Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Stalking 1917

Today I did something a little bit unusual. I stalked someone from 1917.
Let me explain.
About one year ago, maybe two, I discovered Family History Indexing. I set the goal then to index 10,000 names a year. As it turns out, that was a completely over the top goal, and I've never actually reached it. (Here's a little video for those of you who have no idea what indexing is.)

I try to index about 100 names a week, primarily on Sundays. Sometimes I make my goal, sometimes I don't. But the point is, I really enjoy indexing, and I'm becoming pretty good at it. (Sidenote for other indexers- I easily reach 100 a week by primarily focusing on ship manifests. You can do 20 names in 5 minutes with ship manifests.)
This week I worked on a batch of draft records from Virginia for WWI. When you do enough indexing you start to pick up on little trends in the batches. Sometimes you will get 20 people with the same last name. Or 20 people from the same zip code. Things like that. In this case, I had people from all around Virginia who had all registered for the draft on the same day in 1917, and all had the same name (first and last). (It was a fairly common or generic name.)
It was a fun surprise to pull up a name that was from my town of Roanoke. As I typed his information in I realized that I knew where his house was. Or at least, where I expected it to be. It was a funny feeling to suddenly know a detail that made this person human to me.
Something just jumped out at my about his record, and I decided it wasn't really stalking if I drove by his house, considering the guy was very likely deceased from old age by now. (He was 19 in 1917.) So I did the thing I've never considered before, and I wrote down his address so I could go find it.
Here's what I knew about him. He registered on his birthday in 1917. He listed his mother, Ida, as the "contact that would always know where to reach him." (The actual wording on the draft form. It doesn't say next of kin.) And he listed his father as his employer. I knew he had ruddy skin, blue eyes, and brown hair, and he was quite tall and skinny.
One thing that stood out to be in this batch of names was how many of them didn't know how to write their names. Or their handwriting was in the big block letters of a small child. The handwriting of the draftees was always markedly different from that of the person/secretary that filled out the form. This guy was included in that. He barely knew how to write out his own name.
It was just a draft form so I don't know if he served, where he served, or if he survived the war.

So tonight I took a little drive to go find his house. Or where his house used to be. It was on a well-known street in the historic part of town.
At first I was disappointed because it appeared that the house was gone, and a large industrial plant was there instead. But then I caught the name on the plant. It was his last name. He really was real!
I don't know this man. I'm not related to him. But for one brief moment I felt connected through history. I helped preserve his military record for posterity. He was a real person. A person who's family, at the very least, has made a significant impact on my community.
I doubt the opportunity (or desire) will ever come up again to really be able to research someone I've indexed. Normally it's all far too random for something like that to happen. But it doesn't matter. Each person, each name, was real. They did something and they mattered to someone.
If you haven't gotten in to indexing yet, I highly recommend it. You'll find yourself staying up to "finish one more batch." There's something strangely fun and even addicting about it. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

DC Midsingles Conference! Sept 16-18, 2016

The 2016 DC Midsingles Conference is coming! I was part of the co-chairs that planned it in 2014, and I'm doing my part to help support the co-chairs of 2016.
They have an amazing event planned out. Party at the Hard Rock Cafe, Saturday activities, the annual formal dress night will be at the Institute of Peace (one of the more beautiful venues in DC), music, Sunday services, and more.
This conference has been bringing in about 500 people for the last 3 years and this year they are hoping to take it even bigger.
Registration starts at $115-135 depending on when you register.
Check out their Facebook event or group, and/or visit to register.
If I still live on the East Coast on Sept 16, I can guarantee I will be there! (If I live in Utah by then, we'll have to wait and see.)

Pretty much said this in my head every day while I was in France. No one else spoke French in the group, and I only barely speak it. But I still took every chance to say Allons-y! And silently added the Alonzo. One person did ask if I knew the Whovian reference. And so we became friends. Yes, I'm a nerd even in France. #doctorwho #allonsywhovians #francophile


So I lost a few pounds!

I haven't mentioned it here in a while, but hey, guess what? I lost some weight! Since December I'm down thirty pounds, but I'm still working on it. I've hit a plateau that seems rather hard to break. But hopefully I'll be back to losing soon. 

This picture surprised me a bit this week. You can really see the difference if you don't look at my awful hair and notice my waist instead. I actually look like I've lost some weight. (Woohoo!) And I owe it all to taking Contrave. I've tried for years to lose weight and nothing worked until I was prescribed Contrave by my doctor. 

But here's the thing. This picture was taken just 10 days ago. I love travel, but it is so hard on my body. I did a good job of not overeating (easier said than done when in France and Italy and surrounded by gelato). But the second my body is put under a new stress, like sleeping on a less than comfortable bed, or just traveling in general, I bloat up like a balloon! 

There is something to be said for the flattering shape of a dress. But I love my pink gingham dress. And usually it's really flattering on me. It's not a dress that generally adds ten pounds. (Even if Dillon (the guy in the pic) did say that the dress made it easy to "spot the blonde picnic dress" in a crowd.)

At my sister's wedding (4 years ago), I started out the day fitting into my bridesmaid's dress and shoes just fine. But by the end of the ceremony my feet were so swollen I could barely walk in my shoes back down the aisle. And by the end of the reception, I felt like I would burst out of my dress. 

Anyone know why that happens? Or more importantly, how to stop it? (Fun fact: whenever I do public speaking or sing, I have to take off my shoes. I do it subconsciously before I even take the stage/pulpit. I am incapable of performance with shoes on!) 

Just for fun, here's a before and after comparison, taken a few months ago. I've lost about another 10 pounds since the black dress picture was taken. The blue dress picture is a perfect example of a day where I was fine one minute, and then bloated up out of stress the next. I would never have worn such a clingy dress if it looked like that when I first put it on! 

The goal is to lose another 25 pounds still. I'm only halfway to my goal. It sure would help if I could figure out what makes me bloat up so very oddly. Thankfully it does go away after a few days. It just makes it hard to pack clothes for a trip not knowing how much water I'm going to retain! 

Monday, August 01, 2016

My European Adventure As Told By My Travel Pillow

Do people read blogs anymore? The analytics say yes, the engagement says no.
But for you remaining readers, hello! I'm home! By now you've probably noticed I was in Europe for the last few weeks. And what a crazy few weeks it was.
I was on tour with Clog America again. Some may question the wisdom in going on a European tour whilst unemployed. But for me it was a logical thing to do. I get to network, clear my mind, find new creativity, and more importantly, do some marketing for a worthy non-profit. I took over 2,000 photos and videos while on tour, and will soon have them turned into a few articles, and a few videos they can use for fundraising and recruiting purposes.
It's always an interesting adjustment going from solo and bored to living in close quarters with 40+ people to back to solo and bored. (And coming home to less than enjoyable circumstances.) I've been home 8 days and I'm still adjusting back to civilian life.
But adjusting I am.
You've seen the pictures from the trip, so I'm not going to bother giving a full travelogue. Does anyone want to read that stuff anyway? I doubt it.
But I will hit on some highlights that didn't show up in the pictures.
First, I LOVED my new Little Cloud Nine Travel Pillow. It may look completely bizarre, but it was a life saver on more than one occasion.

I am not capable of sleeping with those horseshoe pillow things around my neck on a plane. It just doesn't work for me. And I can't sleep with my head tipped back, mouth open, etc. Normally, I try to hunch over on my tray table and sleep that way on a plane. But if the person in front of you reclines... It's hard sleeping on planes! But this funny looking pillow did the trick for me. It stands up in your lap, and you sort of tip over into it. There is a "window" for you to look out, and another one for your hands to go into.
Sometimes I used it the prescribed way. Other times I rolled it up like a log, put it by the window of the plane/bus, and leaned into it. Bus? Oh yes. It's a trademark of Clog America tours. We travel a lot by bus. And this particular tour included an unexpected 20 hour bus ride. We had expected it to be 9-12 hours. But due to the terrorist attack in Nice, France, our trip took much, much longer than anticipated. And my funny little pillow saved the day for me and others. I had the foresight to grab it and my regular pillow and pull them up into the bus when the trip started (not knowing how long we would be in there). I used it for a while, but then when a friend told me she didn't have a pillow at all, I gave her the Little Cloud Nine Travel Pillow, and I used my Tempurpedic for the next 10 hours. (She rolled it up like a log and snuggled with it.)
On my flight home I had a whole row to myself! On both flights! (It's a travel miracle!) I was so tired on my first flight from Rome to Istanbul that I fell asleep before the flight took off, and the flight attendant had to wake me up when we landed. I had stayed up for about 23 hours, and walked over 10 miles in 97 degree heat the day before. When I say I was tired, I mean it! Somewhere on that flight, which I don't remember in the least, I lied down across all three seats, and used my travel pillow in log position. The flight attendant must have covered me up with a blanket, because there was one on me when I woke up. I slept hard core for my entire four hour flight and have no memory of it.
When I got to Istanbul I was still completely exhausted, and used my pillow again. I put it in my lap, and used it in the prescribed position. I fell asleep face forward in it for two straight hours in one very loud and noisy airport. I'm not complaining.
(Of course by then I had actually had plenty of sleep and barely slept on my 10 hour flight from Istanbul to Dulles. Sigh.)
You can't do that with a horseshoe pillow! Or those dinky little airplane pillows!
So, this is my travelogue for you - get yourself one of these awesome pillows!

travel pillow

Just found this on my phone. I miss that crazy girl! @kyliecoffman19 you make me laugh!!


Only took about 10 days to get back to my completely natural hair state. #frizzy


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