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Okay, I was really looking forward to shooting a video this year at Greenwood Cemetery before Halloween but I ran into some technical difficulties and mostly user error with my video camera.  Every year, something prevents me from doing this video.  It’s a curse or something but I think I finally figured out why I couldn’t import any video to my computer to edit and upload to YouTube.  I think everything is good to go now but recording a video at Greenwood Cemetery after Halloween is like opening Christmas presents in August.  The thrill is kinda gone but I might still make it out there; if not there’s other videos I’m wanting to shoot and share.

Other than that, I will be participating in the city’s upcoming Community Revitalization Initiative.  I believe the main focus is on improving Decatur’s neighborhoods.  The first meeting is November 7th from 5:30-7pm at MacArthur High School.  I think this is something that interested community members had to sign up for before the meetings but if you’re interested, I would assume to city would love to add you to one of the groups.  I’m not sure how it all works just yet but I will let you know after Tuesday.

 

 

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A couple months ago I sent off for DNA results to learn what I’m really made of.  I’ve been working on a family tree for several years and wanted to confirm a few things.  I got my results back and I was very surprised in that they both confirmed records I wasn’t 100% sure of and that they completely discounted some family stories that had been passed down for years and years. (See the update at the end of the post.)

It seems like everybody believes that they are Native American through some ancestor way back and the evidence seemed strong that it was true for my family.  My paternal grandfather always claimed that his mother was Cherokee.

I was sure that I had Native American blood but according to my DNA I don’t even have the smallest trace of it.  Instead, I’m 97% European and 3% West Asian.  Elizabeth Warren is more Native American than I am.  I learned I’m more European Jewish and Middle Eastern than Native American!

I wasn’t surprised by the high amount of British (English, Scottish, Welsh) and Irish DNA but I sure thought I had a lot more German in me. I also had no idea that I was part Scandinavian and Italian/Greek.

Though there were some surprises, the results did confirm much of the family history I had found through Ancestry.com and other records.  I had traced my father’s side back to the earliest European settlers of America in Virginia and my DNA results confirmed it.  So, my genealogical research was correct, even though our family stories of Native American roots were, well, just stories.

I’m still digesting the results, now that I’ve discovered I’m not quite who I thought I was.  I would have bet a lot of money that I was at least part Native American but Scandinavian is cool too.

The results also linked me to other family members that have taken the DNA test.  My aunt and a 2nd cousin popped up in my results and indicated that we are very close matches genetically.  That is pretty amazing.  Hundreds of 3rd, 4th and more distantly related cousins are also indicated and many are confirmed in my family tree.

So, if you’re interested in learning about who you really are genetically, I’d recommend the test through Ancestry.com, especially if you have already compiled a family tree through the site.  It confirmed much of what I had discovered but I guess I’ll have to come up with some Scandinavian family stories to pass down instead of Cherokee. That might be difficult considering I hardly know anything about Scandinavian history.

Update: I uploaded my raw DNA data to GEDMatch and it gives much more data than Ancestry.com.  Lots of interesting stuff!  I do have a little bit of Native American in me but more interesting than that it shows ancient DNA, including Siberian from 50,000 years ago, Denisovan, and Clovis from 12,500 years ago (which are thought to be one of the earliest groups of humans in North America).  The picture below shows just some of the data.  Anyway, I know my DNA isn’t that interesting to anyone else but if you have had or might have a DNA test done in the future, if you upload it to GEDMatch.com you’ll get a lot more out of it and it’s a free service.

For example, from GEDMatch,  I can tell when my ancestors entered different parts of the world.  The rest of the information doesn’t conflict much with what Ancestry.com indicated but the data through the different tests available on GEDMatch go back much farther in time.  Ancestry.com’s tests appear to focus more on recent human history, as in 500 – 1,000 years ago, which is what most people are interested in because if we keep going back we’ll find we all originated from pretty much the same places.

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Well, I think when I chose to shut down the blog late last year I was probably making a wise decision.  I think I knew things were changing for me.  There’s not many topics I haven’t tackled regarding Decatur.  I’ve pretty much said what I’ve wanted to say.  Yeah, there are other things I could say but it’s like a TV show that stuck around a season too long or a sermon that would have been more effective if it had ended 20 minutes sooner, I think it’s just time for me to officially move on.

In about a year, I’ll be pounding the pavement looking for a job and more than likely I probably won’t find it here in Decatur or anywhere too close.  I have no idea where I’ll be, assuming I find my dream job out there somewhere.  I might stay in Illinois and I might not.  I just don’t know!  Either way, I’ve moved on in other ways.  I’ll continue writing and blogging on my other blog and I’m looking forward to the day when I can devote more time to it.

Anyway, there were a lot of good times writing this blog and I enjoyed interacting with some really good and smart people.  I’ve always been amazed that I never once was treated badly by any reader.  That surprises me because I probably wrote some dumb things here and there!  You all were very forgiving. The blog was always good to me and I wish Decatur the best.

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Over the past few months I’ve been working on another blog and though I haven’t had as much time to devote to it as I would have liked, it is off the ground.  You can find it at thejournier.com.  I’m still developing the niche of the blog but it is mainly about delving deeper into a variety of topics.  Being a science geek, I enjoy researching topics and looking at things from different perspectives.  In a world dominated by social media that barely scratches the surface of anything of much significance, I enjoy digging into  topics and not just stating my opinions based upon scant knowledge but rather finding out what experts have to say…and then stating my opinions based upon a little bit more than scant knowledge!

I’m also a tech geek and I love gadgets, so I will be reviewing any and all that I can get my hands on, especially anything related to photography, fitness, or the outdoors.  Recently I purchased an action camera to take with me on the trail and hope to share some of my field study experiences.

Humor will be a part of the blog as well.  There’s nothing that I enjoy writing more, even if it only entertains me.  The last half of 2015 was rough on me.   I found myself dealing with major depression, which is something I’ve never had to deal with before.  I was in no condition to be of much help to anyone, so I took some time to take care of myself.  Anxiety, I have plenty of experience with but I never knew what depression was all about.  I sure learned and I have to say, it stinks!  It really threw me for a loop and I can’t even explain why it happened or how but I’ll be researching many topics related to mental health and hope to help others by incorporating some humor into the findings.

It is a little daunting starting over from scratch with a new blog and trying to find an audience.  I don’t expect much of one for quite a while but I’ll keep plugging away.

And I still haven’t found the look I want for the site, which is why I hadn’t introduced it yet but over the next year I’ll be focusing primarily on creating  content anyway.  The look will come later.  You’re welcome to check the site out and I will try to add new content every week.

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There are quite a few things I will be discussing on the blog in the next couple weeks.  For one, I want to discuss the failed increased liquor and gaming machine revenue proposal and what it means for redevelopment plans.  Also, with the recent decision to not rezone US 51 and Ash Avenue for Aldis, I think the community needs to develop a very clear economic development plan for the north side of town.  That’s where most of the action is.  We don’t have a good plan right now. There’s no shared vision between those working in economic development and northside neighborhoods.  That needs to change.

And then there’s the likelihood of Scovill Golf Course closing. I want to discuss what may become of the property and what the best uses would be.  I have ideas of course and would love to hear yours!

These are all topics that I want to discuss in much more detail but I’m in the midst of writing two 25-page term papers, which are major projects.  I also have several other term assignments coming due and finals.  In other words, I’m busy.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been paying attention.  I have!

Anyway, I just wanted to pop in and let everyone know I’m still alive and I’m still here.

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