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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Black Cyber-Week Frenzy

It can be confusing . . . I've been receiving notices about Black Friday for weeks and now that it has passed, I'm getting notices that it has been extended . . . and not to be outdone I'm now receiving notices about Cyber Monday (and Sunday) it truly is a "frenzy".

On-the-other-hand, on the televised news there were several news stories of customers rampaging through unlocked doors and fights over merchandise  -- none of which is appealing. So of the two shopping modes -- we mostly pick online these days:

I almost feel guilty if I ignore an email from one of the many merchants that I have ever purchased from informing me that I have only x many days or hours to take advantage of the best deal of the year. And for that reason, I shop, reluctantly, but I shop and little-by-little I pick up momentum, as there are only 27 shopping days left until Christmas.

And yes I can relate somewhat to the scene depicted to the left.

I try to intermingle family search work in between visits to shopping websites so as to not totally neglect my genealogical missions.

One of the issues with shopping online is to keep track of when shipments are supposed to arrive and the items that should be in the shipment.

One advantage of Amazon is that they project shipping times and dates and usually provide a tracking number.  I knew the other night that they had used USPS for delivery and the package was due and expected on Friday night. However, our crack USPS person did not leave a package on that delivery -- probably because it was so late that they did not want to walk up to the door with it.

So Amazon re projected the delivery date to Saturday. I was able to meet the USPS as they drove up to the mailbox to ask about the package when they volunteered that I had two packages . . . it is a tough job . . . but someone gets to do it.

Shopping isn't the only activity that we did this week -- we prepared for the celebration with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

There is nothing like the aroma of a roasting turkey throughout the house on the big day. And we had that. We usually only roast a turkey on Thanksgiving so that distinct aroma was therapeutic for us. Actually it is almost a let down to actually sit down and eat -- the preparation takes so much more time and to me is very satisfying.
We seem to finish eating in relatively a short time . . .

But this year we had that aroma a second time as I cooked the carcass in a pot of broth to ultimately make a pot of soup. And I did and which we ate last night for dinner. The soup consisted of turkey meat that probably in a lot of homes gets thrown out -- but not in ours.

There were an assortment of vegetables along with my favorite soup ingredient -- barley, pearl barley.
That makes for some really good eating and we both enjoyed a large bowl along with a couple of biscuits -- I wish that we had some of the rolls that my paternal grandmother was famous for . . . but we enjoyed what we had.

The big news this week is the death of Fidel Castro.

He was the first real living tyrant that I was aware of growing up.

Two years ago, in a post written December 20, 2014, I wrote a bit about my awareness of Castro. (You can do a search at the top of this post)

But it happened that I lived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1959 -- the same year that Castro took over in Cuba some 90 miles off the coast of Florida.

I actually remember more about the songs of 1959 than of the life and times of Fidel Castro. I still remember being on the beach in Lauderdale hearing Bobby Darin blast out the ballad of "Mack the Knife" and hearing the other songs listed above. I remember the kids I was with at that time and often wonder how their lives have been over the years.

One of my favorite songs from 1959 is "Petite Fleur" and I still enjoy listening to that today by a variety of artists.

And not to digress too much . . . we have not enjoyed a single game by our local NFL team, the SF Forty-Niners this year. Not even thinking of the 9 straight losses, it's the actions of the current quarterback that has caused us to not watch the games.

They won their first game and then lost the next nine in a row. I can only imagine -- given the news I just mentioned about Castro -- what kind of reception that the quarterback will receive when he appears in the Miami stadium today after he wore a t-shirt this week praising Castro (this before Castro died).  Cubans in Miami are not friends to Castro and left their country because of Castro.

When the Niners decide to stop allowing political ideas into the game arena, we may think about watching again . . .

And lastly,

Actually our dog Dino does have a family tree and it goes back several generations. He probably is one of a minority of dogs that the owners have a family history about. Many owners are not even sure of their pet's breeding or lack thereof  . . . and it doesn't even matter.

Enjoy the rest of the holiday week and prepare for the next. See you all "in a few"!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving Week . . . Thank Goodness !

We thought that it would never get here -- just kidding. We are thankful for so many things. One of which is that the election and campaigning (robo calls) are finally over. We can now get back to the real world activities -- but then again this IS the real world activities.

We are experiencing flashes of color like the above, in between the dark rain skies. Yesterday we received over two inches of rain -- and we love it. The pool magically filled itself.

Well, doggone, just when we were planning a trip there.

What took so long -- the closing of this huge mall and others will help make the day a true "holiday" again.

The images of shoppers storming the doors of retailers at the moment that they opened are forever etched in our minds.

I'm trying to think "when was the last time that I was even in a mall . . ." I can't recall. It is almost like "when was the last time I was in a train station" . . .

But do not fear -- if you get the urge to shop in between eating a turkey dinner and maybe some football -- you still can.

Head on over to your PC or tablet or smart phone and go right to Amazon Prime and / or Google Express and shop all you want.

So, they probably won't deliver on Thanksgiving Day, but probably on Black Friday they will.

Seriously though, we use Amazon Prime every week to purchase necessities and some nice-to-have things. And usually within two days we have our purchases.

And in the last two months, Google Express (which features deliveries the next day) from a large number  of retailers, has  solved our dilemma of not always being able to get to the store when supplies of certain things are running out.

The above two delivery services have "saved our bacon" so-to-speak. There are so many delivery trucks now going up and down our street you'd think that we lived in a business district -- and maybe we do.

The only downside to receiving so many home deliveries is -- what to do with all the cardboard.
At first I thought that I'd save and reuse a lot of the really great boxes, but there is no way we can store that many and we don't need that many to send things -- unless we go into a small business . . .

If only the USPS was as productive and reliable as UPS and FedEx and the others. When our regular mail person is "off" for the day or week, our service deteriorates a lot.

It's true what is said above, there should be more than one day that we officially give thanks. It is not-so-true that football is the true meaning of thanksgiving. Football on Thanksgiving Day may go the way of "visiting the mall on Thanksgiving" after this year for the way the game has been spoiled by certain activities.

There still are three games televised this Thursday and we may glimpse at a bit of them, but then again maybe not depending on how we feel. Keep the turkey dinner tradition alive with family gathered and keep it so that the day is still one of the best holidays of the year.

Growing up, Thanksgiving always was a day that was special in our family. Many times we piled into our car and made the trip from the suburbs into Chicago to spend the day at the home of my maternal Grandparents.

Dinner was eaten usually around 3 PM giving us time to relax afterwards playing some pool or just unwinding  AND then around 7 PM turkey sandwiches would be served -- boy do I remember those.

Then it was usually a cozy ride back home when us kids often fell asleep knowing that "all was well".

In those days there wasn't an official "black Friday" as we know it today -- Friday was Friday and I can't remember heading out shopping particularly on that day. Usually in the Chicago area it was snowy and cold and we mostly played indoors -- but the Thanksgiving four day holiday is a pleasurable memory to be sure.

So, as we look to this Thursday we are reminded of the previous Thanksgivings and the events of those days. Above is a collage of "stuff" in the last year or so that we are thankful for . . .

We do have a large part of the refrigerator devoted to the thawing of a large poultry protein. We will process that along with the traditional trimmings and we expect a pleasant day even if it rains some as forecast.

Have a nice Thanksgiving Day and we'll see you all "in a few" !

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Time of Change . . .

Leaves are everywhere, darkness shows up way before dinner, and and the thermometer varies from up to down. But -- who doesn't love change -- I think we all know some who currently don't like change . . .

I have to say that out TV viewing habits have changed recently certainly with respect to the NFL events. For probably forty years I have watched whatever local NFL team represented my living area by viewing most of the local games.

This year it so happens that our local team has diminished our enjoyment and it is not only because of their total losing effort -- it has to do with some of the players who have taken away a lot of the fun aspect of watching football. Hopefully those activities will eventually subside and we can get back to having football be the escape from everyday life that it used to be . . .

I have to say that we have enjoyed the last two nights out on the back deck as we let Dino out for his late-night business trip and we have observed the "Super" moon. Supposedly it will be perfectly displayed tomorrow night -- hopefully it won't be cloudy.

And Friday was 11/11 -- Veterans Day -- a day
to say thanks to all who have served and there are many, many from our tree who over the years and war times have served our country.

We have folks from our tree who have served in every war that this country has experienced. And we have folks who spent several years in the service when there happened to be no wars at the time of their service -- a case in point was my father, who served in between WWI and WWII. He tried to re-enlist in WWII but was not able to, due to an injury that he suffered while in the service in the 1930s.

There are tons of stories that are related to war time events and some of those have been put on the website:  I hope to add more info relative to our tree folks as time goes on.

Better living through chemicals electronics. And to me that is so true these days.

Above, is a little electronic device that Gail and I put into action this week -- and it has definitely enhanced enjoyment.

We have the parent product of the Dot, the Echo, and have enjoyed that for almost a year. the Echo and the Dot are produced by Amazon and we find them amazing. The Echo we have in the family room and we frequently ask "Alexa" a variety of things that we want to know -- like -- what day it is, or the date or the time and temperature. ETC.

The Dot which is like a slice of the Echo we put on one of our nightstands in the bedroom. Again, "Alexa" responds to our questions and requests. But the main reason we have the Dot is to "read" to us at nighttime.

We belong to Audible, another Amazon product, and that is a service that sells books that they read to you, sometimes with the author's own voice. We have listened to several already that way. Prior to the Dot, I would bring the iPad and we would log in and go to Audible and pick the correct book and listen.

Now with the Dot, we just ask "Alexa" to read from Audible and she will name the book that we last were listening to and have it start to read where we left off. When we are tired we just tell "Alexa" to stop reading and off to sleep we go . . .

We also request music from time to time and "Alexa" plays a variety of music for us -- as an example one of the artists that I enjoy from time to time is Leon Redbone -- not as well known as some, but "Alexa" immediately started playing one of his tunes . . . what a nice feature.

The Inauguration -- 68

Christmas 2016 --    41

Thanksgiving 2016  11 (just a week and 4 days to go)

Election Day 2020  1450 but who would be counting

Speaking of Christmas, we know it is almost Christmas because our neighbor has put up their icicle lighting around their house . . . and  the few stores that we have been in lately have Yule-time displays up (since before Halloween). Whatever happened to waiting until after Thanksgiving . . .

So, we decided to get an early Christmas gift for ourselves and you can see it to the right. A well-built black leather chair.

But he chair is also functional as well -- it massages . . . I don't think that I have ever had a real massage other than the "back rubs" in the hospital 50 years ago that were a nightly treat -- that is not something that happens in hospitals these days . . .

Both Gail and I have enjoyed a "massage" now daily and it has been relaxing to say the least. We plan to install another Echo Dot nearby so that we can request some music or the news or a book from Audible as we relax . . . starting to love technology a lot more even.

I haven't forgotten genealogy as I work on it everyday. It just hasn't made the top news item -- but I'm sure that it will again soon.

I have been working a lot on the Hiles/Giles branch the past several days. Above is a snippet to the post that appeared back in 2011, February 19.

I have uncovered a lot more of the Giles family members and I will have some related stories soon.
I have added the new members to the tree in Ancestry (and Family Tree Maker) that I maintain.

Eventually I'll get to adding them all to the Hiles Website tree at

And continuing with the theme of  "A Time of Change" the above illustrates a bit of the change in postal services that I have experienced over the years.

When I was growing up in the 40s and 50s, the mail was carried in pouches slung over the shoulder and it came TWICE a day and it was delivered to your door. I can't imagine today having that quality of service.

Yesterday, the day after a postal holiday, we had just about given up on receiving any mail that day -- which has not happened in recent memory -- when just before 9 pm the mail truck was heard roaring up and down our street.

We (Gail) went out to the mailbox and retrieved the twenty some pieces that arrived that day. We have been waiting for several days for a particular piece of mail and hoped that today would be the day. It was NOT the day -- but we did receive three pieces addressed to other families -- maybe one of those families received our mail . . .

My point is that we deserve better mail service, that is for sure -- I'm not sure if that change is on anyone's agenda.

And lastly, a change of view:

That's a bit of our week, see you all "in a few" !

Sunday, November 6, 2016


For the 40 million or so who watched IT happen, could there be anymore sense of joy (except for the poor Cleveland fans) than what was displayed moments after the 10 innings of high tension baseball concluded with an infield ground-out. What a game!

If the pattern continues, there won't be a person alive today (probably) that will witness the Chicago Cubs winning their next World Series -- 1908 and then 2016 and then 21?? . . .

My parents did not experience a Cubs World Series (my father was 1 year old in 1908 however) but for practical purposes neither did Gail's parents in their lifetime, not that they would have been Chicago Cubs fans anyway -- but they could have been.

A lot has happened this week and a lot more will happen next week. Early balloting has to be frustrating to many folks. I felt bad for the fellow knocking on our door seeking our vote for him to the city council -- we voted last week -- and I did vote for three of the folks who came to the door asking for our vote (he was not one of them).

Also, the robo calls keep coming (usually one per item as we then block future calls from that number) and how do you know who is relating the facts in the correct way. We get so much literature with a "NO" on this and then a lot more with a "YES" on that . . . After awhile it gets so jumbled as to the real issues. On one side something may sound so logical and then that logical notion is pulled apart and exposed as being "crazy".

I am with the pundits now -- please let's end this campaign and get on with the real spirit of the times,
Christmas shopping.

It's hard to believe that in less than 48 hours we will know the answer to the above question. Some claim to know now . . . and maybe they do, but I'm sure that they will say "I told you" or something to that effect whoever is the winner.

I will enjoy watching the results roll in -- I think.

Who will be the object of our focus for the next four years at least unless for some reason there is a shortened time period . . . have to refocus on maybe one of the two VPs running . . .

In last week's post I mentioned that I had found some "new" cousins living in the Washington state area and that I was looking into a sad tale of one of them -- and I have that tale included today.

The story is actually about the husband of a 2nd Cousin of mine. That Cousin is the grandchild of Mollie Bumgardner (married to Thomas Hoopes) her husband's name is David McGaughey.

While putting these folks into the tree I noticed that David had died at an early age -- so I investigated by looking through old newspaper accounts, and here is one article that I found:

What a shame that someone had to die in this manner and so young and leaving a young family as well.

The interesting fact is that I shared this article with some living cousins and they had not seen this article and that there had always been somewhat of a mystery behind David's death.

I'm sure that there is more to this story as I wonder if the killer was ever found. I'll nose about a bit but it is so old I don't hold a lot of hope of finding out more facts.

Another story that came to the forefront this week was about someone that I had written about in the February 12, 2011 post.

Growing up I heard the name "Hiles Stout" a lot in the context of sporting news. I found it fascinating that someone would have as their first name, my surname.

You can do a google search at the top of this post for "Hiles Stout" and the post in question will come up.  I did communicate with Hiles and he was not sure how he got the name of "Hiles" other than he thought it was from somewhere in his mother's side.

Hiles Stout passed away last week at the age of 81. I'm so glad that I did have a chance to communicate via email with him a few years ago.

And lastly, today is the day that we "fall back down" again. I don't really suffer from SDD, but I do know some folks that do. I seem to enjoy all time periods but it is getting annoying to have to change so many clocks and time pieces -- thank goodness for the ones that are controlled by satellite and WI-FI . . . though I did have one of our two "smart-watches" correctly change the time and other not.

So that is a bit of our week. Soon we'll have very little of interest to watch on TV what with baseball over for several months, football remains "iffy" and no more political stuff . . . sure.

See you all "in a few" !