Just a “public service announcement” this week, a note for anyone wanting to register or comment on my site.
I appreciate my readers, people who have come here from Facebook or who actually know my website and visit regularly, but lately I’ve experienced a rash of unknowns attempting to register as “users.” All these so far have proven to be (at best) unsavory characters.
Just know this, if you make a comment on my site, you are required to supply your email address. Never fear. Your email address will NOT appear on my site and it will never be used for bulk mailing or anything other than for me to personally communicate with you if a reply to your comment is required. Usually I will reply to your comment on the site, not via email.
All comments are reviewed by me and approved before they appear on the site (without your contact information). This is not done to weed out criticism (if you don’t like what I write, bring it on!), but to avoid spam and junk.
Should you wish to Register on the site (which allows you to be notified by email when new posts are published), you must also provide a legitimate email and your request is reviewed before being accepted.
It would be best to first comment or email me to let me know you will be registering. If I don’t recognize the registering email, I usually delete it, but I will check you out if I believe you are legal and righteous. If you are who you say you are, I welcome you with open arms!
I appreciate the comments that I have received on my blog and by personal email, and I hope you continue to visit, read and enjoy my site.
Moore was inspired by Stonehenge and the shoulders of a man, but sometimes the Arch appears to be marching across the plaza.
In the early 1970’s the Henry Moore sculpture Large Arch was installed in front of the Bartholomew Co. Public Library.
At the time, I fancied myself a poet. I sat on the steps of the library one day and just watched the public as they came to see and experience the new addition to the Columbus art scene.
This past Sunday I went down to visit the Arch and sit in the sun and as I did so, I remembered the poem. When I got home, I dug it out and read it and decided it wasn’t too bad…thought I’d share it and some photos I took.
Massive at all angles.
Sun warm stronglydown on me and on
the Arch as we(he and I—theArchandi)
watch the People(little ant beings)
pausing to lOOK at him
But taking most of them no time to see
because time it takes to see and any
time taken they resent. Somemostly
Sl o wl y t o touch the surprising warm green of him
Not feeling especially inspired this week, but I feel I owe myself to keep writing, so I gathered together some quotes and thoughts on words.
I love words, their meanings, their twisted logic. If you think about language and just how far we have come from the prehistoric grunts of our ancestors, you should be amazed at the number of words and meanings we have developed to attempt to communicate.
And yet so often we fail. Maybe we forget that words are just words without meaning and context to go with them. I started thinking about this the other day when I was watching a news clip about a project that brought criminal offenders and victims face to face.
Victims of crimes are often full of hate and the need for revenge, while criminals are often remorseless and defiant. Yet in many cases, with the proper preparation, bringing the two together to talk out the issues of why a crime occurred and/or how the crime has affected both parties, a sort of calm acceptance can take place.
It is the combination of words, physical presence and eye contact that equals communication. Let’s try to remember that.
Anyway, off my soapbox and on to the fun side of words. Hope you enjoy the following “facts” about words and language. If you do and let me know, maybe I’ll find some more fun facts!
Fun with Words
It took the editors of the first “Oxford English Dictionary” five years to reach the word “ant.”
Umchina, a Korean term meaning “mom’s friend’s son,” is used to describe a person who’s better at everything than you are.
Editor Bennett Cerf challenged Dr. Seuss to write a book using no more than 50 different words. The result? “Green Eggs and Ham.”
The Scots have a word for that panicky hesitation you get when you can’t remember someone’s name: tartle.
Tsundoku is the act of acquiring books or other reading materials and not reading them.
The term “lawn mullet” means having a neatly manicured front yard and an unmowed mess in the back.
Many years ago, “jay” was slang for “foolish person.” So when a pedestrian ignored street signs, he was a “jaywalker.”
In 1974, the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis published a paper titled “The Unsuccessful Self-Treatment of a Case of ‘Writer’s Block’.” It contained a total of zero words.
Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words.
Javier Santana writes:
In Spanish, French and Italian, “decisions” are something you “take” like a train that leads you somewhere new, whereas in English you “make” them like little pieces of your own creation. But in German you “meet” them, like friends.
I actually posted earlier in the week but felt I owed my readers more, so here goes.
At this time of the year, the school where I work mounts a display or show called “What She Wore.” It never fails to stop me in my tracks as I walk through our Commons. Pinned to the wall are various outfits, jeans and t-shirts, pretty dresses, shorts with sweatshirts, bathing suits. Beside each outfit is a written account of the outfit in the actual words of the subject who wore that outfit, because, for some strange reason, that’s a question that is always asked of a rape victim: “What were you wearing?”
I will admit, I’ve seen some pretty inappropriate outfits, but I don’t recall any that would indicate a woman (or a man) should be attacked and damaged in the many ways that rape can destroy a victim. Experts tell us that the act of rape is often more about control than about sex. If that’s the case why do we care so much about what a victim was wearing?
It may be that the question is more relevant in the case of what we call date rape, but I have a difficult time imagining that any woman (or man) dresses to invite abuse. And I also believe that most rapists don’t even see their victims as people…only as vulnerable “others” to be overpowered.
I’ve been struggling to learn who and why visitors to my website are…well, visiting my site. I write because I want to write, but I have to admit, it means a lot and is encouraging to know that people read because they want to read — what I write.
Recently I installed a new “helper” to help me see more about my visitors. Don’t worry, it doesn’t track you individually, I still don’t know your names or anything about you other than generally where you come from and the pages you view.
Here’s where you come from — China. Apparently, the majority of my visitors are from (in this order): China, the US, and Alaska. Yes, I know Alaska is the US, but it shows up differently on the map I’m shown, so I list it.
I hope I know who my Alaskan visitor is (here’s to you, Nina) and I’m comfortable with the US visitors probably being friends and family, but I’m a little confused about the China visitors.
There’s a little more information in the report I get, and that is that my security software has rebuffed some 900 malicious login attempts and 24 spam comments.
I’m thinking those are all coming from China. I read the news. I just can’t figure out why I’m such a target.
Or if those login attempts and spams are NOT coming from China, the country, how do I have so many fans in China?
It’s a mystery.
Just read a lengthy article on the study of reading comprehension that found students learned better from printed text than electronic.
To quote the article: “Students said they preferred and performed better when reading on screens. But their actual performances tended to suffer.”
Another observation: “It would be wrong to assume that students will automatically be better served by digital reading simply because they prefer it.”
Now, I’m not going to go into all the details here, but I thought it was interesting that while you can read online text faster, you comprehend actual printed material much better. (Thanks to Barbara H. who posted it for me to find.)
If you want to read the entire article, it is on the businessinsider.com website and is written by Patricia A. Alexander and Lauren M. Singer. You can find it at printed text vs. digital
So, what I want to say here is…if you have trouble understanding what I’m writing, you might want to print this out and read it slowly.
I love to read Wired Magazine, but because I like to read it cover to cover and because I want to really digest some of the articles, I run a little behind on my reading. I currently have about 10 months of Wired Magazine on my “to read” stack.
I just finished an article in the March 2018 issue about Amazon’s attempts to train their Alexa to “chat” with people.
I have so many thoughts on that article and that goal, but first I also need to describe a Facebook video that appeared on my feed immediately after reading that article.
A little quirky habit of mine that allows me to sneak on to Facebook from time to time at work is that I watch most Facebook videos with no sound which can be pretty funny at times. So keep in mind, I watched this video with no narrative.
This video that I watched was a split screen video. On the left side of the screen, someone was demonstrating how to solve the math problem: 35 x 12. She began by breaking the problem down into components such as 30 + 5 x 10 + 2 and went on to illustrate how that worked by drawing boxes and diagrams and arrows and creating at least 5 other problems.
In the meantime, on the right side of the screen (see what they did there…the “right” side?), someone quickly did the math the “old” way then made a pot of coffee.
While Other Side person was still drawing boxes and explaining how to turn this math problem into many problems, Right Side person (probably someone about my age) solved the problem, went to the coffee maker, measured out water and coffee, hit the brew button, waited on the machine, poured a cup and was happily having their morning fix while Other Side person finally wrapped up all the little problems created from the original problems and happily produced the same answer Right Side person had calculated several minutes before the coffee was ready.
I do understand the new way of doing the math that has developed over the years is to help students learn to break down a problem into all its components to be able to explain that problem to a computer thus “train” the computer by programming it to solve the problem in logical steps.
I understand that.
But wait…keep that video in mind and turn with me to my rant about teaching machines to “chat” with us.
Amazon has determined that we want our machines to do more for us than turn on the lights and play music and select books for us. Amazon has decided that we want to be able to carry on a conversation with the machine, just a casual chat like we would have with a friend.
The article talks about dumping all kinds of information into Alexa’s machine mind, giving her(?) access to even more information and training her to access that information randomly to keep a conversation going for at least 20 minutes.
And they are almost there. In the admittedly one-year-old article I read, Amazon held a competition in which three groups won a total of over a million dollars in prizes to reward their ability to create a program that could allow a machine to talk to a human for nearly 20 minutes.
Stay with me for just one more leg of this rant.
Consider this…in a world where Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone has made a dramatic comeback on TV, in a world where a simple math problem can take a page of paper and 10 minutes to solve, in a world where machines can casually chat with us for 20 minutes…in that world, are we training computers to think like people, or are computers teaching us to think like machines?
My happy place today, the Bartholomew Co. Library.
You may or may not have noticed that I haven’t been around for a couple of weeks. I’ve been a little angry, for no reason that really matters or can be explained here, but I thought writing while angry might not be a good thing.
Today, though, I decided that NOT writing while angry was definitely a bad thing.
So here I am.
Have you ever noticed how when you are angry (or depressed or sad or anything but happy and oblivious) how little things just make it worse? Today I want to write about some of the little things.
Like cereal…I like breakfast food with fruit and/or other additives such as nuts and granola clusters. The cereal I poured out today was advertised as containing cranberries and almonds. I believe cranberries make everything better…I eat them in salads and for snacks. They’re not just for Thanksgiving anymore. Anyway, buying this cereal was a no-brainer. So, this morning I pour out my breakfast, and I find a total of two cranberries in my bowl.
Yep, made me a little angry.
And drivers. They make me angry. Why would a pickup truck pulling a rather long trailer pull out in front of me this morning when there was NO ONE behind me?
That made me angrier than if he had just pulled out because there was a decent space for him in a line of traffic.
Politicians almost always make me angry. Just hearing the names of some politicians or seeing their faces can make me angry. You can put any names here you want because I’m not saying who…just that some of them make me very angry.
People who hurt kids or animals or anyone or thing that is weaker make me very angry. Very angry.
Getting old makes me angry. This is supposed to be the prime of our lives because we’re smarter, not exactly richer, but more together financially, calmer, more respected. For the most part, I’m in a good place with my age, yet sometimes it’s hard to forget that being older means we may not get to enjoy all this “better” we worked for all our lives. That makes me angry.
This anger I’m feeling now isn’t about any of those things that I’ve talked about though. I can’t even tell you what it’s about, where it came from or why no one really noticed. Like a headache, I can’t point to the spot that’s causing the pain, it’s just there. Not all the time, but there.
And I realize talking about anger isn’t the way to cure it, so here are some of the things that make me happy:
Today I went to a little Amish (or Mennonite) deli in my old neighborhood and loaded up on meats and cheeses and home baked bread for a visit to my brother. That stuff may not be healthy for us, but it made me happy, and I think my brother will like it, too!
Tonight the Northern Lights may be visible as far south as central Indiana and I plan to go out and look for them which will remind me of the time my mom woke all of us kids up (on a school night, no less) so we could view the rare sight of Northern Lights in the southern Indiana sky. That memory alone makes me happy, but if I see the Lights…that will be icing on the cake.
And I’m writing this as I sit in my local library. It’s a neat building, the people who work here greet me by name and I’m surrounded by books and people who love books. There are all kinds of nooks and crannies where I can park myself with my laptop and just write. That makes me happy.
And one more thing that makes me happy, on the way home from the market I passed a farm where they have alpacas. I love alpacas, they always make me smile. They have such cute faces and every one is unique. Yes, I know they spit, but when you’re that cute, and people just annoy you…well, you know…I can relate!
I haven’t written for a while, and I have no excuse. Life happens. Since I don’t have anything prepared for this post, I’ll probably ramble…or, as I call it: freestyle.
The weather report for the next few days contains more cold and snow, but it’s March, so there is that. At this point, any nasty weather only sticks around for a couple of days. We even had sunshine a couple of days. I know it’s a sort of joke, but sitting in a restaurant a couple of days ago, the sun streaming in the window was reflecting off a laminated menu, and I heard a lady actually ask, “Where’s that bright light coming from?” I’m pretty sure she was serious!
This has also been one of the windiest winters that I can remember. The wind is something you can’t see, but it can wear you down mentally and emotionally…the roar of it surrounding your home as it tries to get in through windows and doors; the sound of twigs falling from trees all around, the quick gusts that try to slam every door you open and rip your coat, your scarf or hat from your body. The wind wears you down because you are always walking against it or being blown forward by it. And now it’s nearly March, traditionally the windiest month of the year. Oh, joy.
One of the things I have been doing this winter is reading a lot of history to help me understand what my ancestors were going through in the early days of our country. I’m currently going back and forth between two books, one about a major earthquake and one about the land speculators who were more or less responsible for the states of Ohio, Kentucky, and Illinois.
I will not talk politics here. I don’t discuss politics with anyone because it is one of the least productive and most troublesome subjects that can ever come up between two or more people. I can’t convince anyone to think as I do and while I am always willing to listen to reason and “adjust” my opinions, I won’t do that based on one heated conversation, so what’s the point?
But I do have to say that my generation or the one before us or the one before that did not invent greed, deceit, prejudice or shifty, cunning trickery. I’m not saying any earlier politicians or other bad actors were worse than those I see operating now, but they were certainly as diligent and dedicated to the pursuit of profit and power as anyone you can name in the news today.
I’ve been very interested in the “why” of my ancestors moving westward. Not only that, but I’m interested in why they stopped where they did…and stayed. Once they arrived in Indiana in 1809 or so, for the most part, they never left. Of course, over the next couple of hundred years, some branched out into other directions. I have distant relatives to the south and west and even, probably, back east and north, but in the main, those who moved here stayed here.
That question is how I came to be reading a book called Forced Founders, subtitled Indians Debtors, Slaves & the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia by Woody Holton.
I’ll probably go into more detail later, but primarily, what we think of as the great American fight for our freedom, was as much about land ownership and profits as it was about the higher ideals of liberty and justice for all.
I’m not saying this is bad. One of the arguments of the Declaration of Independence was that we moved here and at great cost increased the value of this land…but that Great Britain was profiting more from that sacrifice than the people of America were.
All this research led me to search out and read the actual Declaration of Independence (it’s on the internet) with particular attention to why those early citizens of this new country thought they should separate from Great Britain and why they felt so strongly that they were prepared to die to accomplish it. I have to say, the list of grievances made against the overbearing King of Great Britain are striking in their relevance to current events.
I encourage you to look it up. It’s a fascinating read and that’s all I have to say about that!
I’ve been doing some heavy research this past week and missed my due date for posting. Don’t give up! I’m still here!
In choosing to write this blog and in focusing on my family’s story, I’ve come to a new appreciation for history, the founding of our country and the way we all came to be where we are today.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we are all a product of those who came before us whether they be blood relatives or simply chose to travel with us. Everyone we touch or who touches us in our lives helps form who we become.
Already in the short time I’ve been on this quest to discover my past, I’ve found people and stories and a history I am so happy to have discovered. I can only hope that I have helped someone else discover something about themselves and become excited about their own stories.
So, stick with me. I have more to tell and I pray I have more to discover!!
The historic marker for Brashear’s Station shows the names Crist and Collings as early settlers.
This is an unfocused week…returning to work after the holidays, getting ready for Spring semester classes at the college where I work, returning the house to some semblance of organized comfort.
This week I finally got my Christmas tree put away. In the interest of honesty, you need to know that my Christmas tree is 1 foot tall with tiny little ornaments and has been sitting on my coffee table for about two weeks. “Putting it away” involves carrying it to the spare bedroom and sitting it on a top shelf of the bookcase.
So, it’s been difficult to get back into blog writing and I have struggled all week (in addition to the above chores) to come up with a subject I can settle into.
You can see how scattered my mind is when you notice I ended the above sentence with a preposition…a very bad thing to do, but a habit I struggle with. There, I did it again. I’m reminded of a letter E.B. White, one of my writing heroes, wrote that went like this:
The next grammar book I bring out I want to tell how to end a sentence with five prepositions. A father of a little boy goes upstairs after supper to read to his son, but he brings the wrong book. The boy says, ‘What did you bring that book that I don’t want to be read to out of up for?’
If E.B. White can find a way to end a sentence with 5 prepositions, I guess I can get away with one or two!
Now, to focus…
I believe it is time to pull my family story together, tie up the loose threads that led to the Crist stories I’ve been sharing and show how they lead to my own story.
I was born a Nicholas. I come to that name from the Collings line, who married into the Richey line, who eventually married into the Phegley family, who married into the Nicholas line.
So, you see, I am a Collings, a Richey, a Phegley, and a Nicholas, which brings up the question, as the television show asks…who do you think you are?
And that’s just on my dad’s side of the story. We all profess to want to be our own person, but how can that be? Like it or not, we are a product of our ancestors.
My ancestors fought Indians, started pioneer businesses, petitioned the young American government for land, hacked a life out of the wilderness. Don’t tell anyone, but there are criminals in my background and people who might not have treated the Indians so well when we moved into their hunting grounds.
The Crist family and the Collings family have traveled together, lived alongside each other, and supported each other through many adventures. Every time I told you a story about a man named Crist, there was a man named Collings standing nearby. And how that all was set into motion is still a mystery to me.
Nicolaus Heinrich Crist, in the account book given to him by his father, related that William Edward Collings, a boyhood friend, traveled the high seas with the Crist brothers when they came to America from Germany.
I can’t document that. As a matter of fact, all my research proves quite the opposite.
Every reference I have found in my family tree tells me that the Collings family (my Collings family) originated in England and that my ancestor named William Edward Collings was born in the Colonies in what was then called Pennsylvania, son of Zebulon Collings who was also recorded as being born in Pennsylvania.
While it would seem that the account book is wrong about William Edward Collings and therefore not to be trusted or used as reference, later entries in the journal have this Crist friend, William Edward Collings, producing a son named William Elston Collings and a daughter (among other offspring) named Elizabeth. That I can document as part of my family history. I am descended from William Elston Collings who had a sister named Elizabeth, both children of William Edward Collings.
There is some speculation that the entire journal of the Crist family is a fabrication, but I’m not buying that. There is enough fact in the journal that I can corroborate, so I choose to take it as a story based on mostly facts.
Family stories are like that. They take on a life of their own. They contain kernels of truth that help us know who we are and where we come from, even though they might also contain dramatic flourishes that keep us engaged in the story. And be honest with me and with yourself…you’ve enjoyed the stories, right?
Maybe the Collings and the Crists did not travel to America together, but they did travel through America and through history together, and that I can prove, so the journal has served as a lasting story of a life we can only imagine.
Nicolaus Crist’s son George married William Edward Collings’ daughter Elizabeth, sister to William Elston Collings. That fact I can document. It happened and it became very important to my future story line.
William Elston Collings, son of William Edward, was the patriarch of the group who traveled in 1809 from Kentucky into the territory that later became Indiana.
To be more precise they moved into southern Indiana near what is today Vienna, Indiana. This group, consisting of many Collings family members, settled in an area they called Pigeon Roost. There they built cabins, laid claim to land and planted crops. And there, many of their stories ended, but thankfully my story continued, so you see, it is my duty to tell this.
This is my family and now, over the next few weeks, I will begin to tell you their story.
This past week has had an air of the terrible,-horrible,-no-good,-very-bad-day story. Without going into details, it’s enough to say that, in case anyone noticed, I did not get my usual Thursday blog posted.
Please don’t worry, there is no physical or even long-lasting mental damage…just the frustration of huge projects that did not get completed and co-workers who moved on to greener pastures and the looming holiday that I cannot seem to get under control.
So, today, a few days late, you are getting a bag of odd sand ends of facts and thoughts. This may not be too satisfying for you the reader but will clear my plate for a continuation of family stories after the holidays! There are more adventures to come.
Some readers (well, one reader) wanted a little more information about Henry Crist, survivor of the attack and long journey home on hands and knees.
During and after a long recovery from his injuries, Henry became a salt-maker and acquired several parcels of land in the Bullitt County and Shepherdsville area of future Kentucky. As a land owner and respected businessman he participated in the act of creating the state of Kentucky, became a justice of the peace, was duly elected to serve in the state legislature representing Nelson County and later, Bullitt County. He went on to serve in the 11th Congress of the United States (1809-1811) and was commissioned a general in the Kentucky state militia.
Henry died in Shepherdsville, KY in 1844 and was buried there, but in 1869, the Kentucky Legislature elected to recognize his service to the young state by having his remains moved to Frankfort, Kentucky, the state capitol, where a monument stands in his honor.
I want to explain once again that Henry Crist is not a direct relative of mine, but the Crist family is related to mine by marriage and by long time association. I came upon the Crist story while doing research into my family, the Collings. At one point, I became very frustrated trying to account for one of the women of the family at a certain point in our history.
Family research is interesting and frustrating at the same time, but it is further complicated because the records of females mostly depends on the records of their fathers and their husbands.
I was delighted to finally answer an important question about my fifth great grandmother with the help of the Crist family journal or account book. For this reason, I have become a strong advocate for journaling.
A group of us talked about this in a writing workshop recently. Journaling is one of those activities which seems mundane and kind of useless at the time, but which records for all times the details of a life lived. I’m sure that Nicolaus Heinrich Crist had no idea when he started his journal, that one day over 200 years later, I would find one line written in that journal that would answer a burning question for my family (or at least for me).
Today, more than ever before, we have a problem with recording the details of ordinary lives. Living on into eternity we will have official records of the politics of the day, the wars we fight, the major disasters we experience. But where will future generations read about how we as individuals feel about those events?
I read in the Crist journal about how families suffered during the Revolutionary War and how it felt to have sons fighting, knowing that any news of their fate could take months to reach them. I read about the concerns of traveling into unexplored wilderness and setting off for a land only heard of in other travelers’ tales.
Nicolaus Heinrich Crist wrote early on in his journal these words: “I am going to write in my account book about me so if we die they will know who we are.”
I can’t think of a better reason to start a journal and would only change the word “if” to “when” to make it the motto of my own writings.