Category Archives: Out of Orlando

December 7: Never Forget

While no living American will ever forget 9-11, many do not have any particular images come to mind when December 7 is mentioned. Shame on us for forgetting. Shame on us for not remembering.

“A day that will live in infamy.”

December 7 is the day the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, dragging America into the second World War. Just as today’s War on Terror affects many Americans, you would be hard-pressed to find somebody who did not have a relative involved in WWII. I did.

My grandfather served in the war. He was a Lieutenant Colonel who at one time had a whole unit under his command. He wasn’t a soldier; he was an attorney, one that served in Orlando for over 50 years.  I’ve often heard the story of how his men were sitting around drinking one night and began to question my grandfather’s command.  He pulled out his gun and shot a bottle some thirty yards off (by sheer dumb luck!) and that put an end to their questioning.  After the war he dutifully worked the Nuremberg Trials. My mother still tells of how she and her mother were the first shipload of dependents to go over to Europe after the war’s end. But I never heard my grandfather speak of the war.

Top 5 editor's Bess Auer's grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel Kohloss

In addition to my grandfather, my uncle served in World War II.  In fact he died during the war. He was a bombardier and his plane was shot down over enemy territory. We have pictures of his gravestone in France.

It’s a strange world in which we live; a world where so many young men (and women) lost their lives in a war that so few now pay attention to, so few now remember.

Fortunately there are people like Harry Meisel, who just recently passed away. Harry fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was a true local legend, having taught three generations of Central Floridians to swim. Harry was also instrumental in establishing a World War II memorial right here in Orlando, now located on the northeast corner of Lake Eola.  Harry strongly believed Central Floridians should understand the sacrifice Central Floridians made for the cause. I agree.

I am thankful for people like Harry and my grandfather and my uncle.  I am thankful for those willing to fight not only for my rights and freedoms, but for the rights and freedoms of others.

So, if you are one of those who did not recognize December 7 as a day of infamy, please take a moment to now be thankful for those who served in World War II. They are indeed the Greatest Generation.


Filed under family, History, Just for Me, Out of Orlando, Resident done good

Winter Park Architectural Firm Helping the Nation Help Its Vets

Okay, we’re categorizing this story under “Out of Orlando” but also in “Residents Done Good” because it features a Winter Park architectural firm doing big things for a good cause!

RLF – a Winter Park-based architecture, engineering and interior design firm – served as architect-engineer for the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center that recently opened in North Chicago, Illinois. The RLF team designed the facility’s centerpiece, a $130 million, 209,945-square-foot medical facility for veterans and active military duty.

This is the nation’s first fully integrated Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense medical facility, helping VA and Navy personnel to work side-by-side to provide seamless care to approximately 118,000 veterans, active-duty military and recruits, military family members and military retirees.

It is named after Captain James A. Lovell, a retired naval officer and NASA astronaut who made several trips into space on the Gemini 7, Gemini 12, Apollo 8 and Apollo 13 missions. Following the Apollo 13 mission, Lovell became the first man to journey twice to the moon. Wow!

“I am greatly honored and deeply humbled to have my name associated with this institution,” said Lovell during the dedication ceremony that took place earlier this last month. “I have always felt that the welfare of our veterans and active-duty personnel is an essential ingredient in providing a strong military, and that it is imperative to take care of those who have served our country in the past.”

“The successful completion of the Health Care Center ushers in a new era in federal healthcare which required an enormous amount of planning and teamwork on the part of all the participants,” said Robert Yohe, RLF principal in charge of the project. “But in the end, we’ve created a world class facility where both active and retired military personnel, dependants and veterans will receive excellent health care. We’re proud to have contributed to that.”

We love the fact that a Central Florida firm has played such a major part in helping America take care of some of its most respected and valued members of society: veterans and active military personnel!

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Filed under Out of Orlando, Resident done good

Movember – How Cool is Your ‘Stache?

Did you know 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer? That number is alarming, but fortunately this cancer can usually be detected and treated early.  However, I love the idea of an awesome annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer: Movember! (Changing the Face of Those with Prostate Cancer…literally!)

The idea? Grow a mustache – don’t shave for the month of November.  Don’t laugh, it is a major world-wide fundraiser and partners with the LIVESTRONG foundation.

So, why am I posting this? (Besides it being just a totally awesome fundraiser!) Because I am supporting a Central Florida native Mikhael Ser in his last few days of mustachedom:


Day 1




Day 26

Mikhael is part of the Military Mo’s Network, which supports military men who have been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. They have raised $29,185 to date, and I’d love to boost them to $30,000 before Movember is over. Might you be a part of this awesomeness? And perhaps next year, other Central Floridians may be sporting a mustache of their own for a great cause!



Filed under Charity, Fun, Just Plain Weird, Out of Orlando, Resident done good

Central Florida is LivingStrong!

Congratulations to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando for being named the recipient of not just one, but two LIVESTRONG Community Impact Project awards! These awards will bring cancer support programs to patients in Central Florida, and are funded by LIVESTRONG, the organization founded by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong.

I have long been a fan of Lance Armstrong, and indeed, one of my very first blog posts was about Lance returning to ride in the Tour de France just after a short retirement.

So, when I heard that Central Florida was in the running for one of his great programs, I Facebooked, tweeted, and blogged to get people to vote. I am so proud it paid off, as I feel it will be a true benefit to cancer patients as well as local artists. (FYI: Over a two-week period, more than 260,000 votes were cast and M. D. Anderson – Orlando was among the finalists. WOW!)

“This is a tremendous opportunity for M. D. Anderson – Orlando and we are thrilled to be named as a recipient of these awards,” said Clarence Brown, III, MD, president and CEO, M. D. Anderson – Orlando. “We want to give special thanks to LIVESTRONG and to everyone who voted in support of this program here in Central Florida. We are very excited to move forward and provide these programs to our patients.”

For the first program, United Arts of Central Florida will work with The Creative Center’s Artists-in-Residence program and will allow patients to explore, absorb, and express themselves creatively as they endure diagnosis and treatment. The program will work bedside as well as in small group settings with men, women, and children.

“Through the generosity of LIVESTRONG, United Arts is proud to facilitate in bringing local artists to M. D. Anderson – Orlando as the fight against cancer continues,” said Cory Warren, events manager, United Arts of Central Florida. “We are honored to continue the success of The Creative Center’s Artists-in-Residence program locally by coupling the arts and medicine in the full spectrum of the healing process.”

The second program, The Cancer Transitions is designed to support, educate and empower people with cancer in the transitional period after treatment is over. By incorporating support groups, education, nutrition and physical exercise, as well as addressing other medical management, a survivor’s psychosocial and quality of life issues will be discussed.

M. D. Anderson – Orlando was selected as a recipient for the $20,000 in LIVESTRONG grants following a national online voting campaign involving more than 170 hospitals and cancer centers.

Congrats and use it well!

More LIVESTRONG News:  “The 28 Can’t Wait.”

You can support the LIVESTRONG foundation even more by buying really, really cool yellow gear. (Yeah, there are other colors, too, but yellow is the really, really cool one, no?)

Between now and midnight on November 30, all LIVESTRONG gear will be 28% off in honor of the 28 million survivors who are fighting this disease.

Get your LIVESTRONG gear today, and use the discount code THE28 to get 28% off! Click here to shop now.


Filed under Celebrity, Charity, Contest, General Info, Non-profit, Orlando, Out of Orlando, The Arts

Mount Dora: Central Florida’s Great Escape

The Top 5 spent a magical weekend far, far away…. or at least it seemed like it!  We headed to a North Carolina town, a New England hamlet; a hilly place with a quaint street scape, a place of yesteryear; a town with fantastic gourmet eateries, unique boutiques, and the friendliest people you will ever meet…and it is all just 30 minutes outside of Orlando!

When deciding what to do for my hubby’s birthday, I had big ideas: Stay at the Biltmore or the Grove Park Inn (we love North Carolina after all).  However, time and money being what they are, I had to make some quick decisions. Yes, we wanted to escape the Rat Race. Yes, we wanted some place with incredible restaurants, spas for pampering, good shopping, and a wonderfully ideal place to stay.  No, I didn’t want to spend a fortune, and no, we didn’t have a week, only a weekend. So, I focused on Mount Dora, a place we had visited but had never stayed.

So, after asking a few questions of some tweeps in the know, the Mount Dora Historic Inn was named as the place to stay. Owned by Jim and Ana Tuttle, the Inn, which was built in 1880s, is a delightful bed and breakfast, the breakfasts are to die for!  Everyone was correct: The bed and breakfast is beautiful and comfortable, and the food sumptuous.

Breakfast #1:

  • A chilled Polynesian soup (think smoothie-like)
  • French bread French toast stuffed with a delicious strawberry-cream cheese concoction (French bread baked on-site)
  • Beef kielbasa (oh yeah!)

Breakfast #2:

  • Vanilla-infused grapefruit soup (oh my goodness!)
  • Three cheese souffle (that nearly rose to the ceiling)
  • Sweet potato pancakes (that really didn’t need any syrup they were so sweet!)

The other guests at the Inn were equally charmed, and one couple from Connecticut said they felt like they were still in New England.  Mount Dora feels more like North carolina to @swimmerjoe and me, but either way, it sure doesn’t feel anything like Orlando!

Just so you can get a better visual, check out this short video of the Mount Dora Historic Inn:

Check back soon to see what neat things we did in Mount Dora.


Filed under family, Fun, General Info, Just for Me, Mount Dora, Out of Orlando, Uniquely Florida

Gator Nation: Rumors of our death are greatly exaggerated…

I heard a dirty rumor that my University of Florida Gators lost their third consecutive game last night. They were saying this hasn’t happened since the late 80s, and these gossip-mongers now have me in a deep, dark funk.

You see, the Gators just don’t lose three in a row. We don’t even lose two in a row. (Heck, we don’t even lose one unless it means we can still somehow manage to win the SEC and vie for the national championship with that one meaningless, regular season loss.)

Why don’t we lose?

We’re Gator Nation, baby, and we. just. don’t. do. it.

Florida State loses, of that we’re sure. Bobby Bowden may be a god to football, but even he was fallible, especially towards the end.  (And, the Gators don’t even consider football played south of the Ocala Forest as real pigskin, so please don’t bring up Miami and some obsolete swagger.)

And what about the rest of the SEC?  Well, unless your name is Alabama, who we allowed to be ranked #1 pre-season this year–we are gracious Gators after all and don’t mind sharing the spotlight early in the season–we don’t really worry about our lesser SEC foes.  (However, on occasion we will root for Steve Spurrier to win a few games; deep down he is a Gator after all. That and Gamecocks are never good enough to be a real threat!)

But the vicious rumor mill works triple time when the University of Florida is involved.  Gators seem to have a bright orange and blue target on our backs… that’s just what happens when jealousy is at work, you know.

Lies! Deceit! Hatefulness!

What’s this about Tim Tebow leaving us high and dry and that Urban Meyer has no offense?  The entire Gator Nation became Mile High fans (you’re welcome, Denver) and Trey Burton is developing nicely. (John Brantley is just saving a spot for him.)

And what’s this about Chris Rainey threatening girlfriends?  (Just hateful rumors from rival fans… they follow Brett Favre everywhere, too, you know.)

So, don’t try to show me the headlines this morning; turn off Sports Center; tell Craig James to keep his big mouth shut and to maybe let former Gator QB Jesse Palmer talk more.

Tell them all to be quiet because I know Gator alumna Erin Andrews will tell me the truth… when she leapt from former University of Florida Dazzler to Dancing with the Stars, the orange and blue never quite washed out.  She knows what we all know when these hateful rumors of the Great Gator’s death run rampant… and here it is:

“Wait ’til next year!”




Filed under Just for Me, Out of Orlando, Sports, University of Florida

Glazer Museum…Tampa’s Calling All Kids!

Congratulations to the new Glazer Museum, which had its grand opening this past Saturday in Tampa. It’s geared to children with a tagline of: “It’s not your parents’ museum. It’s YOUR museum. And kidding around here just might grow your mind.”

Featuring 12 themed areas with over 170 activities just for kids, moms and dads might consider the 90 minute drive from Orlando. Play areas include a cruise ship, airplane travel, a vet clinic, a central bank and many more. Seems like it might be a great bet for a rainy day!

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Filed under Education, family, Fun, General Info, Out of Orlando