Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Night, by Elie Wiesel

My first encounter with Wiesel's writing, and this is his first book after liberation from Buchenwald in 1945. This is the darkest book I've ever read. Wiesel starts out as a devout Transylvanian Jew, whose entire existance is a worship of God. This is the last words of Night, after liberation: "I wanted to see myself in a mirror....I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me."

Wiesel later recovered his humanity, and has become a wonderful education to the world about the Holocaust, and the causes of it, and what we might do to keep this horror from recurring. But in this, his first book, the reader witnesses his total destruction, and the death of his faith, of his very soul.

Fortunately, Wiesel recovered in a French orphanage, and eventually began to write in French. He is now an American citizen, and was the chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust where he planned the American memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. Elie Wiesel and his wife established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity in 1986. The site says, "Through all its activities, the Foundation seeks to combat indifference, intolerance and injustice." So perhaps Wiesel has recovered his faith, in a way.

I have sworn upon the alter of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. - Thomas Jefferson

Love is a Rebellious Bird

L'amour est un oiseau rebelle
que nul ne peut apprivoiser...

Love is a rebellious bird
Which none can tame...

L'oiseau que tu croyais surprendre
battit de l'aile et s'envola -
l'amour est loin, tu peux l'attendre;
tu ne l'attends plus, il est là!

The bird you think you've surprised,
Bats its wings and flies away;
Love is far away, and you can wait for it;
Give up waiting, and it is there!
- Carmen from Carmen by George Bizet

Sunday, March 27, 2005

This I Believe

A few weeks back, I heard the introduction to the series This I Believe on NPR. I was just going to listen passively, but Colin asked me "what do you believe?" I decided to look at the website, and develop my own statement. This will be a work in progress for awhile. And maybe I'll submit it to NPR, if I'm satisfied with it.

Who has taught me life's lessons? My family, my friends, my husband, and most important, my children. When I wanted to do something that "everyone else was going to do," my mother asked me if I would jump off a bridge just because everyone else did? I did learn to act on my own, and form my own tastes, based not on popular opinion, or even my parents' teachings, but on on my own heart. I'm sure I've made some mistakes this way, but at least they are MY mistakes. My friends didn't always agree with me, and were not afraid to tell me so, either. And they were all loyal people, thoughtful and loving. Thank goodness for all the wonderful friends I've had through the years, even if we have lost touch. Believe me, I think about each of you, often. It was from my friends in La Leche League that I first heard this phrase, "people are more important than things." That phrase snapped my priorities in place, and I have seldom wavered in that. I'm sure our financial position would be better today if I had continued to work, and put my kids in daycare. And perhaps there would have been advantages for all of us in doing that. However, my children have been my most important teachers, and I would have missed many hours of important instruction from them! What little patience, tolerance, and endurance I have, I owe to my children. From my husband, I learned the value of "just doing it." Without fuss or production.

I have found almost all people are potential friends. I believe that we can trust one another, most of the time. I believe that the universe is beneficent. I believe in doing what is necessary, without whining about it. Mumbling under one's breath is OK, however. On the other hand, when the choice is between playing with the children or cleaning the house, I play with the children every time! Those are the times I treasure in memory. And who cares if the windows have smudges? Thank you Donna Trent for that important lesson!

I believe in enlightenment, and in life-long learning. If we all understood one another, we could all get along. I believe in public radio, and in giving them money during the pledge drives. :-)

I believe that the Earth is a living being, and we are all a part of Her. I believe that science is one way to know the nature of reality. I believe that we are not physical beings with a spirit, but instead, spirits having a human experience. So, intuition is a way to test the nature of reality, too. I believe that history is important. If you don't know where you have been, how do you know where you are going? I believe art, drama and music are just as important as reading, writing and arithmetic, and dance is as important as sport. I believe that tears are important, and tears shed in grief are a tribute to those we have lost. I also believe in laughing as much as possible! Thank you all you great comics who puncture the gasbags, and help us laugh even through grief.

I believe in eating when you are hungry, and sleeping when you are tired. I believe in picking up the phone and calling friends just because you think of them. I believe in communication. Three cheers for telephones, email, IRC, instant messaging, and weblogs!

Finally, I believe in freedom and justice for all. As my mother disappeared slowly with Alzheimers, and my dear cousin Carol was defeated by pain and poverty, I saw how our culture treats the old, the sick, the poor. Now that I have the privilege of raising Colin, I see how far we have to go in insuring freedom and justice for all.

Michelle's wonderful Credo:

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Valorie's Wish List

o front yard landscaped
o solid beeswax candles of all kinds and types
o good dark chocolate
o Parish Records by Ulla Nilsdotter Jeub

More on Amazon

Monday, March 21, 2005

For God's Sake, Let Her Go!

Is it torture if she doesn't feel pain? Surely Terri Shiavo's parents would be guilty of torture if she was feeling pain. I know that they love her dearly, but prolonging the life of her poor body long after most of her brain has died is not in her interest. So why have her parents been able to keep this in the courts, even though her husband and the doctors agree that she should be allowed to die peacefully?

Why have we had the shameful experience of the Congress of the United States injecting themselves into the controversy, and even the President? I can only think that it is the power of the so-called Religious Right. Do they really think that Jesus would say, "keep that feeding tube in"?

I feel the agony of Terri Shiavo's spirit every day, imprisoned in that wasted body. A 15-year sentence is long enough. My daily prayer is that Terri Shiavo be allowed to die and be released from bondage.

We don't see things as they are, we see them as *we* are. - Anais Nin

Friday, March 18, 2005

In Memory of Dawn Marie

Gone from My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says:
"There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"

Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone
at my side says: "There, she is gone!"
there are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad
"Here she comes!"
and that is dying.
   - Henry Van Dyke

And see Living How You Want To:

Irish Immigrants to US

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

May you always have work for your hands to do,
May your pockets hold always a coin or two,
May the sun shine bright on your windowpane,
May the hand of a friend always be near you,
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
   -Irish Blessing

A great new aid to researching Irish immigrants to the USA has come online today, and index to the Missing Friends column that ran in The Boston Pilot, the Roman Catholic newspaper in the city, from 1831 to 1921. For more information see this article at The Irish immigrant past gets tie to today. The database is here: More than 31,438 records.

I was determined to achieve the total freedom that our history lessons taught us we were entitled to, no matter what the sacrifice. - Rosa Parks, 1913-

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The 6 Myths Of Creativity

Thought-provoking article on creativity from Fast Company, by Bill Breen. The myths:

1. Creativity Comes From Creative Types - when in reality, we all have the capacity for creativity.

2. Money Is a Creativity Motivator - not having to worry about money sets people's creativily free.

3. Time Pressure Fuels Creativity - pressure flushes creativily *out*. "Creativity requires an incubation period; people need time to soak in a problem and let the ideas bubble up."

4. Fear Forces Breakthroughs - Rather, "creativity is positively associated with joy and love and negatively associated with anger, fear, and anxiety."

5. Competition Beats Collaboration - "The most creative teams are those that have the confidence to share and debate ideas."

6. A Streamlined Organization Is a Creative Organization - Instead, "anticipation of the downsizing was even worse than the downsizing itself -- people's fear of the unknown led them to basically disengage from the work."

To sum up, "when people are doing work that they love and they're allowed to deeply engage in it -- and when the work itself is valued and recognized -- then creativity will flourish. Even in tough times." See the entire article:

Thanks for the link, SunirShah on Meatball.

Approach each new problem not with a view of finding what you hope will be there, but to get the truth, the realities that must be grappled with. You may not like what you find. In that case you are entitled to try to change it. But do not deceive yourself as to what you do find to be the facts of the situation. - Bernard M. Baruch

Friday, March 11, 2005

1880 US Census Free to Search at Ancestry

The up-to-date version of this post will be maintained at

Interesting article today in the the Ancestry newsletter -


We have looked at the 1880 census search interface at in the past. This week we revisit the search interface, which now offers researchers eighteen fields upon which to search. The variety of search options allows researchers to potentially locate undiscovered family members. However, the increased number of search options requires the researcher to be organized and systematic. This week we look at some strategies I used in my attempts to locate two of my ancestors' lost siblings in the 1880 census.

Note: The 1880 Census Index at is free and use of the database does not require a paying membership. Access to images of the census is available for a subscription fee.
The entire article is available at

It is truly wonderful when you can find the object of your search with a few basic techniques. Some cases are more difficult, and Neill's systematic approach is one way to find the person using online indexes of all sorts. Jan Nutter Alpert asks, in her article More Tips From From The NGS Winter Warm Up Recently In
in the NGS UpFront Vol. 4, No. 3, 1 February 2005, "Did you know that if you go to the 1880 Census search page, you can enter your surname with an occupation and see where your ancestors lived who had the same occupation?" [I would qualify that to say "persons who shared surname and occupation"] She adds,
Did you know you can save the results of your searches on by using the "MyAncestry" link? Why is this helpful? If you need to look at the census again, you just click on the name under "MyAncestry" and everything you have saved for that ancestor is there. Even though I make a paper copy of the census, it is easier to "zoom in" to analyze difficult handwriting online. Also when you want to take another look at the census page to see if other relatives live nearby, you can find the prior census page more easily. Since the conference I have also used the email feature to forward these new census pages to others who are researching the same family. Once you have entered an ancestor in MyAncestry you can enter the birth and/or death data you have and launch future searches from here, saving the time of having to enter the same data for each search.

Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind. - Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519

Bebo, and

Normally I'm not a fan of this sorta stuff, but is easy, fun, useful. I can see a family using it, or a group of friends. There are three parts; the addressbook, the pictures, and the journal. The photos and journal can be made public, like mine at (no photos yet, sorry!). Anyone you want to share your contact info, pix and comments with, you simply invite to the site. Once they respond and enter their contact info, you are asked by the site to confirm that this is indeed the person you want to share info with. Only once you confirm is your information and pictures available to the person you invited. A great way to ensure that everyone has up-to-date addresses, phone numbers, plus the ease of uploading the pictures and responding to them is just great.

A much more one-purpose site I've recently run across is the brand new site: If you ever have trouble remembering birthdays and appointments, this site is for you. It will email you reminders of unique events such as appointments and meetings, and annual events such as birthdays and anniversaries. You can label each event in any way you like, and schedule up to 3 reminder emails for each event. You can request family and friends to enter their dates for you through the site, or you can set it up yourself. Free, of course, and so far, free of ads also.

I have tried out other web services, and always end up not continuing to use them, for one reason or another. Bebo and ReminderAnywhere are two I think I'll stick with.

If you could sell your experience for what it cost, you would never need Social Security. - Ben Berger

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Movies Spring 2005

Even if it isn't Spring by the calendar, today I wore shorts for the first time this year. Saw Basquiat (1996) tonight, and it was perfect for my mood. Bravura performances by Jeffrey Wright as Jean-Paul Basquiat, Benicio Del Toro as his best friend, David Bowie in an amazing Andy Warhol, Michael Wincott as the delightful Rene Ricard, and Claire Forlani in the thankless role of the girl left behind by the star on the rise. This was the risky lifestyles of 80s New York all over the screen. 79.

Watched the fun The Mask of Zorro (1998) over two nights. Too bad the library DVD was messed up in a couple of places -- this was a romp. Anthony Hopkins as Zorro? YES! Antonio Banderas as the new young Zorro? YES! And Catherine Zeta-Jones as the "spirited" foil for all the male characters? YES, again! Not long on plot, but then -- it is Zorro! A pure delight. 82.

Finally saw the classic Maurice (1987), which was tender, beautiful, and well worth waiting for. E.M. Forster's early novel Maurice wasn't published until his death, because the gay characters lived happily every after! Wonderful performances by James Wilby as the courageous middle-class Maurice Hall, Hugh Grant as the wealthy upper-class intellectual, ultimately cowardly and dispicable Clive Durham, and Rupert Graves as the dreamy game-keeper Alec Scudder. Ben Kingsley has a small but powerful part as the hypnotist Lasker-Jones. The usual beautiful Merchant Ivory sets, score and costuming. The Cambridge scenes are absolutely stunning. 87.

Well, Colin and I compromised on Constantine (2005) for the theater last week. I can't really summon up any enthusiasm for it, one way or the other. I didn't hate it, and liked it more than I thought I would. I would never have paid my way to go alone, however. From zero to 100 -- a 50.

Watched the DVD of The Ring (2002) tonight. It was a bit creepy -- not SCARY, as such. Maybe you had to see it in the theater. 60.

Ooooooo, she was Notorious (1946)! This is one I'll have to see again, perhaps the Criterion DVD edition. Hitchcock in all his glory, in gorgeous black and white. Ingrid Bergman was luminous and powerful as the wounded Alicia Huberman, shamed by her past but giving her all for her country. And Cary Grant, as a cold-hearted spy who eventually learns to care. Claude Rains makes Alex, his Nazi industrialist sympathetic, as he truly loves Alicia, and marries her. Leopoldine Konstantin is deliciously evil as Madame Anna Sebastian, Alex's controlling mother. This is such a perfect movie, and so subtly done. Some rank it as Hitchcock's best. "Alex, I wish to talk to you." 95.

Got a fun lil DVD from the library - Say Anything (1989) with a young John Cusack and Ione Skye, in Cameron Crowe's directorial debut. MUCH better than I expected, with some great 80s music, and that wonderful poufy hair and clothing. Nice to see bits of Seattle in the background, too. 79.

It is so nice when a film exceeds expectations. I figured The Notebook (2004) would be a weak, weepy chick-flick. Instead, it was absorbing and rich. I loved the story within a story for obvious reasons -- my own mother suffered from Alzheimers too. And James Garner as the ever-faithful lover -- I loved it. Gena Rowlands as his wife slipping further and further from him was wonderful, too. And the young lovers, Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams were so right ON. McAdams just glowed and sparked. I enjoyed the commentary by the book author Nicholas Sparks on the DVD. 83.

Colin and Natasia talked me into seeing Sin City (2005). A *whole* lot different than I thought it would be. Very intense, very violent, and strangely enough, very enjoyable. It is noir Frank Miller graphic novels brought to the screen, and if you don't like dark, violent and simple, you will not like this film. The acting was pretty good - Bruce Willis as Hartigan, and Mickey Rourke as Marv were the two main/ recurring roles. Jessica Alba was Nancy Callahan, the little rape victim who grew up to become a stripper. Clive Owen was great as Dwight, the knight who kept trying to save women who didn't want or need to be saved. Elijah Wood was completely creepy as Kevin, the murderer/ . Benicio Del Toro was *delicious* as the crazy dirty copy Jackie Boy, and Brittany Murphy had a tasty bit as his knocked around girlfriend Shellie. Completely out of character for me, but I'll give it a 83.

Another library DVD, Daisy Miller (1974). Cybill Shepherd is the quintessential American in Europe, breaking all the social rules, and bringing ostracism (and ultimately, death) on herself by her reckless behavior. This film made no money? It must have been before its time, as Peter Bogdanovich says in the introduction. The costumes were beautiful, the locations FABULOUS, and the music just wonderful. The acting, unfortunately, was a bit artificial. Perhaps they were affected too much by the costumes, sets and locations. 72.

Just saw the delightful Johnny Stecchino (1991). Any day that includes Roberto Benigni is a good day! His La Vita è bella (1997) aka Life Is Beautiful is one of my all-time favorite films. Here Benigni plays the wonderfully naive Dante, and the egomaniac stool-pigeon Johhny Stecchino. Of course the good Dante survives the plot to kill him, and Johnny has to die in a toilet. Benigni's wife Nicoletta Braschi was wonderful as the Mafia wife who outsmarts the mob. Sancta Cleopatra! 82.

Murder by Numbers (2002) nicely scripted, creepy. Sandra Bullock lives up to her cop-nickname of Hyena -- not only does she have the "false penis" behaviour down pat, she also *doesn't let go* -- and that solves the murder. A few nice twists and turns at the end -- this is one CREEPY movie! 71.

After finally reading The Joy Luck Club last fall, I checked the videotape of the movie out of the library. It is a wonderful adaptation of the novel - the acting is outstanding, and I loved the cinematography too, especially the scenes in China. It's hard for a film to make me cry without also making me feel emotionally jerked around, but the end of this film did that. 83.

We also saw a wonderful short film from the library, Trevor (1994) Brett Barsky was perfect as Trevor. This film was funny, and so sad, with a great hopeful ending. It could have easily strayed into sappiness, but was just engaging and great. Too bad Pinky had no guts! The film inspired The Trevor Project and Trevor Helpline ( 866-488-7386 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, nationwide. Buy a copy of this film and support The Trevor Project!

Another library VHS tape, of Hamlet (2001), starring Ethan Hawke as Hamlet, with Julia Stiles as his Ophelia. Viewers at IMDb didn't like this adaptation, but I did. Hawke has that angsty brooding down pat, and Stiles is a frozen Ophelia. Sam Shepard as the murdered king was also a standout, as was the most silent Karl Geary as the faithful Horatio. Bill Murray was a bit jarring as Polonious, but he can play the windbag! I loved the setting in New York City; the glittering skyscrapers and gritty streets were perfect, as was the use of video. Not a Hamlet for the classicists, but a hit with me. 72.

Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993), a Canadian film about a genius Canadian artist. Like the 32 Goldberg Variations, which Gould interpreted brilliantly, this film illustrates 32 situations or facets of Glenn Gould. Since he stopped performing concerts early, most will know him only through his highly technical recordings, and this film. If you love Bach, or unusual film, see it! Colm Feore is a wonderful Gould. 80.

Colin and Nastasia talked me into going to another film I would not have seen otherwise; Gong fu (2004) or Kung Fu Hustle. I didn't like the violent beginning, although the dance number was great! but I guess it was necessary to set up the Axe gang as the Bad Guys. Once the focus changes to Pig Sty Alley, though, the humor starts to bubble. And when the Axe Gang meets the humble folk of the Alley, violence and comedy ensue. The serious thread of the film is the development of the hero through his many difficulties and temptations. Stephen Chow both directs and stars as Sing, the finally triumphant Master. Bravo! 77. Well worth $9.

Colin checked out Tuck Everlasting (2002) on DVD from the library. Nice to see Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls) play a leading role, and Jonathan Jackson a leading man. William Hurt, Sissy Spacek, and Ben Kingsley all had nice roles, too. Disney prettied this one up too much for me, and sentimentalized it. Still, a nice little harmless film. 62.

Thomas, Colin, Kim & I went to Factoria and saw Kingdom of Heaven (2005) starring Orlando Bloom in his first starring role, produced by Ridley Scott. If you like RS films, you will love this one. I liked it more as I left the theater than I do thinking back on it. It is a good-looking film, and Bloom is serviceable as Balian. Loved Liam Neeson as his natural father. 81.

Finally saw the 80's classic Working Girl (1988). Melanie Griffith was top-notch as Tess McGill, the secretary from Staten Island on her way up the New York business ladder. Sigorney Weaver was absolutely delightful as her morality-free boss, and it was fun to see the young Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin, and Joan Cusack. And the hair, clothes and music! What a delightful bowl of fluff, with something underneath. 80.

I saw Harold and Maude in the theater back in 1971, and walked out shaking my head. Tonight, I'm filled with joy. This may be a DVD I have to buy. 94.

Colin and I watched Young Frankenstein (1974). What a hoot! What a classic! One of my all-time favorites. 93.

Colin, Nastasia and I watched Cruel Intentions (1999). It was really fun to watch -- so naughty and funny! But I'm left with really mixed feelings. It looked and sounded GREAT, was well-cast, and well-acted. Maybe it's the fact that there is not one likable character. Even Annette (Reese Witherspoon) is too goody-goody, then turns out to be just another user/manipulator in the final scenes. Plus, I hate when the GUY character is given an arc, and comes out a hero, while his partner-in-crime step-sister Kathryn has only one note to play -- the manipulative, cold-hearted bitch. Still, what fun to watch! 72.

Closer (2004). I think this film is all about the GAZE -- mostly the male gaze, but actually Anna (Julia Roberts), as the photographer, is the professional observer. She "borrows" anyone who interests her. And in spite of what she said, she *did* kiss a strange man. Larry (Clive Owen) the dermatologist looks only at the surface -- skin deep. He wants the truth, but only the surface truth. When Jane tells him her true name, it only enrages him until she tells him what he wants to hear. Alice/Jane (Natalie Portman) strips. She exposes her self, but neither Dan nor Larry is capable of really seeing her. Larry accuses her of being cold, but we know that she is warm, loving and faithful. She is not willing to expose THAT to an unworthy individual, however. Dan (Jude Law) the failed novelist borrows Alice's life, but gets "everything but the truth." Why? He really is only capable of writing obituaries, because he doesn't have a voice. He can only write his book because he can borrow Alice's life, her past, for awhile. It fails because it doesn't capture her LIFE, but is an obituary of her life previous to meeting him. The characters who stay in London are stuck. They have given up the possibility of growth and change. Jane goes back to New York, where she can begin her life anew. Cheers to Jane. 88.

8 Mile (2002) - Better than I thought it would be. I'm not a fan of rap, *nor* a fan of Eminem, but was interested enough to watch VH1's presentation, with ads, and without the swearing. 47.

So, Colin and I journeyed into Seattle to see Star Wars 3 at the Cinerama with Thomas and Christine. Great screen to see a great movie. Head and shoulders above the first two, and a great lead-in to 4, 5 and 6. 80.

Wonderful little gem from the 50's, People Will Talk (1951) with Cary Grant in the starring role. Tackles some pretty daring issues for the 50's - pre-marital sex, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, even homosexuality is hinted at. But handled so lightly, so deftly. Hume Cronyn is wonderful as the witch hunter, and Jeanne Crain as the love interest. The supporting cast was also excellent. What a find! 78.

The Verdict (1982). Paul Newman's finest hour. What a performance. Charlotte Rampling is heart-breaking, and Lindsay Crouse is wonderful in her small role as the surprise witness. Actually, all the supporting parts are wonderful, and Mamet is a genius, and Lumet is his prophet. 90.

The Station Agent (2003) was so surprisingly delightful, I can't get over it. The acting was wonderful, sure. And I loved the characters, and the setting, and the cinematography. But they all worked together to make more than the addition of all the parts. I guess that means the directing was outstanding! 90. I will get the DVD to check out any special features. I feel so lucky to have watched two such excellent films in a month, much less 2 days in a row.

Underappreciated, I think: Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003). So beautifully filmed and lit, and so restrained in dialog, costuming and acting. The more I think about it, the more I like it. If you like a subtle, delicate film, this is for you. If you want action, look elsewhere. 83.

Off to the theater with Colin and Debs, to see The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005) with Amber Tamblyn as Tibby the rebel, Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls) as Lena, the shut-down Greek who is going back to the homeland to meet the family, America Ferrera as the Puerto Rican Carmen, Blake Lively as the ring-leader Bridget, and a nice part for the young Jenna Boyd as Bailey, who teaches Tibby about friendship and life. The plot is a bit thin, but the acting is so nicely subtle, that these girls win your heart. Heart-warming. 75.

Andy bought Saved! (2004), which was fun. Jena Malone was Mary, who decided to sacrifice her virginity to save her gay boyfriend, only to lose him to "the Mercy House" and end up pregnant. Mandy Moore is wonderful as the holier-than-thou Hilary Faye, and Macaulay Culkin has fun as Roland, Hilary Faye's crippled brother. Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous) is Patrick, who is falling in love with Mary. Eva Amurri steals the show as Cassandra, who shocks the Christian school with her straight talk and smoking. She also begins an affair with Roland -- and hilarity ensues. 73.

Above all, don't improve yourself. Improve the world, so that your characteristics stop being problems. - Barbara Sher

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Research Helps available FREE!

The LDS offers lots of research helps, online and FREE. For help with German research, go to and click the Search tab, then the Research Helps, and then the letter G. Scroll down to the Germany section where you will see a number of files:

Determining a Place of Origin in Germany [PDF]
Genealogical Handbook of German Research [PDF]
German Genealogical Word List 34067
German Letter-Writing Guide [PDF] 34066
Germany Research Outline 34061
Handwriting Guide: German Gothic [PDF] 36316
How to Use the Meyers Gazetteer [PDF]
Latin Genealogical Word List 34077
Modern Germany Map
The German Empire Map, 1871 to 1918

There are many detailed guides for some parts of Germany, for instance: Baden, Bayern, Brandenburg, and Braunschweig (that is just the Bs!). For the French files, click the letter F, and scroll down to France:

Church Record Baptisms [PDF]
France Historical Background [PDF]
France Map
France Research Outline [PDF] 34715
France, Church Record Baptism 1792-Present [PDF]
France, Church Record Marriage 1564 -1791 [PDF]
France, Church Record Marriage 1792-Present [PDF]
France, Civil Registration Birth 1792-Present [PDF]
France, Civil Registration Marriage 1792-Present [PDF]
French Genealogical Word List34060
French Letter-Writing Guide [PDF] 34059
French Republican Calendar Research Outline 34046
How Do I Begin? [PDF]
Latin Genealogical Word List 34077

*If there is an item number following the listing, the booklet may be ordered online, or purchased at your local FHC. Of course, you can still print it out for free.

There are research outlines for many countries around the world, as well as the 50 states of the US, and the the provinces of Canada. Some of the provinces, in fact, have specialized guides.

Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. - Arnold Schwarzenegger

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Law Dictionaries
Everyone's Legal Dictionary: Dictionary:

Legal Lexicon's Lyceum:

Finding State Statutes Online:

Finding State Legislation:

Knight's 1881 Mechanical Dictionary:
   If you've ever wondered what some of those odd-sounding implements in that estate inventory were, you probably can find the answer in this dictionary. Viewing the images requires the use of the free DjVu viewer from LizardTech (Windows, Mac, Unix).

Old medical terms:
Antiquus Morbus - Glossary of Archaic Medical Terms, Diseases and Causes of Death:

French Dictionaries through History:

Civilization is a slow process of adopting the ideas of minorities. - Herbert Prochnow

Thursday, March 03, 2005

How to Write a Good Query

Knock, Knock...Anybody There?

Article from the Rootsweb Review, Vol. 6, No. 36, 3 September 2003. I am not the author of this article.

Have you ever posted a query on a RootsWeb mailing list and ended up thinking that you are playing genealogical solitaire -- that no one out there has any information or suggestions for you, or that you are the only one left on the planet who is researching your family? Been disappointed because you didn't receive a response from anyone -- not even a suggestion about where you might look to find the information?

Take a fresh look at what you posted to the mailing list. Lack of a response to a query often says more about the query itself than it does about those who might potentially read and respond to it.

First, consider the topic of the mailing list on which you posted your message -- is the topic one for which the subscribers might be expected to have a connection to your query? Is it a mailing list on which you might expect to find some experts to point you in the right direction or
provide you with a lookup for the data you are seeking? Don't expect the list members on PAALLEGH-L (Allegheny County, Pennsylvania) to know the location of a town in Germany, provide you with New Orleans ship arrival information, or to check a tax list in Georgia for you.

Don't look for the SMITH mailing list subscribers to answer a question about the JONES family unless you have clearly stated the connection between your JONESes and the SMITH surname. Always direct your query to the mailing list best suited for the surname, locality, or topic about which you are asking.

Next, let's examine the subject you have chosen. Um, what do you mean you left the subject blank so that everyone would be curious and read your query? It just doesn't work that way in this busy world where everyone wants her or his answers yesterday. Even the most diligent and attentive cousins might hit the delete key if your message doesn't grab their attention at first glance with an informative subject. Putting a request for HELP!!!!!! and lots of exclamation points in the subject line won't win you any genealogical friends or get your query read either.

Informative subjects should be brief but include name of the individual you seek and when and where the person or family lived. "Looking for parents of George HICKENLOOPER -- born 1790 in Virginia" for example. If there is sufficient space include what information you wish to learn
about the subject of your query as in this example.

It is possible that lack of a subject could even result in your query being rerouted to the list administrator rather than being posted to the list -- are you sure you saw your query come through to the list? If you are unsure,check the mailing list browseable archives: Type in the name of the list (with no -L or -D on the end) and click on the current month and year to check for your message.

Now, look at the information you included in the text of your message. While it may be true that being concise is a virtue, when posting a query, your message must also be informative, clearly worded, and precise as to the question you are asking or data for which you are looking. Don't leave the list members in suspense. If you simply wrote "I'm looking for the parents of my g-g-g-grandfather George HICKENLOOPER without providing sufficient information for your potential cousins to recognize whether or not your George and his parents might be included in their files, or whether they have a book or other resource that might help you, they will not reply.

If mailing list members do not understand your query -- at a glance -- and can't figure out what you are asking, chances are good that they will simply move on and delete your message, possibly shaking their heads while doing so.

On the other hand, don't write a book when posting your initial query. Most people are not going to take more than a minute to review and consider whether your message is of interest to them or if they can help you. Save the extraneous details, which are not directly pertinent to your query, such as how George could still read without glasses when he died at age 97, for follow-up discussions with other interested researchers after you have received the initial responses.

What you do want to include in your initial query, in addition to WHO, WHEN, and WHERE, is a brief explanation of what you already know and what you are hoping to learn. For example, you might state: "George HICKENLOOPER was born in 1790 in Rockingham County, Virginia, and married Mary LINGENFELTER in Virginia in 1819, based on church and census records that I found for this couple in Fairfield County, Ohio where they settled by 1820 when their first child was baptized there in the Lutheran Church. I'm trying to learn the identity of George's parents, who are my brick wall."

A query such as this might draw the interest of mailing list members who have books on Lutheran marriages in Virginia or other information for the years you have listed, provided, of course, you posted it to VAROCKIN-L (Rockingham County, Virginia) and not to OHFAIRFI-L (Fairfield County, Ohio) mailing list.

If you don't know specific dates, include a general time frame to assist those who might be able to help you. Put yourself in the place of the person on the receiving end of your query. Consider what information the readers will need to know to ascertain whether they can help you.

Don't put yourself in the position of knocking on the door and finding no one on the other side to answer. Carefully consider the subject and text of your query as well as the subject of the mailing list to which you are posting your message, before you click that SEND button.

Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself. - Eleanor Roosevelt