In the Middle of the Night

In the middle of the night, I’m afraid I don’t go walking in my sleep.  However, I do actually lie in bed thinking of things to post on this blog.  You’d never know it by the date on the post before this one.  But, see, that’s the thing.  I think of what to write about while I’m lying in bed.  By the time I get out of bed again, I’ve forgotten whatever it was I was going to write about.  I lead a very boring, old-fashioned life, and I don’t have one of those modern whozamadiddits that you can take to bed with you.  I still prefer the comfort of my spouse, my teddy bear, and my menagerie of live animals to warm my bed.

Of course, the problem with my bed is that it is too full.  The other day, my teddy bear threw a fit and kicked me out of bed.  All the animals agreed that there was much more room for everyone else without me.  I wound up sleeping in the dog bed.  It’s a good thing I cared enough about my dogs to get the good kind, with thick memory foam.  It was extremely comfortable.  I actually slept much better there, because nobody else was using it.

So, anyway, last night, as I lay in my dog bed, falling asleep, I had a genius brainstorm about what I should be writing about in this blog.  It was insidiously mind-rotting, the sort of boring tidbit that slowly eats your brain like a zombie meme.  Lucky for you, I’ve forgotten it.  I only remember that I used to be somewhat more intelligent just yesterday.  Oh, well, I’ve still got two brain cells to rub together.  They’re a bit worn down from rubbing them together, and I’ve forgotten what the point of rubbing them together is, but they aren’t totally threadbare yet.  So, don’t you worry one bit; I’ll keep rubbing them together until they disintegrate.

As for this blog, well, it is my New Year’s Resolution that, from now on, I will post at least once a week.  My goal of boring you with my words cannot be achieved with a blog that doesn’t get updated!  I mean, sure, no posts are certainly very boring, but just not the right kind of boring.  I vow to reform my ways and post, post, post!

Yes, I vow I will post even if I have nothing to say.  In fact, I obviously have nothing to say right now, and I’m saying it quite verbosely (if I may say so).  So… long live the boredom!

 

Here’s wishing you all a very dull 2013.

 

 

Spam You HAVE To Love

Strangely, despite my infrequent postings (or, perhaps, because of them), spammers have discovered this blog.  They are commenting on my various posts at a rapid rate.

At first, they wrote me ridiculously polite notes saying really nice things.  I approved two before I figured out the secret hidden spam, which was the URL the spammer linked to his/her name.  I deleted the link once I realized.  However, the damage was done, and more spammers started giving me random and mostly stupid compliments.  I approved the ones that amused me, carefully deleting the spam link first. The rest went to that great round file in the ether-sky.

But then, the compliments died out.  The spammers started sending blatant sales pitches or just random drivel.  I don’t know why they even bother.  This blog automatically withholds anything from a new commenter for approval, and it also automatically withholds anything with a link in it (other than the link attached to the name) even from people who have been marked as okay so that their posts usually auto-approve.  You might think the spammers would know that, since it is a standard WordPress setting.  But, no, apparently they can’t figure that out.  Or maybe they just hope I’ll get tired of hitting the “mark as spam” button and hit the “approve” button instead – but, well, that’s really silly, because it takes the same click motion to do either one. Of course, spammers are invariably mental midgets who regularly lose staring contests with potatoes, so we really can’t expect anything different from them.

But today, I found a lovely gift amidst my spam comments.  Sandwiched between two copies of the same URL leading to worthless junk, the spammer pitched his product with this sales tagline:  “In case you are afraid a small children will leak cocktails though eating the sofa.”  I confess that it never before occurred to me to worry about that.  I am certainly aware that children often leak things, usually on the most expensive furniture at your boss’s house.  But really, I didn’t think children were known for eating the sofa.  If I had a sofa that needed to be eaten, I would have sought out a dog or a goat for the job.  But, then again, if I did see children eating the sofa, I would be a lot less surprised by the situation if they were also leaking cocktails.  Somehow, it just makes a lot more sense that way.

Well, unfortunately, I actually don’t have a good recommendation for what to do in such a situation.  The product that the spammer recommended didn’t actually strike me as a useful solution.  He seemed to think that a designer handbag would fix it right up and make everything right as rain again.  I’m afraid I disagree.  Using the handbag to catch the leaked cocktails strikes me as foolish.  The cocktails will just soak into the fabric of the handbag and, if there is a large quantity of cocktails, will eventually seep right through it and just keep on leaking.  Of course, you could stuff some bits of still-uneaten sofa in there with the cocktails, and have some yummy sofa marinated in cocktail for dinner, followed by a cocktail-drenched handbag for dessert.  I doubt that would solve the problem, but at least you’re making lemonade out of it.

 

Counting my Blessings

It’s Thanksgiving.  We’re all supposed to be thankful today, and we’re supposed to count our blessings.

Let’s see: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen.

No, I’m not going to enumerate.  That runs the risk of being interesting.

Have a blessed, blessing-filled day!

 

A Few Firsts in One…

It has been nearly a month since I last bored you, so gather round and let me tell you a story.  Sit, sit.  Get comfortable.  Really.

Once upon a time, I was a little girl in fifth grade.  Yes, really.  Don’t look so surprised.  I actually completed a few grades beyond fifth, too.  But that’s not the point of the story today.

My mother had just transferred me to a Catholic school.  I’d been in public school from Kindergarten through grade 4.  The reason for this transfer is totally beside the point, but it’s boring, so I’ll tell you anyway.  At one point in my fourth grade year, I got glasses for the first time.  I was so proud to be getting glasses.  I mean, my mom had them, and so I felt like the glasses made me more grown up.  Plus, my mom had actually allowed me to choose the frames I wanted.  (My mom really liked to micro-control certain things about me, such as what clothes I would own, so her allowing me to choose my own frames was a really big deal.)  I picked a pair of green octagons for glasses.  You see, green was my favorite color, and 8 was my favorite number.  When I saw a solid green pair of glasses in the shape of an octagon (a figure with 8 sides) for each eye, I couldn’t have been more ecstatic.  Two 8-sided shapes, one in front of each eye, and green!  How much better could a pair of glasses be?  None, I say, none more better.  (Don’t argue with my grammar, punk.  Sit and listen.)

The day I got the glasses, I walked around the neighborhood and showed them to everyone on my street: first, the other kids, then, I started knocking on the doors to show the adults, too.

Once I got to school the next day, well, I was insufferable.  It’s amazing how easily any conversation can be turned into yet another excuse to mention that I have glasses and show them off yet again.  It’s also amazing how easy it is to imply that I am superior to everyone without glasses because I have them.  Or, for that matter, how easy it is to imply that my green octagons are superior to all other glasses. As you might well imagine, it didn’t take long for other kids to get sick of me.  Really, really sick of me.  So, about the third or fourth day that I had glasses, one of the boys in class raced by me (while I was at my desk, looking down), grabbed my glasses off my face, did a victory lap around the room holding them high, and then dropped them in the trash can.  As retaliatory behaviors go, that’s pretty mild, especially considering the age group.  My glasses were unhurt, and, of course, my physical body suffered no damage at all.  Emotionally, however, I was bruised.  I cried until my teacher let me go home early.  I was still upset about it when my mom got home.

That was actually the second time my mom got upset with my fourth grade class.  The first time was when I came home and told her about the boy who showed up to school naked.  I, of course, failed to mention that he was promptly sent home and his parents were mortally embarrassed.  I didn’t think that was important.  I just thought it was hilarious that somebody showed up naked.  I thought she would laugh.  Adults are so uptight.

She probably imagined that he sat around naked all day, maybe even came to school naked all the time. Maybe even all the kids except me were showing up naked.  Oooooooo.

In any case, after the glasses incident, mom decided that I needed a better school.  That’s a noble sentiment, but, unfortunately for me, since she had just converted to Catholicism, she dumped me at Holy Spit.  Let me tell you, Catholic kids are vicious monsters who show no mercy.  Public school kids are angels by comparison.

At least I only had to suffer through 5th and 6th grade in Catholic school.  I pity my poor brother, who had to suffer four years of it.  He got transferred the same calendar year I was, and he also had to live with it through 6th grade.  Probably the most horrible thing I ever did to him.  I mean, technically, it wasn’t entirely my fault; but it was my glasses that got us both the Catholic school sentence.

But, as I said, all that is a tangent.  This story is about a particular incident in Catholic school.

Now, I had already figured out both that I loved writing and that I seemed to be good at it (at least for my age group).  Telling stories was what I enjoyed doing.  That’s really not much of a stretch to believe, actually, since, if you knew me then, you were probably regaled with tales of the dolphins in my backyard or the private island where I was queen.  In fact, you might have thought me a compulsive liar.  It was really more a case of me constantly spinning stories in my head, so much that I sometimes wasn’t even sure what was real any more.

Well, at that point in history, my teacher was doing a daily writing exercise which asked us to start with a sentence she wrote on the board by copying it and then writing a story jumping off from there.  I had taken really well to this exercise, or so I thought.  My stories were getting more and more interesting, or so I thought.  I started inventing animals which were crosses between two other animals.  Now, that wasn’t a cultural meme then like it is now, so it was pretty different.  I thought it was creative, fun, and interesting.  I was liking figuring out what a cross between two animals would be like, and then writing a story around it – all beginning with a jumping sentence.  So, yeah, I was giving myself extra complications in the assignments.  Then, one fateful day, I wrote about a creature which was a cross between a thunderstorm and a pig.  That struck me as needing explanation, so I explained it: the pig was lying on her back, and the thunderstorm rained on her, and she got pregnant.

Remember that I was in a Catholic school.  Maybe that’s relevant.  Or maybe all adults were uptight in those days.  I don’t know.  In any case, my teacher went ballistic.  That was completely inappropriate.  You might think I’d personally murdered Jesus and the Pope.

She made a federal case out of it.  First, she scolded me in front of the class.  Then, she took me to the hall and scolded me more.  Then, she took me to the principal’s office, and let the principal scold me.  Then, she called my mom.

Now, as I recall, my mom laughed.  That helped.  Still, I was suitably chastened.  I developed some phobias about writing my thoughts on paper where other people could see it, as a direct result of that incident.

It took a while to undo the damage.

Now, I’m sure you’re silently wishing I hadn’t gotten better, so that you can get away from this horrible story.  Sucks to be you.  The thing is, I’m not as susceptible to criticism any more.  I got me some armor.  Okay, fine, you’re right – I just like torturing you.  My Vogon poetry reading is coming up in an hour and I expect you to be there.

 

Have a great day!

 

 

Busch Gardens

I’m baaack, and I’m here to bore you with all the trivial details of my trip to Busch Gardens!  (For those of you who are slow on the uptake, I went to Busch Gardens.)

So, V (my spousal unit) and S (a friend of ours) carpooled down to Busch Gardens.  And, for your information, I always go down to places, never up or over, because I am at the top of the world.  Yes, it is nice up here.

In any case, it should have been about 2.5 hours of driving.  However, we hit some very bad traffic early in the drive.  Plus, we stopped for dinner, which took more than an hour.  I’m sure you don’t care, but I will mention anyway that it was an IHOP, and I ordered my favorite IHOP dish, which is steak tips.  However, the steak tips I received were very much unlike the steak tips I get at my usual IHOP.  They were good, yes, but they seemed like a totally different dish.

We finally arrived at the hotel in the early evening.  A man named J2 (a friend of S’s) was waiting for us.  He is J2 because, of course, I am J, and the only “plain” J allowed in this here blog.  He struck me as very charming and polite when he greeted us.

Our hotel was the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson located on 7135 Pocahontas Trail in Williamsburg, VA.  Overall, I would recommend this hotel.  It was relatively inexpensive, but quite good for its price category.  The staff was friendly.  The room was clean.  The beds were reasonably comfortable.  There were plush pillows on the bed, and extras on a shelf if we wanted more.  The room itself was reasonably spacious, and attractive.  I particularly liked how there was an extra sink outside the bathroom (as well as the one inside).  They provided the usual soap bars and small shampoo and conditioner bottles – they were a bit stingy with only providing one shampoo bottle, but I’m sure they would have brought more if we’d asked.  They cheerfully brought us more tissues when we ran out.  They also provided a small bottle of hand lotion, which was very nice.  They chose a nice brand.

Also, V and I forgot to bring toothpaste, and they gave us some small single use Colgate toothpaste packets, plus free mouthwash sample-size bottles, free of charge.  They also gave us a free toothbrush.

The nicest and most unusual thing about this hotel is that they have a cookie jar at the reception desk, and you can swing by and have some cookies any time you like.  It was fully stocked every time I saw it.  And, yes, the cookies were good.

Well, V and I settled into our hotel room for the night.  We got some free entertainment in the form of a man out in the hallway yelling!  He was quite furious and yelled for a good long while.  Eventually, he calmed down, or at least ran out of lung power, and ended our evening drama.  After that, the hotel was quiet.

We played a quick game of opening the Bible to a random passage.  We got Ezekiel 1:6, which reads:   And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.  Yep, we felt suitably edified.  No, we never seek context when we play this game – it’s much more fun this way.  If you want context with your verse, that’s your problem and you’ll have to look it up yourself.

We also discussed the story of Noah (the guy with the Ark), and we decided that it was actually a prime candidate for a television series of the weekly soap variety.  We thought we should call it Desperate Ark Wives.

I slept reasonably well, despite the fact that my nose kept running half the night.  I quit chasing it and let it exhaust itself – no, wait, that’s not right.  I mean, the hotel’s tissues were scratchy, and my already-abused nose was hurting by morning, even though I kept plying it with ointment.  Yes, I had a cold or some such.  I did finally get some good sleep, though, when I ran out of snot. (Hey, you know the rules of this blog – boring details are mandatory!)

The hotel had a free breakfast the next morning.  My initial impression of the breakfast was very good: there was a lot of different food available to choose from, and it all looked good.  I was soon disabused of that notion, however.  There was something wrong with the milk, the muffins, and, well, most of the other food.  Luckily, there was both fresh and canned fruit, and the waffle maker worked beautifully.  (Also, though I did not discover this until the next day, the potatoes were fabulous.)  I managed to find plenty to eat.

Finally, we went to Busch Gardens.  If you don’t know, Busch Gardens is an amusement park in Williamsburg.  It features the conceit that it is composed of sections that are modelled after several European countries – specifically, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Italy, France, and New France.  It also currently has a section called Oktoberfest, which I imagine changes with the seasons.

(There are also two kiddie-centric sections, one called Land of the Dragons and the other is Sesame Street.  Neither of these are world-related, though Sesame Street almost makes sense in context, and Dragon Land was magical.  Also out-of-theme but greatly appreciated, they had an animal corridor.)

Let me take a moment and muse on the past and present, just to make certain you’re totally bored with my blather: Before this trip, my last trip to Busch Gardens was when I was a spry teenager.  In those days, Busch Gardens was actually owned by the beer company of that name.  Today, it is owned by Seaworld.  In those days, there were very few rides, and most of the entertainment was live shows and wandering cast members.  Most of the available shows were cultural in some way, related to the country the section is named after.  At least, this is how I remember it.  Today, there are more amusement park rides, especially several impressive roller coasters.  There are only a handful of live shows now, and none of them struck me as culturally relevant.  Of course, as S pointed out, they are out of the “regular” season and they are doing a Halloween theme now, and there may be more cultural shows during the regular season.  That’s fair.  With the exception of the animal shows, all the shows were Halloween-related.

So, the day started well.  The weather was gorgeous.  It wasn’t cold at all, and I was quite comfortable in short sleeves.  I feared I might want a sweatshirt or light jacket when evening came, but I figured I would simply buy one at one of the many stores when the need arose.  The other members of my party came prepared with jackets, and the joke was on them because they had to wear or carry them all day.

S and J2 had pre-purchased tickets, whereas V and I had not.  They therefore went directly into the park, while V and I went looking for the place to buy tickets.  We didn’t actually find the correct place, but we did find a booth that was officially for group ticket sales, and they nicely offered to sell us our tickets even though we weren’t technically in the correct spot.  Once we had our tickets, we got to go through the gates into the park, too.

As with almost everywhere these days, they now have a security checkpoint where they rifle through your belongings before you come in.  However, people who are not carrying any purses, tote bags, backpacks, or other random stuff-containers can walk past this line.  I qualified.  There was a smiling guard who waved genially at me as I walked past him.  I was a bit surprised; I thought he’d have asked me to empty out my (rather large) pocket, but no, I just walked by him and waved back.  As it happens, my pocket contained lip balm and a lip salve, my hotel room card key, some lens cleaning wipes, and a boatload of tissues – nothing that would be consider a security risk by any sane individual, though I suppose a spry MacGyver-esque brain could use the lip salve to lubricate some insidiously ingenious contraption or just a rusty lock.  Still, as I waltzed past, I thought that I could easily have hidden a knife and all sorts of small but evil things in my pocket and they’d never have noticed.  Oh, well, I’m certainly not complaining.  I was actually pleased that they were so nice.

Meanwhile, V had to go through the line of people with stuff.  I got to silently gloat, but it didn’t last very long.  Apparently, they aren’t really too careful about poking through the bags, because V was only a minute or so behind me.

Once we walked through those gates, we were in jolly England.  We acquired some maps and tried to plan our day.

S was anxious to get to a ride called Apollo’s Chariot, located in Italy – don’t ask why something Greek-sounding is in Italy, because we don’t know.  So we headed that way with purpose, but we got distracted.  It turns out that at least one of their water rides was open, the one called Escape from Pompeii.  S thought it would be great fun.  I was a bit dubious, thinking that if we got wet first thing we’d probably spend the whole day wet.  Everyone else seemed game, though, so I said I’d do it.  After all, I do love the water rides.  Besides, S insisted that nobody ever got really wet on those rides.  We walked past a couple of guys who were soaked to the bone, and I said, “Oh, no, we won’t get wet at all.”  We got on the ride anyway, though.  It was pretty cool – there’s a short cruise through a Pompeii that’s falling apart (with things nearly falling on you, of course) and burning down.  They used real fire, and it was quite toasty warm in there, actually.  Then, of course, comes the drop, as if you’re rafting down a waterfall.  Will it shock anyone if I mention that I was totally and completely soaked?  No, I didn’t think it would.  When we got off the ride, I helpfully informed S that we didn’t get wet at all.  I suppose you can probably guess that S was also wet.

However, despite my misgivings in advance, we actually dried off very quickly.  I think the time frame was in minutes.  We were certainly dry by the time we reached the next ride.

This next item is a swinging pirate ship.  This is a special ride to me.  When I was last at Busch Gardens, this ride was there then, too.  On that particular day long ago, in the late afternoon, there was no line for this ride.  I enjoyed the ride so much that I just kept riding it over and over.  I rode it 20 times that day.  Now, the first 16 times were great.  By the 17th time, I started feeling just a bit queasy, but I wasn’t smart enough to stop.  The 20th time was one time too many, and I got a bit sick.  The strange thing is, that didn’t dull my love for this ride one little bit (though it did make me stop riding it for that day).  So, we came to this ride, and I remembered that day clearly, and I just couldn’t wait to ride it again.  You’d think I might be more cautious, but, well, no.  Besides, it was great at first, remember?  I had told S the story of this ride earlier; so S already knew my history.  The line was short like before, and yes, I still love it.  Still, we left it at just one ride this time.

Next, we finally made it to Apollo’s chariot.  It looked like fun, but there was a catch.  There was a “practice seat” outside, and a warning that “larger” passengers should test themselves before getting on; if the safety bar won’t latch, then you can’t ride.  I tested myself and, sure enough, I’m too fat.  I don’t actually think of myself as fat; I still see myself as the wee thing I was at 17, even though I know that’s no longer an accurate picture.  In any case, it came as a bit of a shock that I didn’t fit.  I shrugged and said, “That’s the penalty for being fat.”  Still, I felt a little resentment.  I am certainly overweight, but I am not obese.  Still, I felt like the park management was putting me down.  It wasn’t about losing out on the ride; it was about the implied judgement I felt.  I felt there was no good reason for it.  Maybe I’m wrong; I’m certainly no engineer.  Still, I think they could easily have designed the seats to be more accommodating if they wanted to – and, yes, without penalizing skinny people.  Oh, well; I didn’t want to have a bad day, so I pushed those thoughts out of my mind.  Besides, it was V’s birthday, so, even if I had felt like wallowing, it would have been super-selfish of me to jeopardize V’s happiness over one silly little thing.

However, as the day wore on, and we went on more rides, I became increasingly aware of how skinny-oriented the park was.  The turnstyles for every single ride were very narrow.  I had to turn sideways to fit through them.  There is certainly no good reason for THAT; a turnstyle could easily be made for a wider pair of hips.  I wasn’t the only person who had that issue; people skinnier than me were also turning to the side to get through, including all three of my companions.  It was senseless.  I felt as if some management guy was trying to shame me over my weight every single time, and it really started to grate on me – pun intended.

I didn’t have to turn to the side when I was a teenager.  I imagine the turnstyles were just as narrow then, too, but I was also narrower.  It never even struck me as a thing then.  I’m sure there’s the seed for a long blog post on skinny privilege or some such in there, which would be suitably boring for this blog.  I may write it one day.

In any case, I am thrilled to report that we kept up a constant pace, only pausing the walking and standing when we were on a ride, and yet I made it to lunch without slowing down or feeling any pain.  Those of you who know my backstory will know that this is amazing.  I made a conscious decision not to bring a wheelchair or even a cane, or to use a wheelchair or scooter provided by the park.  I might have chosen differently if I had realized how energetic S still is, but it turned out that it wasn’t a problem at all.  This means that my recovery has been even better than I realized.

After lunch, I had a difficult time getting re-started.  I had been fine while continuously on the go, but once I’d sat and rested, my body wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to get back up and do more.  So, V and I lingered over the table much longer than we needed to.  This was not burdensome to S and J2 because they had suggested we split up for the afternoon, anyway.  So, we lingered, we rested, and eventually, we rolled out.

While I’m on the subject, I am even more pleased to report that, after walking off the stiffness from the lunch rest, I felt good again.  I am further thrilled to report that my feet started hurting long before my back did!  Now, that is truly incredible.  My feet hurting simply means I’m not so used to being on my feet so much – I lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle these days, you know.  But my back and hips didn’t start seriously bothering me until nearly dark!  This means that my body is really recovering!  Obviously, I’m not 100% like before, and I never will be, but I am a functional human being once again!  I can’t stress enough how happy that realization made me.

Anyway, as for lunch itself, we ate in Ireland.  I had pushed for that, because I’d checked out the menus in advance and I’d started drooling when I read that Grogan’s Grill served pork loin with red onion marmalade.  Naturally, I ordered that.  It came with a baked potato and some nasty cabbage.  I also ordered a side of fries.  Both V and S ordered the Irish stew.  Now, let me tell you: the pork loin was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and the baked potato was one of the best-tasting baked potatoes I’ve ever had.  (I didn’t even taste the cabbage myself, as I hate cabbage, but V helpfully tasted it for me and declared it bad.)  The french fries were absolutely, unquestionably the best french fries I’ve had from a restaurant in my life.  I did okay with my choice.  However, I got to taste V’s stew, and I have to say that it was so delicious that it put my meal to shame.  Both V and S agree that the stew was fantastic.  S was even talking about possibly learning to make soda bread because it was that good.  (Yes, the stew was served on a soda bread roll.)  This is impressive because S is not what you call an avid cook.  (Neither are any of the rest of us, mind you.)

In any case, I put some serious consideration into going back for seconds and ordering the stew, or at least having a second baked potato.  I decided against it, however.  V promised me that there would be dinner later.  (Cue ominous music… but we will create a little lame suspense by not telling you that part until later.)

We had found the clydesdales (horses) and the blackface sheep before lunch, and stopped and watched them for a minute.  This was probably at least part of the reason S suggested we split up after lunch; S recognized that V and I probably wanted to go down animal lane, while S was interested in doing more rides or something.

Well, yes, that’s pretty much what V and I did.  We strolled down the animal lane, where we found bald eagles, wolves, an owl, a wallaroo, and an aviary containing lorikeets, kookaburras, and other birds.

At 3:00, there was a show titled “Antics of Pets” or something along those lines.  We weren’t sure from the description exactly what the show was about, but we were pretty sure it involved live animals.  My feet were just beginning to hurt, so the timing was great for me; more importantly, though, I was sure we would be charmed.  I was not disappointed!  They strung together a thin story in order to show off various tricks that various animals had learned.  The show included a lot of dogs, one or two rats (only one rat at a time, and they’re small, so I couldn’t tell if it was the same rat or different ones), some cats, a few potbellied pigs, and some birds.  We saw a lot of cuteness.  Some of the tricks were funny, such as when a dog slipped his leash, ate the actress’s snack, and slipped back into the leash before she “noticed” he was off.  Other tricks were just simply amazing, such as the cat who crossed a line of rope upside-down or the dog who learned how to jump rope.  Most of them were just adorable.  I highly recommend this show to anyone who likes animals.

The show actually let out with just barely enough time to make the predators show at 3:30, but we opted instead for a safari to find the bathroom.  We thought we’d catch the 5:00 predators show, but then we didn’t do that, either.  In any case, I was quite surprised that they fit so much into such a short show.

Right across from the bathroom we found was an ice cream stand, and V felt like having some birthday ice cream.  That was good by me, mostly because we sat.  I admit that I was a bit disappointed in the sense that I had been thinking about having some popcorn or a pretzel, but it’s very hard to complain about being forced to eat ice cream :)   I had a chocolate brownie sundae with walnuts, and it was yummy.  V had a rocky road brownie sundae with walnuts.  There was so much ice cream that neither one of us could actually finish!

After the sundae, we studied the map, and realized that we had very little time left before the “river” cruises closed.  We thought that looked nice when we passed it earlier, so we decided to head back that way next.  We were very appreciative that the river cruises were right next to one of the skyride stops, while we were very close to another skyride stop.  This meant that we didn’t need to do a lot of walking to get there, which was a good thing for me.  After the rest, I was once again stiff.  Also, despite the rest, my feet still hurt (though less than before).  I was also beginning to feel a bit of tiredness in my back and tightness in my hips; it was not yet pain, but I knew that I was very close to pushing myself to where I was going to experience pain.  Anyway, we followed our plan, and, luckily, the line for the skyride was short, and the cruise was boarding just as we arrived.  The cruise was relaxing and beautiful.  I felt refreshed.

Afterward, we wanted to ride the train.  S texted us that they had just gotten on the train about the time we were heading to the cruise, so we knew we weren’t going to do the train together.  We were sure they’d already finished their train ride by the time we finished our cruise.  Still, we really wanted to go ride the train, so we did.  I loved the train ride!  It was so much fun.

But I get ahead of myself.  Immediately after the cruise, we discussed how best to get TO the train.  Our original plan had been to return to the skyline station right by the cruise rides and take the skyline to the next stop, which was conveniently very near one of the train stations.  However, as we exited the cruise, we noticed what looked like an inviting bridge going in the direction we wanted to go.  We thought it would be a nice walk, and I was feeling pretty good – the tired feeling had gone away from my back, somehow, and my feet were almost fully recovered.  So, we strolled across the lovely bridge, and down a short walk.  But soon, we encountered the stairway from hell!  The stairs went up, and up, and up, and up… Walking is one thing, but climbing so many stairs was hard on me.  On the plus side, I am pleased to announce that my knee held up to the abuse!  On the minus side, I was having some serious trouble before I reached the top.

Well, anyway, making light of the situation and exaggerating my distress quite a bit, I grabbed onto the handrail and told V to go on without me.  The wonderful thing about this moment was that there was a lady a few steps ahead of me (she had passed me), who turned around and, seriously concerned, asked if I needed help.  The most amazing thing about this woman was that she was carrying an infant, and yet was still willing to offer help to a stranger.  Of course, I flashed her a smile and thanked her, and she gave me a small smile back and kept climbing – I hope I successfully communicated that I was being silly, and didn’t need help, but really appreciated the offer.  But, in any case, that moment made me feel better about humanity.  There really is good in this world, folks, and the small things make all the difference.

I dragged myself up the last few stairs and puffed on to the train.  I would have preferred to sit on a bench and rest at the top, but the train was close.  We arrived just as the train was pulling out of the station, so we had to wait.  That was good; I got to sit on a bench and collect myself, so that I was fully able to enjoy the train ride.

We opted to do the full circuit; that is, instead of using the train as a means to get from one place to another on the map, we just stayed on the train until we returned to the station we started from.  It was worth doing.  Not only was the ride itself fun, but the landscape is worth seeing!

I should mention that our conductor instructed us to keep hands and feet inside the train, but said nothing about our heads for the first two segments.  The third segment, however, he amended his speech to include heads.  I made a wry comment about that, but of course I kept my head inside the train.  I wonder if someone else didn’t.  (I certainly find it unlikely that the conductor heard my comment – I was nowhere near his hearing range.)

After we got off the train, we sat on a bench outside a barn-like building and called S.  S came to us.  Right behind us, between us and the barn, was a really cute stuffed horse with a tartan-like saddle (and a bunch of other things).  S spotted it first.  I commented on how wonderful and cute it was.  V walked over and bought it.

While V was purchasing the horse from one of the two merchants, the other merchant was telling me that it was the last one left and suggesting that I buy it if I wanted it.  Then, he turned around, realized V had bought it, and said that he had literally just sold the last one.  I thought that was funny.

We also found out, through that same merchant/employee, that the thing that looked like a barn actually is a barn, and it houses animals we can interact with.  It had housed horses until 5, and was closed at that moment, but would reopen later in the evening with owls and other “Halloween-y” critters.

S really wanted to ride the Loch Ness Monster, and I really wanted to do that, too.  V and J2 didn’t feel up to it, though.  Meanwhile, since V had just bought the horse, I suggested putting it back in the car so it wouldn’t get lost.  They decided to do that while we rode the monster.  As it turns out, the line for the monster was so long that they managed to go to the car and back, buy me more water, and still had lots of time to twiddle their thumbs.  The ride was totally worth the wait, though.  I had a moment of fear that they weren’t going to let me ride when my bar didn’t latch, but I pulled it again and it latched.  I was afraid my chest was going to be deemed too big, but it wasn’t.  Whew.  Anyway, the monster is unique among all the roller coasters I personally have ever ridden in that it has a long section where you are in total darkness.  You careen through who-knows-what at breakneck speeds, and you cannot see a thing.  It’s really an amazing experience.

Anyway, at this point, J2 was having a headache.  J2 is apparently “used to” eating at certain times, and not eating on time is hard.  So, J2 suggested that we eat at a sub shop in Germany, because subs are somehow “easy on the stomach” and therefore the best food right now.  Now, I would argue strongly with that concept.  I typically find subs unappetizing at best and gross at worst.  They are glorified sandwiches in funny bread with grease, cheese, and rat filth thrown on top.  Okay, I’m certainly not saying that there couldn’t possibly be a sub that I might want to eat – I know better than to issue a statement like that because somebody might take it as a challenge and start shoving subs in my face until I like one.  Still, this is not my idea of good eating.  However, J2 was obviously in a pissy mood, and I actually wasn’t feeling especially hungry.  I mean, at that moment, if you’d put something in front of me, I could have eaten it, certainly; however, I did not feel the need or desire to go looking for something to eat.  I’d had plenty already.  So, I figured, whatever; I’m sure a sub shop will have fries or something like that, and that will be fine.  V seemed to think that a sub shop would be fine, or perhaps V just didn’t want to argue, either.  S, on the other hand, was quite clear about not being hungry at all, and would instead like to ride the Verbolten.  Somehow, S got the idea that nobody else wanted to ride the Verbolten at all – well, okay, for V and J2, that was true; I would have liked to ride the Verbolten in theory, but in practice, the ridiculous line we’d seen every time we passed it was a turn-off.  Besides, I was starting to get tired and I needed to sit and rest.  We agreed that S would go ride the Verbolten and the rest of us would go eat.  Except, that’s not what happened.

Meanwhile, S also wanted to go buy a special strange “Halloween-esque” drink that went on sale after 6pm: jello shots in a syringe.  S apparently thought this method of delivery incredibly novel and interesting.  “It’s fun,” S said.  I guess I’m old.  To me, the syringe is a tool you use to help sick patients get better; nothing especially fun or novel about it.  Of course, I’ve dealt with more than my share of sick furry patients.  Sure, I could see it as a fun prop if you were playing doctor or nurse (or sexy nurse, for that matter), or as a silly prop for some doctor banter.  I can imagine a fun exchange where pretend-patient throws a hand over-dramatically on the forehead and cries, “Oh, doctor, I’ve got a terrible case of the dull-drums and I can’t get my party on!” and the doctor replies, “I prescribe a jello shot!” … but I didn’t get the impression that S was thinking even remotely along those lines.  It seemed to be just a novelty alternative to a drinking glass for S.  I desperately tried to get in touch with my younger self to try to figure out if I would have been amused by this at some point in the past.  I couldn’t, though – younger me wasn’t talking to older me that day.  You know, it really sucks when I won’t talk to myself.  I probably stink, too.

In any case, we made our way to the jello shots through a darkening park.  Busch Gardens was officially haunted after 6pm.  This means that a bunch of employees dressed up as things that go bump in the night (mostly zombies and werewolves) and ran around the park trying to scare people.  I had been looking forward to that; it sounded fun.  When we were on the skyride, we started hearing some random screams from below, so we knew it had started.  However, my actual experience was lame.  One ghost yelled “BOO” from a corner as we walked past, but I barely even registered his presence.  A few werewolves growled at me as we passed each other, but I just growled back and they kept walking.  I wonder if I was somehow sending “don’t bother me” signals that they were picking up on, or if they really were that lame.  Oh, well.

On the plus side, the night decor was amazing.  There was mist, and colored lights, and many of the Halloween decorations (especially those which were pumpkin-shaped) lit up.

In any case, after S got that jello shot, I found a bench and collapsed.  I’d have liked to just sit there, in the air – the weather was lovely and the temperature was still excellent, even though I had only short sleeves on – and watch people mill around and have a nice time.  But J2 was hungry.  They practically had to make me stand; I was starting to hurt and I wasn’t rested.  We went inside the nearest building, which had food.  I am not sure if this was the presumed sub shop that J2 was aiming for, or if J2 simply opted to be practical and eat at the nearest place.  In any case, the good news was, it wasn’t a sub shop after all.  The bad news was, I didn’t see anything on the menu I really wanted. I went ahead and ordered their ribs, on the theory that I usually like baby back ribs and that I would probably discover I was hungry when I was looking at food on my plate.  As soon as the food was on my tray, I realized I’d made a mistake and I didn’t want it.  As I progressed through the line, I discovered that there were hot dogs in the “kiddie menu” section.  I could have just been tired and unobservant, but I swear I did not see that information on the wall.  If I had known, I’d have opted for the hot dog and called it a day.  Sigh.

After we paid, I found the walk around the tables while carrying a loaded tray torturous.  I could feel my arms shaking and I just prayed I didn’t drop my tray before we found a seat.  On one hand, I am thrilled that this sort of infirmity didn’t start up until well after 7pm in the evening – given how early we started our day, that’s a very long time where I was functioning as a healthy human being!  On the other hand, that sort of thing is embarrassing to me, and precisely the reason I do a lot less socializing than I used to.  I don’t like people to see me that way.  (So, if you haven’t been driving catatonic yet, you might wonder why I’m writing about it.  That’s a good question.  I praise your question and fail to answer it.)

The tables at this establishment had benches, without backs.  A back would have been nice, but I didn’t care.  I was just grateful to sit.  I picked at my meal and ate as much as I could manage.  It didn’t taste good at all.  The ribs were poorly done, the potatoes were slathered in some sauce that tasted off, and so forth.  Now, to be fair, some of my poor assessment may be on me – I wasn’t especially hungry but I was tired and hurting.  Even so, when I return to Busch Gardens, I will not be eating there again.  In fact, assuming I’m given the choice (and not driven by peer pressure), I’d eat in Ireland again.  But anyway, I picked at the food, and wound up eating slightly over half.

I hated that I had to throw the remainder away!  I could be mistaken – I certainly didn’t have the energy to investigate – but I believe there was no way for me to take my food home for later.  I think that would have been a nice thing for Busch Gardens to enable.  Restaurants have boxes or bags for carryout; why didn’t they?  Grrrrr.

(Yes, I know I said I didn’t like it.  My dogs aren’t as picky as I am, and the food wouldn’t have been wasted.)

While I was eating, a show happened on the stage (that was nice).  It was a vampire-themed musical revue.  The singing and dancing were fabulous.  The costumes were quite good.  I really enjoyed the entertainment.

When we left, we started heading out of the park.  My rest hadn’t repaired me, and I was actually in more pain than when I sat down at the table.  Every step made it worse.  Luckily for me, the first few legs of the journey to the car were blissfully short, and I kept finding a bench to rest.  S and/or J2 kept finding stuff to do, I think.  And, frankly, I was quite happy sitting on a bench, enjoying the air, watching the activity around me.  The spook army had grown, and the place was now crawling with werewolves (mostly) and other spooks.  They were still lame in their rare efforts to scare me, but the sheer number of them walking around was fun. I would gladly have sat there until the park closed – or for the rest of eternity, for that matter.

The final leg of the journey had to happen, though.  J2 was pretty insistent on wanting to go home.  (I think S would have stayed to the end otherwise, actually.)  I felt like I was on fire from the middle of my back to the soles of my feet and every inch in between, with special guest nails in my knees.  I begged my companions to go on and leave me behind, and this time I was only half kidding.  S linked arms with me and walked with me, and that helped enormously.  V took up the hint and linked arms with me, too.  J2 even offered to go get the car and drive to the barrier to pick me up, which was thoughtful and sweet, but I stuck it out all the way to the car.

Sinking into the car was a blessed relief, even if I did bonk my head on the way in.  It was a worthwhile trade.

Back at the hotel room, I lay flat on the bed, and swore I was never going to move ever again in my entire life.

(Of course I lied, as you might have guessed based on the fact that I’m home now.  V did not strap the bed to the car to take me home.)

This concludes this travel narrative.  I’m sure you’re dying to know all about breakfast the next morning and the trip home, but you will have to wonder, because here I fall silent.  I will only say that I noticed potatoes on the spread that I didn’t notice the day before, and they were delicious.  Everything else is up to your imagination.

Saladia

Saladia is pronounced sah-lay-dee-uh.  However, it is all about the salad.

I don’t know anything at all about restaurant management, and even less about starting a new restaurant.  So, obviously, I’m not going to be doing this any time soon.

That said, if I did, the restaurant I want today is Saladia.  Saladia is a fast food restaurant, serving a wide variety of salads.  It would even have the ubiquitous drive-through.  The offerings would range from your basic simple salad (lettuce, tomato, onion, maybe some croutons) to unusual and/or gourmet blends (such as, for example, that strange yet delicious orange salad Mrs. Staubly served the last time we were there for dinner, which doesn’t explain anything at all to most of you readers).  The ingredients for the various salads would include all kinds of fruits and vegetables, mostly raw but perhaps a few cooked items here and there.  Ideally, all the ingredients would be organic, too.  Unlike all other fast food restaurants I know of, Saladia’s food would be vegetarian and also kosher of the parve variety (which means, it can be eaten with both meat and milk dishes – and obviously, that means that no salads have cheese in them, which, quite frankly, is good if you’re counting your calories or your weight watchers points or whatever, anyway).  Of course, depending on what salad dressing you choose, you could possibly add dairy or meat ingredients that way – though, offhand, I don’t actually know of any meat-based salad dressings in popular or commercial use.

In any case, all Saladia salads come in two sizes: a meal size and a snack/side size.  The meal size assumes you’re hungry for a full meal and want to eat a salad as the primary item on the menu.  The snack/side size assumes that either you’re wanting a quick but healthy snack, or that you intend to take it home and eat it with a regular dinner.

Saladia would definitely offer lots of juices for drinks.  I’m thinking both fresh-squeezed (especially orange juice and lemonade) and your favorite commercially available real juice blends. I think the selection of cran juice blends should be especially impressive.  I also envision a large selection of herbal tea blends.  Of course, a place like Saladia would have to offer premium spring water, too.

Saladia would proudly publish its nutritional information online, in a paper brochure inside the restaurant which you can take home, and on the restaurant’s walls.  This information would clearly state all the relevant stats you are eating for each salad before you add your dressing of choice.  There would be a separate brochure to tell you what you are adding with each dressing that Saladia provides (but you’re on your own if you use your own dressing, obviously).

Can you tell that I’m craving salad, but I don’t feel like trying to make one?  Yeah, well, I’d go to Saladia right now, if it existed.

Sure, there’s always the salad bar at the grocery store, which is actually still open as I type this.  However, not only would Saladia offer me a salad already prepared (like if I went to a restaurant, well, because it is one), it would also continue offering salads at the hour I usually want to buy some food.  My grocery store may be open all night, but they close down the salad bar early in the evening.  Apparently, they think people who don’t work 9 to 5 jobs and shop on their way home don’t deserve salad.

 

An Obvious Observation

Well, what do you know.  It turns out that if I don’t post anything in this blog for several days, I don’t get any new page views.

I bet you never would have guessed that.

Okay, well, you probably actually would have guessed that, but you probably never would have thought to tell me that.  It’s almost like it’s obvious.  Almost.

We all know that stating the obvious is boring, though.  So, here you have it, right in this here Boring Blog.

What WILL I write about next?  Don’t fall asleep and you might find out.  (I apologize in advance for any and all distress that may cause.)

 

When Ancestry Changes

Believe it or not, my ancestry is changing.

No, I’m not lying and I’m not any more insane than usual.  I am an American mutt, of course, but I believed that I knew more or less what blend of nationalities my parentage came from.  Now, however, I am beginning to learn that some of what I thought I knew was wrong – or, at least, not quite accurate.

Okay, so, technically, my ancestry isn’t actually changing.  Whoever it was that came before me is still standing there, in my past, right in the same place as before.  It is my understanding and perception that is changing.

Of course, I’m totally self-centered, so I declare that it isn’t me, it’s them.  My ancestry is changing on me.  So there.

Sorry – I know I had you thinking this was an interesting topic for a minute there, but you know the rules of this blog.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, what I thought I understood about my heritage was that I am 50% Scottish and 25% Irish.  I knew that remaining 25% contained English and German ancestry primarily, with some rumors of Cherokee, Welsh, and possibly other random heritage, to boot.

The first upset of this world view happened when my mom blithely informed me that I am a Creten one day.  A Creten, as in, having ancestry from Crete – though, of course, the other thing you thought when you read “Creten” certainly applies, too.

It turns out that, according to my mom, the name “Coffman” (my grandmother’s maiden name, of course) is NOT an Americanization of the German name “Kaufman” as I had always assumed.  (Always, that is, since I started thinking about and caring about such things.  Before that, I didn’t assume anything at all, of course.)

It seems that our Coffman ancestor came from Crete originally.  For some reason, this person supposedly left Crete, went to Germany for a very short time, and then came here from Germany.

That was pretty surprising, mostly because I had never heard a whisper of a hint that I might have any ancestry from Crete, Greece, or anywhere in that part of the world.  Even so, it didn’t really upset the apple cart in my mind too much.  I just filed it under “neat” and “possible other random heritage rumors” and made a mental note to put learning more about Crete on my to-do list.  In my mind, at least, Crete was a lot more interesting than Germany, anyway (or at least, more geographically varied).  I shared this info on facebook and send a couple emails to people who I thought might care.  Then, I pretty much forgot the matter for a while.

It might have stayed mostly forgotten, except that one of my friends was slow in responding to an email.  Eventually, I got an answer from him.  I will introduce him as R because I do not have his permission to use his name on this blog.  So, anyway, R happens to be half Creten himself.  His mother is from Crete, born and raised there.  His father is German.  He himself spent time in both countries growing up, but he has told me that he went to school in Crete.  It was a German school, but it was physically located in Crete.  Weird, but true.  In any case, as you can see, he is probably one of the most qualified people in the world to comment on my Coffman ancestry in this context.

I post this quote.  I do it without his permission, because it could take a long while to get said permission.  I seriously hope he doesn’t mind.  In any case, he said this:

Hm, interesting. That been said, Coffman doesn’t sound like a greek name at all, and the greek traduction of the german Kaufman (Emboros), is never used as a family name, so it couldn’t be a germanization of the original name.

The story might be true, but in this case there must be a twist to it.
Like, one part of the couple was cretan, the other german; Family name would suggest a german married a greek woman, which is quite possible, except that one wonders why/how he got to meet her, international trips and/or tourism weren’t very common in that time. The fact they eventually emigrated to the USA means they both didn’t have any good situation back here in Europe, so how comes a greek and a german met, somewhere around 1900 I presume?
The best occasion I see would had been WW2, when the germans occupied Crete, but that’s much too late for your grandmother’s parents to meet.

On the other side greeks are seafarers. It is very likely a greek sailor might have met a german girl during one of his trips and decided to marry her. Remains to understand why he would had taken her name, abandoning his own (greeks are very proud, and quite macho too…). Also a sailor makes a living, enough to support a family. Why did he quit his job and decided to emigrate to the USA with his wife?

Missing information. Unless your mother just made this up all of a sudden. Is she doing such things?

 

Well, that made me stop and think.  I sifted through what I actually know (which isn’t much, I suddenly realized).  I asked my mom, who provided a lot more context and information.  Then, I wrote him this reply:

I don’t know the dates when my great-grandparents met or married or anything.

However, I do know that my grandmother and granddaddy got married in 1935, which was in the Great Depression (before WW2). Due to the Depression, they opted to wait until they were better off, so my mom was actually born in 1940 – during WW2. So, obviously, my grandmother’s parents must have met significantly earlier than WW2 in order to have adult kids and even grandkids during WW2… heh.

Counting backwards: I believe my grandmother was 25 when she got married. More relevantly, I’m told that she was born in October of 1909 (which lines up with the math of her being 25 in 1935). She was the 6th child of her parents, the Coffmans. So, although I don’t know when they got married, I calculate that it absolutely had to be before 1903 (and that assumes they manufactured a baby a year) – most likely probably earlier than 1900, if you figure they probably spaced their kids out at least a little.

My grandmother’s mother’s name was Ella Lee. I believe I was told she married James Coffman at the tender age of 14 (though he was 25).

We know that Ella’s father was a major hero in the so-called “Civil” War (what I prefer to call the War Between the States). He was wounded in the battle of Manassas. He was a cousin of the famous Robert E. Lee.

(In other words, Ella’s parents and grandparents were Americans; the Lees came over during early Colonial times. Most of them were major plantation owners prior to the War Between the States, the elite of the day.)

At the time Ella and James got married, they were both living in Texas. Ella, of course, was still living with her parents until the wedding.

I don’t know much about James.

I do not know how James managed to get to Texas. I do not know if he immigrated or if he was born in America.

I do not know anything about his parents, grandparents, or earlier ancestors – except, of course, that they are now alleged to be from Crete, and yet carry the surname Coffman.

 

Throughout most of my youth, my mom told me that I was half Scottish and a quarter Irish.

Now, my daddy’s mother, Mimi (or Marguerite), was an O’somthing – O’Sullivan, I think, or maybe O’Stein. Anyway, she was definitely Irish. And she herself told me that she married “A true Scotsman” (that would be my dad’s father, her husband, whose first name I actually do not even know). Also, Reed is a Scottish name. So, it’s reasonably certain that I carry both Irish and Scottish blood – possibly as much as a quarter of each, inherited from my daddy.

However, in order for me to really be half Scottish, I would also have to inherit a quarter of Scottish from her (because my daddy’s (as much as) half scottish blood only translates to a quarter for me – simple ancestry math).

But, let’s say we accept your theory that a Geman man (named Kaufman) married a Creten woman. These would not be my grandmother’s parents, obviously (for Ella Lee comes from the Lees originally of Shropshire, a county in England that borders Wales, making her paternal ancestry English/Welsh in some combination). But perhaps my grandmother’s grandparents or maybe even her great-grandparents were your German/Crete couple. Still, we’re not getting a whole lot of obvious Scottish ancestry out of the Lee/Coffman marriage.

Therefore, to find that alleged major Scottish influence, we have to look to my granddaddy – my mom’s daddy, that is. Well, his name is EDWARDS. I don’t know anything else about his family, but I do know that Edwards is a very, very, very solidly English name. Not Scottish.

Now, obviously, my granddaddy’s mother might have been pure Scottish, for all I know – though, since her maiden name was Hess, I doubt that. I mean, obviously, either or both of my granddaddy’s parents could have had lots of Scottish ancestry that isn’t reflected in their surnames, but I’m definitely not seeing a pure Scotsman, here. AT absolute most, my granddaddy could be half Scottish – and that, of course, assumes that both of his grandmothers were pure Scottish, because neither of his grandfathers carried a Scottish surname…

(or, yeah, if you want to play devil’s advocate, you could have a large number of great-grandmothers and great-great-grandmothers carrying enough unrelated Scottish blood to magically equal half, but that’s just highly unlikely…)

In fact, I see no likely way my mom could be the half-scottish lass I believed she was. Even if my granddaddy was half Scottish, he would pass on to her just a quarter of scottish ancestry into her mix. And there’s no way my grandmother could have contributed the other half that would allow my mom to legitimately claim to be half scottish.

Is it possible that, through the various trackings, my mom has approximately half-Scottish blood, but all of it from hidden sources? Well, yes, it is possible – stranger things have happened. And until and unless I (or someone) ever do some serious genealogical research, I cannot prove she doesn’t; therefore, it is possible. Still, it looks highly unlikely.

 

I went back and asked mom where the Creten blood came from. She told me that Newton Coffman did genealogical research, and told my grandmother (and the rest of the family) that this is so.

Who was Newton? Well. My grandmother called him her “double cousin twice removed” – and no, I’m not sure what that means, exactly. I think the “double cousin” implies that two brothers married two sisters, and the “twice removed” part means… uh… something about two generations of removal???? I really don’t know. It might mean that (one of) my grandmother’s grandparents were double cousins to (one of) Newton’s grandparents. But I’m not certain of that.

In any case, who was Newton and is his information trustworthy? Newton was apparently the first Coffman to get a college degree, so everyone in the family thought he was really smart. So, if he really said that this Creten blood thing was true, odds are that the rest of the family just believed it because Newton said so and he’s smart. Maybe.

AS for hard evidence (like, be more specific – besides “we have ancestry from Crete”), well, apparently, neither grandmother nor my mom thought it interesting enough or important enough to remember, if he even shared the proof in the first place. Of course, my mom was a pre-teen when he died, so you wouldn’t expect her to care. But if my grandmother ever saw any proof, well, she never told my mom what it was (or she did, and that memory is lost – which amounts to the same thing).

Okay, but then, even if Newton really said this, why is this the first time my mom mentioned it? Did she suddenly remember? Or did she think it was unimportant and held it from me?

Or, of course, there’s the question – could she be manufacturing things that never happened; could she be remembering Newton saying this (or some other family member telling her that Newton said this, or whatever) but having a false memory?

Well, I don’t know.

I haven’t “caught” her manufacturing memories or outright lying or whatever. So, no, I don’t have any good reason to accuse her of making things up all of a sudden.

 

Well, anyway.  Writing up that answer made me realize that, regardless of the truth of the Creten question, I am NOT half Scottish after all. I had that information available all along, but I never analyzed it before.

What’s weird is that it hurts.  Seriously.

Okay, granted, I never gave much thought to my ancestry until sometime after college.  I was super-proud to be Irish one day a year (uh, in March – you figure it out).  I had also had my pride in being Irish bolstered by having a few friends who found their Irish heritage to be a source of pride.  But it was a very small footnote of my life.  Meanwhile, my feelings about my Scottish heritage were more complex.  On one hand, the only time I ever got Mimi to say anything about her first husband (my father’s father, my grandfather), she insulted his Scottish heritage.  In fact, she left me with the impression that his Scottish heritage was somehow partially to blame for his suicide.  Meanwhile, many of those friends I had who were very proud to be Irish also enjoyed insulting the Scottish.  The rule was that Irish were great and Scottish were the butt of jokes.  Also, several people have made the comment (in jest, of course!) that I must always be fighting with myself (having both Scottish and Irish heritage).  These things left me feeling embarrassed about being Scottish at times.  (My embarrassment was particularly strong in high school.)  But then, I starting finding out neat things about being Scottish.  First, I met a man who, though he has no Scottish blood of his own, thought that bagpipes were the greatest thing ever and, by extension, was into all things Scottish.  He was enamored with my Scottish heritage and considered it desirable.  (Too bad he was like 20 years older than me.)  Then, I met another man who was wearing a kilt, who was more than happy to regale me with every reason he had to be proud to be a Scotsman.  The list was long!  I also just liked his kilt (and the kilt of the first guy, too, for that matter).  Next, I read a book (romance genre with a time travel element) called Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, which permanently and irrevocably made me love Jaime (the main character) in particular and all things Scottish in general.  From that moment forward, my Scottish heritage became an increasing source of pride for me.  Every time I learned something new about Scotland, being Scottish, the Scottish people, Scottish livestock breeds, or, of course, how I fit in personally (my heritage), well, I just loved Scotland and the Scottish that much more.

I found out that I belonged to the Campbell clan and went gaga on all things Campbell.  (I feel particularly thrilled that the “main” Campbell tartan is one of the tartans I find most aesthetically pleasing AND that it happens to look especially good on me.)

So, yeah.  Sure, my Scottish heritage and I had a rocky start.  Downgrading from half-Scottish to, well, less Scottish than that still hurts, though.  It feels like an important thing has been ripped away.

Yeah, I know that’s not logical.  I’m still the same person and all that.  Nobody else can see a change.

(Unless they read this post, anyway – but I’m willing to bet that the only person who reads it all is my mom, and she will focus on the part where I question whether she is making things up and get very offended and will therefore totally miss the meaning of everything else.)

(You might suggest that I therefore do not post this, or at least edit the quote a little.  If I were intelligent, I would probably listen to that advice.  Sadly, intelligence is not one of the qualities I am widely known for.)

At the same time, I have found a new curiosity.  What am I?  Who were my ancestors, really?

If I weren’t such a lazy person, I might actually do something totally crazy like join ancestry.com or do some other type of research and see if I can come up with any more answers.

Then again, that sounds hard.  :)

 

 

 

All Set Up and Ready to Roll

Despite a concerted effort to block my progress, I have finally gotten this Boring Blog to behave.  It is now set up and running the way I want it.  Most of the features I wanted are now working.

Why, yes, of course I would be happy to bore you with the details.  That’s what this blog is all about, right?  Right.

So, first, we had this little email subscription problem.  I had installed (okay, I had demanded my favorite techie install) two different plugins that take emails for subscriptions.  I feel that this is an essential service for those of you who want to be warned about my postings.  Really, that should be every one of you.  Face it: you’ve been sucked into the vortex of boredom that is this blog, and you will never be able to return to the bliss that is the ignorance of the horrors of my verbiage.  So, it is much better for you and for the whole of humanity to subscribe.  Remember: forewarned is forearmed.  In other words, if you are aware that another post has seeped into existence to blight the world, you can take action by watching television until your brain rots or hiding under the bed until the noxious fumes of a new post have dissipated.

Well, in any case, I had two different plugins that would keep a lookout for you, and neither one of them was working quite right.  Jetpack was taking addresses and sending emails okay, but it was stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the final slash in the Boring Blog’s boring URL.  I guess it was bored by that slash.  This meant that following the links back to this blog resulted in a boring 404 error – which, granted, is an improvement over my drivel, but not at all useful for giving you a first-hand look at the latest of said drivel.  Well, my little programmer bravely slogged through mounds of very boring documentation and an endless sea of droning troubleshooting pages.  The search droned until, at long last, our intrepid programmer captured that slippery little nugget of code necessary to plug the problem and heroically carried it back and snapped it in place.  Now, the Jetpack subscription module just works.  As for the Subscribe2 module, well, it was refusing to send confirmation emails to people (okay, person) who tried to subscribe that way.  Our little programmer fixed that by telling this program named Apache to stop being a bully and let Subscribe2 send those emails.  Now, Subscribe2 works, also.

So, wow, suddenly, I went from having a broken mess to having a choice to make.  It was a hard choice, too, because each program has pluses and minuses.  As it happens, Jetpack is the choice that is more boring than the other.  There are many reasons that is true, of course.  The one you, the reader, are most likely to be affected by is that I cannot change the text of either the subscribe confirmation email or the post warning emails.  You should be extremely grateful for that small saving grace.

The other issue that was kicking my butt (figuratively speaking, of course – nothing so interesting as a computer growing a foot and kicking me would ever happen around here) was the boring poll.  I really, really, really wanted a poll.  Actually, the poll plugin worked just fine when used as intended.  However, whenever I placed it on the bottom bar where I wanted it, it grew fat and spread out over the whole screen.  After toiling many long hours to diagnose and fix this problem, I finally solved it by giving up and placing it on the sidebar on the right.  Actually, it looks pretty cute there.  At the moment, it is sitting on the bottom of the sidebar – you should check it out and see it for yourself.  Yes, that’s a subtle hint.  Okay, well, the hint is a lot less subtle now, actually.

I do wonder if I should move my poll to a position higher up the sidebar.  Feel free to suggest to me where to put my poll.  Please keep it PG, though.

 

 

Boring First Post

I have succeeded.  Your fears are about to come true.  I have created… *drumroll*… a BLOG.  This is it.

Yes, that last sentence was an obvious statement.  The previous sentence was also an obvious statement.  To make matters worse, the previous sentence was not only obvious, but redundant.  So was the previous sentence.  Why, I could go on all night.

This blog isn’t about anything at all.  Frankly, I couldn’t think of anything to write about.  Therefore, I just made this Boring Blog.  My Boring Blog is dedicated to boring you, my reader, with my words.

Of course, that’s not even an original idea.  Google says there are lots of other people blithely boring their readers, too.  So, hey, I can’t even come up with an original angle for my blog.  Sigh.  Oh, well – on the plus side, being unoriginal makes the blog that much more boring.

I shall bore you with unoriginal boring words.

Welcome to J’s Boring Blog.