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Family Tree Maker - one of my ongoing obsessions.

A couple of Christmases ago, we were sitting around the table and the discussion turned to family, and family history as it often does in that situation. Being a technology geek, I instantly found several pieces of software to address the chore of documenting the family tree and finally settled on Family Tree Maker and its online counterpart You can read more about and how it works, at NextAdvisor.

It started off innocently enough, with adding my family, my wife's and branching up and down a few lines. Soon I started doing some research and found a very cool tool that automatically searches public records based on likely hits from the data you provide. When you add a name to the software, along with a date of birth, if it finds a hit, you get a little green leaf on the name. you can then research the 'hit' and see if it is a match. The software looks at US Census data, public birth and death records, other peoples uploaded family trees and even some obscure items like passenger manifests. I was able to find images of the actual passenger ship manifests and Ellis Island records of both my mother and father coming over from Switzerland - Very Cool!

I usually work for a couple of weeks then loose interest then pick it back up again (probably like this blog will turn out) ...Well, its now two years later and I have 1261 people listed in my family tree. No one famous yet - but that's a feature too and the program is still 'looking'.



Everyone has their place....


Heaven is:

When the British are the police,

The French are the cooks,

The Germans are the mechanics

The Italians are the lovers

and the whole thing is organized by the Swiss!

Hell is:

Where the French are the mechanics

The British are the cooks

The Germans are the police

The Swiss are the lovers

and the whole thing is organized by the Italians!



My Blackberry isn't working and there is a problem with my Apple...


I thought this was very funny!


Happy Birthday Danielle!

Today is January 21st and that can only mean one thing. It's Danielle's Birthday!  - today my little girl turns 19. It is hard to believe it has been that long as it seems like just yesterday she was in diapers and then learning to ride a bike with training wheels. Today she is off at college, beginning to find her way in the world.  19 years ago I was back in college also, taking a technical writing class. I dug through my archives and found this....  Sappy at best, my attempt to 'be creative' but apparently what I was feeling at the time.

I'm very proud of my first, who has had to train us how to be decent parents. Despite everything she turned out just fine and has a great head on her shoulders.  (Taylor - I am very proud of you also!) Both of my girls have very different personalities and value sets which is very interesting to me considering they both were raised in the same environment. Nature is definitely a stronger influence than nurture.

Danielle - I love you and know you will succeed in anything you set your mind to. Be kind to your sister - she will be in your life a lot longer than Mama or I will. Know we are here to support you, prod you, and catch you when you fall. Remember you promised - you will always be my Teddy Bear.

- Daddy


My next car

I have been facinated with what has been going on with electric cars and have been watching a small california based auto maker called Tesla.  A couple of years ago they produced the Tesla Roadster, a very cool, but very expensive electric that goes from 0-60 in something like 4.2 secons and makes no noise at all.  At CES they recently introduced a mainstreem sedan, with production starting this fall.

I think it looks pretty sweet, and will likely be looking into it once it becomes available... 


Stupid is as Stupid does...

If you know me, you know I am a big fan of Apple Computer. Even since the early days, when my big brother came home with his first Apple IIc with a whole 8k of memory, I would spend my afternoons playing Zork on a 300 baud modem tied into some mountain bell server because it had no hard drive and could not support a program as large as Zork. ( its 600k I think, a text based adventure, that would now fit 1000 times over on the little SD card you keep in your camera).

So at the beginning of this year, I did what many people do and review their 401k and portfolio allocations and try and decide what investments are a good idea. I remember distinclty when I first saw Forrest Gump that he got into Apple early. Boy I thought, if only I had done the same.  I actually did a little reseach and if I had purchased some Apple when Forrest Gump came out (1994) and invested only 1000.00 @ $6.32 / share - that grand would now be worth 53K.  Granted Apple has been on a bit of a tear recently with the iPhone, iPod, iPad etc.  I own all of these - heck we have 4 iphones now...

So I read with interest that Apple is finally done with their AT&T contract and will be introducing the iPhone on Verizon. The new iPad 2 looks good and the company seems poised well for continued growth. - As a result I did buy some apple stock. -

I kid you not - it was less than 24 hours after I did this - the transaction had not even settled yet - Steve Jobs announces his leave and the stock drops 5%.  Now I'm still optimistic.  I still am bulish on the company and we'll see next January if the investmant was a good decision or not... but still - timing? Really?  I guess thats why I'm not a fund manager.


Harley Davidson-Amstein

Although I have probably had more than a dozen cats throughout my life and every single one displays uniquely different personalities, my current guy, Harely Davidson probably ranks in the top one or two. I don't know if its a gender thing, but the other was also a male. Unlike most of the cats we have shared our lives with, we did not get Harley as a kitten. He was three when we adopted him as a shelter bounce back. (A cat that has been to the shelter, more than once, usually as a kitten then returned later in life). Harley is confident loving and probably has a bit of dog in him as he just wants to be in the same room as you - following you around like a puppy.

Don't get me wrong, he is independent, and self centered, like all cats. In fact he is so cool he even has his own Facebook page. You can friend him here, if you are so inclined to do so.

Recently he has taken to making bread, in his own unique style. Unlike most cats that will knead with their front paws for a few moments prior to lying down, Harely uses all four paws and will knead for what seems like an eternity, slowly rotating around a pivot point in a little cat dance. This is very cute to watch, but an entirely different story at 04:30 am on the middle of your chest!

I have recently decided that he has two distinct personalities. He loves to chase my other cat relentlessly, then plop down and turn his motor on. Its funny, his coat is also not symmetrical, he is either mostly white or mostly black depending on which side he chose to lye on. I guess he is the personification (catification?) of yin-yang - don't ya think?


The most important person in my life...

Let me start by saying that I believe that I am very lucky. More than two decades ago I met a great person who ended up becoming my very best fried, my muse, the ying to my yang and my wife. In April we will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. As promised, I will be taking her to Hawaii to celebrate and I'm sure if I keep up on this blog thing - there will be many posts about that adventure coming.

Through those two decades we have raised a family, produced two daughters, who both have good heads on their shoulders and have not had to frequent the emergency room very often. I attribute 90% of that success to my lovely bride.

I have frequently joked about a great feature my current house has. Up in the master bathroom, across from the closet, there is a cabinet door that you can toss your dirtly laundry into. Two days later, the laundry re-appears, clean, folded and put away back in the closet. All houses should have this wonderful accessory. I'm surprised our real estate agent did not mention it, or feature it in the brochure when we were house shopping. All I know is that I am never moving!

Colleen, I know I sometimes take all the incredible things you do for granted. I am looking forward to April, to renew our vows and would definitely marry you all over again, for another 20 years - if you will have me.  I love you.


My First Blog Entry

So I decided at random that I am going to keep a journal. Being a total technology geek, I quickly made the decision that it was going to be a blog, and that way I could add random thoughts, from where ever I was using multiple mediums. SquareSpace (this blog system) allows you to update information from a computer, an iPhone, or my iPad! My goal is to add an entry every day (or hopefully close to every day). As I sit here at my counter, on a Sunday evening in mid January, the playoffs are on the tube, my wife is making chorizo and ricotta stuffed shells, and I have a Coors light in my hand. Life is pretty good. Hopefully my musings will be interesting and at some point I will go back and re-read them. Maybe my grandkids (assuming I am lucky enough to eventually have some) will get some entertainment out of reading this. I think its pretty cool that my parents were the first generation to get a TV. I remember distinctly sitting in front of one of their first huge black and white consoles, at 618 S Youngfield Ct in Lakewood, watching a new kids program that was airing for the first time. It was called Sesame Street. I think I was about 5. Now my kids use Netflix to stream the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy or Family Guy to their laptop. I can't wait to see what the future brings. Gotta go - time to stuff the shells!
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