Collecting Geodes–How to Not Use Your Brain

My wife and I love rocks. We used to collect rocks. Since both of us love science, we collected rocks that had some scientific significance (at least to us.)

Throughout our married life, we loved tent camping. Every year for our vacation, we would go tent camping. I don’t think we ever stayed in a motel while on vacation.

One year, when our four kids were in the age range of 8 to 14, as I remember, we decided to go to Geode State Park at Keokuk, Iowa, just across the border from both Missouri and Illinois.

Geode State Park was named after the fact that there was an abundance of geodes in the state park, at least when the park was named. Over the years so many had collected the geodes, that you no longer could find a geode in the state park and it was then illegal to take one from there, if you actually found one.

If you don’t know what a geode is, it is a rock, kind of a very ugly rock, which on the surface is so plain that no one would want it. Except that when you break one open, you find a beautiful set of crystals lining the hollow interior. I’m sure you seen these in museums, rock shops, and other specialty shops that sell items that most people would love to display prominently. Not all geodes form beautiful interiors. Some just barely have a hollow area, but you must collect and open a lot, to find the very pretty ones.

Since we could not legally collect geodes from the park, we decided to go to the back roads near the park and look for old dry creek beds, full of rocks, to hunt for some. I was also a Boy Scout leader and had a very nice back pack with the full frame used for hiking with all your equipment on you back. Not the simple little back packs used for book bags these days.

So we set off down an old creek bed, with all four kids and my wife, each collecting rocks. Now here is where the BRAIN did not kick into gear. As soon as we set out, one of the kids grabbed a rock and put it in my empty back pack. Then another, and another, and many more as we walked the old creek bed.

When my back pack was full to the brim, I realized that we had made an HUGE mistake. We should have walked in the approximately mile and a half that we had gone. THEN started collecting rocks on our way back. But NO, we didn’t do it that way. As near as I can estimate, when the return hike back to the beginning was done, I had well over 100 pounds of rocks in my back pack. Talk about being exhausted.

Moral of the story—if you are going to collect rocks on a hike. Don’t start collecting until you have gone as far as you intend on going. THEN start collecting on your return trip.

When we were done, and had opened the geodes, we did find some very pretty ones that I still have on display. NOTE: Over the years we have moved a lot and every time we moved, our friends that helped us always wanted to know why we had so many boxes labeled “rocks.” They always asked if there were really rocks in those boxes, and we had to say, yes they are really full of rocks.

 

Attacked by Aliens

Do you ever have nightmares? I had severe nightmares from the time I was a fifth grader, on through college, and for several years after I was married.

When I have a nightmare, I don’t just scream—no I take action. I get involved in the nightmare.

When in college, this drove my roommates crazy. They never knew what to expect, or what to do when I had a nightmare. For those who only heard about my nightmares, they never really could understood what happened to me or anything around me, when I had a nightmare.

So here is one of my college nightmare stories. I lived in a rooming house on the second floor, with one roommate. I had a bed that was next to a window. One particular night, I had a nightmare about aliens. There really is no way to describe what the aliens looked like. However, I will try to describe the aliens I saw that night. No, they weren’t green. But they had a metallic look to them. They did have little antennas on their heads. There were several of them, not just one. They were flying through the air outside of my window. I didn’t see any flying saucer or such. Their shape was similar to some of the modern day robots like R2D2, but there was also an aspect of their shape that reminds you of ET of the movie ET Phone Home.

On this particular night, I was very concerned that they would come through the window into my room, and I prepared myself for that potentiality. Well it happened—They came through the window. They didn’t break the glass. They didn’t lift the window to open it. They just came through the window.

And I took action. I got in a fight with them. As far as I’m concerned, I won, because they left, back through the same window, and I went back to sleep. The nightmare was over.

The next morning my roommate, who had been absent that night, returned and observed our furniture scattered around the room, but also noted the black eye I was sporting. “How did you get that black eye” he asked?

Well, I told him, the aliens were attacking me and I fought back. Apparently the chair that was upside down, nowhere near where it belonged, was what I attacked. Although I won, in my opinion, because the aliens left; in reality the chair won, because when I attacked the alien (actually the chair) I got the black eye.

It’s very difficult to explain to others that I got a black eye from attacking aliens that came into my room. You try explaining it sometime—I dare you.

How Often Does Your Phone Ring at Inappropriate Times?

After graduating with a Master of Religious Education degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, I went to work for them as a Supervisor of Building Maintenance.

The arrangement of the rooms in our maintenance building was as follows:

  • When you came in the main door, there was a hallway.
  • On the left side a door led to the shop area.
  • On the right side were three offices.
  • Directly down the hall, at the end, was a single shared restroom.

The three offices were as follows:

  • First was the director’s office,
  • then the receptionists office in the middle,
  • and finally a supervisor’s office, which was shared by both the Supervisor of Custodial Services, and myself as the Supervisor of Building Maintenance.

In the supervisor’s office, the two of us each had our own desk and phone.

One of our receptionists had a fairly loud voice which could easily be heard in our offices. One of the things that seemed to happen to her frequently, was when she would head to the restroom, the phone would ring. We heard her “complaints” many, many times that the stupid phone always rang when she headed to the restroom. This was often enough, that we used to tease her about it, which annoyed her immensely.

One night I had been working late, when I got a “brilliant” idea. I drilled a small hole in the baseboard of my office, directly thru to the inside of the restroom.

Then I fed my phone cord thru the hole, and took my phone and connected it to the cord, placing it directly under the commode. Since the light was usually off in the restroom, it was not easy to spot (especially since no one would expect a phone to be there), until you were settled onto the commode.

The next day, I patiently waited until our receptionist headed to the restroom. Waited a short amount of time, and then used the other phone in my office, to dial my number.

From the restroom, you could hear my phone ringing, multiple times. Shortly you also heard “I’m Going To Kill Whoever Did This.”

Yes I did that—I’m just a practical joker by nature.

Showing Rabbits at a Middle School Carnival

My wife and I both grew up on a farm, and when we raised our kids, we wanted them to learn the responsibilities involved in raising animals. Since most of our adult life we lived in town, we chose rabbits.  They can be raised in town, and they are relatively cheap to raise.

We were also in 4H, and I was the rabbit chairman and leader for the entire county. We raised our rabbits , both 4H shows and the regular rabbit show circuit.

Showing rabbits take a lot of work. There is a lot of grooming and training involved. You would think that you wouldn’t have to train a rabbit, but you do.

Training involves posing the rabbit in the “perfect” position for show, and spending enough time doing so, that they stay put for a long enough time for the Judge to look them over. And they have to stay put through all kinds of distraction around them. When you show a rabbit you place them on a carpet square, pose them, and then set back and wait for the judge to make a decision.

One year, we were invited to bring our rabbits to a middle school carnival (inside) to show the students. We brought several different breeds.  We were there to answer questions about rabbits, which was a very fun thing for me to do.

I set up two carpet squares. On one I posed a Florida White rabbit—pure white, small, and very cute.

On the second carpet square, I posed a Dutch Rabbit—one of those that are white with a black band around their body and some on their face.

Both of these rabbits were used to being posed for the judges. I got the Florida White in perfect position and then turned to the Dutch.

Dutch have a very unique characteristic about them. If you turn them on their back with their feet sticking straight up in the air, they will stay in that position for a long time. The more comfortable they are being showed (the normal way) the longer they will stay in the upside down position.

After posing them I just waited. One boy I’m guessing 5th/6th grade range, came over and looked at the two rabbits. A minute or two later he came back and looked at them again. I noticed that every little bit he would look over at them and see if they were still posed that way.

Eventually, he came back over and asked me “how did you get them to stay that way?”

I just couldn’t resist—I said “Velcro.”  He just said “Oh” and walked away. I’m sure to this day, he really thought I had Velcroed those rabbits. I know—me bad. LOL

“Improvements” to our first home–You Didn’t Do That, Did You?

My granddaughter got married a couple of weeks ago. What a great time in life. After their honeymoon they will be moving to a new home.

This brought back memories of our first home.

I wanted it to be super special for me and my wife. So being the creative person I am, I decided to “improve” it. Continue reading “Improvements” to our first home–You Didn’t Do That, Did You?

About My Crazy Tales: You Didn’t Really Do That–Did You?

There are several definitions of the word “Memoir.”

“Autobiography” is one of those definitions for memoir. Usually when you hear someone wrote their autobiography, you might think that the person writing it was someone noteworthy, like a famous author, politician, scientist, etc. That brings us to a second definition for memoir–meaning “an account of something noteworthy.”

Who am I to write “My Memoir?” Well to tell the truth, my life has meaning, and purpose, and is noteworthy. You do not have to be famous to write your memoir.

Often, especially at Christmas time, my Grand kids  asked me to tell some of my “Crazy Tales.” We always have a ball when I recount them. Others, like former bosses and co-workers, often asked to hear those “Crazy Tales.”

A treasured book of mine, is a collection of memories of my Great Grandfather Jerome Bonaparte Swisher. This collection of memories, submitted by many relatives, was put together by my cousin Emily Bogan Swisher, and called “A Time To Laugh, A Time To Cry.”

Realizing how much I enjoy reading about those memories of my Great Grandfather, and his descendants, and realizing that my Grand kids (and others) really do want to hear my stories, my “Crazy Tales,” I have decided to write “My Memoirs.” I will try to write them on a regular basis (about every other week,) so stay tuned. I think you will like some of my “Crazy Tales.” I’m sure many of them will cause you to “LOL.”

 

How “Not” to Saw a Board in Two

I love to build things, always have.

I grew up on a farm on which my Dad had a garage where he stored the family car. The time was the early 1950’s and the garage had been there for years, so it was nothing fancy. Just a simple wood framed garage with a dirt floor where the car normally set.

At the front there was a workbench with an old vise mounted. The floor under the workbench was hand poured concrete, sort of level but not perfect, and it extended a couple feet in front of the workbench, allowing for a good solid footing to stand on.

One day, when my Dad was gone to work, and so the car was gone, I decided I was going to build something. I do not remember what, but then you have to realize at the age of four or five, what I wanted to build may have not been much of anything–just something to build. Continue reading How “Not” to Saw a Board in Two

Pay Backs From My Sister: You Didn’t Do That–Did You?

Since we lived on a farm, we had the luxury (I guess you could call it that) of riding a school bus to school.

When I was a Junior in high school my younger sister was a Freshman. I was a “B” to “A-” student. I could have be a straight “A” student IF I worked very hard at it. My Sister was a straight “A” student and did not have to work so hard for it. I always had homework and my Sister rarely took homework home.

One fine day I got on the bus to head for home, and I had no homework. I did however notice that my Sister had a whole arm full of books. Being the devious person that I am, I started plotting. I sat upfront in the bus, and she sat several rows back, so it was no problem for me to get off the bus first. Continue reading Pay Backs From My Sister: You Didn’t Do That–Did You?

I’m Beginning to Love DNA

I was introduced to DNA back in March of 2016 when I got my Ancestry DNA results back. Prior to that time, I was interested in DNA, but literally knew nothing about it. I am one who studies a subject a lot, especially when it is as complicated as DNA. My studies prior to getting my results, left me in what I would call “DNA No-man’s Land.” The desire to have my DNA done was great but, my–my–oh was I confused about what the results meant.

In my previous blog about DNA, I stated guidelines that I feel are important for anyone new to doing DNA to consider. I still stand by those.

But for those who want to really learn more than just having a nice printout of your potential ethnicity, here’s what I recommend.

  1. Start with watching the five part series of Legacy Webinars on DNA Foundations, by Blaine Bettinger at:  http://familytreewebinars.com/    They are fantastic, and will give you not only a basic overall understanding of DNA, but will especially help you know which kind of DNA test you will be wanting to use.  In addition to the basics, they cover:
    1. Y-DNA
    2. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)
    3. Autosomal DNA (atDNA)
  2. If you are still confused, Legacy has about twenty webinars on DNA, and more coming.
  3. After all of that, I still felt like a novice, and purchased Blaine Bettinger’s newest book: The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic GenealogyI just received it last week, and I am learning so much from it. It covers it all–in detail.
  4. If, you have chosen atDNA through Ancestry, then your next step is to upload your raw data to GEDmatch.com. It’s free and adds a whole lot more potential matches with lots of tools to help you understand what your data means. You can also upload that same data to FamilyTreeDNA.

I chose Autosomal DNA thru Ancestry.com and I recommend it for those just starting to use DNA. It is most helpful for finding cousins, which is what most of us really want to do. I have bounced around with the idea of having my Y-DNA done, but it is much more expensive, and frankly, I am finding out that I have only touched the surface of how powerful Autosomal DNA is. So I am a long way from doing any Y-DNA test. Until I come up with a very significant reason for spending that kind of money, I want to make sure that I have gotten to most out of my Autosomal DNA test.

As for which company to get your DNA test done, I definitely would suggest getting it done thru Ancestry.com. All the three major companies charge about the same, (approx. $100) but with your test from Ancestry you can upload your raw data to FamilyTreeDNA, so you do not have to spend more money. I am not sure if you can upload your DNA to 23andme, so I won’t speculate on that.  Then once you have the results from Ancestry, upload your raw data to GEDmatch.com.

After reading Bettinger’s latest book, and also being lucky enough to run into a genetic genealogy expert on one of my Facebook groups, who helped me understand what I was doing, I feel much more competent and I have made significant progress in using my DNA matches, and circles. Watch for more DNA blogs here and on my Swisher Research Blog page.