Author: brucelcampbell

What A Week

Even before I went into semi-retirement Wifey and I had planned on painting the girls rooms Thanksgiving week. She took the week off and we had hoped to get everything accomplished before Thanksgiving day (Thursday). As usual, that didn’t happen.

We got most of it done, but I still have to replace the light switches and electrical outlets with nice white ones. That’s difficult in that I have to turn the power off, obviously, and the girls get upset when they can’t play in their rooms. Plus with my back and leg issues it’s very difficult for me to sit on the floor for any length of time. We also decided to replace several of the bedroom doors as the old doors are not drilled standard. The new door knobs don’t fit.

But here’s what we did get done. Those that follow me on social media have seen some of these before.

The easy room was granddaughter-the-elder’s. She just wanted a new shade of blue and a big turtle. She is obsessed with turtles and tortoises.

No, we didn’t paint that. It’s a decal from Fatheadz.
She also found a Jellyfish canopy and new reading chair.

Granddaughter-the-younger wanted a bit more. She wanted stripes on her walls. I have no issue with stripes. I had them on my wall when I was younger.

The colors don’t show well, but that’s a Pepto Bismol pink wall and light blue stripes.
She also found a Jellyfish canopy and new reading chair.
Both girl’s closets have a bead curtain as well.

And that’s not all we did! (Cue the infomercial voice over – “But wait! There’s more!). We had a new garage door installed (not going to bore you with a picture). As per our family tradition, the weekend after Thanksgiving we put up the Christmas tree.

Even managed to get our little village out this year.

And since Sunday was 1 December that means it’s the return of Ginger!

Of course, there was lots of food on Thanksgiving day. But you’ll have to see my Instagram for those pics!

Oh – not a single Christmas song was played the entire time. It just ain’t gonna happen.

Peace,
B

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18 Years Ago

Sorry for the lack of recent posts, but Wifey and I have been painting the granddaughters rooms and making some major changes for them. But that will be another post here in a day or two.

I’m not filing this post under my usual “What’s Stuck In My Head” category, although it would fit nicely there. This is a remembrance post for one of my guitar gods. It seems that on this day, 29 November, in 2001 we lost George Harrison. It was a tough day for me.

George was probably the second person to be put on my “guitar gods” list (Michael Nesmith of The Monkees was the first – I was very young when I started said list). The list isn’t ranked in any way. In fact it’s quite fluid as to who is on the top of the list at any given time. And don’t let the masculine term “god” worry you, there are ladies on the list as well.

George’s music, from the early Beatles, to his solo work, to The Traveling Wilburys is always on any of my playlists. “Don’t Bother Me” would be the first solo written credit, appearing on the 1963 album “With The Beatles”.

His “Handle With Care” was supposed to be a “B-Side” to European single but the record company said it was too good for a “B-Side”, and wanted an entire album. Thus was born The Traveling Wilburys.

I would imagine that the one song of George’s that everybody knows (even Frank Sinatra called the greatest love song ever written), would be Something. Written for his first wife, Patti Boyd. I believe Ms. Boyd should be known as the greatest muse of 70’s British rock and roll. Not only did George write this beautiful love song about her, Eric Clapton (another on the “guitar gods” list), penned the iconic “Layla” about Patti. Clapton wrote several other songs about her before, during, and after their marriage as well.

There are so many great songs of George’s to include in this post. It took a long time to decide which on to use. I picked this video because, one it’s a great track, and this live version has both Harrison and Clapton. And you can’t go wrong with two guitar gods! Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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Where Were You?

I’m sure there are many videos, articles, blog posts, and even conversations about the events of 22 November, 1963. All of them will be better than this one. I remember where I was on that day. When I heard that the 35th President of the United States had been assassinated.

I was sitting in my 1st grade classroom. Luckily back in those days, we didn’t have streaming news everywhere. My little school had maybe 5 black and white TVs on carts that they would move around the school (usually the upper grades used them more than the 1st or 2nd grades). So I’m not sure if any of the students were watching live. It would have been about 1:30PM when it went down (eastern time).

I do remember the announcement that was broadcast over the loud speaker about the assassination. It didn’t really mean that much to me at that point in time. I was 5. I knew what the president was, I knew his name, but that was it. I was not yet emotionally synced with the adult world. But the adults were in shock. There wasn’t much schooling accomplished that day.

The two things that captured my young mind were first; it was Friday, just like this year. And Friday meant grocery night. Even as a young kid, I have always enjoyed going to the grocery store. As the baby of the family my mom took me everywhere with her. When we went to the grocery, I felt like I had a hand in planning the meals for the week. I really didn’t, but it felt that way. Mom would ask me if I wanted a particular dish that week. No matter what I answered, mom bought what she wanted. Her queries were nothing more than to keep me occupied. But I still enjoy the event.

More importantly to my 5 year old brain was the fact that the next Monday would be my 6th birthday. That meant a party, and gifts, and food!!! Did I mention presents?!?!?!

But then came the funeral procession on that Monday. And it was on the TV in the family room. And that’s when it all hit me, and hard. I vividly remember lying on the living room sofa crying my eyes out. When my mom asked what I was crying about, all I could say was “They shot the president!”. She sat down with me and held me until it was over. And her mentioning the upcoming party made it that much quicker.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy may not have been the best president we’ve had, but he certainly isn’t the worst either. It may be the way his legacy has been passed down that I see him in such a favorable light. It is tough to disparage a leader when they’re cut down at the height of popularity. His involvement/build up in Vietnam polarized my generation and left great rifts between generations. But the social reforms he started, albeit way too slowly, are still encouraging democratic leaders today.

In some small way, I still miss him.

Peace,
B

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Hot Tomatoes!

As opposed to hot potato, or even Hot Tuna, the late 60’s spin-off of Jefferson Airplane…

Now that you have no idea where I’m going with this; Welcome! I’m not really sure where I’m going with this post either. In essence I came here to talk about food. And by food I mean hot tomatoes. And by hot tomatoes I mean they ain’t my favorite.

When I was a kid, I enjoyed spaghetti. Not so much any more. My tastes have changed quite a bit over the years. I just don’t care tomato sauce all that much. I will eat it (except for sloppy joe’s – I cannot stomach those), but I prefer my tomatoes raw. And that goes for the majority of my veggies as well. Give me a salad, tacos, a sandwich, gyros (please more gyros), with nice chunks or slices of fresh tomato and I’m good. Throw them in a pot and turn up the heat and I’m going to the (beer) fridge to see what else I can find.

Even pizza! Yes, I know; I’m a geek. Pizza is supposed to be my main food group (along with Doritos and Mountain Dew). I don’t really care for any of those things. But give me a pizza that doesn’t have “red sauce” (Hello Mellow Mushroom’s Holy Shiitake!) and I’m down with that.

Son-the-younger (a.k.a. son-the-chef) makes a wonderful veggie sauce that uses tomatoes as it’s base. But there are so many other veggies in it the tomatoes aren’t so strong. We’re lucky that he’ll make a big ol’ pot of it and we can freeze several quarts for later use.

Not only has my tomato taste changed, so has many other foods. As a kid I would never eat brussel sprouts, asparagus, avocado or even broccoli. Now I eat them all. Again, preferably raw. Wifey makes this amazing dill dip that is so good on raw veggies (and chips, and grilled cheese sammies). There are so many nights that she and I will have fresh veggies and dip as our vegetable for dinner. I’m sure I make up for the calories that I save with the veggies with the amount of dip. Not that I use that much dip per piece, I just eat that much! Portion control is not my strong suit.

Funny story – the first time I had dinner at Wifey’s house (before we were married), my wonderful mother in law asked my if I wanted “a slice of pear”. “Sure” I said, “I like pears!”. Next thing I know I have a very large slice of avocado sitting in front of me. I look at it dumbfounded. “Uh… That’s not a pear” I say as respectfully as I could. Dear ol’ mother in law comes back; “Yes it is. It’s an alligator pear!” “A what?” I exclaim. “That’s an avocado. Not a pear!”. Needless to say, I had never heard the term alligator pear. I had to politely refuse said “pear”. Then sweet mom hit me with her all important question; “Have you ever tried it?”. Her one rule was you had try whatever food she was offering before you can say you didn’t like it. There were many dinners at her house where I had a spoonful of something I had never tried before. I learned early to say that it was something new, just a spoonful, please. I miss her.

I also have a good story where I turned the tables of trying new things on her. But that’s another post..

Here’s one of my guitar gods, Stevie Ray Vaughn doing Mary Had A Little Lamb. ‘Cause lamb is food, and this is a food post.. So it fits.. Kinda?

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 19 November

This beautiful song has been stuck on repeat since about 4 AM this morning. I don’t know why. It’s not like I heard it recently, I’ve been over on Pandora, on channels with other playlists. Yet, here it is..

I’m not complaining, it’s a great song. And one that does get played often, so I’m sure everyone will recognize it.

“Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” was a song that I had written the music and Tom had written the words. The Heartbreakers had recorded a version of it with Jimmy Iovine, and Jimmy being the entrepreneur that he was, he was working with Stevie, and I guess he asked Tom if she could try it, and it just developed from there. We cut the track as a Heartbreakers record and when she decided to do it we used that track and she came in and sang over it. It became a duet. It’s basically all the Heartbreakers on that record. ~ Mike Campbell

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Draggin’_My_Heart_Around

Interesting note, son-the-younger was almost named for Ms. Nicks. We were looking at Stephanie Nicole as a girls name, or Steven Ray (for guitar god Stevie Ray Vaughn) for a boys name. It was about an hour before he was born we decided to name him after his maternal grandfather instead. Such is life. Also, I did not have a poster of Stevie in my room as a teenager. I did however have a music book of Fleetwood Mac’s that had some great promotional pictures of her.

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

P.S. Stevie is the first woman to be elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. Once with Fleetwood Mac and then just last year for her solo work.

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 16 November

A.K.A. The Christmas is coming post

I have to admit, that I had never heard this song until yesterday morning. One of my favorite DJs on SiriusXM Deep Tracks, Earle Bailey played it while I was eating breakfast. I was humming the tune the rest of the day, and into this morning.

The track is by Loudon Wainwright III. Loudon is best know for the 1972 novelty song (and one of my all time favorite tracks) Dead Skunk (In The Middle Of The Road). He was also on 3 episodes of the TV show M*A*S*H. I have also spotlighted his son Rufus Wainwright here for his cover of Across The Universe.

I think this song really sums up the entire “Holiday Creep” thing. Christmas decorations are almost up year around now. And sadly Thanksgiving, my favorite of the holidays, has become nothing but “a buffet in between”. So, without further comment, here is “Suddenly It’s Christmas”.

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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Continuing That Thought

This is a follow up to yesterday’s post on ethnicity estimates using DNA. (YAWN!)

To finish up this topic (for now) let’s look at the ethnicity estimates of two of my siblings against mine.

From left to right we have my eldest sister, my brother, and my estimates. They are arranged by age, eldest to youngest.

It’s interesting to see the differences. Take the left hand image, my eldest sister. Less of England, Wales & NE Europe (hereby “British” – easier to type), by 10 points with me, but only one point with our brother. Both my siblings show more Africa than I do, as well as more Germanic Europe. My brother shows none of the European Jewish that my sister and I have. My sister’s estimate also shows Pennsylvania Settlers, that neither of us boys show. And that is very interesting; our paternal lines (both grandfather and grandmother) are well established in Pennsylvania.

How can that be? Well, “luck of the draw” is as good an explanation as any. All the results shown are from an Ancestry DNA tests, so they are autosomal (atDNA) tests. If you read yesterday’s post (and didn’t fall asleep), you will remember that atDNA tests looks at the first 22 pairs of chromosomes. This type of DNA is made up of about a 50/50 mix of the genes passed down from both parents.

But how much of your parents genes get handed down to each child? That’s where the “luck of the draw” comes in. Pick one of your parents, doesn’t matter which. They have their own 22 chromosomes, made of a 50/50 combo of their parents , which is made of a 50/50 combo of those parents.

It’s rather clear that you’re not getting all the genes from either parent. They can’t give you 100% of their genetic makeup and have it fit into 50% of your DNA. So which parts do you actually get from each parent? It’s totally random. The genes I inherited from my parents are not going to be the same as any of my siblings have inherited. Hence, different estimates. My sister received more the Africa DNA than I did, while I received more of the “British” genes. Guess that’s why I like IPAs?

You also have to consider that;

Almost all – 99.9% – of the DNA of any two people on earth is exactly the same. Accordingly, genetic genealogy tests are only interested in the 0.01% of DNA that can vary from one person to the next.

Genetic Genealogy in Practice, Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne.

An interesting site I didn’t mention in the last post, GEDMatch, allows you to upload the raw data from most of the popular testing sites for comparison with others. They also have ancient samples you can compare your DNA against. It helps if you’re interested in how much Neanderthal DNA you’re carrying around (current thought is everybody has 1% – 2%). You can also compare yourself to several archeological finds such as “Cheddar Man“. However, those examples are all mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA). mtDNA is the most common DNA that can be extracted from ancient finds. But is only passed down by the female line. So you can only know if your mother was related. But if she is related then you will be too.

Genealogy tidbit:
If your parents don’t have any children, there is a very high probability you won’t either.

And yes, we are full siblings. This image (with their names removed for privacy) shows the results. I didn’t ask the sister in the middle for her estimate, not that I don’t want it, I already had two good examples to use. And that image is hard enough to see!

Full siblings usually have around 2500 cM shared. We are well above that threshold.

I have used my beautiful and wonderful siblings data with their permissions. Of course, I did pay for all the tests, but the data is theirs, not mine. I thank them very much for allowing me to use it.

So, how many questions has this opened up? Has it intrigued you enough to do your own DNA test? If so, please research all the options including data privacy. Law enforcement is increasingly asking for DNA matches from all the companies out there. Where each company is headquartered greatly effects how much they share and the requirements of local and national law enforcement requests.

Peace,
B

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Where I Come From

… Is really up in the air! Genealogically speaking, I’m a mutt (and chances are you are too!)

One of the biggest reasons people, lots of people, do any DNA tests is to see where their family came from. Unlike myself, they really don’t care to find some long lost family member, or try to prove they’re related to some royal family, now long forgotten (as in the family tree I found that links my Campbell line back to King Arthur!!).

But just how accurate are those ethnicity results? Well even according to the companies providing them, not really all that accurate. Well, that’s not an accurate statement either. It’s not that the estimates aren’t accurate, it’s that one, they are exactly what they say – estimates – and two the results can change. Your DNA doesn’t change, but as more people test, your estimate can change greatly. Here are my results from Ancestry.

This is dated July of 2018.
This is dated November of 2019.

The first thing that jumps out is the change in the UK results. I can document my family back to Scotland, so why did the numbers change? One reason is that more folks from the south end of the island (England & Wales) along with more people from the continent have tested. Thus skewing the results that way since there are more matches. Also, Ancestry has broken up the results to be a bit more specific. So the high number in 2018 for Ireland/Scotland/Wales will be diluted as those results are moved to a different locality, and the Scandinavian numbers have been combined with Northwestern Europe.

What about estimates from different companies? Well fear not faithful reader, I have tested at more than one place. My first test, way back in 2008, was strictly on the “Y-DNA” (male) line. As I am one of those guys looking from those long lost ancestors (but not mythical kings).

I should stop real quick and give a very brief overview of the 3 main DNA tests.

  • Y-DNA (yDNA) – This is a male only test. It follows the male sex chromosome from father to father. Remember your high school biology, males have both Y and X chromosomes, and females two X chromosomes.
  • Autosomal DNA (atDNA) – Everyone can do this test. This test looks at the first 22 pairs of chromosomes. These are passed down from both biological parents to the child, regardless of gender. This is test that Ancestry and My Heritage offer, at Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) they call it the “Family Finder” test. 23andMe also now offers this type of test, but remember that 23andMe started out doing DNA for health screening, so their genealogy offerings are still being developed.
  • Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) – Everyone can do this test as well, and it is highly recommended if your goal is to find your mother’s line. mtDNA is passed on to all children, regardless of gender, by the mother only. So this test will follow your mother, to her mother, to her mother and so on.

So, let’s look at the estimates of my atDNA from two other companies, FTDNA and My Heritage.

FTDNA, July of 2018

Well, that’s certainly more detailed, yet still has larger groups (i.e. “British Isles”) than the latest estimate from Ancestry.

My Heritage

I have to disclose that the My Heritage results are from the same data file as FTDNA. I did not test with MH, just uploaded my raw data from FTDNA. And this shows the difference in the databases that each company has.

FTDNA is an American company, and MH is located in Israel. This is why I have higher percentages of Ashkenazi Jewish, African, and Middle Eastern that doesn’t show up elsewhere.

I readily admit that I am not an expert on DNA (nor anything else for that matter). I try and read about the process and how best to interpret the raw data. But, like most folks, my eyes glaze over and I’m reduced to a puddle of goo after about two chapters. Even with my years of medical training, I get confused with all the terms and diagrams. So, let me give you some resources for both testing and education.

Testing:

  • Ancestry – has the biggest database if you also want to do genealogy, also now has health tests.
  • Family Tree DNA – offers the most separate tests (including several yDNA tests).
  • My Heritage – best for European genealogy – also now has health tests.
  • 23 and Me – best for health tests – just starting to offer genealogy.
  • LivingDNA – one the original DNA testers.
  • Dante Labs – offers Whole Gene Sequencing.

Education:

  • FaceBook – as much as I hate to use FB as a source for anything (other than frustration), there are many DNA and genealogy groups that can help.
  • DNAeXplained – A great blog with so much data my eyes started to glaze over while typing this!
  • Roots Tech – while primarily a genealogy site, they have lots of DNA help as well.
  • Cyndi’s List – Cyndi’s list has been around from decades! She has lists for anything family history related. The link goes to the DNA page, but have a look around, you’ll find something to help your family search.

Obviously, this is not a very comprehensive list. I find new websites and books almost every day. Remember, “Google is your friend”. OK, not really, Google keeps way too much data on everyone, but it is helpful. If you’re a book person, Amazon is very helpful.

As much as I would like to think that I maybe answered a question or two, I know that all this did was give you more questions. And that is the way of genealogy. You find one “answer” only to realize that it creates more questions! Feel free to ask your questions in a comment below. I’ll do my best to answer or at least point you to a good resource.

I will leave you with this tidbit; almost all of the DNA testing companies are running “Thanksgiving/Black Friday” sales now. It’s a good time to buy that test if you’re interested. I can’t give a blanket recommendation as to which company to test with, that will depend on what your goal is. Ask me!

Peace,
B

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A (Short) Veteran’s Day Note

Take 4.. I have deleted 3 posts with this title.. Why? Short take is I wanted to do a big post with lots of mentions of family members that have served. However, my genealogy software and I are at odds on how to search my trees to find information. The software won… So I’m just going to focus on one member of my family (I could do 10000 words on the veterans in Wifey’s family) – Clifford Leo Hicks. Uncle Clifford was my mother’s younger brother, and the eldest son.

He never married. So, no children. I have several memories of Uncle Clifford, (never Cliff – even his siblings called him Clifford) mostly good, but a couple scary (at least to the child of 8 or 9 that I was at the time). He never told any war stories to me, but I was in the room, or at least close enough to hear some of the tales when he was talking with the adults. Especially when his brother-in-law, Uncle Homer was there. They were both WW2 survivors.

He was at Pearl Harbor that fateful day, and as his gravestone shows, a veteran of Korea as well. I do recall him mentioning that running through the falling bombs at Pearl Harbor was nothing compared to the snipers while on patrol in Korea. He still had nightmares of running for cover while bullets were bouncing off the rocks at his feet.

Florence National Cemetery, Florence, South Carolina
All the Hicks kids. Uncle Clifford is second from the left and my mom is to his left (white sweater and black dress).

My sister says she remembers he thought of himself as a “ladies man”. She has a picture of uncle Clifford with a bunch of women. She mailed it to me a few days ago, so I can’t include it here, unfortunately.

Please leave a comment with the veterans in your life. They may have departed from this life, but they’re never truly gone as long as they live on in our memories.

Peace,
B
(Sgt. (R), US Army and proud father of an active duty soldier)

Two Weeks In

Well, here I am, two weeks into my semi-retirement. Just so you know, I have not been sitting on my ass the entire time. Mainly because I can’t sit for all that long, nor stand, nor lay down for that matter. The herniated discs in my back have not improved as I had expected.

And, since this is Veteran’s Day weekend, we have our annual “smoke out”. We used to do this twice a year, at Memorial Day as well, but we had to cut one out. Just too much work, and too expensive. As usual, we’ll have about 25 folks show up. Some driving an hour or so just to hang out with us. I consider this an honor and privilege to host these folks. Son-the-elder will not be joining us this year as he is still overseas with his Army unit. It’s also granddaughter-the-younger’s birthday celebration.

That’s just over 25 pounds of brisket and 18 pounds of pork butt to smoke! I have never smoked this much meat at one time…

I have also been doing physical therapy three times a week in an effort to get my back and legs stronger, so that I can handle smoking all that meat overnight Saturday and most of the day Sunday. It’s been mixed results, as this week has been a very difficult week with a high level of pain. But between the doctor, my wonderful tech lady, Wifey and doing my exercises and stretches, I feel much better today. The jury is waiting to hear the complaints after this weekend..

I’ve also been trying to do some more of the home repairs/upgrades we started a couple of weeks ago. That is slow going for me, but I do what I can and take a break to rest my back and legs. Much to Wifey’s surprise and delight, I do the basic housecleaning (sweep/mop/etc..) during the day as I can. I am still looking for a part time job to both supplement my income and keep me from going stir crazy. I can only sit and do nothing for so long. I’ve already read three books down my down time.

For now, my beer costs have not gone up. I am doing my best not to start drinking at lunch every day. And so far, that has held true. But “watch this space”. One thing that has gone up is coffee. When I was working I would normally have just one cup at home in the mornings and then drink the job’s coffee. Now it’s my usual four cups every morning. And we won’t get into weekend consumption when both of us are hitting the brew hard.

I think this song is appropriate.. Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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