Thursday, December 11, 2008

Epic Camping Trip Part I - Lost in Wal-Mart

About a month ago, I went with the Newman Club on a camping trip to Blue Springs State Park.

The Newman Club is an organization for Catholic students, and it just so happens that it's full of ourdoorsmen/women, too. It's great to be involved in a group full of students who I know will only build me up as a person, and not tear down my character and morality...Those groups are hard to come by on a college campus.

So we set off one Friday night after our classes were finished for the hour-and-a-half drive to Orange City.

Lucas (Caesar), HurricaneTeen (Octavius), and Hunter (Cassius)

Our first stop was to be at the Super Wal-Mart down the road to pick up some charcoal, lighter fluid, and ice. My friend, Hunter, and I were sent into the massive store armed only with a HAM radio and our wallets.

After about 15 minutes of searching, we could not find the charcoal. We searched up and down the store, probably walking upwards of a mile, in futility. Embarrassed, we radioed our situation to our friend and club president, Paul:

Hey, Paul...We're lost. Send help.
You're lost??
Yes, we can't find the charcoal and we don't know where we are.
At this point, everybody in the van is laughing at us.
Alright, ummm, I'll send Francine in to rescue you.
And might I add that we're thoroughly enjoying your predicament here in the parking lot.
Thanks, Paul.
I chuckle when I think of some local HAM radio operator listening in to our conversation. What must have been running through his head....

We find our way to the front of the store and meet our savior. Of course, within five minutes of her arrival, we find both the charcoal and the lighter fluid (who knew they were outside, right next to each other????) and pick up the ice at the front of the store.

Any wise person would abandon a camping trip after such a sketchy start, but we are college students, so we pushed wisdom aside and pressed on.

We chattered on the HAM radio with the other carload of people going on the trip and with Paul's dad, who was stationed on the coast to watch the space shuttle launch. HAM radio is one of the things I have picked up since coming to FIT. It is great in more ways than one.

We arrived at Blue Springs State Park to find the gates to the park closed. Again, any wise person would have turned around and called it quits, but we're college students. We followed another guy in after he punched in some secret code on the gate entrance. I'm sure he felt perfectly comfortable with that. After all we DID have reservations.

Just after we arrived and checked in with the campground hosts, we turned our eyes to the eastern sky just in time to see a bright fireball ascend into the heavens. What a view. No pictures. Sorry, I was too caught up in the moment.


Epic Camping Trip Part II - "It looks like a waterbed."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Atomic Toilet

Come on and take a walk with me. We're going to the Crawford Science Tower...I have a secret to share with you.

Years ago, Dr. Lynn Edward Weaver, a professor here at FIT, was performing experiments in using ionizing radiation to treat wastewater. He used Cobalt-60, a mildly radioactive isotope, to destroy bacteria in sewage. The experiments were scientifically successful, but the public had a somewhat irrational fear of "radioactive water," so the idea was scrapped in the 1960s.
A problem that the school faced, though, was finding a place to store the harmful radioactive materials after they were used. So they dug a hole. A deep hole. This is where the atomic waste would be stored, and it would come to be known as The Atomic Toilet.

Alright come on and hurry. It's 9:00 PM, and there won't be too many people in the building at this hour, but we still do not want anyone getting curious. Come through the door. Let's go down the stairs.

Here, turn your flash light on, it's dark in here.

Come on inside...Try not to kick the door...It's not in very good shape.

Oh, also, don't step in that smelly, rusty water on the floor. It's groundwater seeping onto the floor, rusting out all of the metal in here. It'll stain your clothes.

Welcome to the Atomic Toilet. It is pitch black in here, I know, but the camera's flash will allow us to survey the damp room more easily.

There's the old typewriter underneath the big "DANGER: RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS" sign.
Nobody knows why it's here, but it hasn't been touched in years.

There's the doorway through which we entered. Our three friends are studying the ventilation system of the "outer toilet."

This is the back portion of the "outer toilet." You can see the trolley controls on the right wall and the Geiger counter back in the corner.

This console controlled the overhead trolley that was used to move the Cobalt-60 into and around the "inner toilet." A system of mirrors and the big gauge here were used to determine the position of the radioactive material. DON'T TOUCH THE KEY! We don't know what will happen if it is turned, and it may lead to trouble if we do turn it.

Here's the Geiger counter. It's hard to read in the dark, but we can clearly make out 1 millirem/hour...About 1000 times the normal background radiation on earth. That sounds bad, but it's really nothing to worry about...Notwithstanding the orange WARNING light.

Now let's go into the "inner toilet." This is where it starts to get really interesting. Just walk right past this big sliding 1-foot-thick concrete door. Now we're inside the place where the actual radioactive material was stored. This room was filled to some depth with water and the Cobalt-60 was stored under the water.

You see the trolley track on the roof up there? Also, you can see that the school has started using this place for storage...The tables and the overhead projector all came in after the Cobalt-60 was removed.

Our friend is studying something over in the corner. Let's go take a look.

Alright, we've been down here for at least 20 minutes now. Even though there's not enough background radiation in here to seriously harm us, it's best if we don't spend too much time down here. Let's go on back up the stairs.

Hmm, look at that chart over there. Being engineers, our friends absolutely must study any chart they come across.

It's a security sign-in sheet. Okay, we didn't see any DO NOT ENTER signs, but maybe we're not allowed down here after all. According to the chart, the last security sweep was at 5:00 PM. Following the pattern of past days, the next sweep should be at 9:30. What time is it anyway? 9:29!!!!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Life at FIT

A picture tells a thousand words...
Every one of these pictures has a unique story behind it.
Take a wild guess as to what the circumstances were when these pictures were taken.
I'll tell the whole story later.
(Thanksgiving break begins tomorrow!!)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cloud Chasing

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Another reason why I hate politics!!!

You know that woman who allegedly had the "B" carved into her face? You know, the issue that I was so thoroughly "P-Oed" about this past week?
She did it herself.
Now she's the one I'm "P-Oed" at because I spent a good half-hour fretting about it and feeling sorry for her.
What a crazy fool.
But right now I'm gonna forgot about politics and go enjoy the COOL weather and NORTH FLORIDA air with my friends.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I've Had It...It's the final straw

I generally don't talk politics on this blog.
But I've had it.

Just the latest in a line of McCain supporters being physically attacked by Obama supporters:

That's right. A 'B' carved into a woman's face simply because she had a McCain bumper sticked on her car.

My humble question...And, as an American citizen of voting age, I have a right...A ask this.

How can we possibly even consider electing a man like Barack Obama to the most powerful position in this nation?

1 : He has no experience. 4 years in the U.S. senate and 4 years in the Illinois legislature does not prepare a man to be President of the United States.
2 : His ties to people who are...
Blatantly racist (Jeremiah Wright)
Unrepentant terrorists (Bill Ayers)
Commiting election fraud in his favor (ACORN)
3 : His obvious socialist views: "When you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

I'm not even going to mention his naive view on taxes and the economy...I really don't have the time for any of this tonight, but it's got to be said...I've seen too much of this...
...And I've seen too much of the liberal elite media neglecting to call any of these serious issues into question. They're in the tank.

And now this...A man's home shot up because he has McCain signs in his front yard:
What if McCain supporters were perpetrating these sick crimes against Obama supporters? The public outcry would be DEAFENING! WHERE THE HELL IS THE OUTCRY?!?!

Our nation is in serious danger. WAKE UP, AMERICA!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A peek inside my brain...


A peek inside my stomach:


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Thank You!

I want to send out a special "thank you" to Mr. Ernest Jones for purchasing Ms. Latrell Pappy Mickler's new book for me! There were some problems with the postal service, so Ms. Mickler hand delivered it to Uncle Stu, who passed it on to me when I went to visit him while I was at home.

I can't wait to absorb all of the information in Gaspar Pappy and Ana Pons: Their Lives and Descendants, and I may actually use it as a source for an upcoming research paper!

It is encouraging to know that there are still "phantom readers" out there who appreciate and enjoy my ramblings.

Thanks, Mr. Jones!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Caught Up!

After last weekend's visit home, I found myself quite bogged down in the school work. After a couple of late nights sweating out page-long calculus problems and writing out Fortran programs, I now consider myself completely caught up. Even better, the free time of the weekend beckons me to move even further ahead in my studies! ...But not before indulging in my Friday night shenanigans :-D (Don't worry, they're completely harmless, completely legal, but completely fun. You may see a post about that in the future.)
More importantly, however, I now have enough brain power left over to write a somewhat creative post here on the Minorcan Factor!

One of my most urgent needs upon returning home last friday was to get out in the woods. So my friend, Phill, and I did just that. Here's a video of us going out to perform a maintenance check on one of my geocaches. Caution: Sarcasm, random quips of humor, and weird voice inflections are common when in the company of me and Phill.

...I was serious about swallowing the mosquito, though.

If you don't know what geocaching is, you need to learn...Especially if you are an outdoors enthusiast like me. I see geocaching as an excuse to go wander around out in the woods and other out-of-the-way places. It's a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It Smells Different...and an excuse

Stepping out of Mom's car at my Grandma's house yesterday, I was struck by a sudden realization.

"Oh my gosh! I smells like St. Johns County!" I blurted.

Having never been away from home for more than a week or two, it has been quite a transition living down in central Florida for the past month-and-a-half. Though Melbourne is geographically close to St. Johns County, the lifestyle is worlds apart from that of my home. Maybe that difference can be connected to the difference I sense with my olfactory nerves.

Maybe it's the live oaks dripping with Spanish Moss. Maybe it's the expansive pine plantations. Maybe it's the smell of the soil.
I couldn't tell you for sure, but it smells oh so sweet.

And now for the excuse...
I have been trying to keep up with the "post every other day" routine on this blog.
However, this past week, some things called "Calculus" and "FORTRAN" and "Chemistry" got in the way of that.

I got an 84% on a calculus test...acceptable, but nothing to rejoice over...just means I have to work even harder (if that's possible)
I got a 6/20 on a chemistry quiz...In my defense, most people bombed that quiz...But I still need to study more.
Had a FORTRAN midterm.
Finished writing a 3-page program for FORTRAN.
Wrote a 4-page paper entitled MEMORIES OF A CRACKER CHILDHOOD.

I love my home, and writing on this blog helps to connect me back with my roots...
...But gettin' learned is more important.

This weekend, though, is about re-fueling on family, friends, wilderness, and rurality.
I hope to share some of that with you over the coming week.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Into the real world

"Somewhere beyond the sink-hole, past the magnolia, under the live oaks, a boy and a yearling ran side by side, and were gone forever."
-Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
...Studying most of today...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tacos are pleasing to me...

To my astonishment, the art community has not accepted my concept of the Linear Dog, but I know that, with time, they will come to realize its genius.
I drew this on my Puerto Rican roommate, JJ's, dry erase board Sunday night. I am making a genuine attempt to learn Spanish, but sometimes I have to resort to this phrase and "Lucy you got some splainin' to do" to get me through everyday conversations.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Knee-slamming happiness

Around noon yesterday I strolled into my FORTRAN class and delightfully plopped into the office chair in front of a computer terminal. I was fresh off the high of receiving an "A" on my first of three chemistry exams, so my morning was off to a good start.

As I always do, I opened up my FIT "Squirrel Mail" account to check on the daily happenings around campus while waiting for my professor to begin his lecture. Before my eyes was a message with the simple subject "greetings."

When I saw the name of the message sender, I gasped. I let out a stifled "Oh my gosh!" Trying to remain somewhat quiet and controlled while other students worked around me was nearly impossible. I pumped my fist and inadvertently slammed my knee against the side of the desk I shared with another terminal. The monitors rocked, and the guy across from me glanced up. I didn't care. Opening the message, my eyes devoured the text before me:


"Lauren tells me that you are majoring in meteorology and hope to work at the National Hurricane Center one day. I think that's great. We still have room for a lot of improvement in hurricane forecasting and need all the help we can get...."

The message went on much further; it was long! I didn't expect this type of extended response.

The former director of the National Hurricane Center, a man who had been a household name during the hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005, a man whom I have idolized since I began closely studying hurricanes when I was 12, has sent me a personal email!

He went on to tell a story of a young high schooler who came to visit the NHC about 10 years ago, and said he would some day work for the Center. I immediately recognized the name as one of the newest Hurricane Specialists at the NHC, Eric Blake. His story is very much like mine. It struck a chord.

"...I wish you the best in your pursuit of meteorology. Give my friend George Maul my regards at FIT when you run into him.

Best regards,

Max Mayfield"

Looks like Mr. Mayfield is friends with my department head, too. I love the connections that college has suddenly given me!
I jokingly told my roommate, JJ, that I was going to enlarge the text to poster size, frame it, and hang it on my wall...It was a joke...But now I wonder about actually doing it...

I owe my sister many thanks for getting this to happen. A student in the bible study group that my sister leads is friends with Mr. Mayfield's daughter. My sister spoke to her about my interest in meteorology, and the rest is history!

There's few things more exciting than getting an email from a professional that you look up to. And, yes, I would rather meet Max Mayfield than any movie or tv celebrity that ever lived. Weird? As I've always said, I kind of like being "weird." :-D

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My Life

You might be curious, so here's my schedule for this semester, along with some color commentary:

University Experience: Perhaps the biggest waste of a credit-hour I have ever seen. It's very laid back, I like the teacher, and the topics are easy. I just think it's a waste of time to tell us the obvious things about college life such as: "It has been proven that students who study perform better in their classes than students who don't." Pffft.

Composition and Rhetoric: Great class. Strict grading, but the essay topics are interesting, a couple actually very exciting for me. You'll hear more about this class in the future.

General Chemistry 1: Study and reading. Nothing hard, just a lot of time. Blowing up hydrogen balloons in class is fun. Flushing sodium down the toilet to make a "geyser" is even better.

Calculus 2: This is the math that makes some aspiring engineers (and meteorologists) contemplate changing their major. It's hard. There's nothing you can't do without hard work and commitment, though.

Computer Programming with FORTRAN: [CAUTION: NERD CONTENT AHEAD!] Yes, Fortran still exists. Believe it or not, it is still quite prominent in some government work and in numerical weather forecasting (which is why I'm taking the course.) And, contrary to popular belief, Fortran does support object-oriented programming (as of 2003). However, we are using Fortran 95, so we still get to deal with the wonderful world of Unix.

The courseload has been bearable, but it does take a lot of time. Fortunately, the courses are interesting, and it's cool to obtain a higher edumucation.

I'm off to go try hyperbolic trig functions again. It's just not sinking in yet.

Friday, September 12, 2008

"Florida Lacks Character"

Those were the words of one of my roommates who happens to be from a certain state in the Northeast U.S. I will share with you the full discourse of our short conversation that occurred tonight.

...I'll give you some time to guess how the conversation went...In the mean time I'll share some more thoughts...

When I decided on attending FIT this past summer, I knew that I would be in the minority here. This is an acclaimed private school well-known for its aeronautics/astronautics and marine biology programs. Private is the key word there. This school is packed with northeastern students from affluent families...Now my family's not poor, but we certainly couldn't afford FIT's astronomical tuition if scholarships didn't help ease the pain...And we all know about my little Southern streak.

...Have you guessed how the conversation went?...

"Florida lacks character. Up North we have all of the colonial buildings and everything that adds character."
"You've never been to North Florida. Melbourne has no character. My hometown does."
"No it doesn't. Florida has no character."
"Ummmm...My hometown is the oldest city in the U.S. It was established in 1565. We have some old buildings and a little history, too."
So? [Something was said here, which I forgot]"
Well, [classic St. Augustinian line here] my hometown was undergoing urban renewal when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock."
"Yeah, but they have Southern accents where you're from. I hate Southern accents."

Are some of my northern readers getting a better understanding of why it's hard for me to erase the word "yankee" from my vocabulary? This was not the first time blatant ignorance has reared its ugly head, and I know it won't be the last :-D

I was going to post some beautiful pictures of my characterless hometown, but I just realized that those pictures were left behind during my annual seasonal migration.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


It's hard to believe that it has already been a month since I left my home and came down here to South Florida to get an edumucation. My life has changed drastically - more than I had expected.

Naturally, this change in lifestyle will translate to a slight change in the way this blog is oriented. My feet have not come in contact with the soft muck of a swamp in over a month...
Actually, I haven't even left the city since I arrived here.
What a change.
Therefore, you may see more philosophy, reflection, and thought on here than before...
College makes you think about a lof of things...
I'll share some of those thoughts with you.
But, as always, every one of my thoughts and actions contains some form of a Minorcan Factor, so the title of the blog will remain the same.
I'm still the same old Minorcan Florida Cracker, just in a different habitat!

I'm excited about sharing some of my experiences with you, but for now I'm off to my chemistry lecture and my FORTRAN software development class.
Wednesdays are my busy day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I will be keeping a live blog of Tropical Storm Fay as it passes through or very near to my school here in Melbourne, FL.
Go view live updates as the storm approaches!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

A Problem With our Alma Mater?

While listening to the names of my classmates being called to receive their diplomas at my graduation ceremony yesterday, I got to thinking about my school's alma mater. The lyrics were printed in the back of our programs, and the school chorus sang it beautifully at the start of the ceremony. There was something about that alma mater that just will not fit with the school anymore - Something that will need to be changed in the very near future.

First, a little background information about my school.

My high school sits in the vast pine flatwoods of north Florida on what used to be a small road named after a portion of my family. The only things to be seen outside of my school's campus are pine trees...And lots of them. It really is a peaceful place when there are not 2,700 raucous teenagers rampaging about the campus.
Recently, though, that road has been widened to four lanes, extended farther south to connect with another highway, and renamed to "******** Parkway." This new "Parkway" is only a small part of a huge development that is slated to completely envelop my school's campus within just a few years. Now, here comes the predicament for my school.

The first two lines of our school's alma mater are:

"Oh, **************, our alma mater,
Set around the mighty pines..."

What is my school to do when those "mighty pines" are torn down to make way for more and more homes? I guess those pines aren't so mighty, after all! But, really, this will be a problem. It will be no longer relevant to have those lyrics in our alma mater when there are no more "mighty pines" surrounding the school. So what is to be done?
I suggest re-tooling the lyrics to something like this:

"Oh, *******, our alma mater,
Set around the mighty developments."

...or even better...

"Oh, ********, our alma mater,
Set around the urban sprawl."

As sarcastic as it may sound, this will become a real predicament for my school in the future. What do yall reckon will happen to our alma mater?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Next Chapter

The waiting is over, Paintsmh.
Click on the logo of my future ;-)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Stepping back in time

Anybody that has read my blog at all knows that I try to spend the majority of my time away from modern society. The Florida Folk Festival, while filled with many modern comforts, is a place where I sometimes go back in time

At first glance it seems that these pictures could have been taken 50 or 60 years ago. Sitting underneath our ancient tent looking out over this spectacle and listening to people square dance in the distance, I can imagine being back in old Florida. Back in a simpler time. Back when people had a sense of identity and a sense of place. Back when Floridians didn't have to put a disclaimer on our heritage.
This feeling overcomes me even more while at the annual Battle of Olustee reenactment. Dressed in gingham and wool and warming my hands near a fire in the middle of an ancient longleaf pine forest, I can hear "Dixie" and the yells of people joyously dancing echoing through Old Florida. For a time, I have an inkling what life may have been like for my great, great, great grandfather.

Standing in the middle of a tick-infested battlefield sweating by the gallon while being rocked by cannon and musket fire all around me, the sulfurous smell of black powder thick in the air, the screams of men giving orders, the screams of men falling around me. I can, for a moment, feel the terror, the confusion, the treachery that my ancestors experienced while fighting in battle. I am humbled as I fully realize the courage of the men in that war, Southern and Northern, who stood honorably in defense of their families and country while their boyhood friends died in agony around them.

We don't need time machines to bring us back in time. All we need to do is seek out places like the Florida Folk Festival and the Battle of Olustee reenactment, and we can imagine what it was like to live years ago.

Have you ever experienced something that brought you back in time?

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Florida Folk Artists

In my first post about the Florida Folk Festival I stated that the friendships and connections I make with other people are some of the most valuable results of the time I spend there.
Last year I met an older man who made an impression on me with his outstanding performance and honest advice. Carl Sharp, "Florida's Cracker Cowboy Poet," recites his original, humorous poetry about life as a cowboy so expertly that all of his poems seem to blend together into one big story.

Last year I asked Mr. Sharp to critique the poem I then called "adirolF" and told him, "Be honest." He was honest, and pointed out all of the errors in meter and poetic agreement that needed to be changed. He caught some sharp words from Uncle Stu due to his seemingly harsh criticism of some parts of my poem, but that is the way artists critique each other...Telling me "It's good" does not help. I later posted an edited form of that poem on this blog under the original title. Since then, however, I have changed the name to "The Cry of a Cracker" and changed the wording and verse in multiple areas of the poem. In Mr. Sharp's own words, I "Douched it."

That picture does not do it justice. Some Florida readers may recognize this work of art by Regina Stahl Briskey from the cover of the book Wiregrass Country by Herb and Muncy Chapman. I had never heard of the book until I talked to Mrs. Briskey and purchased this, which caught my eye as I sifted through a stack of prints of her artwork. It will hang, along with other Florida paintings, in my dorm room this coming year.

Where will that dorm room be? Don't worry, you'll find out soon!

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Folkin' it up

How did this teen spend his first weekend of the summer and celebrate the unofficial end of his high school career? He spent it with the best folks in America, of course, at the Florida Folk Festival.

I was disappointed when my Uncle Stuart Pacetti informed me in the end of April that he would not be able to make it this year, as he would be visiting his son in Tennessee. Unfortunately, by that time it was too late for me to sign up as a participant, so I could not set up a little castnet display of my own. Therefore, instead of spending the weekend working on castnets under our usual sprawling live oak tree, I spent the weekend with my dad talking about reenacting with passing spectators. Of course, we had a great time doing that, too.

The Olustee CSO's old tent has seen better days, but that worn look caught the attention of a lot of people. It respectably held its own against Friday morning's driving downpours of rain. Nonetheless, it will probably be replaced soon, and this nice A-frame tent will likely end up in my hands in exchange for a donation to the CSO. Yet another step soon to be taken to become a full-fledged authentic reenactor!

This is a first-person view of how I spent much of my weekend. Shaving down a cow bone for a catnet gauge stick, working on my net in progress, and spinning embellished tales with some old crackers were favorite pasttimes. I really seem to fit in better with these old folks than with people my age. It's not that I'm a loner at school...That's a post for another time.

The 7-foot mullet net, my first, is nearly finished! Two more hours of work, and it's ready for the water! I finished attaching the leadline and eight pounds of sinkers at the festival, and it will be completed as soon as Uncle Stu returns from Tennessee.

The most valuable results of attending events like the Folk Festival, besides the experience of being among kindred spirits, are the connections and friends that one makes. My dad and I happened to be set up next to the Save our Suwannee organization, and I had a good talk with the people there about the river. When one of the members heard that I cast my own sinkers for my castnets (I melt down scrap lead and mold them into sinkers), he came over and informed me that that he had two buckets of lead he needed to get rid of. He used to be a diver and a stained glass artist, both of which required lead, and he had a lot of scrap that he was willing to give to me. I came home with about 40 pounds of good scap lead that will make about 500 sinkers.

In the absence of his father, Sam Pacetti awed the crowds yet again with his amazing fingerstyle guitar picking. I will post some videos of him playing soon, but you can visit his MySpace page and hear his amazing work now if you wish.

I have rambled enough for tonight. More on the Folk Festival will be posted on Tuesday. HurricaneTeen's officially returned for a nice long summer of hopefully blog-worthy events.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 22, 2008


My high school years are over, I am afraid. I am overjoyed right now, but I am sure once the realization sets in that I will never return to my school as a student, I will be a little saddened by it. But for now, I have three more exams I need to take next week, and I am finished permanently.

I WILL BE SPENDING ALL THIS WEEKEND AT THE FLORIDA FOLK FESTIVAL IN WHITE SPRINGS, so if any of my Florida friends want to visit me down there I would be happy to see you.

Friday, May 09, 2008


No crackerism today as I run off to school and then work afterward and then to my brother's house and then I'm gone all day.
Just a little update:
Datil peppers are coming in like crazy. Just how many, you wonder? You will find out.
Squash and collards are growing beautifully next to each other! But the collards will be gone soon.
Okra and bush tomato plants are still flowering yet.
The AP Calculus test went off pretty well. Some of the questions were impossible to even comprehend after three hourse of pure, rigorous math, though.
Yes, I do know where I am going to college. Yes, it is in Florida (i'm sure that comes as a shocker!). Yes, you will find out where soon.
I went to the Sons of Confederate Veterans Florida Division Reunion in Ocala this past weekend, and met one of my heroes. You will find out who in a later post.
I am finished knitting on my castnet, but there's still a good bit of work left to do on it. It is currently hanging with 80 pounds of weight on its bottom outside Stuart Pacetti's garage.
There will be many updates when I am free from school...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Today, I will take the biggest exam I have ever taken in my life. It shouldn't be that bad, I don't think, because I did really well on the practice exams. If you condsider scores of 65% good...But there's about a 40 point curve on the test :-D Wish me luck...And only eleven more days of school left!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Frantic and Foregetful Friday Florida Crackerism

AHH, I FORGOT IT WAS FRIDAY! Here's one that leaped from my memory just a minute ago:

"Don't bring a rope into a house that's had a hangin'."


I'm pretty sure this is some kind of Lupine, but what kind??
Found this nice little specimen in Julington-Durbin Preserve.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Shovel-breaking work & other related rambling

School has a way of preventing me from doing important things that I want to get done...Such as blogging, gardening, READING, WRITING, getting out into the woods, and working. It seems that teachers want me to be in school all day long considering all of the homework I have been assigned this year. By the time I am finished with homework, all daylight has drained away, and, considering most of my life is usually spent outdoors, this seriously limits my leisurely lifestyle, and often leads to my going slightly crazy (as is evident by that last sentence.)

I have been determined this spring break to be as productive as possible and get much of the things done that I have wanted to do for a couple of months now. Many of these things are enjoyable to me, and just knowing the fact that I am getting things done is very pleasing.

Tuesday, after having a delicious breakfast at Huddle House, my mom and I drove the whole length of our county to get to my uncle's/(soon to be) my property. I have been wanting to get some topsoil to load up in 5-gallon "grow bags" in which I will be planting datil pepper plants. We chugged on down through the "Potato Capital of Florida" and pulled up to my uncle's/my 1.25 acres.

I commenced shoveling, and ended up with about 600-800 pounds of wet, mucky, fertile topsoil out of the ditch. Even though this amount is only about half of what I will need to plant all my peppers, I was satisfied with the days' work. Unfortunately, our old shovel fell victim to the heavy dirt, and will bury itself behind the house tomorrow. It has served our household well, and will be sorely missed.

Involuntary Shovelslaughter.

On our way home, we passed through the tiny hamlet of Molasses Junction. If you have ever seen the movie Moving McAllister, you have seen parts of Molasses Junction. Here's one star's account of the town, during an interview with Parade Magazine:

Mila Kunis: I saw some really odd places. We were shooting in spots like Delta, Utah, that no one has ever heard of that were awesome to visit. These little towns are like characters all in their own. We went to Molasses Junction, Fla., It’s right outside of St. Augustine.
Parade: That’s a real name?
MK: Yeah, Molasses Junction, Fla., They were the nicest group of people I’ve ever met. This town maybe had a population of 75. It had one building that was the post office, a restaurant, a grocery store, a convenience store, a pharmacy and a gas station. And it was hunting season. They were like, “We will treat you guys to a dinner.” And we were like, “You realize we’re 150 people.” And they were like, “No problem.”

Molasses Junction Country Store's wall is adorned with newspaper clippings and photographs documenting the shooting of the film, and a picture of the owner, Dave Doan, with Mila Kunis. It is an extremely charming and friendly place, with its old-style southern food and feed/farm store-like feel. I entered the tiny building, my favorite store in the county, to get "lunch" for mom and myself. I picked up a coke and peanuts for my mom (remember this), a sweet tea for myself, and two bags of these:

A bag of Bulls-Hit Ranch's Datil Flavor Bulls Chips getting back to its "roots." For more on these, you can visit Florida Cracker's blog post about them.

I also talked to Dave about selling something in his store this summer.

I got home and unloaded all of the soil into the yard. Hopefully, by sundown tomorrow, I will have 49 transplanted Datil pepper plants.

Why so many? That's for the next post.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


This past Saturday was the first day of spring break. Every high schooler was down at the beach soaking up the warm spring sunshine and making a general commotion. Everybody, that is, except me.

Nope, I spent the day running around like the Energizer Bunny, saving the beachgoing for sometime in the future (Personally, I think a farmer's tan fits my personality perfectly.)

I slept in (by my standards) till 8:00 AM, and made my way down to my Uncle Stu's house. I guess it's weird for a 17-year-old's best friend to be 58 years his elder...But I've never met any other person whom I have more in common with than this cracker-wisdom-loaded cousin of mine.
After tying over 600 knots on my mullet net-in-progress, we headed down to Tommy Allen's Feed Store just a minute down the road.

After parking the truck in the gravel "parking lot," we made our way up the creaky front porch steps, through the wide-open doors, and into the non-air conditioned shack. Saying "hello" to the attendant and explaining our reason for being there, we made our way over to the seed counter. Bags upon bags of seed were strewn everywhere, and after rummaging around for a few minutes, we found what we came for: Yellow straight-neck squash. Uncle Stu measured out his seed on the decades-old scale, put them in an sack, and brought them up to the check-out counter. All measurements are "on your honor.". A business based on the honesty of its customers? That's weird.

Later in the day, I went over to my mom's old high school sweetheart and datil pepper farmer, Randy Haire's, house. I showed up with the intention of buying 15 plants for $15, and ended up leaving with over 100 plants for $0, but not without some objection on my part. We had a very good talk about growing peppers, agriculture in general, and its quick ongoing disappearance in our home county. While we were talking, his daughter, who appeared to be slightly younger than I, approached gripping two painted turtles bound for their front yard swimming hole. She looked at me, and I could read her mind: What's he doing hanging out with my dad? That's weird.

When I finally got home late that afternoon, I mowed the lawn and took out the rest of my turnip greens. Some of them were starting to get that white mold on them, tipping me off that it was just getting too hot and humid for them. I had bush tomatoes to replace them with, anyway. I then spent the entire evening sorting, washing, blanching, and freezing the last of my crop of turnip greens.
As you can see, there was no shortage, and upon offering some to the neighbors across the street, they did not know what I was talking about; they had never heard of eating turnip leaves. That's a weird thing to do.

Yep, instead of spending the day at the beach like everybody else, I spent mine hanging out with old people, talking about old things, planting squash, harvesting turnips, and speaking with an old datil pepper farmer like he's an old friend.

I kind of like being weird.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Different Kind of "Remote"

I found my television remote yesterday.

It was buried in a drawer full of school papers.

I will need them soon when the time to study for exams comes upon me.

But for today, I can bask in the glory of not having to get out of my comfortable chair to turn the TV channel.

Ahhhh, spring break is FINALLY here!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Writing a Paper

I am currently writing a process essay for my English class, and I am diverting my attention toward it. An update about my very exciting weekend will come hopefully early tomorrow morning or tomorrow afternoon.
I will have nice, long, rambling post coming soon, don't worry.

"What's your essay about?" you ask.
I'll give you a hint. The title is:
How to Castrate a Mature Boar-Hog
I'll explain why I chose this topic in the upcoming post.
Now I'm back to work!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Favorite Famous Floridian Friday Florida Crackerism

The follow crackerism was made famous by one of my favorite famous Floridians of all time.

On this one, I would like two answers:

What does it mean AND who made it famous?

A little research may be in order for non-Floridians :-D

"Tha ol he-coon walks just afore the light a day."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


"Private HurricaneTeen, front and center!"

The words sent a wave of unexpected confusion over me. They didn't warn me about this, I thought. Vacating my place in the ranks, I marched clumsily to the front, facing the captain.
"Hand me your rifle," said the sergeant at his side.
Promptly, I handed it over.
The captain spoke again.

"Spit in your hands."

As I followed his orders, I could hear my fellow privates jokingly mock me by making snorting sounds with their throats.
"Ah, that ain't enough! Can we get a donation?!"

A couple of my fellow privates eagerly stepped out of rank and, bending over my cupped hands, spit in them.
"Now hand me a cartridge."

Reaching into my black leather cartridge box, I pulled out one of the paper tubes filled with black gunpowder and handed it over to the captain. He took it, ripped off the top, and emptied the contents into my hands.
"Now rub that around. Make a good paste."

I rubbed the concoction vigorously, watching my hands turning a slimy black as the men behind me stifled their snickers.
"Ah, yeah, that's good. Now rub that all over your face. Make yourself a nice beard."

I looked up and spotted the disgusted faces of the spectators who had been watching us form up as I rubbed the body fluid of three different people onto my face.
"Now wash the rest of that off."

The captain took his canteen and washed SOME of the powder off of my hands. The sergent handed back my borrowed 1861 Enfield musket.
"Right about face!"

I turned, and a cheer rose from the ranks - a rebel yell.

I am officially a member of the 7th Florida Infantry Volunteer Regiment, Company B of the Confederate States Army; also known as The Straw Hats.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Final February Friday Florida Crackerism

"Even a blind hog finds an acorn sometimes!"

No hints on this one. Sorry.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Punishing Pencils, Camp Commotion, and the fever that results

Due to the fact that last Thursday's post was so rudely cut short by an incorrigible mechanical pencil, I did not get to finish telling you about where I would be this past weekend. The pencil has been relegated to a dark desk drawer until it screams its apologies...It will be there a while, that danged pigheaded writing utensil.
...Now I will continue that post, saying it aloud as I type in order to further frustrate my former friend (the pencil.)


Every summer for as long as I can remember, I have been volunteering at a camp for people with disabilities...or, to put it the way I prefer to, people with different abilities.
This doesn't make me special or accomplished because volunteering there is not a sacrifice for me, it is a joy. The camp involves pairing up high school and college-aged people who bear (and contribute to) all the problems of this world-"buddies"- with those who are blessed with the joy of God no matter where they go-"campers."
(HINT--------> I'm definitely a buddy :-D)

Just starting this past year, two camps were set up to take place over the weekend during the school year. The first one occurred in October, but I balked at volunteering because I was afraid I would have too much school work, and would not be able to finish it if I was gone all weekend...I didn't have but an hour of homework that weekend.
Feeling bad about that, I decided to volunteer for this weekend, and, of course, I ended up having about 5-6 hours of homework and studying to do this weekend.
Teachers can be unpredicatable and goofy.

Camp was great fun as usual, and the weekend went by very smoothly with the exception of one blip on Saturday night...The details of which I will not share so I don't interfere with anybody's privacy. Everything turned out okay, though.
I would love to post pictures and tell you more about the camper I became friends with, but once again, I don't want to break anybody's privacy.
I'll just end that by saying it was a great time.

Pencil: My weekend was just dandy! ...Sitting in this danged drawer all weekend.
I don't want to hear it unless it's an apology, pencil!
You BETTER hope I don't get out of this drawer!
Shut up, pencil!

Where was I? ...Oh, yes.

I returned from camp Sunday night with the full expectation of studying literally all night. Now I don't do this a lot, only when it is necessary, but I had three energy drinks on standby to help me through the night. I was determined to ace that calculus quiz the next day...

I woke up.

"Dangit, it's already 6:30 (A.M.) and my throat's sore," I thought.
"And, whew, does my body ache!"

So started three days of a continuous 100+ degree fever that I still am carrying right now.
This is my third day straight absent from school...And unless I kick this fever by this evening, it looks like tomorrow will be my fourth.

I don't even want to THINK about all the work I am going to have to make up when I return.
But I still wouldn't trade this past weekend for anything :-D

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Calculus: My anti-sleep, anti-time, anti-sanity

Yes, I had a completely amazing time at Olustee this year, and I can't wait to share it with you.
However, I am studying my behind off for a
HUUUUGE math test coming up next week...
On everything we have studied since we returned from Christmas break.

Just a moment ago, I managed to tear a large gash into my hand with the mechanical pencil I have been using to study all day. In an attempt to not bleed on my keyboard, I am going to cut this post short and find a Band-Aid.

Good night!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Froggy Friday Florida Crackerism

I'm off to the Battle of Olustee Reenactment for the weekend. I hope maybe some of my Florida readers can make it and see some lage explosions while learning about the largest battle in Florida during the WBTS! I'll be back Monday morning! For now, today's crackerism is not quite as hard as last week's.

"God a'mighty, what a toad strangler!"

Hint: Meteorology

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I woke up a little earlier than usual yesterday. I glanced at the clock, and it read:
I usually like to be out of bed between 5 and 6 AM, but waking up before my alarm at 5 is unusual. It has happened before, though.

I fumbled in the dark while still lying in bed and flicked on my desk lamp. I grabbed a piece of loose-leaf paper from the stack I keep handy on my desk, and a pen from my aluminum can/pen holder labeled Allen's Sunshine Cut Italian Green Beans.

Still lying in bed, I scribbled out a poem. I was finished by 5:00.

Immediately thereafter, I got out of bed and tied about 800 knots on my castnet.

After my fingers were warn raw by the monofilament fishing line, I made a pot of grits and read the newspaper.

All before nearly everybody else my age even thought about getting out of bed.

The morning is the best time of the day. I don't know why so many people choose to miss it.

Poem posted next week!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


FCAT - The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test

I know one Minorcan Factor reader who has strong feelings about it. Maybe even two.

For my out of state readers, FCAT is a test to see how well Florida public school teachers teach to the book and fulfill the beaureaucratic "Sunshine State Standards" for edumucation. Though it seeks to do so, it does not come remotely close to testing how much a student has learned in school. In my humble opinion, it only holds back true learning and creativity.

...But I am not here to complain about bureaucracy and the freedom of teachers to teach...

No, on this occasion I am here to proclaim my JOY over the administration of the writing portion of the FCAT that is occurring today at my house of learning. Being in my last semester of high school (whew!) exempts me from having to write a requisitely bland essay to "Persuade your parents to raise your allowance" (to which I would respond: "My parents do not pay me to live under their roof and eat their food")

Today I have a day off!

Maybe I'll go fishing when the moon gets high...
Maybe I'll finish planting some collard greens...
Maybe I'll edit the poem I wrote early this morning...
Maybe I'll leave it just as it is...

Maybe I'll...relaaaaaax...


Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Florida Crackerism

This is the start of a new series called the "Friday Florida Crackerism," which will consist of different "cracker wisdom" sayings posted on the Friday of every week. I will get most of these sayings from my own personal experience and also some from literature such as that by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. I will also do my best to spell in the vernacular so that proper pronunciation can be achieved by my friends from other geographical areas. I hope you find this both entertaining and thought-provoking.

Today's Florida Crackerism is:

"Ya cain't git all yore coons up one tree."

Anybody want to take a stab at what this means? There's a popular corollary that has something to do with baked goods...

Answer Posted 2/12:
"You can't have you cake and eat it, too."
"Don't put all your eggs in one basket" would be acceptable, too!

Note: News on my property-purchasing plans will come soon.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Coke n Peanuts

My travels often bring me past this little pit-stop near my home, which used to be owned by one of my numerous cousins by the name guessed it...Weedman. Though our kin do not own the store anymore, I still often stop by there to buy gasoline and sometimes breakfast when I am traveling especially early. It is a typical rural southern store with the typical crowd and the typical country music loudly playing over the radio. Naturally, it's my kind of place.
One of the great things about Weedman's, as with many other rural stores, is that it sells everything under the sun inside its cramped quarters. From motor oil to "Yoohoo" in glass bottles to boiled peanuts and tractor parts...I mean everything.
One of the many unique things about Weedman's is that is still sells Coca-Cola in those little glass bottles that my parent's generation are always reminiscing about. REAL glass screw-on lids here...yes, you actually have to use a bottle-opener!! (This comes as a shock to much of my generation.)

Whenever I stop in there it is often tempting to me to buy a glass-bottled Coca-Cola and some roasted peanuts, and do something that is also unique to little rural southern areas: Coke n Peanuts. Yes, the peanuts are actually poured into the GLASS bottle and the two are....dreaten....simultaneously.
Today, as my mom and I were heading down to take a look at the property I am buying, I caved in to this temptation and bought a couple bottles and a jar of peanuts.

One thing here is that it is simply not the same with a plasic bottle as it is with a glass bottle. It's just something about an ice cold glass bottle that completes the equation. Oh, and another thing is that the rough peanuts take out the carbonation of that little bottle very quickly. So enjoy, but don't prolong the experience too much!

It's delicious! You should try it!!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Exciting News

HurricaneTeen's got some exciting news, and it has a little something to do with this...

I'd like to give you more photographic hints, but I figure I can leave this open-ended and have ya'll guess what's going on here. The news will be mentioned in THE VERY NEXT POST I PUT UP.

Until then...Have an outstanding "National Men's Grooming Day!"