Questions

Who Are You? (A New Family Question)

Not too long ago, I posted about folks with bad family trees on the interwebs.  Seems that I’m one of those people.  No surprise there.  The one name that I called out explicitly, my 2x great-uncle Lloyd Campbell as having a different set of parents, was wrong.  I’m not sure at all at where I had any parents for him at all.  I think I was mixing him up with Sara Catherine Campbell, his sister.

Here’s my (new and improved) reasoning.  Not long after writing that post I had two new DNA matches.  One was a Y-DNA match, so that meant he had to be related on my paternal side.  It’s also nice that we have the same surname.  But he doesn’t answer my emails, so I guess we’ll never figure it out.

The other match is an atDNA match at Ancestry.   This is with a woman, and only a possible connection with the Campbell line.  However, she does share matches with folks that I know have to be on my Campbell side, so that’s good.  She believes that her great grandmother was a Campbell.  A Catherine Campbell to be exact.  And what was the other name in my tree I was complaining about? Why Sara Catherine Campbell of course. 

Now here’s where I make my confession. It seems that the early census records I have for this lady have her as Catherine.  No Sarah anywhere.  Why did I change her name?  Because I was following a marriage for a Sarah Catherine Campbell, despite the fact that I had a death certificate for this lady with different parents.  I will allow myself a bit of a way out as the listed father’s name was James R. Campbell, the same as my 2x great-grandfather.  Plus, her mother’s name was Ann Story, which is very close to my 2x great-grandmother Ann McCauley.  I know I’ve had this record for quite some time, so I’m thinking that I held on to it hoping it was just an honest mistake.

Then that second DNA match, with the Catherine Campbell name made me go back and look again.  With a bit more research knowledge now, I found the correct family for this Sara Catherine Campbell.  Hint: Not my family. Her parents were James Ray Campbell and Anne Story.  So, I have removed the married family from my tree and returned her to her original name of Catherine Campbell (without the Sarah), under her parents, James Richard Campbell and Anna McCauley.

Obviously, this DNA match answered my email, otherwise how was I to find the Catherine Campbell match?  Funny thing is my previously mis-named Catherine Campbell is a close match to the age and location for Catherine Campbell from my match.  For once, I get to research a family that’s not my own!

It’s been about a week since I’ve started this hunt.  And while it’s been a lot of fun running searches on websites I’ve not used before; it’s also been quite frustrating.  I have not been able to match up anybody in either of our trees yet.  One of the problems is, again the name Catherine and its various spellings.  In this search I find that this couple (Catherine Campbell and her husband, a direct male ancestor of my DNA match) have her name is three different ways.  Catherine, Catharine, and Kate.  There is even a possible Katie involved, but I think I can rule that one out. 

Here’s the deal; The first mention I can find of them together is the 6 January 1893 issue of the Democratic Watchman (Bellefonte, Center County, Pennsylvania newspaper) that lists them as having been issued a marriage license.  Her name there is Kate.  In the 1900 census (the husband died in 1898), she is Catherine living with her two daughters in her mother-in-law’s house, who was also a widow. I have not found her after the 1900 census.  At least not in Pennsylvania.  She is also listed as Kate in one daughters’ birth record (my DNA matches grandmother) and her other daughters’ death certificate.

Needless to say, searching for any marriage records for her under the known names and her husband only finds the newspaper article mentioned above.  So, I can’t link these two fine people together. 

As I’ve mentioned before, the 1890 census was lost in a fire.  However, Centre County used this data to compile a directory of businesses and its citizens.  I can find the husband with his parents not all that far from most of my family, including my Catherine and her family in Milesburg.  But having found that connection be yet another brick wall, I kept looking and found another Campbell family a little east in Millheim and there is a Kate listed!  Could this be the one?  Nope.  As far as I can tell, Kate is the wife of a married son living with his parents.  Kate and her husband (yet another Samuel) do not appear to have any children.  Another dead end.

The funny thing (funny as in strange, not ha-ha funny) is that Catherine/Kate’s husband was adopted.  This was well known by the family, and I can find all kinds of records on his adopted family.  I’m hoping that we match through this Catherine/Kate and not through the husband’s biological family.  I have never done any adoption family tree work.  And quite honestly, I’m a bit a’scared to even start.

I’m not giving up, just calling it a day.  The single malt is calling my name.

Here’s a somewhat related video – because I feel very lost and can’t find my way home.

Enjoy!

Remember, genealogy isn’t rocket science. It’s much more difficult than that!

Peace,
B

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Who Are You?

Let’s take a break from the music posts for today and take a look at my genealogy again.  Yes, I did say some time ago that I was not going to pursue this much longer, but my subscriptions haven’t expired yet – so I’m still at it.  It may also be due to that fact that I’ve been reading a series of novels about a forensic genealogist that has kept me interested.

The novels by Nathan Dylan Goodwin take place in England mostly.  The main character, Morton Ferrier, has more interesting cases than I expect any real genealogist would have.  His house is blown up, he’s kidnapped (more than once) for example. If you like mysteries and want to read about specific events in British history, then I recommend these books. There are a total of 10 stories, but they do not have to be read in any order. I’m currently about a third of the way through the 10th in the series.

But here’s the thing.  His cases all seem to take place within a few hours drive from his home in the southeast of England.  I don’t have that luxury.  Morton can visit local libraries, the national archives, and even churches to find records that are not online.  Me?  I’m still stuck in Pennsylvania.  That’s more than a few hours away even if travel wasn’t impacted by this virus. As I have more than one “high risk” category staring me in the face, I don’t even like going to grocery store – much less getting on a packed airplane with folks like Ted Cruz not wearing a mask. 

I did have a genealogist in Pennsylvania do some research for me.  Sadly, she couldn’t give me much that I didn’t already know.  Between her recommendations and, surprisingly, some tips I picked up from the novels, I’m carrying on with some new searches.

Let’s recap, shall we?  I’m looking for my 2x great grandparents, James Campbell and his wife Ann Elizabeth McCauley.   Here’s my tree back to the individuals in question;

The Family Tree, such as it is..

Looking at this image you would think that it looks rather complete.  Sadly, it isn’t.  There are many blanks in the next generations that aren’t in that image. I have many matches on my paternal grandmother’s side (Josephine Melinda Bodle or “Nanny”) and quite a few on my maternal grandfather’s side (Talmadge Whitaker Hicks).  I haven’t really started into my maternal grandmother’s (Dora Calder) side all the much, yet.  It’s that damnable Campbell line that’s killing me.

Check here for information on James’ middle name, the junior and possibile parents. I won’t repeat it all here.

My great grandfather, Samuel W. Campbell, had as far as I know, only three children.  His eldest was my grandfather, Herbert J. Campbell (I still don’t know what the “J” is for, nor Samuel’s middle initial “W”). Next was a daughter, Florence I., then another son Lester Lyman Campbell (Oh look!  A middle name!). 

Most of my genealogy is on Ancestry.  I do also have trees and DNA at other places around the web, but Ancestry is my main holding place.  I had an account there for over 20 years now, and it’s too much trouble to move to a new web server. 

Ancestry has a service called ThruLines.  It can be helpful, or it can be trouble.  What is does is take your DNA results (you must have an Ancestry DNA test – they do not allow uploads of DNA results from other companies), and your family tree and tries to match you with other folks that may have common ancestors.  My Heritage has a similar service called “Theory of Relativity”.

The problem with any online tree is that not everyone takes the time to verify the names that are added to their respective trees.  Some folks refuse to believe any findings that don’t match family stories.  So that child born out of wedlock, or that family member that went to jail are either completely left out or added even if the data doesn’t match the story simply because “it can’t be true – (insert family member that’s telling the story) said that wasn’t how it happened.”  I really enjoy seeing trees that link back to “royalty” from folks primarily here in the USA.  It seems that while our country’s founding fathers wanted nothing to do with the British aristocracy, now everyone want’s to be related to some prince or princess.  I even saw one tree go back to King Arthur! Sigh..  And I have gone off on another tangent, haven’t I?

Let’s get back to Samuel for a moment. Using the ThruLines I mentioned above, the only DNA matches I have from Sam ,ueland his wife, are my siblings and a niece and nephew.  I knew that we would be the only matches from Herbert and Josephine, as our dad was an only child.  But this lack of first cousins severely hampers my search. 

Let’s look at census records for a moment, as these are a good way to follow the family over time.  Starting with Samuel, here’s what I can find;

  • 1870:  Snyder, Blair, PA
  • 1880:  Boggs, Centre, PA
  • 1890:  Boggs, Centre, PA (from Centre Lines – first record with wife and two oldest children)
  • 1900:  Boggs, Centre, PA
  • 1910:  Milesburg, Centre, PA
  • 1920:  Milesburg, Centre, PA

From Samuel’s death certificate (the ONLY documentation I can find for him), I find his father is James Campbell, no middle initial or “Junior” that seems to pop up on some trees.  His mother is listed as Ann Colley or Calley, it’s hard to read.  I have not found any birth or baptism records for Samuel.  I will have to go to Pennsylvania for research.  I have asked several of the regional libraries and genealogy societies for help, but they couldn’t find anything either.

Samuel Campbell’s Death Certificate

The 1870 and 1880 census show Samuel, at the approximately correct age with James as the father, and the mother is an Anna or Annie E.  However, the 1870 census is troublesome.  It has children that don’t seem to fit with the rest of the family.  Since the 1880 census is the first to list the relationship to the head of the household, I’m thinking that these names that are listed on the 1850 – 1870 censuses are not full brothers and sisters, but maybe cousins that are living with my 2x great grandparents.  This is quite possible as the death certificate for two of the problematic names lists parents as W.R. Campbell and Fleita Benjamin as parents, and their gravesite is not very far from Samuel’s.

However, on ThruLines I have a DNA match with someone claiming to be from one of the troublesome names.  This is where not doing good research comes in.  Whoever it was that started their family tree from this Lloyd Campbell and seeing him listed in the census records under James & Anna just assumed that they were his parents.  Hey – it’s a very common issue.  I’ve done it as well. 

Samuel’s obituary lists two siblings, same as I have them (Hiram J. and Florence) and my grandmother as surviving.  If this Lloyd was a brother (not likely) he would have already passed by the time Samuel died. The other male listed that I don’t believe is a brother, Martin, would have still been alive so he should have been listed in the obituary as well.  I believe that the reason that Samuel’s mother is listed as Ann Colley or Calley on his death certificate is due to fact that his wife, as the informant, had suffered a stroke some time prior to Samuel’s passing and either could not recall the full name of McCauley, or couldn’t pronounce it clearly.  Samuel’s brother, listed in his obituary and found on the census records, Hiram, lists Ann McCauley as his mother.  This is why I feel that the census records I have are the correct ones for this family. There is a Henry McCauley listed in 1850 and 1860 as living with them, which I believe is Ann Eliza’s father.

But James!  Just who the hell are you?  All I can tell is he worked in the various iron mills in central Pennsylvania.  I have possible records for service in the Civil War, but I can’t say for sure which one is his record.  You have to imagine just how many James Campbells were in Pennsylvania during the 1800’s.  If I run a search on Ancestry for James Campbell with a birth about 1827 in Pennsylvania, I get 192,101 records back.  Not helpful at all. 

The 1890 census was mostly destroyed in a fire, so I can’t search that time frame.  Fortunately, Centre County Pennsylvania used that census (before it was destroyed of course) and created a document called the “1890 Centre Co., PA. Business Directory”.  From that another document “Centre Lines” was created.  This lists a basic census of the county for 1890.  I can find my grandfather, Herbert, with his parents, Samuel and Ada and his sister Florence, in Boggs Township.  His mother, Anna E. with his brother Hiram and a Catherine S. (one of those troublesome names from the census records) in Milesburg.  But not James.  Was he dead, did he run away, was he working elsewhere in the state or out of state?  I have no idea.

I believe that this Catherine S. is who I have listed as Sara Catherine in my tree.  Her death certificate lists a James Campbell as father, but the mother is Ann Storey.  I can find a gravestone for this couple (he’s listed as James Ray Campbell).  So, is this another cousin that my ancestors took in? Maybe, maybe not.  In the 1880 census she is shown as a daughter.  She should have been alive when Samuel died but she is not mentioned in his obituary.  The informant on her death certificate is her son, so maybe he just got her mother’s name wrong? 

Interestingly, I find a James Campbell in the 1900 census in Allegheny County (near Pittsburgh) in the Western Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane.  Naturally, there is no other information on this record other than the name.  No place of birth, parental information, or occupation.  Only that he can speak English.  Is this him?  Could very well be.  See what I said above about things not being entered due to not fitting a family story.  But it could just as well not be him.  I have no clue.  See for yourself;

Hehehe… Did James lose it?

There are also many death records for James Campbell with dates between 1880 and 1890.  Most are in the Philadelphia area, and I have no reason to think that he would have been in that area, but I can’t discard it either.

I guess that once this virus stuff is beat down enough that travel can happen, I will need to make a trip to central Pennsylvania.  In the meantime, I will see if I can find out just those troublesome names in the census records belong to.

Remember, genealogy isn’t rocket science. It’s much more difficult than that!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 24 April

Coronavirus Edition Part 5

So just yesterday, or maybe the day before, or was it last week, son-the-younger hit me up with one of his questions. It was a very good question. 

Would Jimi Hendrix be just as famous if he had had a lead singer?”

In my (not so humble) opinion, no he would not have been as famous.  Generally speaking only the front man of the band get’s the headlines. Without “googling” it, name the lead guitar player for The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, or The Animals.  See?  Not that easy.  (Robby Krieger (The Doors), Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane), and The Animals was a trick question, they had more guitarists wander in and out you’d have to read the Wikipedia page for all the names).

Not that Jimi didn’t deserve his fame.  He was a brilliant musician, and is a member of my “Guitar Gods” list (I really, really need to actually put that list in writing).  My thought was since he died so young (a founding member of the 27 Club), he would not have had enough time to get out of the shadow of a really good front man.  Of course, we’ll never know.  Feel free to leave your response to the question as a comment!

Before you go thinking that this is a Hendrix post, read on.

The next (semi) logical step in our conversation was who else fit in this category.  We threw lots of names around.  Naturally, the whole discussion started looking for a rabbit hole.  As we were on our second Tequila drink (not sure exactly what we were drinking, something from son-the-younger’s warped mind) it didn’t take long to find said rabbit hole. 

We ended up discussing front men that really couldn’t sing.  Sometime during the course of the back and forth of throwing out names and laughing, I mentioned Roger McGuinn.  Since Earth Day and Arbor Day is right around now, this song has been getting a bit more airplay.  And when I played it for the boy, he had never heard it.  But we both agreed that Roger is not a singer.  A great song writer and guitar player, but we’ll leave it at that.

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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Finishing The Question

As I mentioned yesterday, my brother and I were discussing the greatest American songwriter. He settled on Paul Simon while I thought Bob Dylan. We both agreed that, in our opinions, the greatest songwriter of our time was John Lennon. Wifey, said that Sir Paul McCartney is a better songwriter. To which both my brother and I replied (almost in unison); “silly little love songs”.

Look at the list of songs John has either written or co-written, mostly with Sir Paul as a member of the Beatles. The lists are quite long. And today, 9 October, just happens to be his birthday. He would have been 79 today.

Some of my favorites (in no particular order);

  • Dear Prudence
  • And Your Bird Can Sing
  • Baby’s In Black
  • Day Tripper
  • Rain
  • Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – my brother doesn’t care for the song due to the political aspects. I like it since Christmas doesn’t start until I hear this played.
  • Fame (Yes, the David Bowie song)
  • The Ballad of John and Yoko

I could go on and on. But the lists are linked above if you wish to check them out. The video below is just a representative sample of John’s talent. It’s a Lennon-McCartney written piece, and showcases George Harrison on guitar. This track, along with Day Tripper are the guitar riffs I hear in my head all the time.

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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And Another Thing..

Next week I will be doing some (hopefully) intense training. Nothing physical mind you, I gave that up when I retired from the Army, all those years ago.(*) This is looking to be a 40 hour week staring at several computer screens, along with a tablet and phone, taking a Certified Ethical Hacker class. And before you ask, yes, this is a real certification course.

I have been watching some older versions of this training for almost 2 weeks, so I *think* I have a grasp of the basic context. I’m lucky that my employer allows me to sit at home and take the training remotely. It would be next to impossible to sit at my desk and concentrate on this stuff. The phone rings constantly, and no matter any signs you put up that say “In Training! Do Not Disturb” and such are ignored.

So, I’ll sit here in my PJs and particpate in the training. Since I won’t have much time for anything other than the class, I thought I’d just get the few little things running through my brain(**) out and turn them into electrons for your enjoyment.

  • Seems no matter which direction I’m driving, on-coming traffic always has priority. Very seldom do I get the “lead green”.
  • I’m not very familiar with Scotland’s football teams (those would be soccer teams here in the US), so I am unsure as to which team to throw my vastly overrated loyalty to. Please leave a comment with any suggestions. And be prepared to backup your choices!
  • Need recommendations for a PodCast manager/player for Windows and Android (and not iTunes). Thinking of giving Miro another look. I used it many years ago on a Linux box.
  • I am looking forward to finishing this class and doing a little more genealogy for a few weeks before starting the certification process. That may prove to be my undoing. I have avoided certification for years as I usually say that certifications aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. But this one sounds interesting.

Who knows, maybe this time next week I’ll be hacking into your email! Nah… ain’t no fun in that.

Peace,
B

(*) George Harrison’s All Those Years Ago
(**) Jackson Browne’s Cocaine

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Conspiracy Theory?

I imagine this post will be mostly directed to the guys out there, but I’ll leave it open for everyone.

Have you ever been in the middle of your day, either at work or relaxing, but there’s been something making your skin itchy. Maybe you back, or shoulder area. Maybe even on your leg. Then finally it just gets so overwhelming that you rip off your clothes and find one of these;

From my pants leg…

So, tell me.. Is it just me? Is Wifey playing games with me or what?

Here’s You Wear It Well. I figured it fit the theme and plus I mentioned it in this post, but didn’t link to it.

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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Genealogy Sucks

So yesterday I tweeted this;

tweet

And believe me, that is a true statement. I have been chasing my Campbell line (and other family lines – but mostly Campbell) since the late 90’s. I have had and canceled, renewed and canceled again my Ancestry account ad nauseum.  I’ve had accounts at least three email addresses ago.

In the beginning, finding family members from long ago wasn’t all that hard. My paternal grandmother (Nanny – I’ve written about her before), told me many stories of my dad’s early time and his father. His father, my paternal grandfather died in the Spanish flu epidemic of 1919. Although my siblings tell me that they believe Nanny had some men friends, she never remarried leaving my father as an only child. Because of this, finding cousins and other distant relatives isn’t easy.

I remember one day at my mom’s house in South Carolina (she moved back near where she grew up after dad died) and Wifey® and I going through boxes of old stuff in her garage. Everybody said we wouldn’t find anything but what did they know!  We found sister-the-eldest’s baby book with birth records. So sweating our asses off and drinking cheap ass beer (this was before the wonderful Craft Beer revolution), paid off greatly. I found my paternal great-grandfather’s name along with his wife!  So let’s renew that Ancestry account and go searching the census records.

While it still took about ten more years to add another generation, I kept going. I finally found my great-great-grandfather and his family along with all my great-grandfather’s siblings.

In those ten years or so, I managed to fill out a lot of the missing data on my family. Birth, marriage, and death dates were located and added to my family tree.

But I still have two stumbling blocks. One, my father had a marriage prior to marrying my mother. He has always told us that “Trudie” had died within the first year of their being married. I have pictures of her (quite the beauty too). But that is all he would tell us. No dates, places, or even her real name. So that is a minor hurdle.

don & trudie campbell

Donald & Trudie Campbell

And mom was no slouch in the look department either..

with love neva

The second hurdle is finding the next generation. What I have so far;

  • My father – Donald Sherwood Campbell 1912 – 1985
  • My grandfather – Herbert J. Campbell 1884 – 1919 (No idea what the “J” is for but guessing James as that name is all over the place)
  • His father – Samuel W. Campbell  1861 – 1924 (This was the one I found in the baby book)
  • His father – James Harris Campbell 1825 – 1902

There the train falls off the tracks.  I do have a lead on his father, a possible James Richard Campbell.  The problem in the 1880 US census James Harris lists his father’s birthplace as Pennsylvania (my paternal line is very heavy in Centre County, PA), but in the same census, James Richard lists his birthplace as Maryland. No this is not a show stopper. From what I’ve read, back then the census was done by hand. After all, they didn’t have all the technology we have today to screw everything up. Instead, they screwed it up by hand, you know, the old-fashioned way!

It would not be unheard of for the census taker to ask questions about neighbors instead of the individual in question. If the person that the census taker need information from was not at home, or maybe the next home was far away (this was rather rural country then), or just plain lazy, they would ask neighbors. And many times the neighbors guessed at the answers, or the worker just made it up. Let’s face, it still happens today.

Enter the DNA tests. I have done DNA at both Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. They both are quite similar in results. The problem lies in that I cannot find any close matches from the Campbell side. Nanny’s side, Bodle, is all over the place. I have more cousins on that line that I could list! But, Campbell’s? Not so much.

Then about five minutes after tweeting the tweet above, I found a new line! It had all the correct sibling names and dates, but a different set of parents for James Harris. Naturally, this peaked my interest.  A whole different set of parents could very well fix my birthplace problem. So I jumped right in with both feet.

One of the main goals I have right now is to find the “immigrant ancestor”. The first person to come over the Atlantic from somewhere in Europe, most likely either Ireland or Scotland.  This family tree had exactly that and so much more!

As I went generation by generation back I became more and more suspicious. The names that were appearing were the BIG names in Campbell history. This tree placed me directly in the same tree as the Duke of Argyll (the current Chief of Clan Campbell, The 28th Mac Cailein Mòr, the thirty-fifth Chief of Clan Campbell, His Grace, the 13th Duke of Argyll (S), and the 6th Duke of Argyll (UK) Torquhil Ian Campbell. See here for more information on His Grace.

This “tree” listed the 1st Mac Cailein Mòr, Sir Colin Campbell or “Colin The Great” (wiki here). But (and there’s always a “but” and this one is big) it didn’t stop there. Many generations after Mac Cailein Mòr was (wait for it…) the one, the only, King Arthur. Yes, that King Arthur. With a birth date and place none the less! I just about punched my laptop screen when I read that. I mean come on. There is no proof of a real Arthur, King or not. There is no consensus of a date, place or even a name for this legend. A great resource for King Arthur can be found at The Great Courses, King Arthur: History And Legend. This 24 lecture series is presented by Professor Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D.  I highly recommend it.

And, of course, the “tree” continued another five generations or so. I was so pissed, so frustrated. Who would post a tree to a reputable genealogy site, with “myth and legends”.

tweet2

Two hours wasted…

So now I’m stuck back in 1825 Pennsylvania. No Campbell DNA matches, no hints other than one with questionable parentage.

If you have any hints on other research areas for Pennsylvania genealogy, and onwards to Scotland, please, PLEASE let me know. I did contact a professional genealogist but was basically told: “go find someone else”.

And yes, I renewed my Ancestry membership (but only for a month). With any luck, this link will take to Ancestry to view my current tree.

Peace,
B

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Truth! (In Advertising??)

Let’s talk about a strange, but very interesting, ad. I don’t know if this commercial runs outside of the USA, so for reference here it is:

So let’s pick this apart shall we?

First, while it is true that text messages are being broadcast into space, after all everything that has ever been broadcast by humans has been sent into space. How do you think aliens are learning our anatomy & physiology? They’re not abducting us and doing rectal probes. They’re watching all the p0rn and sexting messages were sending out. Basically, aliens have as much of a screwed up expectations of our sex lives as a 16 year-old boy.

Second, if you were the astronaut in space, do you think you’d actually be monitoring text messages? I won’t even go into the lack of a lag it the messages. I know here on earth, my texts don’t get delivered in real-time. Can you imagine the bounces a message would have to take to finally make it to someone in space?

Next, both of characters are in a night-time scene. This would mean that the “space station” she is working on is close to the terrestrial location the guys is locked out of his car. That would indicate that the station is in a geosynchronous orbit. But the space station isn’t in that type of orbit. In fact it makes a complete orbit around the earth about every 90 minutes. So they would both see the same moon for a very short time.

Lastly, if one member of a couple is an astronaut I think they could afford something a bit more fitting of the astronaut’s earning capabilities than a Hyundai.

But that’s just my opinions.

Can you find any other “not quite right” moments in this commercial, or any others? Leave a comment if you do (or feel free to pick apart my pseudo-science).

Peace,
B

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A Case For Charity

So on the way home from work this afternoon, there were two people on two different corners asking for help.  The first one was your basic down-on-their-luck looking person, with a sign that was basically illegible. The second guy though had a great sign, “I need a beer” was all it said. Now that is a concept I can get behind (although I am currently on day 6 of no beer while I try to get my cholesterol and triglycerides under control, again).

I don’t bring these encounters up lightly. I take the homeless problem seriously. Especially among my fellow veterans. But today, I couldn’t help these folks. I have basically stopped carrying cash.  Not that I’m afraid of getting mugged, but because an ATM card is just too convenient. There really isn’t any reason to carry cash. Or is there?

This reminded me of an encounter Wifey® and I had outside a local store a week or two ago. As we were leaving the store a young man with his family, significant other, and two small children were asking passers-bys for help.  The gentleman was wearing a clean Subway restaurant shirt and hat leaving to believe that he had a job. Of course, Subway, and similar fast food jobs are usually part-time minimum wages deals. And we all know that a single person, let alone a family can’t live off of minimum wage. I guess it’s obvious I support the $15 an hour minimum wage initiative.

As usual, neither of us had any cash and told them we couldn’t help them. But as we were pulling out of the parking lot I realized I did have a credit card for that store. I could have taken them into the store and bought them at least something that would satisfy at least part of their need. I will admit that I was almost in tears because I failed to help another fellow.

And that leads me to another story (yeah I know, shut up already).

Many years ago, when I did call myself a “Christian”, which I no longer do, this happened at the church we attended.

It was while I was setting up for a Wednesday evening Bible study/reflection time (I was on the soundboard as usual) when a down-on-his-luck gentleman approached me asking for money.  Well, this time I did have some cash on me. I gave him all I had, a whopping $5. After the guy left one of the members of the church, a deacon no less, said to me “Why did you give that bum money? You know all he’s going to do is buy beer with it!” My reply and one I still use to this day when I asked the same question was “Well, what the hell did you think I was going to do with the money?” Basically, I gave the guy my beer money, but I knew I had some more beer at home.

And if I had any beer at home today, I would have given the guy with the beer sign a beer or two. Share and share alike!

I’m sure some folks reading this (there is somebody reading this right?) will disagree with my view on helping folks that are not as fortunate as themselves. And while, as I said, do not call myself a Christian, I believe the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospels (and I don’t think they are exact quotes, or if the human Jesus even said anything close to the words) are a good guideline for behavior towards our fellow humanity. Especially in regards to what is usually termed the “least of these”. To me, that means anyone on the fringe or outskirts of society. From what I’ve read of the New Testament, they tend to use the terms widow, orphan, poor, and occasionally refugee. In today’s world that would mean (to me at least) the homeless, the LGBT people who have been rejected, the refugees that have come to live with us (in or from ANY country, of ANY race, creed, color etc.), the indigenous peoples and ALL the other people of color, women, I could go on. But that’s another post.

My dear-ol-mother used to try to stop me from helping folks when I was younger.  Her favorite phrase was “Charity starts at home”. But then the question becomes; “define HOME”.  Going back to the Bible, even Jesus was asked a similar question, “Who is my neighbor?”, his response was the parable of the Good Samaritan. If you don’t know that parable click here to read it.  Of note on that parable is the Jesus Seminar released a book several years ago Sayings of Jesus” where they examine the sayings attributed to Jesus in the four Gospels. This parable was one of the few that all the participants agreed was a very probable saying from Jesus. (OK, I promise no more Bible references. I’m not a Bible scholar.)

No matter your belief system, I bet in some “holy” book you will find a varient of the “Take care of the ‘least of these'” command. I know you will find it in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Qu’ran because I’ve read all three.

So what are your thoughts on helping today’s “least of these”? I’m not just talking money. It could be time spent with people in the hospital or an assisted living facility. Or visiting people in jail. Helping at a homeless shelter, a food bank, the list goes on. I admit, that I fall very short in this area. I try but fail. So for me, it’s usually a monetary donation. But when I was underemployed, it was time.

So do you do anything to help? Even if you don’t (no judgment here), leave a comment on your views on this subject. I welcome any open and thoughtful discourse. However, I do reserve the right to delete any derogatory comments.

Peace,
B

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My Attitude

So today, while at a doctor’s appointment (don’t worry everything is fine), I saw this note taped to the inside of the exam room door.

“Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don’t try to convince me that
there’s something good in every day
because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Even if
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don’t last
and it’s not true that
it’s all in the mind and heart
because
True happiness can be obtained
Only if one’s surroundings are good
it’s not true that good exists
I’m sure you can agree that
the reality
creates
my attitude
it’s all beyond my control
and you’ll never in a million years hear me say that
today was a good day

Now read from the bottom up”

The poem was not attributed to anyone, so I’ll give the credit to the worlds most renowned author ~ “Anonymous”.  I’m telling you, that guy (or girl) gets way too much credit.

So, I liked the poem, and I hope that you do too. Let me know what you think about it in a comment. (And for those that are reading this on FaceBook, please don’t leave a comment there – I won’t see it.)

Peace,
B

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