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Scotland 2019 – Wrap Up

Just some thoughts and ideas that came out of our wonderful trip to Scotland.

First – Scotland was more than I ever imagined. I saw things that I didn’t expect, such as Kilchurn Castle, Loch Ness (even if Nessie was a no show), a Clan Campbell Jacobite memorial stone at Culloden, Greyfriars Kirk and the tomb of Bloody Mackenzie, just to name a few. But there were things I didn’t get to see; His Grace, The Duke of Argyll (my clan chief), the Kelpies, Holyrood Palace (it was closed due to a visit from the Royal family), and a much too short visit to the Isle of Skye. But I would not have traded it for anything!

Here are a few things that, as an American, I found odd;

  • No top sheets of the beds! All our hotel room beds did not have top sheets! Just a bottom sheet and a down filled duvet. Some nights this was very uncomfortable. The windows in most of our hotels only open a few inches, wifey and I both had trouble sleeping.
  • No air conditioning. This is understandable since the climate is much cooler than what we have here in Florida. But add to this the first bullet point, and again, very uncomfortable.
  • Lots of nose rings. Not sure if this is a Scottish thing or what, but lots of younger folks had rings in their noses! While I will never tell someone how to decorate their body, it is not a look I find attractive. Just my opinion.
  • Why do the toilet paper rolls have the paper going under the roll? This was not only in Scotland, but on the British Airways flights we were on. It is so much easier to get the paper from the front of the roll than behind it. Yet almost every restroom (toilet to them), was behind the roll.
  • The traffic lights go yellow between each cycle. Here in the USA our lights go green, yellow, red, green. In Scotland it’s green, yellow, red, yellow, green. I kinda felt like I was at an NHRA Dragster event!
  • And if you want a bottle of water, you have two choices; still and sparkling. The names are apparent AFTER you ask for your first bottle. Luckily, we stopped at a little convenience store across from our hotel and got to read the labels and didn’t get embarrassed when asked.

Let’s give credit where credit is due. And I will start with Wifey. Not only did she start the whole ball rolling several years ago in planning this trip, she made sure that once we booked we had everything we needed. We purchased some very nice rain jackets just for this trip. She made sure that they had zip out linings so we could use them here at home after our trip. And in all honesty for me, they were more than was needed. I was sweating the majority of the time when we were walking around. I have really become heat intolerant in my later years. But, the jackets were so very needed on those “Scottish days” of 50 F and rainy weather. And there were several of those.

Our tour director/guide Ian Walker. The man is so very knowledgeable of the entire tour. He could point out areas of interest long before we would get there. Now, anyone can be able to point out landmarks of buildings or maybe mountain peaks and such. Ian had such detailed items such as trees and bushes along the road that were (hopefully) blooming at the time. How many people can tell you things like that?

I didn’t get our driver’s last name, so I will refer to him as “Sir Neil”. Sir Neil was the most professional driver I have ever encountered. On the day we went to Inveraray Castle, Wifey and I were in the front seat of the coach. We were going through some very narrow country roads. At times another tour coach or large truck would be headed towards us (did I mention that this is right hand drive country? Sir Neil was driving from the opposite side of the vehicle, on the opposite side of the road), making it very scary to us Americans, yet Sir Neil never had a worry. His hand would go up in a wave to the other driver, and there was never a concerned look on his face.

There is no privacy in the men’s room
We had the same basic breakfast every day. But I didn’t complain! I found out I like haggis and black/blood pudding.

So, let me recommend a few things. Just in case you’re looking for a tour.

CIE Tours. This is the company we did the tour through. Just a few of the reasons to use CIE:

  • No hidden charges! Everything was as described and paid for. One of the little things that I noticed was at many of our stops there were other tours arriving as well. They either didn’t get dinner or breakfast as we did. But something that I thought was nice, was we had porters get our luggage, both from the coach on arrival and again in the monring when we left. Those other guys had to get their own luggage. We had ours brought to the room and picked up outside the room on those mornings. That was a big plus to me.
  • All tickets to the castles and other events were paid for. One price, all inclusive! Other than trying the local beers and whiskys, everything food wise, other than lunch when in town, was covered as well.
  • We booked through a third party company that closed shop just after we paid. Needless to say we were extremely concerned that we would lose everything and not be able to travel. The wonderful folks at CIE held my virtual hand the entire way. They relieved all my fears on every call (and there were many calls).

Roaming Man. If, like me, you don’t want to either pay for an international plan for data or get a local SIM card for your phone, how do you get Wi-Fi and such? We used Romaing Man. I rented a portable Wi-Fi hotspot for about $10 a day. It supports 5 devices at a time and connected almost everywhere we went. It did have trouble up in the Highlands, but with those mountains anything would have issues connecting.

Now, let’s talk flights. We booked everything through British Airways. Since this our first trip with BA, I will give them the benefit of the doubt as to the quality of service. Who am I kidding? They’ll get everybit of praise and critisim as I can muster. “Take No Prisoners!!”

From the beginning, we had issue with our booking. I cannot blame BA for all the issues we had, as we booked through Priceline. The issue was with checked luggage on our return trip. For whatever reason even though we had checked luggage on the trip to Scotland, we were not allowed to bring any checked baggage back home. I’m not saying we had to pay for any checked luggage. The website specifically said “No Checked Luggage Allowance”. Were we supposed to leave everything in Scotland?

I contacted BA well more than a week before our flights to try and get this corrected. I started all this the week I was at a conference in Orlando, and could not get anyone to answer the phone.

Once I did get a rep on the phone, it took almost an hour to get everything setteled. But, I was told, the rep couldn’t get the credit card to go through and had to send it up “one level”. I should expect everything to be cleared the day before we flew.

What a surprise, it wasn’t. I called back and as told it could take “a week or more” to process. Seriously? Do they not use credit cards in Britain? And was told to check again on Sunday. But on Sunday, I say, I will be in Scotland and not have access to a phone. No worries, all will be taken care of. Again, bullshit.

Then, the day before we leave Scotland I get an email stating “we can’t process your card, please call us”. Needless to say, I say “Fuck you!”. We paid for our checked baggage at the airport. We could have saved $12 or so by doing it on line, but the BA site and phone folks couldn’t figure it out. Simply poor customer service.

Yet another result of outsourcing support to a foreign country.

The flight from Orlando to London was only marred by the fact that there were at least 20 kids under the age of 3 on board. I can’t blame that on BA no matter how much I try. The crew and flight went very well. We left on time and there were no real issues, other than crying kids. Likewise the flight from London to Glasgow. Again, excellent crew and an uneventful flight.

The return trip is a completely different story. We left from Edinburgh almost without problem. For whatever reason my left jean pocket showed as a hot spot on the scan. A simple wand scan and we were on our way to London. According to our itineray, we should have had about 90 minutes to connect with our flight to London. In reality we had about 45 minutes to go across the entirety of Heathrow. We managed to find the gate (which wasn’t easy, it was tucked away in a corner with very little signage) with minutes to spare. And what happens? My boarding pass is rejected! Seems the US customs office has “randomly” selected me for a secondary inspection. This is not the first time this has happened to me. I have been “randomly” selected before. It must be the name. But the gentleman that is handling my luggage is very professional, and I’m cleared to board the aircraft.

Not that that does any good. Our depature time was 12:40 PM. I think we made in on board about 12:50 or so. That was our first warning. After sitting in the plane for about 20 minutes, the captain tells us that there is a “problem loading the luggage”. Now seriously, what airline has issue loading luggage? This is something that’s done all day, every day. It’s second nature.

Then, about 15 minutes later, the captain says that a passenger has “decided not to fly with us” has has left the aircraft. Again, after the door is closed, who lets someone off the plane once the door has been closed?

One of the cabin crew said that this person was known to the crew and is trying to overecome a severe phobia of flying. Seriously? Why let a person like that even on the plane? I am bi-polar. I have phobias. While I applaud someone trying to overcome their fears, but not at the expense of others. Book a small private plane and work it out. On top of this, the captain announces that we are further delayed as they try to find this person’s luggage and take it off the aircraft. Again, seriously? I hate to be an asshole, but your luggage is going to Philly with the rest of us. Go find that private aircraft to work it out. They have counselors for this shit.

In the hour or so of “We’re still trying to find the luggage” annoucements, a very strong burning smell starts to fill the cabin. I am, admitedly, near the back of the airplane. The “cheap seats” if you will. The odor is very strong.

Then, all power goes out. All lights go out, and the very weak AC stops. Everything. Captain says that the auxillary power unit has overheated and crews are in enroute to fix it. Well that explains the smell. I would say we are in about 90 minutes of sitting on the plane, at the gate with no where to go.

After at least another hour of “should only be a few more minutes” annoucements, nothing has improved. Still sitting a very hot, dark and slowly growing uneasy aircraft. Many “just have to finish the paperwork” announcements are met with much disbelief among the passenagers.

Then captain tells us that the APU will not be repaired, but is not needed since it only really works while on the ground and not in the air. As an aside he does mention, and was probably missed by the majority of the passengers, that the APU is required to started the engines. So they will have to bring a portable APU to fire up the engines. Not surpisingly, the portable APU fails. They will have to get yet another one to start our engines.

After over 4 hours being held captive in the aircraft, we finally did manage to get the engines started and leave for Philly.

All I can say, is bullshit. There never was a luggage problem, nor someone demanding to get off. British Airways owes all the passangers of BA 0067 on 24 May a lot of compensation. This is totally inexcusable, and is the worst customer service I have ever experienced. And it doesn’t stop there. The pilot managed to bounce a 747 on landing. I have 20 years of military flights under my belt, I have never had this rough a landing. Not only did we bounce, the aircraft did a serious left tilt.

And, of course, we were an hour late in leaving Philly. We missed not only our connection to Orlando, but our shuttle bus home. Our son had to pick us up after midnight and then drive 90 minutes home.

Throughout all these issues, the cabin crew were superb. They went beyond what would be normal by offering cold water and juice on several occasions, even a really good ice cream treat for free. For that, I will not put British Airways on my “never to be used again” list. I will give them the chance to redeem themselves on our next trip to Britian, whenever that may be.

All in all – we will definitely use CIE Tours again. The customer service is beyond compare. The local guides and drivers they employ are so knowledgable and competent that we would have no issue following their guidance on any tour. The hotels they choose are better than what you may find using a reseller. They vet not only their tour guides/drivers but also the hotel staff as well.

Our time in Scotland was too short. Seven days is no where enough time to see a country, much less one with the variety of grandeur that Scotland has to offer. We had a taste of the castles, the highlands, and sadly very little of the Isle of Skye. We would recommend that you do go and visit this, our homeland, whenever you can. The wonders and majesty are there for your taking. There is a link below to my Instagram. There are mor photos there, and I will link to my Google photos once I have them all sorted.

One of the hightlights was a visit to Loch Lomond. I was asked if we sang about the loch as we approached. And yes, we did. Here is a beautiful video of the song we sang.

And as the Scots say: “Hasten Ye Back” and Aye, we shall.

Peace,
B

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Scotland 2019 – Day 6

Our view at breakfast

The ever present map

This was another short coach trip day. I’m really happy about that as the cramped seats are starting to get to me.

Stop number one was Glamis Castle. Ian, our braw tour director says this castle always wins the unofficial voice poll of favorite stops. Not for me, I prefer Blair Castle (day 5) simply because of the extensive grounds. But I will say, Glamis does look more like the storybook castle. I blame Disney. Photography was not allowed inside the castle, so this is it.

Next up was St. Andrew’s. The home of golf. My dad and older brother would have enjoyed the old course and other sites in that area. I’m not a duffer so while it was interesting,and i do watch enough golf to recognize the important places, I had other plans.

We were dropped off about the center of town for a free afternoon. After a good meal of fish and chips (I can’t believe that it took me until day 6 to get fish and chips), we headed to the ruins of St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

Legend has it that St. Rule brought some of the bones of Andrew, one of the twelve apostles, to the “end of the earth” from the Constantinople. And in the 8th century or so, Scotland was on the western edge of the know world. The cathedral was built around 1158, but there has been a church at this location at least as back as 748 CE. It was abandoned after the Scottish Reformation of the 16th century.

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We ended the night with some (cheesy) planned entertainment The Spirit of Scotland. The best I can say is the piper was excellent.

Edinburgh castle and a free afternoon to explore the city awaits!

Peace,

B

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Scotland 2019 – Day 1 (and a half)

The big day is finally here! After years of planning and those (best laid plans) failing. We finally made it to Scotland!

Our itinerary

The trip started on Thursday 16 May right around noon EDT. We had contracted with shuttle service in town to take us and pick us up from the airport in Orlando (AKA Mickey Controls Orlando). We left the house a good thirty minutes before our scheduled time, and the shuttle office is only ten minutes away from the house.

As we turn off the main road to the frontage road that leads to their office, we see the shuttle turning onto the main road. Then I get a text saying call the office immediately!

Seems they changed the schedule and we didn’t get any notification. Luckily they could get the shuttle to return, and the trip was saved. I did get the notification email at 11:33 PM that night. Not that it did any good, I was halfway across the Atlantic Ocean by then.

Despite all that hassle, and the fact that our plane was completely booked, and filled with screaming kids, we survived. I have never seen so many small children on one flight before. There had to be ten under that age of 3. And for each one of those kids there were 3 more! No sleep was to be had.

We made it to Gatwick Airport in London about 6:30 AM British Summer Time (for my dear family subtract 5 hours from all times mentioned while I’m across the sea – 6:30 AM BST is 1:30 AM EDT). And what a strange airport it is. International arrivals that are continuing on to destinations in the UK (such as we are) have to clear the UK Border Service. This isn’t very hard. You just fill out a form, show your passport to the kind folk at the counter and answer some silly questions. They needed the address that you will be staying at for your visit. But we’re not staying at one place. We move every day. So they wanted the address of the first hotel. No problem, we have that. Then they want to know how many people are on the tour! I have no clue. Turns out the answer, of course, is 42.

The Border Protection lady decides we can enter. Bad move. Letting another Campbell in is bound to cause problems. But get this. We had to exit the terminal, go back into the main building and the clear security again. To get to the departure gates you have to literally walk through the entire duty free area. You can’t skip it. I think the marketing department at Disney set this up. And as I was afraid of, the coffee sucked!

However, we are Campbell’s are we made it through.

I swear that under those clouds lie Scotland. This was taken out the plane window just about the time we crossed the boarder. By the time we landed in Glasgow the weather was clear.

On to day 1, Glasgow:

The tour company arranged for a private driver to pick us up from the airport and deliver us to our hotel, the Hilton Grosvenor. George our driver, was a very knowledgeable and humorous gentleman. It was so nice to have someone that could drive from the wrong side of the car and on the wrong side of the road so expertly. And what a car! I don’t remember which model of Mercedes Benz it was, but it was gorgeous! I now want one.

The hotel is very nice but is missing one thing that I would imagine most Americans would miss. No, not indoor plumbing, air conditioning. It may be 50°F (at 12:30 AM BST) outside, but the room is quite a bit warmer. I tried to open the window but I won’t open more than 3 inches or so. Hence why I’m up.

The hotel lobby with most of the group.

Here are some shots I took while we rode around town in the tour bus.

The Crafty Pig BBQ

Oran Mor – a former church now a restaurant. On certain evenings you can get “a pint, a pie, and a play” for £10.

King George square

We did to spend some time at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. A beautiful red sandstone building built around 1901.

These hanging masks are really cool. The light that’s projected on them change colors.

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Look what is across the street!

A Brewdog pub!

Glasgow is famous for its urban art. This was on the side of a building as we drove past. There were Segal other murals but I couldn’t get pictures.

Finally, it was dinner time!

That will wrap up day 1. In need to some sleep now as I’ve been up about 36 hours. I’m much too old for that!

Peace,

B

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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