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Ginger – Week 3 2018

Last week we left off with Ginger, the mischievous elf, planting peppermint seeds.  Let’s see just what happened!

Elf with candy canes in planters
Saturday and the “seeds” have sprouted!
Elf with large candy canes in the planters, and plates of elf doughnuts
Sunday morning and she has elf doughnuts for the girl’s breakfast. And look how big the candy canes have grown!
Elf napping with our large dog.
Monday – It was a tough weekend. She took a nap with the dog.
Elf with a snowman made from toilet paper rolls
Tuesday finds her with a TP snowman!
Elf tangled up in ribbons and wrapping paper.
On Wednesday she tried to wrap some presents for the girls. It didn’t go well.
Elf wrapped in a towel sitting the fridge.
I guess the Florida “winter” isn’t enough for her, so on Thursday, this is where we found her!
Elf wrapped in foil like a giant chocolate kiss candy.
Friday finds Ginger all wrapped up like a big chocolate kiss candy. Yum!

Ginger will return home to the North Pole next week. I wonder how she’ll go out (with style of course) this year? Check back to find out. Same elf time, same elf channel!

P.S. Be sure to search “Ginger” to see all the posts!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 30 November

Well here it is, the last day of November. Florida has had a bit of cold snap, very early for this year. 

Lately, I have been listening to the Deep Track channel on Sirius XM more. I do this for two reasons, primarily because I get to hear songs that don’t get a lot of airtime, and second for Earle Bailey’s Head Trip show.  Mr. Bailey is also the morning drive DJ on the Classic Vinyl channel. I really enjoy his DJ work. He has a great voice (whereas I was told I have the perfect face for radio!), is very knowledgeable about the music and has a rather dry sense of humor. 

Yesterday’s Head Trip was all instrumentals. When he first promoted the concept, I was intrigued. The show did not disappoint. Earle talked about a song I had never heard. Taurus by Spirit. The interesting thing about this particular track is, well, let me quote from the wiki;


 Guitar World magazine stated that “California’s most enduring legacy may well be the fingerpicked acoustic theme of the song ‘Taurus’, which Jimmy Page lifted virtually note for note for the introduction to ‘Stairway to Heaven‘.”[4] The Independent noted the similarity in 1997.[5] In 2014, Mark Andes and a trust acting on behalf of Randy California filed an copyright infringement suit against Led Zeppelin in an attempt to obtain a writing credit for “Stairway to Heaven”.[6][7] Page denied copying “Taurus”,[8] and the suit was unsuccessful.[9] The verdict was overturned on appeal in September 2018.

If you listen to Taurus, I think you’ll agree that Stairway is a copy.

But as Alro and I said in this post; “That’s not what I came here to tell you about”. 

When there is a show about “Classic Rock” (and I still hate that term), that’s all instrumental, I will always listen for one song in particular. 

This track has always been near the top of my list of all-time favorites. I would dream of one day being able to play it myself. Sadly, I can only play it on the radio. My guitar skills suck.

In case I’m being too obscure here, I’m talking about Classical Gas by Mason Williams. Reading up on Mr. Williams, I didn’t realize that he was also a comedy writer. He has written for some of my favorite shows, The Smother Brothers Comedy Hour and Saturday Night Live among others. 


It was on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour that he created and perpetuated the 1968 “Pat Paulsen for President” campaign, an elaborate political satire. Williams also helped launch the career of entertainer Steve Martin. Martin was hired by Williams as a writer on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, for which his contributions were initially paid out of Williams’ own pocket. In 1968, he won an Emmy Award for his work as a comedy writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mason_Williams

I’m not sure if this clip is from The Smother Brothers show or not, but it’s still impressive.  Enjoy!

What’s your favorite instrumental?

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 19 November

As I’ve mentioned before Turkey Day 2018 is just around the corner. And that also means my birthday is right there too.  But this isn’t a post about my birthday. It’s something very Thanksgiving related.

In a previous life, I was an on-air DJ. I didn’t do it very long, as the money just wasn’t there, and I had a wife and newborn to take care of. Back then I watched TV. There were several shows that I really enjoyed, Barney Miller, Taxi, and SNL were excellent shows (although I had trouble staying up for SNL). But my favorites were Cheers and WKRP In Cincinnati. Music and a bar? Even back then that was where my head was at.

WKRP and the cult movie FM were two of the reasons I wanted to be a DJ. I have not been able to find a source to watch FM again. Which is a major bummer because Martin Mull is so hilarious. But WKRP, well that’s a different story. I believe every episode is available on YouTube.

This episode has to be the craziest ever! According to the wiki page, it’s even based on a true story!  Check out the wiki page for some very interesting facts about the show.

 Many of the characters and even some of the stories (including season 1 episode 7, “Turkeys Away”) are based on people and events at WQXI.

As funny as this clip is, it leaves out station manager, Arthur Carlson, after the drop exclaiming “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!”

But my hero’s, intrepid newsman Les Nessman (winner of the Buckeye Award!), cry of “Oh! The humanity!” makes this so damn funny.

Peace,
B

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DNA Testing – What Can You Learn?

So just what does a DNA test tell you about your heritage?  You may have seen the Ancestry DNA commercial that’s been all over (at least my) TV lately. I tried to find it on YouTube, but couldn’t. It shows a young woman who has discovered a long-lost relative using their DNA testing service. It even goes so far as to imply that she not only found this ancestors name but that he had blue eyes as she does.  All from a DNA test? Not likely. What it doesn’t tell you is that you need a lot of hard genealogy work to find these kinds of things out.

I have had my DNA tested by both Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. Surprisingly, the results were very similar. Both give my heritage as very “Scottish”.  As a member of the Campbell group on Family Tree DNA, I have found that my DNA just might POSSIBLY point to a Pictish lineage.  For those that don’t know who the Picts were, they are considered one the earliest inhabitants of Scotland. They are basically made up of the Celts that came across from what we would call Germany today, Vikings that come from the northern Scandinavian countries, and the people who came across from what we call Ireland and then north up to Scotland. This shows just how impossible it is to be of “pure stock”.

Bruce's ethnicity

As you can see, my results from Ancestry DNA show a varied makeup.

The image above somewhat supports the findings from Family Tree DNA. My main groups do point to the historical makeup of the ancient Picts. But, since the Picts did not leave any written records of us to study, we can’t be completely sure.

But what does it prove? In all honesty, it doesn’t “prove” a damn thing. Without some genealogy work, it will never tell you much.  I have done a bit of work at Ancestry chasing down my family tree. I have managed to solidly confirm the Campbell line back to the 1860’s or so. I just may have a lead going back to the 1780’s or so, but have not been able to confirm it. Ancestry does have very fine resources such as US and UK census records. How much access you get depends on how much you’re willing to pay.

Unfortunately, all the matches I’ve found through DNA testing have not been on the Campbell side. I did have one gentleman who matched my DNA (up to 37 markers) exactly. But he will not answer my emails to see how we are related.

I would like to call your attention to this page; “Two Lies And The Truth About DNA Testing”. The big take-away for me from this blog post was;

I want to stress that DNA Testing is of little value to anyone except yourself if you don’t do the genealogy research to back it up and share it.  A common complaint among testers is that the test result is wrong.  That’s probably a misunderstanding. Genetic testing is pretty reliable.  What isn’t so well-known is that people traveled, sometimes quite a lot, even back to ancient times. Our genes have been mixing through migrations, marriages, immigrations, wars, and conquests for as long as we have been here.  If you believe it to be wrong, prove it. But don’t forget to study up on world history first.

Source: http://blog.ancestorcloud.com/2017/05/19/two-lies-and-the-truth-about-dna-testing/ 

And from this blog;

Alva Noë explains at NPR:

Shakespeare’s kid probably had 50 percent of his DNA; his kid in turn, on average, a quarter, and so on. Within 10 generations, Shakespeare’s DNA has spread out and recombined so many times that it doesn’t even really make sense to speak of a match. Putting the same point the other way, each of us has so many ancestors that we have no choice but to share them with each other… The truth is, you have your history and your genes have theirs.

So basically, trying to say some famous person is related to you without doing the genealogy work, and only relying on a simple DNA test, is impossible.

I’m not telling you NOT to do DNA testing. I just want you to know that the test alone will not answer most of your questions. Wifey’s® results from Ancestry gave her what she wanted. She wasn’t looking for a long-lost relative. She only wanted to see the “mix” of her heritage. But no, I will not post her results. That would be TMI. Hell, I don’t even use her name on this blog, why would I give you her DNA makeup???

One more consideration. What happens to your DNA test results? Family Tree DNA does not share your results without your consent. Can’t say the same for most of the others.

In the end, ask yourself why you want to do the test. Is it for health reasons? Trying to fill out, or start, your family tree? Just curious (as was Wifey®)? For whatever reason, read the fine print before you do the test.

And remember, your results may very well vary between companies. Take your results with a grain (or maybe a shaker) of salt.

Peace,
B

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Duuu.. Duuu.. Looking Out My Back Door (Or, Oh Hail!)

(With apologies to CCR)

So I have training in Orlando all this week. For the locals, that means I-4 both ways. Prayers and good wishes are accepted.

Today, the first day of spring we had a nasty storm come through. And as usually happens, it hits Orlando before it hits Daytona. So I’m in class and the storm moves through dropping about marble sized hail. But it clears by the time I get out of class. No problems the entire time on I-4.

But as soon as I get off the interstate it starts to rain. But I can deal with rain. I even managed to get home before it started racing hard. Then out of nowhere I hear what sounds like branches falling on the roof. It wasn’t branches, it was good sized hail.

Hard to see through the screen, but I wasn’t going out there!

Peace,

B

Question For My Fellow WP Bloggers

For my fellow Word Press blogging friends (and those I haven’t met yet). What plan do you use? I am currently on the el-cheapo “Personal” plan. So my options are very limited. As such, I can’t use any plugins, which I would like to do. But the cost for the “Business” plan (the only plan that allows plugins) is almost 5 times what I’m paying now.

I think that if I upgraded to the Business plan, I could generate more traffic to the blog (of course if I had a real “theme” and not just random stuff it would help too).

So what are your thoughts?  Should I go for the more expensive plan, get a more cohesive theme or just stay as I am and see what happens? I feel the next plan up “Premium”, which is only about $3 more a month won’t give me the options I’m looking for. I’m not looking to “monetize” the site but allowing ads for friends blogs (we called it a “blogroll” way back in the day) would be helpful.

So what are your thoughts? Any suggestions (including shut-up and go back to drinking) will be accepted. For those that read this blog on a regular basis (both of you), do you see a direction I should focus on?

I originally thought this would be a “faith” (or lack thereof) blog. But I noticed my food posts were getting better hits, so I thought maybe that way (like there aren’t enough of either of those blogs). Now I find my travel and humor (as low brow as it is) seems to generate the most interest. But I want a different point of view.

So please leave comments, and be really honest. I’ve been married for almost 37 years, spent 20 years as an Army paramedic (and even for a short time served on a church staff). There are no names you can call me, nothing you make me do, nothing you can put on me (bodily fluids etc..) that I haven’t already experienced. As the saying goes, Been there, done that, no t-shirt was given.

Thanks for any suggestions,
B

So This Christmas… Finally! 

Well it’s taken more than two weeks but I finally heard John Lennon’s “So This Is Christmas (War Is Over)”. It did take Wifey and I taking the little girls through the “Magic Of Lights” display at the Daytona Speedway. And for any locals reading this it’s worth the price of admission. And it did take us having the radio tuned the damn channel that starts Christmas music – All Day, Every Day – the day after Thanksgiving to hear it. Oh how I hate that station, at all times of the year. So I gritted my teeth and didn’t say anything with Bing Crosby, Andy Williams and Dean Martin crooning away, hoping beyond hope that I would be able to hear the one song I needed.

It took about two thirds of the way through for it to finally play. And if course, nobody else cared. 

So, from me to you, Christmas can start now. All my credit card debt is not in vain. 

So, peace on earth, good will towards men (and women too).

B

New Moon Rites

According to the Lunar Phase app on my Android phone, the new moon will October 19th at 0312 EDT. Since I hope to be in bed asleep at that time (but there is no guarantee of that) I will celebrate around sundown tonight on the 18th.

To interpret the flow of terrestrial magnetism— the dragon current, the serpent path— it is also necessary to watch the night sky. Night, to ancient people, was not an “absence of light” or a negative darkness, but a powerful source of energy and inspiration. At night cosmos reveals herself in her vastness, the earth opens to moisture and germination under moonlight, and the magnetic serpentine current stirs itself in the underground waters— just as the thick, snakey spray of stars, the Milky Way, winds across the night sky. Moon phases are a part of the great cosmic dance in which everything participates: the movement of the celestial bodies, the pulse of tides, the circulation of blood and sap in animals and plants. Observation of the night sky, of the stars, and especially of the moon, was the beginning of mathematics and science.

Sjoo, Monica; Mor, Barbara. The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth (p. 139). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The ancients viewed the time of the new moon as a time that the Goddess went to the underworld to be with her “other half”, usually depicted as a son and/or lover.  It was not a time to be feared, but a time of fasting and introspection to be ready for when the moon Goddess reappeared in the sky. Some saw the moon as a male entity.

The timing of the new moon, usually a two to three-day event, has been echoed in almost every major religion;

In later Neolithic times some cultures saw the moon as male, as the son/ lover of the Goddess. As the vegetation deity died once each year, to fertilize the crops with his blood, so the male Moon God died each month. He disappeared for three days, locked up in her underworld. This myth was continued in the ritual of Christ being closed up three days in the tomb. In Polynesian belief the dying moon journeyed to a faraway paradise where it bathed in waters of immortality, and restored to vigor, returned in three days.

Sjoo, Monica; Mor, Barbara. The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth (p. 177). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The next full moon will be November 4th, at 0123 EDT. Again I hope to be sleeping, but for me, that is when I will celebrate Samhain. The ancient Celts, like most of the ancient world, were a lunar based society.  The Celts were not afraid of lunar eclipses. We celebrated them. It wasn’t until about 5000 BCE and the coming of the Druidic age that they turned to a “sun god”.

Avebury, on the Wiltshire Downs in the south of England, was the sacred center of megalithic culture in Britain. Avebury’s stone circle is the largest yet found in England. It dwarfs Stonehenge. (There are seventy-seven other stone circles, or henges, dating from the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age.) Avebury was built by pre-Celtic people, living in a farming community circa 2600 B.C. For thousands of years before its construction, the entire landscape of the surrounding area, stretching for about 37 miles, had been seen as the outline of the body of the Goddess. Every hill, mound, stone, and long barrow was believed to form part of her maternal body. The three stone circles at the “causewayed camp” at Windmill Hill nearby predated Avebury by more than six hundred years. The Avebury monuments, which include Silbury Hill and West Kennet long barrow, form a “condensed sequence of visual sculpted images within the center of the larger and more ancient presence. They express together journeys of cosmic range and the entire yearly agricultural cycle within the space of three fields.”

Sjoo, Monica; Mor, Barbara. The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth (p. 133). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Does anyone else have any moon rituals they celebrate? Leave a comment if you do!

Peace,
B

First 4 Week Check-In

Four weeks ago, Wifey and I started the paleo eating plan. It didn’t take us long to realize it wasn’t for us. So I did some more research and switched to the keto eating plan. We were following it closer than paleo from the beginning anyway.

So after following the two plans (not exactly very strictly either) I have lost 3.4 pounds. I was hoping for something closer to 10, but again we were just easing into this. As today will be my last beer day for the foreseeable future, I expect better results next month.

But, on the good side, I have lost 3 inches from my belly! This could be due to a number of reasons.

  • Exercise has tightened my abs.
  • Maybe the exercise has burned off some intra-muscular fat as opposed to the subcutaneous belly fat.
  • I have added muscle weight (which according to my doctor is seven times more dense than fat), which accounts for the small weight change.
  • I suck at measuring.  As the Mythbusters said; “Failure is always an option.” I may have taken my measurements in different spots than last time.  But this is an average of three measurements, so hopefully this is not the reason.

But I still have a way to go. We will be eating stricter to the guidelines laid out for keto, but getting down to 20g of carbs a day will be a very difficult battle. Cutting out beer, even the light beer I switched to, will help immensely.  Provided I can do it.  That will be the biggest challenge of all time.  Giving up ice cream was easier.

Please leave a comment if you have ways to cut alcohol (other than meetings – I won’t do that).

Peace,
B

Therapy.. kinda

So tonight was a bit bittersweet. I had to say goodbye to a friend who is moving to Oregon. Wifey and I have thought of moving to Oregon as well. We think the political leanings and lifestyle fit our attitude better.  But that’s not I want to write about.

If you have read this (very new) blog you know we are seeking better health. Basically I have gone from my “fighting weight” (when I was in the Army) of 165ish to a whopping 210. It did take 25 years after I retired to reach this weight, but the fact remains, I have quite the beer belly. And yes, its beer (and chicken wings) that caused this.

So I have made a decision. I have 4 beers left in the fridge. When they’re gone, they’re gone. No more until I get this situation under control. No idea how long it will take. I may never have another beer (shudder). I’m going from a 20 year six-pack a day to nothing cold turkey.  This will not be easy.

Which brings me to my first point. At tonight’s “goodbye” I didn’t have to pay for anything.  The lovely lady that is leaving us, is a co-owner of the best Irish pub in town. So as soon as I walked in (and greeted folks including my oldest son) I was handed my usual Guinness. Well one stout won’t kill me carbs for the keto plan.  Then without asking a shot of a very fine Irish whiskey, Redbreast 15-year-old, showed up. One each for myself and my son. No big deal I thought, I can sip this slowly, which I did. We did order a second Guinness as was the plan.  Two beers and leave. Didn’t plan on the shot of whiskey, but we took in stride as good Scots do. Then, suddenly another Guinness was on the table, again without asking.  Just a wink from our friend.  Well, hell. Guess we’ll have to drink that one too.  At least another shot of whiskey didn’t show up as well. But again, that’s not what I want to write about.

The main point is this; I have stated many times on social media that I am trying to curb, if not entirely cut out my alcohol consumption.  Basically I have never received any response, either helpful or ridicule, to these posts (usually Twitter – I’m not a  big fan of Facebook).

I admit that I have created a clown image my entire life.  While I was never the “class clown” (to introverted for that), I had a very wicked and at times cruel sense of humor. I believe that even though most of the people, in fact maybe just two people, on Twitter know me outside of social media, the clown persona remains. My serious posts get ignored, while my sarcastic or even idiotic posts get liked and retweeted. Such is the life of the clown. And just so you know, I do have a registered clown face with Ringling Brothers (Skeeter the clown. From High Pockets Alley Gang) maybe one day I’ll post a picture, we’ll see.

So tonight I posted;

Word of warning. When I finish the 4 beers in my fridge I’m done. I may get quite surly. Keep me in your thoughts please. Won’t be easy.

Specifically asking for thoughts and a little help.  What do I get? Crickets. So I’m asking you dear reader, to keep me in your thoughts and/or prayers if that’s what you do. Send me good vibes (and maybe some good grilling recipes). Damn, that was the clown coming out again. And don’t hesitate to ask me for thoughts and vibes going back to you (sorry I don’t believe in prayer). And I have many recipes I can share as well!

For now, I’m going to turn up the music, put on the headphones and chill. Tomorrow is another day, and the last of the beer. Sunday better be ready, it may be bloody….

Peace,
B