The Wizard Merlin and His Advice on Being Sad


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The Wizard Merlin and His Advice on Being Sad
Urns | Online

A noble and poignant perspective on grief and sadness, from the most famous wizard in all of folklore. From T.H. White’s beloved retelling of the Arthurian legends, The Once and Future King: “The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. […]

When do you rely on an index? Illusion or Reality?


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Accumulations of information eventually reach the saturation point and finding any one item becomes nearly impossible. Linear searches, before computers, were extremely time-consuming. Let’s think about this in terms of genealogical research. Inevitably, as we do more in depth research into historical records, we depend more and more on the organization and classification of those records.

Historically, organizing voluminous records required maintain manually created indexes or lists of the records in some order. The utility of these organizational methods depends on the depth of classification imposed on the information. For example, if we are searching for a specific name, the utility of the index, for us, depends on whether or not the index included the individual being searched.

For example, let’s suppose we are research county court records. The particular organization used by the county may be chronological or by case number or by the names of the parties. The county may or may not have created an index of the records listing the names of the parties. Even if an index exists, we may be searching for someone who was not a “party” to the litigation and therefore not included in the index. However, there may still be extensive information about our target individual in the file. If we are forced to do a manual search, the only method that will discover the information we are seeking is to do a word by word search through the entire corpus of information.

When I am searching unindexed deeds, for another example, I have to read each of the deeds and look for the names of the individuals who may have signed the deeds as parties or witnesses. The parties (grantor/grantee) may be indexed but the witnesses are not. In this case, a grantor/grantee index does little to help me with my search. I may have to search hundreds or even thousands of deeds to find one name on one deed.

As computers became more and more common, we entered an age where we depend more heavily on indexes. As long as the information stored by the computers is in “text” format, computer programs can search massive amounts of data in seconds and look at every word. This ability gives researchers an illusion of complete searches with or without indexes. However, we need to remember that much of what we are searching as genealogists is locked up in its original format, i.e. handwritten records. Until we develop a reliable and extensive ability of handwriting recognition, we are still heavily dependent on manual indexes.

The good news is that there are a lot of manual indexes. The bad news is that the indexers still select only certain “fields” to include in their indexes. For example, the deeds I wrote about above. I have yet to see a manual index of the names on deeds that included all of the people named in the deeds. If we want to find the information we need, we still have to do our own manual search. Of course, it may be easier to search digital images than either original records or microfilmed copies, but the existences of an index often gives the impression that we are searching the records when what we are really doing is searching the index. This illusion is pervasive. In many instances, the large online database programs provide only an index of records and do not provide access to the original record images. We are essentially locked out of finding the information we need under the guise of doing an adequate search because we rely on the information selected for inclusion in the index.

In every case where we rely solely on an index for our information, we must make every effort possible to examine the original record set in detail before concluding that the information is not available in those records.

How to Find a WW1 Soldier


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Here’s another incredible “HowTo” that I thought you would enjoy!

WW1 Training CampSharlene K. asked

what would you have regarding a Michigan born citizen going to Canada and enlisting in WWI, serving in England, marrying in 1919 and returning with a war bride and her daughter….how would I go about sorting this all out….he was enlisted in the 15 Scotish Rifle Brigade/Olive Tree Genealogy answer:

Hi Sharlene,

You have lots of clues in your query, and this is what I would do:

1. Search the online CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) database for your ancestor in WW1. If found, that will provide you with details as to his service during the War

2. You don’t say where he married in 1919 – was it in Michigan, Canada, or England. If in Ontario Canada, marriage records for 1919 are available on If he married in Michigan, marriages for that year are available on (images) and on FamilySearch (index only). Lastly if he married in England you should check FreeBMD. 

3. Since you mention a War Bride I’m guessing he married in England. You should be able to find them coming to Canada on a ship by searching  immigration records on

4. You might want to search for the war diaries of the 15 Scotch Rifle Brigade. You can do this on Library and Archives Canada 

What is Present Situation with Microfilm?


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By Valerie from Atlanta – SC Archive, CC BY 2.0, is described as follows in the Wikipedia article, “Microform.”
Microfilm 16 mm or 35 mm film to motion picture standard is used, usually unperforated. Roll microfilm is stored on open reels or put into cassettes. The standard lengths for using roll film is 30.48 m (100 ft) for 35mm rolls, and 100 ft, 130 ft and 215 feet for 16mm rolls. One roll of 35 mm film may carry 600 images of large engineering drawings or 800 images of broadsheet newspaper pages. 16 mm film may carry 2,400 images of letter sized images as a single stream of micro images along the film set so that lines of text are parallel to the sides of the film or 10,000 small documents, perhaps cheques or betting slips, with both sides of the originals set side by side on the film.I have been writing about microfilm recently because of the announcement that rental, duplication, and shipment of microfilm will cease as of September 1, 2017. See “Official FamilySearch Press Release re Discontinuing Microfilm Shipments.” In following up on my earlier writing, I decided to see if I could come up with the current cost of microfilm. I am sure that some company somewhere has a price list, but I could not find anything about the sale of raw microfilm online. I did find where Kodak was going to start remanufacturing Ektachrome film sometime in 2017 so the film camera buffs can buy slide film again. But several searches for the price of raw microfilm turned up nothing.

Apparently, genealogists are almost the last people in the world to depend on microfilmed records. I did find a huge selection or new and used microfilm viewing machines online. Some of the large record repositories, such as the National Archives, are apparently continuing to supply microfilm copies to their patrons. It appears to me that this is a cost issue. If a microfilm image is digitized, the image can be distributed essentially for free, although there is a built in cost of producing the online images, storing them online and then marking them available to patrons. But once the digital images are online there is a very low cost for maintaining the digital images of each roll of microfilm.

If it is so hard to find a price for raw microfilm online, I am guessing that the price is not subject to a lot of competition.

Now let’s get down to brass tacks. Is microfilm a viable archive media? If yes, how much longer will microfilm be viable? I mentioned Ektachrome film above because that is a film used in film cameras. A few years ago, I picked up a little bit of income from buying and selling used cameras. Over about a two or three year period, the selling price of almost all used film cameras dropped to essentially zero. Only the most expensive Leica and Hasselblads retained any kind of value. Today, for example, I could buy an Argus C3 Rangefinder camera in good condition for under $10.00 on and I couldn’t sell it for a penny more. Other common cameras are selling for similar prices. I could buy a 1979 Pentax ME Super Camera with 50mm & Vivitar 28-200mm Lens (Papers Included) for under $40.00 and there are no bids on this camera on

More important than the price of microfilm is the issue that almost all the film cameras for taking high-resolution microfilm images and then developing the film are no longer being manufactured. We are caught between two out-moded technologies: film cameras and microfilm. Now, before you write and tell me that there is a “film” camera resurgence going on, I already know about it. But the people who are still interested in taking photos with film cameras are not making the cameras. If the cameras are not being made then there will eventually be an end to microfilm even if someone continued to make the film.

I quite taking film images years ago. I now use Canon and Sony digital cameras as well as my iPhone for all my photos. That is enough for me to see that digital images will replace film generated images almost completely at some point in time. When film cameras are no longer available then film will disappear. That may take a long time, but will be inevitable.

Nursing Sister Philps WW1 Photo Album 52 V


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Here’s another informative “Tutorial” that I thought you would like!

This Photo Archive consists of a small autograph album (6.5″ by 5.25″) kept by Constance (Connie) Philips as a memento of her time serving as a nurse during World War One.
The majority of the photos and items are from 1915, when she served as a nurse in France and Britain.

The album and all photographs, postcards, and other ephemera contained in the album belong to Karin Armstrong and may not be copied or republished without her written permission. The images will be published on Olive Tree Genealogy with permission.
Each image has been designated an “R” for Recto or a “V” for Verso plus an album page number. Recto is the right-hand side page of a bound book while Verso is the left-hand side page.
I will be posting the entire album and my additional research on the individuals identified in Connie’s album over the coming months so please check back frequently to view these historic photos. The easiest way to see what has been published is to click on the topic “Nursing Sister WW1 Photos”

AARP’s Health Care Roundup July 28, 2017


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As the Senate defeated the “skinny” health care repeal bill this morning, AARP thanked Republican Senators Susan Collins, John McCain, and Lisa Murkowski, as well as Senate Democrats and Independents for opposing the bill.

AARP strongly opposed all of the health care repeal bills this week, because each which would ultimately have resulted in higher costs and less coverage for Americans age 50-plus.

Here are recent activities of note:

AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond’s Statement on “Skinny” Health Care Bill Defeat
The New York Times linked to AARP’s Letter to Senators — Health Care Debate: Obamacare Repeal Fails as McCain Casts Decisive No Vote
ABC News — ‘Skinny’ Obamacare repeal fails in Senate vote
The Hill — Healthcare groups blast skinny repeal, warn premiums will spike
AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond’s Statement on “Skinny” Health Care Bill


Keep current with AARP’s work:

Follow us on Twitter @AARPMedia,
Check out the AARP Media Room and
Read the AARP Media Relations Blog

Are You Your Own Grandpa or Grandma?


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Here’s another cool “Tip” that I thought you would like!

Today I had an interesting genealogy find …my son’s 5th great-grandfather’s sister Sarah Stead was a witness at my son’s wife ‘s 4th great-grandmother’s marriage in 1817 in Ramsgate, Kent, England.

Since my daughter-in-law’s 4th great grandma was a Fuller born in Ramsgate and we descend from a line of Fuller in Ramsgate back to the 1700s, it would not surprise me if eventually I find that my son and his wife are “cousins”

Believe it or not, this is not unusual. I use FTM for my preferred Genealogy program. One day out of sheer boredom I ran a kinship report and was shocked to learn that my father was also my cousin.

To be exact, my father is listed as my father AND as

my 8th cousin once removed
my 9th cousin once removed
my 11th cousin once removed
my 10th cousin twice removed
the husband of my 5th cousin once removed

I was stunned. And confused. I knew what once removed meant – that we were a generation apart. Okay so far. Being 8th cousins meant we shared a common 7th great-grandparent. Being 9th cousins meant we shared a common 8th great-grandparent, and so on.

“husband of my 5th cousin once removed”? Well that meant my mother was my 5th cousin once removed and that she and I shared a common 4th great grandparent.

It wasn’t making sense to me, as of course my parents and I share common ancestors! But how did we get to be cousins as well as father-daughter? This sent me off to have a good look at how my relationship to my father became a cousin relationship too.

It’s a bit confusing but here is how it happened beginning with my father’s 3rd great grandparents, Cornelius Vollick and Eve Larroway who married in 1795.

Cornelius and Eve shared two sets of common 2nd great grandparents. That is, Cornelius’ great great grandparents were Jochem & Eva (Vrooman) Van Valkenburg. So were Eve’s. Cornelius’ other set of great great grandparents were Pierre & Cornelia (Damen) Uzielle. So were Eve’s.

Two of Jochem & Eva’s grandchildren (through their son Isaac and daughter Jannetje) married two grandchildren of Pierre Uziele and Cornelia Damen.

The Van Valkenburg grandchildren were Isaac Van Valkenburg (who married Maria Bradt the daughter of Storm Bradt and Sophia Uziele) and Marytje Van Alstyne who married Petrus LeRoy the son of Maria Uziele (who was Sophia’s sister!) and Leonard Le Roy.

Here’s a chart which might show the relationships in a less confusing way

I’ll go into my mother’s line and that tangled web of cousinship on another day.

The confusing relationships reminded me of I’m My Own Grandpaw a song written about a man who, through a combination of marriages, becomes stepfather to his own stepmother — that is, he becomes his own grandfather. Am I my own Grandma? My grandchildren love hearing how they are my cousins as well as my grandchildren….

5 Ways to Spot Skimmer Scams Before You Use an ATM or Gas Pump


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Here’s another great “Tip” that I thought you would like!

Caption: iStock/GCShutter

Skimming fraud has been around for more than a decade, and continues to evolve. Today’s skimmers – illegal card-reading devices placed on ATMs, gas pumps and other public-area machines that process debit cards – are stealthier and more sophisticated than ever.

These devices “skim” information from the card’s magnetic strip as a nearby hidden camera, also placed by skimming scammers, records the PIN that you enter. Although you get your cash or can make a purchase – none the wiser of a skim scam flim-flam – the crooks can get more: Using information from the skimmer and camera, they make duplicate cards to drain cash from your accounts, or sell your card number and PIN for others to fleece you.

The good news: In most cases, stolen funds are usually reimbursed provided you report the fraud to the card-issuing bank within 60 days (another reason to keep close and timely tabs on accounts).

The better news: With a few simple steps before you use your card, you may be able to detect skimmers and tampered machines to avoid potential trouble. Here’s how:

Pull on the slot. The latest generation of card-reading devices, used with increasing frequency by skimming scammers, are thin “insert skimmers” that fit inside the card slot at an ATM or gas pump. “New evidence suggests that at least some of these insert skimmers – which record card data and store it on a tiny embedded flash drive – are equipped with technology allowing them to transmit stolen card data wirelessly via infrared, the same communications technology that powers a TV remote control,” reports noted cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs (who provides photos of insert skimmers). So before using the machine, squeeze, wiggle and tug the insert slot to remove insert skimmers, along with some old-school models placed over the card slot that protrude outward. In general, card slots should be flush against the machine; be suspicious of those where the entire or half of the slot sticks out.
Check for spy cameras. Although skimmers record data from a credit or debit card’s magnetic stripe, fraudsters also need your PIN in order to withdrawal cash or sell cloned cards. To glean PINs, they place pinhole “spy” cameras that collect numbers as they’re being typed on the keypad. Look for small holes just above the display screen, on an attached brochure or other type of box, or even on protruding covers placed over the cash dispenser. Even if you can’t detect evidence of a camera, cover your hand when entering your PIN.
Avoid “void” stickers. To help spot skimmer tampering at gas pumps, many stations now place security seals over the cabinet panel as part of a voluntary program, notes the Federal Trade Commission. If the pump panel has been opened – an indication of possible skimmer placement – the label will read “void” and take that clue to fill your car elsewhere. Still, whenever you use a debit card at the pump, you’re safest by pressing the “credit” button instead of “debit.” This way, you can still use your debit card without having to enter a PIN, and the purchase amount is processed through a credit card network that provides greater protection if fraud occurs.
Inspect the keypad. False keypad overlays that look exactly like, and fit directly over, the real McCoy are another way fraudsters can collect PINs as accompanying skimmers get card data. So before entering your card, check the keypad – and think twice before using if it feels loose, spongy, or the keypad panel appears raised or thicker compared to the rest of the machine. Also before using, give several buttons a test run and be suspicious if they feel sticky. Crooks have been known to place glue on and around certain buttons – particularly “enter,” “cancel” and “clear” – to prevent customers from completing a transaction after inserting a cash card and keying in a PIN. (When customers go inside a bank to report the problem, the waiting thief “unsticks” the buttons with a knife to complete the withdrawal.)
Check the audio jack. Most ATMs have an audio jack that goes unnoticed to the average customer – and that works to their advantage. If not perfectly centered inside the plastic overlay cover, it suggests the machine has been tampered with. Another tampering tipoff: Look for cracks or cuts on the plastic covering the receipt slot, cash dispenser or other portions of the machine; these coverings should be completely smooth.


For information about other scams, sign up for the Fraud Watch Network. You’ll receive free email alerts with tips and resources to help you spot and avoid identity theft and fraud, and keep tabs of scams and law enforcement alerts in your area at our Scam-Tracking Map.


Creating a Green Funeral Plan


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Learn how to plan a green funeral your way! We will be discussing everything you will need to know about planning a green funeral. Whether you create a basic funeral … Read More

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