Thursday, October 4, 2012

Victor

I’ve told you about my harrowing experience regarding the theft of my iPhone in April, 2010. To recap: I was riding Light Rail, a Young Fool decided he would rather be in possession of an iPhone instead of me. He made off with mine, and I ended up in the hospital with a dislocated shoulder. But that was only half of the story. To tell the rest of the story, I’ve invited my long lost friend, the iPhone, to fill you in.

iPhone:
I’m an iPhone. You’ve probably seen many of me around. I’m pretty popular. People have been known to line up for days to get me. I pretty much defined a whole new class of portable computing and entertainment devices. I’m old and retired now, but shortly before I decided to take that long-deserved rest, I had quite an adventure.

But let’s step back about a year and a half earlier. My siblings and I were part of what was known as the second generation. My older brothers and sisters from the previous year were getting a little long in the tooth, and there was that whole newer, faster telephone network to take advantage of. 3G. Third generation network on a second generation iPhone. I’m getting confused. Am I my own grandfather?

Roger:
Hmm, well it appears that my friend iPhone is not really up to the task of telling his story, so I’ll have to step in here. When the original iPhone came out, just like many, I wanted one. Unfortunately, I was on a contract with my old-fashioned flip cell phone, and couldn’t take advantage of the initial iPhone offering. But a year later, I was ready, and I jumped at the chance to buy the next generation. Unfortunately, so did everybody else, and it became a difficult task to find a stock of iPhones unless you were willing to get up early, stand in line for hours and risk being told “Sorry, sold out!” just as you reached the head of the line.

I carefully watched the Apple Store web site and finally decided that a Sunday morning visit to the Arden Fair Apple Store was going to be my best bet at acquiring the treasured device. When I arrived the line was only about twenty deep, so it looked like luck was on my side. After about an hour wait for the store to open, and watching the line behind me grow, my prospects began to brighten. An Apple Store employee handed each of us early arrivals a ticket, essentially guaranteeing that we would get one of the elusive gadgets.

As I walked out of the store with my new phone activated, I couldn’t wait to try out all the features that I had been reading about. We hopped in the car, and took a drive up to Williams, to breakfast at Granzella’s Restaurant. The iPhone Maps application showed me exactly where we were, and for sake of adventure, we took the less-traveled route back home, just to see if it could keep up with us. It did not fail us.

Upon returning home, I began loading some of my vast music library onto it, and it soon became my constant companion, especially on my hour long commute to work via bus and train. Music, web, e-mail, books, video, games and other apps. It could do it all; the perfect distraction to whatever else was going on. Ah, my downfall. But you heard that, already. What you didn’t hear about was the iPhone’s continuing adventure, once it left my possession.

I’ll let iPhone tell you about it (dial tone). Hmm, it appears he’s worn out and apparently has gone to sleep. I don’t think he’ll mind if I continued.

I imagine he probably saw me through his camera lens as I fell, and he watched as the doors of the train closed and pulled away. He was on his way to parts unknown at a rapid pace.

His new master treated him roughly, punching at the screen, trying to get in some free long-distance calls. It was obvious he didn’t know his way around, and iPhone wasn’t talking.

But wait, now he was back on the Light Rail. Returning to the scene of the crime? How is that a good idea?

And now the Young Fool was back to his old tricks, harassing other passengers and generally making more trouble. iPhone had had enough, and decided to try psychic means of communication. Apparently, reaching me as I was suffering in the ER, he gave me the idea to have the phone service shut off. I asked my wife to call AT&T, she explained the loss, and they immediately cut off the phone service. My iPhone was gone, but at least I wouldn’t be accruing additional insult on top of injury.

iPhone’s psychic abilities only increased more once the distraction of listening for incoming calls went away, and he convinced Young Fool to get into a face-off with Big Burly, another passenger on the train. The two argued and exited the train, Big Burly pulled a gun on Young Fool, and shot him in the leg. Big Burly ran off into the neighborhood, and Young Fool waited for law enforcement to arrive. He was now the victim. Taking out iPhone, he stripped down his pants, and took two photos of his injuries on the back of his thigh.

When the police arrived, they noticed that some things didn’t quite add up. Young Fool was injured, but all he could talk about was “Where’s my iPhone. Where’s my iPhone?” The officer on duty recalled an earlier report about a Light Rail iPhone theft, and began putting two and two together, and discovered that the iPhone in Young Fool’s possession was not his own. Young Fool was arrested, and the iPhone was confiscated.

By this time, my wife and I were on our way home, when her cell phone rang. I answered it, and it was the Sacramento County Sheriff who recovered the phone. “I think we have your iPhone,” he told me. I was in shock. How was this even possible? He arranged to meet us at our home later that afternoon.

I called our son at home, to tell him the good news about the recovered phone. He had just seen a news report about a light rail incident in which a passenger had been shot by another. The report focused on the fact that the poor fellow was another victim of undeserved violence.

Meanwhile, iPhone was still trying to see justice served. He remembered the women from the train earlier in the day, and put it in her mind to contact the TV station and let them know there was more to the story than met the eye. Soon after iPhone reunited with me, a TV crew was at my house to hear the story of a theft, injury and recovery, and I, once a victim, was now the victor.



Victim

As I lay on the hospital bed in my first-ever visit to the Emergency Room, suffering from the most intense pain I have ever felt in my life, my distracted mind tried to piece together the events of the past two hours.

The late-April day started out just like any other, a pre-dawn bus ride to the Light Rail station, a short wait for the train, a seemingly innocent inquiry from another waiting passenger about my iPhone. A trip I’d taken literally thousands of times, with nothing worse than a few annoying loud talkers, minor delays, sometimes pleasant conversation, but often with me buried in a book, listening to music, generally ignoring the hubbub around me until I arrived safely at work.

Events that day began to take a turn when the young man who had earlier inquired about my iPhone began walking up and down the aisle of the Light Rail car, his long black trench coat flapping behind him, generally being annoying, and making loud references to his desire to make trouble. My response: push the earphones in deeper to block the distracting noise, then focus more intently on the web page I was perusing.

It was obvious that this was affecting the other passengers as well. The train operator made an announcement to the ride disruptor to cease or exit the train. Fortunately, he chose to exit at the next station, much to the relief of all. But, suddenly, he turned back to me, reached out his arm, and grabbed my iPhone. “I’ll take that,” were his words as he turned and began to exit. I sat in stunned silence for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality, could only have been one or two seconds. I decided to take action. I jumped out of my seat, grabbed for the phone, brushing the thief's arm, but failed to retrieve the stolen goods.

He succeeded in exiting the train, and I succeeded in falling to the floor, hard. After another seeming eternity, I picked myself up, fully embarrassed, and plopped back down into my seat, a partial set of destroyed earphones the only remaining evidence of being the former owner of an iPhone.

The train operator checked on my condition, and informed me that RT security had been contacted. Given the chance to stay there or move on, I elected to meet them at my destination.

My thoughts turned to my inability to communicate as I’d been accustomed. How was I to inform my wife of the incident? How was I going to replace my phone? Many thoughts ran through my head, all the while blocking out the fact that my left arm was hanging uselessly at my side.

The woman sitting across from me indicated that she was able to get a good description of the perpetrator. I thanked her, and in turn, explained to her that I thought my arm was broken, as I could not lift it on its own. Other passengers also inquired about my well-being, and I painfully endured the remainder of the ride to work.



Upon arriving at my destination, I was met by a Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy. He asked if I needed an ambulance, but I declined the offer, indicating I would contact my wife for assistance. He took my statement, as well as the statement of the witness, and in a few minutes I was safely into the building and at my desk.

My first call was to my wife, alarmed and annoyed to be hearing from me at 6:30 AM, as she was preparing herself to go to work. “My iPhone was stolen on the train, and I think I’ve broken my arm. I need you to pick me up and go to the hospital.” After the shock of my statement wore off, she began the preparations to meet me downtown. In the meantime, more time for me to reflect and suffer.

Luckily, only a few minutes later, a co-worker arrived. I explained the incident to him, and he immediately offered to drive me to the hospital himself. A quick call to my wife to advise her of the change of plans and we were on our way.

My co-worker dropped me off at the ER desk, ensured that I was going to receive the proper care, and returned downtown. I was rushed into a room and painkillers were administered but they had no effect. The doctor reviewed the X-rays and discovered that I had dislocated my shoulder, torn some tendons and experienced a small fracture as well.

By this time, my wife had arrived and was admitted to the room to be by my side. We were advised of the procedure that was necessary to repair my injury. I would be given anaesthesia, the same one administered to Michael Jackson that ultimately led to his death, a not quite comforting thought. However, when used properly, it had no side effects and was otherwise very effective. Then the doctor, a small, slight woman,  would pull my arm back into place while I was out.

My wife was asked to leave, I was knocked out, but came out of it almost immediately. I saw my wife, still in the room, and told her she was supposed to leave. She informed me that the procedure had already been completed, and the evidence was the immobilizing sling on my arm. I remembered nothing but the pain was gone.

I lay there, now on the road to recovery, still without my beloved iPhone, but thankful that my injuries were fixable. I was facing a few days off from work and a few weeks of physical therapy, but little did I know that my iPhone was having an adventure of its own.

But that’s another story.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Every 5,000 Days

Marilu Henner, one of the stars from the TV series Taxi, has what’s known as Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, where she can recall specific information of every day of her life since the age of eleven.

A 13-year cicada has a life cycle of 5,000 days.

What do you get when you combine Marilu Henner and a cicada? Essentially, me.

I have Highly Selective Autobiographical Memory, where I can only recall events exactly 5,000 days apart.

I was born, Monday, November 30, 1953. 1:57 AM. That’s a solid fact. You can look it up. But I know it, because I was there.

It was tough being born. Not only did I have to wait nine months, but the doctor forgot to tell me the same date he told my parents, and I didn’t get the word until almost two weeks had gone by. Let me tell you, I was not happy, and I came out screaming. I settled down a bit once I demanded and got something to drink. I was pretty thirsty, but it had taken a toll, and I pretty much slept off the rest of the day.

I don’t remember anything after that, but my next distinct memory was Wednesday, August 9, 1967, 5,000 days later. I was working a dead end job as a Local Media Delivery Specialist, bringing important information to dozens of people in my community. You might consider this to be a dream job, but the life of a Sacramento Bee Paperboy was not all it was cracked up to be. Oh, there were good times, but there were bad times as well. Whether dodging cars on the busy Boulevard, or facing the fury of a California thunderstorm, life was always an adventure. But no greater threat exposed itself than on that fateful day, when Brutus, the world’s meanest doberman pinscher, decided to break free of his restraints, and hunt me down.

Brutus taunted me as I tossed the family’s newspaper onto the porch, but I felt relatively safe, knowing that an industrial class chain kept him at an appropriate distance. Nice doggie. Man’s Best Friend, right? Wrong.

I spied the escaped Brutus when it was too late, he had already launched himself like a rocket when he spied me. Hitting the pedals, I thought I was free and clear, until I felt the sharp spikes of his clenching jaw close in on my tender buttocks. For a brief few moments, Brutus and I were one, he was practically airborne as he refused to relinquish his grip. But I did break free, and delivered the remainder of my route without sitting on the bike saddle.


I’m told a few important things happened during the next 5,000 days. There was that whole high school and college thing, I got married, I got a job at DWR, I had a kid. I don’t know; I don’t remember. What I do remember is Friday, April 17, 1981, 5,000 days A.B. After Brutus.

The physical wounds from Brutus had healed, the emotional scars remained. I remembered it like it was just the day before. But this was a new day, two days before Easter, Good Friday... It was anything but good. I guess I hadn’t learned a valuable lesson from Brutus: dogs are evil. Yet we had one: Fido.

Well, Fido wasn’t really evil, he was actually quite friendly. As a rather large Irish Setter, he was normally relegated to the back yard, and loved to run and play. But in the house he became a bull in a china shop, knocking into the furniture, and what he didn’t bump into directly, his excited tail took care of the rest. Nothing was safe, including our dear baby boy’s first Easter Basket, which we had just assembled. One swipe of the tail, and the contents scattered across the room. Fido’s only thought was to lay into the basket’s remains like there was no tomorrow: first went the marshmallow peeps, then the jelly beans, finally the chocolate rabbit, along with a large dose of green plastic grass. It proved too much for him. Dogs, chocolate and green plastic grass don’t mix well, and what goes down, must come up, and up it came all over the new Easter outfit we had laid out for our one year old son. Why that had to happen on my 10,000th day, I don’t know. I’d rather forget it.

But a sad reminder of our history of dogs and chocolate occurred next on the 15,000th day of my life, Sunday, December 25, 1994. Christmas Day. We were anticipating a nice quiet family Christmas in our new home (so I’d been told.) As we unwrapped the presents, much to my horror and disgust were not one, not two, not three, but four solid, milk chocolate replicas of my brother-in-law’s late Great Dane, Dana. At least, that’s what they started out to be. What they ended up being was four packages of flowing goo, which had melted under the hot Christmas tree lamps, seeped out from their packaging and virtually destroyed our new home’s carpet. Even from the grave, a dog was determined to curse us.

But... day 20,000; I shudder to think about it. Tuesday, September 2, 2008. My parents’ 57th Anniversary. My wife and I had just returned from a wonderful weekend in Las Vegas, and the furthest thing from my mind was dogs. It was the most horrible, most gruesome experience of all. I can’t even talk about it... so I won’t.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Little Orphan Cecelia Annie

I presented a slightly abridged and edited version of this to my Toastmaster's club on June 29, 2012.

On July 16, 2009, distinguished Harvard professor, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., returning from a trip to China, found himself locked out of his own home. Upon attempting to break in, a local witness reported the action to the police, presuming a burglary was in progress. A confrontation with police ensued, and Gates was arrested by Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley for disorderly conduct. The arrest sparked a national media event, which even came to the attention of the President Barack Obama.

Charges were dropped a few days later, and the President invited the two men to share a beer with him and the Vice-President to discuss the incident. The “Beer Summit” was a success, and relations between the two men are now amicable.

While I don’t know much about Sgt. Crowley these days, I do know that Professor Gates most recently once again came to my attention as a co-producer and host of the PBS program, “Finding Your Roots.”

“Finding Your Roots” researches the backgrounds of a number of well-known people, revealing interesting and surprising information about their ancestors. A similar program, “Who Do You Think You Are?” also ran recently on the NBC network.

With dedicated personnel and the financial support of national television networks and sites like Ancestry.com, it’s no wonder the results are successful. But what about the ordinary American, someone like Little Orphan Cecelia Annie?

Little Orphan Cecelia Annie wasn’t always an orphan. She was raised by a single, loving, divorced mother of four, who could barely make ends meet. Despite the difficulties, the family succeeded and each one made it in the world. The oldest son married and raised a family, another successfully completed a Master’s Degree education with honors and established a career as a medical librarian. Their younger sister also married and raised a family, and the youngest sister, Little Orphan Cecelia Annie, married me.

In 1991, Cece’s mother succumbed to cancer. With her father having left the family in the late 1950s, and subsequently dying in an accident in 1965, links to her family’s ancestry were virtually lost. Technically, she was an orphan, with no known surviving ancestors. Her mother kept few records of her father, and the only information surviving was a death certificate bearing his birth date, death date and where he was living at the time, a couple of photographs, and the names of his two daughters from his first marriage, Cece’s half-sisters, whom she had never met.

For years, I’d always been curious as to her father’s family. Were his parents still alive? Did he have any siblings? Are their cousins? And whatever became of her half-sisters?

My curiosity finally got the best of me after the death of a long-time family friend of my father’s and a surprising revelation in the eulogy presented by my father that my middle name, Dale, was in his honor. If, after 58 years, I was just learning something new about myself, why shouldn’t I also try to find out something new about my wife?

My quest began with a simple Google search in February. That turned up information on Cece’s grandparents, and led to some potential contacts with more information, including the names of her uncle and aunts. Further research revealed that her grandparents, and all of her aunts and uncles, were deceased, but there appeared to be the possibility that some cousins were still out there. I found one mailing address online, and sent a letter to Virginia Rose Lane, an 83 year old woman whom I believed to be Cece’s cousin, the daughter of her father’s sister. In the letter I provided enough information to identify ourselves and the family relationship, and provided mailing and email addresses and a phone number, inviting further contact.

Those of you who know me, know that I am a big fan of the musician Todd Rundgren. An opportunity to travel to Rockford, Illinois to see Todd in a special concert and fan gathering arose, so we decided to combine it with a trip to nearby Indiana, Cece’s father’s birthplace, despite the fact that we still had no confirmed contacts with any family members.

About a week after I wrote my letter, a phone call came from area code 812. Normally, I don’t answer calls from area codes outside of home, but this one was different. I recognized it as the area code for Indiana. I answered the phone, and much to my delight, it was Cece’s cousin, Virginia Lane, calling from 2,000 miles and three time zones away. Unfortunately, Cece wasn’t home, but I spoke to “Rose”, as she preferred to be called, for about a half-hour, confirming the family relationship, getting additional information on some other family members, and basically validating two months of intense research. We concluded our conversation with the promise that Cece would call her back in about 30 minutes, despite the fact that it was already after 9 PM for Rose.

When Cece returned home, she nervously made the call. How could she talk to someone who was a complete stranger to her, yet besides her own siblings, was one of her closest relatives? Thankfully, she found Rose a delight, and together we revealed to her our plans to visit in early June.

In another week, we received another call from Rose’s son, David, who was able to confirm and supply additional family information, and he indicated to us that he would travel from his home in Tennessee to meet us when we visited his mother. This was going to truly be a family gathering.

But my quest for more information on Cece’s ancestry was not over. I continued to pursue other leads, and found deep roots into colonial America, emigration from England and Scotland in the late 1500s, even tenuous links back into English nobility and royalty. But one of the most surprising discoveries was about Cece’s cousin Tom. Tom was not as close a relative as Rose and David. In fact, one would have to go back seven generations, to Cece’s five times great grandmother, Mary Nichols, who was Tom’s first cousin. And given that Tom was born in 1743, it was unlikely we would get a chance to meet him. Tom was born and died in Virginia, and that was not in our travel plans.

When our trip to Indiana finally happened, we did get our family “Union”. It wasn’t a reunion for us, because these were relatives we had never met, nor even known about four months earlier. The family gathering involved a couple of dozen folks, and was a highlight of our trip.

But another highlight of the trip was to visit seven area cemeteries where relatives and ancestors were buried. We saw graves for Cece’s three aunts, several cousins, her grandparents, great-grandparents, even two of her great-great-grandfathers. One of them was Elijah Hammond, the great-grandson of Tom’s cousin Mary Nichols.

But the most moving of all was visiting Cece’s father’s grave, her first tangible contact with something uniquely her father’s. Let me tell you, tears were shed. Little Orphan Cecelia Annie had finally found her father.

Shortly after the incident involving Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Sgt. Crowley, Professor Gates appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. He revealed that after some DNA tests, it turns out he and Sgt. Crowley shared a common ancient Irish ancestor. In a much earlier lecture, he also speculated that he might be related to Cece’s cousin Tom as well. While that hasn’t been proven, we do know that Tom went on to greater fame himself and that I regularly carry an image of him: among his many accomplishments, he authored a document titled “The Declaration of Independence” and became our nation’s 3rd President, Thomas Jefferson.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It's Hard To Be A Fan

These reflections on my trip to ToddStock were written a few weeks after the trip and presented as a speech to my Toastmasters club. This was our first trip farther than San Francisco to go to a Todd event, and it literally changed our lives. Since that time, we've traveled across the country five times for various TR events. I'm republishing it during the 4th anniversary week of ToddStock. Enjoy!


It's hard to be a fan

Folks that know me well know that I'm a big Todd Rundgren fan, and are probably tired of hearing it. Folks that know me less well probably say "Todd Who?" Or maybe, "Isn't he that crazy guitarist that likes to shoot guns." No, that's Ted Nugent. Or, "Isn't he that Swedish guy that was in Rocky IV?" "No," I say patiently, "that's Dolph Lundgren." Or, even "Wasn't he the Attorney General of California?" "No," I reluctantly reply, "that's Dan Lungren." But I perk up, because this gives me an opportunity to "educate" them. "Surely," I say, "you've heard the song Hello, It's Me? Or perhaps, I Saw The Light? We Gotta Get You A Woman? Bang the Drum All Day?" Sometimes, even then, not a hint of recognition. It's a common scenario for the fan of someone considered a "cult" artist. And like any "cult" it's our duty, nay, sworn responsibility, to "convert" new fans to the cause.

And for those of you with that blank look, here's the scoop. Todd Rundgren is a musical artist who has had success since the late 1960's and enjoys a fair amount of success today. So now, with that brief indoctrination, I will assume you've now heard of Todd Rundgren. After all, I just mentioned his name, and hopefully you're listening. But I'm not here today to "convert" anyone. In fact, I'm here to relate an incident that shook my very faith to the core.

Last spring, I received an invitation to a special event: a week long celebration of Todd Rundgren's 60th birthday at his home on the island of Kauai. Food and a camp space were provided. Just had to get there.

I didn't have to think about it long. We made our reservation and soon we were heading off to "Toddstock." We flew out of San Francisco, and after a one hour delay due to "mechanical problems" (a term I don't like to hear) they shuffled us off to another gate and plane, and my wife and I were in the air.

Five hours later, we arrived in Lihue airport and awaited the delivery of our baggage. Hers came, and I waited. And I waited. And I waited. Nothing. We checked with the baggage folks and they found it, back in San Francisco! I had nothing but the clothes on my back until they were able to deliver it the next day. Oh, well. Another minor bump. The delay was bringing us into our final destination an hour later than expected, so I called ahead to tell the caretaker. "That's OK, we leave the house unlocked." Okay....

We got our rental car, received directions to get out of the airport, and promptly took a wrong turn. So I turned around, and took the second of three possibilities. Wrong again. OK, ocean's on the right. Looks like we're heading in the right direction. The speed limit changed every 100 feet or so it seemed. Forty-five minutes later, we arrived at our destination and we needed to find our cottage. Again, a challenge in the dark. Down at the end of a dirt road, on the left, we were told. Here's one that matches the description, but it's on the right. It could be green, but we can't really tell in the dark. We parked, walked up to the house and went in, not sure if we were at the right place, or we were walking into someone's home. No signs, no address. How long before someone with a shotgun shoos us away? We finally convinced ourselves that we were in the right place, and settled in for some sleep.

I had no choice but to sleep in my clothes, because my entire week's wardrobe was in SAN FRANCISCO. But I was tired, so I fell asleep pretty quickly. Until 3 AM, when the roosters started crowing. Roosters! What, am I on a farm?

Well, between fits of sleep and the roosters predicting the sun's rise in four hours, I finally dragged myself out of bed around 7 AM. I put on my grungy clothes from the night before, and we readied ourselves to go over to Todd's house for our first Toddstock breakfast. A gentle rain was falling outside, creating a nice refreshing morning. Things were improving. Right.

The instructions given me for finding Todd's house were summed up as "We are the next street over, about a mile." Simple enough. I had looked it up on Google and was pretty confident we'd find it. Only a mile, we'll take a nice walk over.

Out on the highway, traffic was light and it took us only a little bit to get to the "next street over." Light rain continued to fall, and we wished we had our umbrellas, but they were in my suitcase, which was, did I mention it? BACK IN SAN FRANCISCO!

We turned on Todd's street, and began to look for the estate, littered, we supposed, with tents and campers ready to party for the week, easy to pick out from a distance. We walked, and walked, and walked some more. The rain fell, and fell, and fell some more. We were both soaked, so I decided to save some time and run ahead to see what I could find. I got to the end of the street, and no Toddstock to be found. I turned around and headed back, only to discover that my wife had also turned around, and was heading back to the cottage. I caught up, and we pretty much decided that we were miserable, and maybe this was a big mistake in coming to Hawaii at all. If only I had a number to call to get better directions. Oh, yeah, I did. But this time, no excuses of it being in SAN FRANCISCO. It was back in the cottage "only a mile away."

We got back and grabbed towels to dry off. My wife at least got to change her clothes, and I borrowed a dry T-shirt from her. My brand new shoes, barely broken in, had rubbed a sore on my toe. We called and got new direction. "Oh, make a right turn from the highway, not a left turn? But can you do me a favor first. Check on our friend in the next cottage. She hurt her back last night, and can't get back here. We'd like to know if she's OK." Alright, we can do that. So I go over to the cottage, only to discover a woman sunning herself completely in the nude! She quickly wrapped a towel around her, and we discovered this was the friend. Yes, she'd like us to bring her back some food.

OK, in the car this time. "One mile" turned out to be three and a half, but we had finally arrived. Let's eat! Oh, breakfast is over. There's some leftover fruit, and a bit of bacon. Ok, we'll take it. We took it back to the cottage, fed our new friend, and for now, things began looking up. Oh, still no clothes. I called the airport. "They'll arrive around noon and be delivered in the afternoon." OK, I wrapped myself in a towel, dumped my still damp clothes in the local dryer and waited. And waited. My clothes were dry. Still, I waited. Finally, five PM and I had my suitcase. All was right with the world.

Until three days later, when we lost our rental car keys. But there's not enough time for that story. Would I ever travel to a Todd event again? You bet! I'm leaving this afternoon to go to Vegas for two Todd shows this weekend. It may be hard to be a fan, but I'm a fan to the end.

Monday, May 21, 2012

No more political ads, please. My absentee ballot is in the mail and there's nothing you can do to change my vote. Thank you.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Booked Bedford

Friday, May 11, 2012

Parlez-vous Fran├žais Mark Wahlberg?

My focus in genealogical research has been my wife Cece's paternal line, mainly because in her and our history together, we've known very little about it. Having never known her father, and nothing about his past, it seemed the logical place to start digging. And it's been, and will continue to be for a long time, and interesting voyage of discovery.

But occasionally, I look a little into her mother's line as well. Although they have all since died, she and I knew her mother, aunt, grandmother, great-aunt and several cousins, so the need to research further was not as strong. A quick Internet search revealed that Christina Siquaw, a cousin on Cece's maternal grandmother's side, has done a significant amount of research into the Siguaw/Sigouin/Seguin line. It goes back from the US into Canada and eventually to France.

So, in my effort to discover additional information, I did my usual name pair searches, and discovered a wealth of new (to me) information, tracing family roots well into late 1500s France. I'll be digesting and logging this newly discovered information into my own personal records. Some of it is in French, and I may be relying on language skills I haven't exercised in many years. Thank goodness for Google Translate.

One of the more interesting discoveries is that actor/singer Mark Wahlberg (and by extension, brother Donnie Wahlberg) are related to Cece though his mother's line, at least according to some genealogical research done by others. The common link is Joseph Sigouin, Cece's great-great-great grandfather, who happens to be Mark Wahlberg's great-great-great-great grandfather. That make them 4th cousins, once removed. I guess that means we can now call him just to gab on family matters.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Are you my sister?

No need to answer that. I have a sister, and I know who she is.

However, my wife, Cece, has two half-sisters, and although she knows their names, she has never met nor communicated with them. It has been my goal for a long time to rectify that, and I began in earnest with my genealogical search begun in February, 2012.

It has been common knowledge that her half-sisters were named Alice La Rue and Phyllis, and they are the daughters from her father's first marriage to Evelyn Fields. But beyond that, little else was known. Their births in the early 1940s was assumed, but that was about all the information we knew. We had a picture of Alice La Rue as a young teen (or perhaps pre-teen). The picture was not dated.

Cece does have another sister named La Rue, which we've always thought was interesting that two daughters in the family shared a common name.

Through a number of searches and some first-person conversations with newly-discovered relatives, we managed to get a bit more information about the two half-sisters. Alice La Rue, born in 1940, was married to Donald Shelton, and had a son named Joel, born about 1975. She commonly went by the name La Rue and supposedly lived in Rising Sun, IN. Phyllis, born in 1941, married Jack Rogers, and we obtained a scan of her Student Identification Card for the Mt. Carmel High School (Illinois) 1955-1956 school year. The only other information we got was that her middle name was "Lee."

I tried a few Google searches and managed to find some references to Donald and Alice or La Rue Shelton, associated with a Joel Shelton, so it seems likely that these are the right folks. Then I stumbled across information that indicated that Donald Shelton died in 1996, and I confirmed that in SSDI. I also found an obituary for a sister, "Bobbie" Shelton Stinson, which named him as predeceasing her. I found genealogical records indicating his ancestors back several generations, but nothing that distinctly confirms a relationship with Alice La Rue. His grandfather, and another ancestor are named Joel, however.

I did find his burial location, and a headstone which include a space for La Rue, born June 9, 1940. This is some pretty convincing evidence that he is the right person. In the same cemetery are his grandparents, Joel and Myrta.

Additional searches for La Rue also hint at a surname of Brown, and an association with Paoli, Indiana, which contradicts the Rising Sun information. Yet, perhaps she is under our noses the whole time. A phone number is available, yet we are hesitant to try it, asking "Are you my sister?" We have some feelers out, and maybe someday we'll work up the nerve to make that call.

Phyllis' whereabouts are still a mystery.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thirty-eight years ago today I took my 17 1/2 year old girlfriend out to breakfast on her half birthday.
3.33..., 5.5, 6.66..., 25.25, 33.33..., 50.50, 55.5, 66.66..., 75.75. How are these related?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Daughters of Samuel Grimes/Sons of William M. Bennett

This statement "It appears that the families of William and Rebecca Pittman Bennett and Samuel and Susan Goble Grimes were very close. Six of William and Rebecca's sons married six of Samuel and Susan's daughters" appears in a few locations, though I don't know its original source.

Another reference (Kentucky, Statewide - Marriages early to 1800) indicates "Samuel Grimes m. Elizabeth Speer in Shelby Co., KY 10 Aug 1815."
I've looked at various references for Samuel Grimes and Susan Goble/Elizabeth Spears, and come to these conclusions (names and dates from Chuck Elledge's "Elledge Family Tree" site):


Probably child of Susan Goble
  • Sarah "Sally" GRIMES b. 17 Jun 1811 d. 2 Jul 1895 m. James BENNETT, Sr. b. 31 Dec 1819 d. 27 Oct 1891
Probably children of Elizabeth Spears (bold is Cece's Ancestors)
  • John GRIMES b. 5 Apr 1819 d. 10 Oct 1899 
    m. Mary SANDS b. 1820 d. 3 Dec 1859
     
    m. Zeporah SANDS b. 25 Jan 1825 d. 29 Sep 1883
     
    m. Susannah BROWN b. 1824 d. Y
  • Barbara GRIMES b. 1820 d. 2 Jul 1911 
    m. William BENNETT b. 5 Oct 1823 d. Y
     
    m. Henry F. ROBBINS d. Bef 1841
  • Leonard GRIMES b. 1825 d. 1870-1880 m. Philena J. MONK b. 1831 d. Y
  • Elizabeth GRIMES b. 1826 d. Y m. Jesse Edward MORGAN b. 1823 d. Y
  • Benjamin A. GRIMES b. 1827-1828 d. Y m. Menerva PARKS b. 1834 d. 1909
  • Samuel GRIMES b. 1830 d. 1913 m. Arrabelle HUNT b. 1832 d. Y
  • Abraham GRIMES b. 1831 d. Y m. Sarah PRUETT b. 1833 d. Y
  • Nancy GRIMES b. 1832-1834 d. Y m. George Washington BENNETT b. 17 May 1827 d. 1912
  • Katherine "Kitty" GRIMES b. 1835 d. 1910 
    m. Harrison BENNETT b. 22 May 1832 d. 21 Jun 1858
     
    m. John Clark WELLMAN b. 1832-1836 d. Y
  • Dicie GRIMES b. 1837 d. 1919 m. Alonzo BENNETT b. 10 Dec 1836 d. 1912 
So the math is correct (six sons married six daughters), when it comes to Samuel Grimes, but only one child is Susan's; the remainder appear to be Elizabeth's.

Given birth dates from the Elledge Family Tree site, Sarah "Sally" Grimes seems to be the only child of Samuel and Susan. All others were born well after 1815. There is an eight year gap between Sarah and John.
This raises questions that I have not yet been able to answer. Did Susan Goble die before 1815? Did they divorce?
Any thoughts or insights?

Additional information discovered after initial posting:


Chuck Elledge has this quote on the entry for Sarah "Sally" Grimes:

"The second son of William and Rebecca was James who was born Dec. 31, 1819. He married Sarah - nicknamed Sally - Grimes (1811-1895). Sarah was one of the five daughters of Samuel B. and Susan (Coble) Grimes, that married into the William M. Bennett family..." and the attribution is the Owen Stout book.

My Scott & Hill Family has Sarah Grimes born in 1921, making her Elizabeth's daughter, after all. No mention of Sarah Goble, except in the Owen Stout quote.
Starbucks Frappuccino Half Price Happy Hour begins today at 3 PM. We'll be at our favorite haunt on Antelope Road this afternoon between 4-5

Monday, April 30, 2012

Catherine Grimes Ancestors

I've already done a lot for the descendants of Catherine Grimes Bennett Wellman, but little for her ancestors. As expected, others have done the heavy lifting, and the most significant ancestry chain is through her mother, Elizabeth Spears Grimes. The line goes back to the early 1500s with John Gentry, born about 1510. Another path links back to England in the 15th century, with relationships including the royal family and the family of Anne Boleyn.

Her father's line, Samuel B. Grimes seems to be a brick wall for most researchers, with his parents,  Leonard Grimes and his wife Jan Vandeveer, the only known ancestors. However, there is a lot of research on the Van Der Veer name, and I'm hoping I can find a solid link somewhere from that information.

There also seems to be some confusion about the spouse of Samuel B. Grimes. Christina Pearson's
Descendants of William M. Bennett contains the quote
It appears that the families of William and Rebecca Pittman Bennett and Samuel and Susan Goble Grimes were very close. Six of William and Rebecca's sons married six of Samuel and Susan's daughters.
However, Christina's own Ancestors of Christina Marie Wise Brown indicates a different descendancy with Samuel and Elizabeth Spears being spouses, and Sarah being their daughter, born in 1821. I suspect the 1821 date is supposed to be 1811.

Elledge Family Tree also indicates that Elizabeth Spears was Samuel B. Grimes' spouse with an 1815 marriage date. Susan Goble is listed as a second spouse, but no marriage date is listed.

Sarah "Sally" Grimes is shown as having been born in 1811, and all others born after 1819, so Susan may have been his first wife.

The Family group sheet for Samuel Grimes and Susan Goble on Yatesville indicates only Sarah and Dicey Grimes. Sarah married James Bennett, Dicey married Alonzo Bennett, both sons of William M. Bennett. But Susan Goble is listed as having been born about 1800. In 1811, she would have only been 11 years old.

Kendall-Paul Family Lines has a John Grimes as a son of Samuel and Susan, with a birth in 1819.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Elizabeth Hammond Bennett

Elizabeth Hammond Bennett (as well as her husband William H. Bennett) have been somewhat difficult to document accurately. I've seen documents that place Elizabeth's birth anywhere between 1841 to 1849, and William's birth typically about 1852-1854, Census figures from 1870 show an eight year discrepancy in their ages (Elizabeth 25, William 17) and if accurate makes 1845 her birth year.

In the 1870 Census, Elizabeth in not shown in the household of Elijah Hammond, which is consistent with her  1869 marriage.

However, the 1900 Census, which indicates only Samuel at home, has her birth recorded as August 1843. Samuel's is listed as November 1876, which is accurate compared to other known data. Since the census was taken June 1 - 21, 1900, this is prior to Samuel and Hattie's marriage on 8/15/1900.

WPA Death Index contains an entry

142Bennett, Elizabeth, Died 1933, age 92 years.BK-6
 Pin Hook Cemetery, Syria, Indiana. 

Doing the math, this reference would be 1841.

In the cemetery book at Syria Cemetery,

BENNETT, Elizabeth b. 31 Aug. 1843 d. 26 Nov. 1933 Wife of William; Daughter of Elizabeth Hammond Bennett. It is also noted in the cemetery book that, although she is buried there, there is no stone.

In the 1850 census, Elizabeth is listed as age "1" on June 1, 1850 (enumerated July 29, 1850). If August is considered her birth month, then 1848 is her birth year. If they were giving approximate age, the 1849 could be the year.

Mary is listed as age 7, which might be an 1843 birth. Pure speculation: is this maybe our Elizabeth, perhaps "Mary Elizabeth"? Makes some of the math work. And one of her daughters is Mary Elizabeth Bennett.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sent this message to Bonnie Gay Christensen


Bonnie,

I believe these two separate entries in your database are actually the same person.


Nancy Crook: http://awt.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=gayfamilyfile&id=I189238&ti=5542

Nancy was my wife's great-great-grandmother. However, the association between the two Nancy entries is by deductive reasoning (support by other Internet searches), and not supported by any documents in my possession.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

With this post, I'm going to finally start documenting some of the genealogy research I've been doing, at least as far as logging it when it happens. So far, the bulk has been on the Bennett family, and it's all posted at Family Tree - Bennett. I'm thinking about creating a new site for it, which should be pretty easy to do.

Today I made some significant inroads into the ancestry of Elizabeth Hammond Bennett. There's a lot of misinformation and inaccuracies that I will be wading though, and hope to zero in on something that is an approximation of reality.

I e-mailed two potential family contacts, coincidentally both named Terry. First was Terry L. Linthicum, whose "Linthicums from North Carolina" web site links in Elizabeth Hammonds.

The send is Terry Bigler, who has information on Elizabeth's ancestors at "Ancestors of Bobbie Ann Howard".

I also listened to several podcasts about genealogy.
They say Tom Waits is an acquired taste. I'm not sure I'll ever acquire it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Rockford Holiday Inn - finally booked.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's a lazy day. After my nap, I intend to rest until it's time to go to bed.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

When life gives you eggs, make egg salad.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Today's Sacramento Bee mentions that Ethel and Todd Rundgren will appear at Mondavi Center in Davis, CA on November 3.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Will Ted Runger see his shadow tomorrow?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Today's The Day for the big "Todd" DVD drawing, awarding five copies. Drawing held at Noon PDT.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Celebrating 32 years of fatherhood today. Happy birthday Matt!

Friday, March 23, 2012

I don't recall ever hearing my grandmother complain that she was forbidden from running for US President.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Yay! Taxes are done. Boo! We owe. Yay! A Lot less than last year.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Having no luck finding corn beef on the cob at the grocery store.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Watching the movie "Pi" on Pi Day

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thought I had ordered "Inherit the Wind" with Dick York from Netflix, but accidentally got the remake with Dick Sargent.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

After a lifetime, found Cece's cousin (age 83) who she'd never met or knew existed.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Craig Boogie Coinman?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Virgin America flight from SFO to ORD (Chicago) for $89 each way 5/31 through 1st week in June. We're on it.
Got TR/RSO Tickets OR2 CNTR F 7-8

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The sky is crying today. Will Leap Day William turn the tears into candy?

Monday, February 27, 2012

So I'm watching #TheVoice for the first time and I'm confused. When do they get on the scales for the weigh-in?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Apparently, the next 30 seconds are crucial to my well-being.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My memory's so bad I can't remember what I had for breakfast. To make it worse, I eat the same thing every morning.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Watching Rachael Rae 1000th show. Info identifies it as episode 1029. Hmm.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Watching the Grammys and enjoying it, something I haven't done in years.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our granddaughter Diana knows how to say Grandma and Grandpa

Friday, February 10, 2012

Celebrating the 38th anniversary of our first date by babysitting our granddaughter tonight. Maybe we'll play her some Uriah Heep.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I'm in the money! At least according to the Sacramento Bee: "Sacramento County homeowners to get up to $820 million in mortgage settlement"

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tore out the flooring in one of our bathrooms, getting ready to put in new vinyl, but probably not today.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I predict that whomever wins tomorrow's playoff game will go on to play in the Super Bowl.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Browsing the shops at Carmel Plaza. I think Cece is going to buy something for Diana.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Actually watched the last quarter of the 49ers game. Happy with the outcome.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First in 2011: Saviour by Late Night Condition from Deep Elm Sampler No. 9 "We Dream Alone". Last: Look Away by Chicago from Chicago 19
According to iTunes, I listened to exactly 15,000 different songs in 2011.
New California law says no more 100-watt light bulbs. We have one. Do we have to turn ourselves in?