERY full day playing tourist.

And, yes, those are my socks. They are covering up a pair of feet that are almost as worn out as she is.

We did a LOT of walking today. (In case you didn't know it, EPCOT is an acronym for Everybody Comes Out Tired.)

Had to battle with the elements, too. It was rainy and blustery when we first got to the park this morning. Then, as the cold front finally pushed thru this little corner of heaven, we were forced to break out the sweaters and gloves. Ah, Florida winter weather . . . gotta love it!

Anyway, Miss Morgan provided us with endless entertainment today, the highlight being at the Moroccan restaurant where she boldly left our midday meal to school the natives in the fine art of bellydancinig.

No wonder she is so tired, huh?!

Maybe, this means she (and her brother) will sleep all the way back home tomorrow?

I doubt it.

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