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Here I am already running late.  But in return I shall write on two topics in one day.

Christmas trees have always been a part of my family traditions for as long as I can remember.  We moved from a real tree to an artificial one at some point, but even that did not matter.  The weekend after Thanksgiving it went up, and it was there until Epiphany.  I loved to play with the manger set until it was perfect in my eyes.  OK, so my older sisters would set it up too, but I remember often playing around and moving the characters.

When I became an adult there were a couple years without a tree.  The year I lived with several guys in my early to mid-20’s.  The year I was pregnant with my daughters, which makes sense when you understand I delivered them only 3 weeks after Christmas.  Every year we have had a tree since the girls were little.  Mainly they were artificial, once or twice a real one.  One of the real ones came the year that Grace only wanted a real tree for Christmas.  She was insistent on it.  The smell of pine was heavenly.  The other a year later because someone gave us one.

This year there will be no tree.  We discussed it already, and it was decided.  I am not happy with the decision, but understand why.  Our apartment has never really had room for a tree, unless we move furniture out and put it in the kitchen.  Usually we didn’t have the table, eating in the front room, so there was no table to have to move out.  Now we do, we still eat in the front room though.  Also, for some unremembered reason the tree was thrown out last year.  I think it may have gotten bent, but there is also the possibility it was thrown out because we all hated how straggly it was.  This year we have a puppy who eats everything, and we just don’t feel that the tree is a good idea this year.

Getting Creative

I have been hearing more and more about people deciding to get more creative lately.  For example Wil and his PDSCEDFTROTY (YTIH).  I have been feeling very stagnant lately.  Perhaps it has to do with hitting 40.  I feel like too much of my life has gone by without me actively being in it.  So I felt maybe it was time to try to expand my thinking and e more creative as well.  So I shall also participate in the PDSCEDFTROTY (YTIH).

For me that means blogging even if no one is reading it.  Who knows, I might just get someone reading what I have to say.

To give me something to write about, I am joining with Geneabloggers‘ Advent Calendar.  This gives me a topic a day to write about and we can see where it can go to.

Reading is fun

As I have mentioned before, I am a Geek.  I am also a Bookie.  Not the kind that takes bets, but like a Foodie with books.  I read everything as a child.  By the time I was 12 my mother left me at the library while she shopped at the mall or ran errands.  The librarians never seemed to mind.  I could spend hours reading and read many books over and over again.  My favorites were the girly books like Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew, and Little Women.  Although by no means was that all I read. I read the Dark is Rising series, and probably re-read it still every few years.  In high school it was the Flowers in the Attic series, the Vampire Chronicles, and Stephen King.  I had hundreds of books on my book shelves and retreated as often as I could into fantasy worlds, the past in historical fiction, non-fiction, and even read boxes and newspapers if I was seperated from books.

But one art form I never appreciated until I was about 24 was comic books and graphic novels.  I thought they were beneath me.  Maybe it’s because I was only exposed to Archie and Disney comics, never superheroes or any others.  I did read comic collections from the newspapers though – Garfield, Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbes, and the Far Side were fun for me to read.  But Batman and Superman – not so much.  Then, I grew up and lived with a group of guys, and I was introduced to Sandman, Black Orchid, and Batman comics.  I loved Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke, Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum, and Neil Gaiman’s Black Orchid.  I was introduced as it were to the Vertigo imprint by my now husband, then boyfriend, and his friend’s forays into the comic book store.  I would choose books that appealed to me visually, and often found that the stories weren’t half bad.

I started reading many of his collected comic books after we married and I attempted to find out about what all the Batman stuff he collected for the few years before we married was worth.  Nothing brings together a couple like going through a collection while the geeky wife has to input everything into a spread sheet on an Apple II clone.  Just kidding.  It was probably some of the first fights we had, “Don’t touch the pages with damp hands from a cold soda”, “Don’t crease the pages”, and my personal bad comic owner problem – “put them back in the bags with boards so they are protected”.  I was not versed in this world.  To me they were books and should be read, to him – to be stored in the closet and only looked at once every few YEARS.  But that will come in later in this story.

One thing that bugs me is that neither of my daughters are into reading.  One found books she likes, the Twilight series, and has managed in 6 months to read the first 2 books.  She is a slow reader, and often gets distracted so the books tend to get misplaced before she gets finished, so it takes awhile.  The other reads a bit quicker, but has never found a style or type of book she likes.  She is picky and often drops books that I have found that I think she might like beacuse she can’t get past the first chapter.  She dumped Terry Brooks Landover series, Piers Anthony’s Xanth, Nancy Drews, Little Houses, stories about animals and vets, you name it we have tried to get her to read it and enjoy it.  But nothing has worked until now.

In the last week she has finished two books.  I found out that she was interested in manga and that she had been reading them during the school year (never in front of me) and thought I might have a way for her to enjoy reading – the graphic novel.  So I started her with Coraline. Coraline is a Young Adult graphic novel by Neil Gaiman.  She finished it in just over 2 hours.  And then she wanted more.  She actually asked me to go to the library to get more!  Right now she is reading the collected Sandman graphic novels.  She is done with Preludes and Nocturnes, and actually asked me to stop reading A Doll’s House because she wanted it to keep going.  She now wants to read Graveyard Book and is willing to branch out into other graphic novels.

In a way, I feel I must thank Neil for his words and ideas.  They have touched her imagination and taught her that books can be interesting and fun, and not just something that you HAVE to read because someone assigned it in class. Maybe I will start pulling out the other graphic novels that my husband has collected, but as I mentioned before this is a sticking point as he feels that they should be protected at all costs.  We’ll see how it goes.

Recently I was linked to the Society for Geek Advancement website to view a video.  If you have not seen it yet then go here and check it out.  I will wait for you. OK so now that we have seen the video, read Wil W.’s rant here. All done?  OK now for my rant about the rant. I would have left this as a comment on Wil’s blog but I think my rant was a bit long.

I have been a self-identified geek for over 20 years. I was a geek in high school. I admit it.  However, according to many of the comments on Wil’s blog, I am not a geek.  WTF?  Who decided what was geek and not geek and why was I not included in the decision?

I taught teachers how to use the Apple II in elementary school.  Yes little 4th grade me taught the TEACHERS.  But, since I no longer use it I don’t remember BASIC.  I was a founding member of the computer club in elementary school – never used a modem until I was 20 years old.  I took classes at The Ohio State University in computers in 6th Grade.  I was considered gifted and focused much attention on computers. In middle school I played on the TRS-80.  I learned LOGO and DOS.  I never personally owned a computer until the PCjr came out.  It took a year before I RTFM and learned to install the DOS to the hard drive.  But then High School happened, and in the desire to fit in I ran as far away from my passion as I could.  I returned to college in 1999 – ten years after graduating and got a degree in Computer Information Systems.  I created crappy web pages and played computer games, but lost too much time that much of the technology passed me by a long time ago.  I learned Java, COBOL, C (not C# or C++, C), CSS, JCL, Active Server, and other things that due to the burst of the dot-com bubble I have yet to use 5 years out of college.  I am a stay at home mom with zero budget to purchase the programs that would allow me to stay on top of changes.  So I guess that means I am no longer a geek, by some peoples standards.

I can and have set up systems in LINUX, administered my kids computer with Edubuntu, which I recommend to anyone with children.  But to determine the difference between slackware and Debian, I couldn’t.  Vi vs emacs, again no preference as I rarely use either.  But does this make me not a geek?

RPG’s – hmmm  I played D&D in high school for about a month. The gaming stank, sorry Sam, James, or who ever else played with us as I can no longer even recall.  I never got into it, after 1 campaign I was done.  Not that I do not have respect for the people who love D&D.  My husband has somewhere in all his stuff his characters he rolled before I knew him.  He stopped playing in the 90’s when we got married. I do know what the different d numbers mean, but could not tell you when you would have to use them.  I don’t do many online games but I do play Puzzle Pirates, a MMORPG, but less for the role playing and more for the games.  So I guess I am not a geek?

Comic books – my husband collects Batman.  I have spent enough time in comic book stores that new ones can still excite me.  However, it is not a focus of my life, unless you count the time I spend putting them in a database to figure out how much insurance we need to have on the collection. I have read most of them at one point or another, but could not tell you what characters show up in which ones or specifics of story lines.  So I guess I am not geeky enough about them.

Doctor Who, Torchwood, Buffy, Angel, Star Trek, Star Trek:TNG – I love these shows.  As a matter of fact I am rewatching Torchwood as I type this.  I couldn’t hold a major conversation about the finer points of the shows, I just liked watching them.  I don’t go to conventions, I don’t speak Klingon (and those that do sometimes scare me with their devotion).  So I guess I am not geeky enough.

I follow several people on Twitter, and have my TweetDeck open most of the time.  But I only got into it a few weeks ago.  So far behind the curve.  I have a facebook account, but not a lot of friends.  So again there, I am not geeky enough.

I will read anything.  My parents used to tease me that if I could not have a book at the table I would read the nutrition labels just to be reading something.  The book is always better than the movie.  I have yet to find one that the reverse was true for.  I love Issac Asimov’s Robots and Foundation books, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Piers Anthony, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, and many others that I would love to drop a pretty penny for their work.  And there in is my innate geekdom.  I read the encyclopedia for fun as a child.  I know tons of useless trivia.  Not that I can always access it appropriately.  I am little miss can’t be wrong and drive many people nuts with my knowledge.  However, I did not get good grades in school and was not included in the nerd category by the nerds themselves. 

I hung out with band geeks, theater geeks, and the other socially awkward who in no way would be considered a geek.  I AM socially awkward to this day.  I don’t make friends easily as I often feel too tongue-tied to get to know anyone on a deeper level than acquaintances. As a matter of fact, I don’t even talk to more than a couple of people I have known from school.  Although, I do miss a few people, and would love to catch up with them, but it has been 20 years. 

But from reading many of the comments at Wil’s blog, the point may have been missed in both the video and what Wil said.  There did seem to be a current in the video of “what I am not” and not enough pride in “what I am”.  However, to me the video speaks of “I am not JUST the living in my parents basement, playing RPG’s, watching Star Trek, with no social life stereotype”.  Shaq, who no one at first glance would consider himself a geek, is one. His passion for Superman is tattooed permantently on him.  That is devotion to a part of geek culture, maybe not a full-card carrying member of the stereotype, but a geek none the less.  And Ashton Kutcher, who I learned from the comments was a biochemical engineering major, and photography buff, and yet played football, is kinda geeky in my book.  I think people confuse characters and public persona with who a person really is inside.

And perhaps that is the lesson to be learned – no stereotype fully desribes anyone.  And no one is the stereotype.  Each of us has a inner geek struggling to get out and embrace something.  Be the best at something you love. That is the message of geek.  For me it will be my desire to learn something new every day, read something that means something to me, and have a passion in my life.

Why Genealogy?

Why on earth do genealogy?  Because it can be fun finding out the secrets no one wanted you to know.  I have found unwed mothers, murderers, and many other skeletons in the closet.  But nothing quite compares to this story, at least for me.

I have been working on my family tree from my husband and my families for about 15 years now.  I have never made it very far in either tree, but continue to source and document what it is that I have.  During that time, I ran into a family member who married a Savage.  Of course this led to the question by my kids of “Are we related to Adam Savage?”

For those of you who do not know who Adam Savage is, he is the more hyper and I feel more creative member of MythBusters.  The redhead.  The one who lost an eyebrow.  The one who said the line I like to use when in a losing argument – “I reject your reality and substitute it for my own.”  He is also wears some pretty snarky and cool tee-shirts.

So getting back to the question I decided to look into it.  I know from wikipedia that Adam’s father was an artist as well that had worked on Sesame Street.  That led me to finding his father was Whitney Lee Savage.  He has some very interesting art work that I kinda like.  I also found out then, that Whitney Lee was born in West Virginia.  From West Virginia census records, I was able to track down Whitney Lee to his father Joseph, who was mentioned in the biography of his father, Whitney Lee, in West Virginia, in history, life, literature and industry.  The biography mentions Joseph’s grandfather William A. Savage was married to Thankful Detty.

Now I had already done research into the Detty family as they are related through my husband’s paternal grandmother.  From what I can gather, Thankful is the daughter of Joseph Detty, who is my husband’s 3rd Great-grandfather’s brother.  Making Adam Savage my husbands 5th Cousin.  A bit too far to be considered “family” by most accounts, even to contact him, but cool enough that my kids are ecstatic that we may be related.

Also in our family are lines that go all the way back to Plymouth Colony and early New Amsterdam, including one line that goes to the first child born in the New Amsterdam Colony, Issac de Trieux.  I also have connections to the Delano family, which gives me distant relations to the Roosevelts, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I forget exactly how the Roosevelt family and Laura Ingalls are related as they are no longer in my smaller database that I work from.

So what cool connections do you have in your tree?