Wednesday, January 23, 2008

30 Down and 2 To Go

It's been a while since I've made any genealogical progress on my family tree. Mostly it is because I've gotten beyond the use of most archived records that begin in the mid 1800's on most of my lines. The records go back further but generally list just the head of household and give little information on the rest of the occupants other than an age range. This makes it hard to know anything for certain and so I just rely on research that others have done on the subject. Of all 32 of my great great great grandparents, I only lack knowing the names of four of them. One pair are the parents of my great great grandmother Mary of whom I know nothing about. I've researched neighbors of her trying to identify possible parents but to no avail. Short of making a trip out to their grave site, also unknown to me, and seeing if she happens to be buried next to family, this is a dead avenue for me… for now.

It is fairly difficult to track down the female side of a family tree so I doubt that this is a shocker. However the remaining missing pair of 3G grandparents were the parents of my 2G grandfather Frank Smith. I could find records of him after he was married to my 2G grandmother Annetta Jane Rice but not before. He seemed to disappear off the face of the earth. I found several likely records listing a Frank Smith as a son of various people but nothing that seemed right. For a couple years now, my best guess was that his father was a man by the name of Mordecai Smith but in a family tree line with common names, having a father named Mordecai just didn't sit well despite matching other information. Also, I could find no record of Mordecai living near the parents of my 2G grandmother Annetta Jane Rice or vice versa. Since travel was very limited back in the early 1800's, a chance meeting in a state clear across the county didn't seem logical.

I have a picture of my 2G grandparents on which Frank had the middle name of Isaac. So armed with this information and knowing that people often switched middle and first names as well as but different forms of their names, I recently tried again in earnest to locate Frank's parents, my 3G grandparents. I tried searching for Isaac Smith but because Smith is such a common name, there are lots of hits. I scanned the list looking for something familiar and finally found a record for someone named Isaac Franklin Smith. Clicking on it, I at least found the names of my 3G grandparents, Abraham and Clementine Smith. The ages, birth locations and everything matched. Most convincing, Abraham and Clementine lived just down the road from the Rice family. I was happy. I have since found my 4G grandparents on Abraham's line and a have even a record of my other 4G grandparents, Clementine's parents, though I can't read what was written. I'm leaving that for another day when I can investigate further.

So now I am down to just two great great great grandparents whom I haven't located and I hope to solve that riddle someday. But for now, I'm off on another branch of my family which I have largely ignored so far, my biological father's side. I haven't seen him since I was six years old and up until last year when he sent a Christmas card, I haven't heard from him either. He was just a non-issue in my life. But now that I've gotten addicted to genealogy, I am curious as to where my true bloodline comes from other than my mom's side. I've found quite a bit of the easy part and have a request in to my paternal grandmother to fill me in on more when she gets a chance. If I discover any interesting stories, I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 21, 2008

How Many Iowans Does It Take To Change a Light Bulb?

There was a big article in the local rag this weekend about the energy bill. One of the many facets of the bill would require light bulbs to become upwards of 30% more efficient effectively meaning the old incandescent bulb would be obsolete. In its place, you would have to buy a more efficient fluorescent or LED bulb. I am highly in favor of this portion of the bill because in one swoop 24 coal-burning power plants across the United States would no longer be needed if all other sectors of our energy consumption remained the same. We all know it won't but this is a start in the right direction.

What amused me most was that the paper interviewed a handful of people around our state asking them what they thought about being forced to use other bulbs besides their incandescent ones. Margaret Tomaszek of Des Moines wasn't sold on energy-efficient bulbs. "I'm not buying them; they are too expensive," she said. "Plus, some of the new ones are spiral and really ugly. If you're going to put a bulb into a pretty fixture, you don't want to use those ugly things." Having had those ugly spiral bulbs for a while, I can't say that they are any more beautiful than the standard incandescent ones but then again, I don't spend the majority of my day looking at them. In fact, I have had not one person mention the ugliness of the bulbs in our house even when we've been discussing about other people switching over. Only after we point out that we've already switched do they notice. As for the expensive part of her comment, I bought mine in an 8 pack at Menards for about $10, or $1.25 per bulb. If the old bulbs cost $.25/bulb, it would only take five years of the ten year life span to pay back the cost of purchase. Not to mention your local utility company gives you rebates back on the bulbs. Obviously Magaret hasn't been out shopping for these bulbs.

Heather Blackburn of Des Moines didn't like the new bulbs "because it takes forever for them to come on. I hate waiting for them to come on when I'm trying to get ready for the day in the bathroom," she said. "They do last longer, but in the future I'll probably go back to buying the old ones, in part because they are cheaper." I would say Heather is confusing the old four feet tube fluorescent bulbs with the new compact spiral bulbs. When I flip on the switch with new fluorescent bulbs, the lights come on instantaneously, just like the old incandescent bulbs. Others like Margaret and Heather went on to say similar ignorant comments making me thankful that the newspaper this article was in was just the state rag and doesn't have nationwide distribution.

In the end, it appears as if we Americans are the same as always, embracing change when voting at the polls but running away from it screaming when it comes knocking at our doors. Here we have a way to save money directly in OUR pocket books and also indirectly when we can give our overloaded electrical infrastructure a little breathing room, in fact 30% more breathing room. All it took me was watching the ads for sales and then going out and buying an armload to replace the approximately three-dozen light bulbs scattered throughout my house. Already I see signs of a reduced utility bill and all because I did the math instead of spouting statements to the state rag that shout that I don't know what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dateless Donald

I have mentioned Donald before and since I don't talk much about work, I would leave it at that except for a conversation that I had with him the other day that I found fascinating. As I previously mentioned, he is a self-admitted 41 (soon to be 42) year old virgin. I wouldn't describe him as ugly but he is definitely geeky but I have seen many geeks that get married, perhaps arguably even myself. So I always assumed that either Donald just wasn't interested in girl relationships or gay.

Yesterday another co-worker and myself were doing some work down in the lab when Donald showed up and we got to talking. The other coworker brought up relationships and asked Donald if he had ever dated. Donald said he had never gone on a single date in his life. There was one of those pregnant pauses so I couldn't help but ask if Donald was interested in dating girls should the opportunity arise. He said he most definitely was but that the opportunity had never come to him.

Donald doesn't drink and won't even go into a bar. Although he is most definitely a social butterfly, I still would have thought that by random chance, someone in his life would have hinted at a date sometime. Donald is obtuse at times so I'm guessing he missed all the signs. Now that he is 41 and spends all his waking hours either at work or at home putting together model cars except for the occasional trip to the grocery store TV dinner aisle or to church, I'm guessing even random chance is going to be hard to put a willing dater in front of him giving off signs that even Donald can read.

So we probed him a bit more. He would date a previously married woman and would also date one with children. These are good signs since a woman in her forties that hasn't been married or have kids is probably hard to find. He was also willing to date outside of his race too so the playing field was opening up. The chances of getting Donald to open up and ask someone on a date around here were slim and none so I hit upon the solution. Internet dating where the odds are good but the goods are odd.

We kicked that about for a while but Donald wasn't really receptive to the idea. I asked him what he has to lose by it. I said that the worst case is that he has to spend $10 in gas (drive a really really small car), $30 to $40 for a nice dinner and then go back home to the same empty house that he comes home to everyday. Best case, he meets someone that he falls in love with. I said if I were his age and had his money, (he is a single engineer, lives in a house he bought for $35,000, drives a $10,000 car and splurges on buying a model car once a month HAS to be loaded), $50 in peanuts for a chance at love.

Despite our repeated efforts to get him interested in Internet dating, I'm guessing the women of the Internet are still safe from actually meeting Donald. I just don't think that man has a dating bone in his body. His idea of a good time is spending a week with his single sister visiting Civil War battle sites and splurging on boiled chicken once a week instead of the normal TV dinner. I have known a lot of guys that will probably never marry but I've never known one that hasn't even been on a single date in four decades and probably will never will. I guess I do now.

P.S. If you are single and looking to marry an uber geek with no social instincts but probably loaded with money, love TV dinners and spending Saturday nights sniffing rubber cement and applying decals and paint to plastic vehicles, send me an email and I'll set you up.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Little Abbey at 19 Months

Just briefly before I dive into the update, yesterday at two I was surprised when the garage door started going up. Mrs. Abbey was home! Now that she has started, she learned more about her schedule and it doesn't sound as bad. She still has the 90-hour weeks and 36 hours on call but every four days, yesterday being one of them, they are released from their duties around noon. Though the roads were horrible due to the high winds blowing snow everywhere, she made it home and we spent the afternoon together as a family once more. Next up will be Saturday, I can't wait.

Little Abbey has teeth 13 & 14 through and 15 & 16 trying to break free. I can see the white tips trying to poke through. Toothy is becoming an apt description.

Although she got some 150 pieces (including a 36 piece plastic tea set and 90 piece foam block/letter/number set) over Christmas that I now have to pick up on a daily basis, her favorite place to be is in the kitchen where it seems we spend a lot of time. She has a little three-rung wooden step stool ladder that she pushed around and climbs up on to watch whatever I am doing in the kitchen. When mom was doing her nesting thing before leaving for her internship, Little Abbey sat on the counter watching the mixer as Mrs. Abbey cranked out deserts, pasta and breads. I could probably eat for the month of stuff that she has prepared ahead of time.

One of Little Abbey's favorite pastime and now mine is unloading the dishwasher. Little Abbey will get the plates, cups, etc. out one at a time and hand to me if they go somewhere up high or if it belongs in one of the lower cabinets she will put it away herself. She just loves doing this and will come running whenever she hears me lower the door down. I'm milking it for all I'm worth before the day comes when I have to bribe her with money to do the same thing.

Slowly, very slowly it seems to an anxious parents, Little Abbey is slowly starting to speak. She speaks a lot and in very sentence sounding structure but we just can't understand it. But now we are starting to understand words here and there and that makes me feel better.

Little Abbey evidently hates leaves we found out this fall which means she is a chip off this old block. However, with 16 inches of snow this past couple of weeks, she does love the snow. That chip must be off her mom's block, as I no longer love the snow as much as I used to.

We attended a non-family Christmas party and Little Abbey broke out of her social butterfly shell and was the star of the evening. She danced around the room and ran around giving everyone 'high fives' often going back for seconds and thirds. She also raided the potato chip bowl quite often and more than once stole a drink of pop out of her mom or dad's cup when they weren't guarding it close enough. We've found that if people just give her time and space, she warms up to almost any stranger but if that person gets too close too fast, she doesn't like that. As far as I'm concerned, I hope this trait lasts for her lifetime.

Well I can't think of anything more though I know there is lots that I'm missing. Perhaps I'll tag it on to the end of other posts as I remember. Thanks for all the well wishing as I was drowning myself in self-pity. Things are looking up and I'm just counting the days until February. 3.5 more days until my wife's next visit and 29 days until her internship is done. Time is moving faster now.