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Sticking Together and Blogiversary IV

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

I’m surprised every time the blogiversary season rolls around and it is time to dig out the party hat. Blogiversary IV has really snuck up on me as I try to finish writing a couple books, start another and prepare to speak at FGS, my first national conference. Every year I joke about how it […]

Fingered by the Index

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

I don’t remember when I first read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. Whenever it was, I have read it many times since. I won’t go into much of it here, it would be well off topic. Suffice it to say that it deals with a vast sweep of the future and the decline of a great […]

Hinting at the Facts

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. —Henry David Thoreau Reading old genealogical works can be an almost mystical experience. Not mystical with a capital “M” as in a […]

The Genealogists’ Memory

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

A person’s memories are not created instantaneously. There is a process of assimilation. We think of our memories as if they are created by a recording device—formed instantly, perfectly and unalterably. That isn’t the way it actually works. Forming a memory starts in an instant but it can take a lifetime. Our collective memory works […]

Who’s the Ancestor was on First?

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

From a recent exchange started by an intentionally amusing comment from a client- “In genealogy we’re supposed to go backward to move things forward, so is backward actually forward or is backward still backward even though it takes things forward?” Somehow that reminded me of “Who’s on first?” at least in the level of potential […]

Royal Heralds and Simple Harolds

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

I never thought that I would ever use the heraldic visitations. Heraldry has that sort of “gravitational” attraction that always makes me somewhat uneasy. People have been known to make up heraldic arms for profit. Some think that there are “family coats of arms” and that everyone has one. People claim or are misled to […]

Poetry + Accounting = ?

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

The famous biologist Edward O. Wilson has written that, “The ideal scientist thinks like a poet and works like a bookkeeper.” That is research in a nutshell. Poetry A poet asks the big questions and looks for the big patterns. What if this isn’t him in these records? What if they married in America not […]

Transience and Permanence

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

After a long day of triangulating families in Griffith’s Valuation, I needed a break and managed to take my first somewhat long bike ride of the year. I took a route that I have taken many times before. The deep forest and the slow-flowing river give a sense of timeless permanence. They were there like […]

What’s the Antimatter

Monday, June 10th, 2013

The other night my daughter borrowed the movie Angels & Demons and wanted to watch it with me. Part of the plot hinges on the theft of a container of antimatter from CERN, the particle physics laboratory outside Geneva, Switzerland. I think she wanted to get my reaction to the physics. Antimatter is in some […]

Call me Ishmael part 2

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

(continued from Call me Ishmael) Ethnicity Names almost automatically preserve information about ethnicity. A given name might be used in many countries but its precise form might be unique to an ethnic group. Surnames often have very local origins or are dependent on the language spoken by the people who created them. A “Smith” is […]

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