November 27, 2007

Swansons.... Grrr...

How to make your "Hungry Man Dinner"
(by John)
  1. Remove tray from box. Look at the different compartments for each food group: fried chicken, corn, mashed potato (in theory) and chocolate brownie. (What - no cobbler?!?)
  2. Remove frozen corn from the other compartments and return to the corn compartment. (We can't have any inter-food-group mingling.)
  3. Remove plastic covering from everything except the corn. Poke holes in plastic over corn. (You'd have to be a surgeon to get this part right the first time...)
  4. Replace pathetic, hacked, torn flap of plastic over the corn compartment, and hope that the corn doesn't somehow get over-cooked or spoiled due to your lack of skill. (You ruin everything you touch!)
  5. Put dinner in microwave for Phase One of cooking sequence: 3:30 minutes. (Hurry up! "Heroes" is just starting!)
  6. 33:30 minutes later, take out dinner. According to package, "carefully remove brownie from tray and set aside".
  7. Finish cursing and place scalded fingers under cold water for 20 seconds.
  8. Place broken-yet-still-atomically-hot, molten brownie pieces onto side dish, after picking them up off the floor.
  9. Remove remaining piece of plastic from the corn compartment (free at last!) and replace tray in microwave for 1:30 minute burn to cook the Swanson's chicken and potatoes to their yummy completion.
  10. Run to couch to catch a few seconds of Heroes before the second commercial break.
  11. Blow on fingers. (Cold water didn't work that well.)
  12. Return to kitchen and throw brownie parts away. Who are you kidding? It was on the floor.
  13. Remove dinner tray from microwave. Watch out - the tray is hot!
  14. Pick up tray from counter. Blow on fingers. Repeat Step 7 if necessary.
  15. Read label: "Let stand for 1 minute before serving."
  16. If potatoes have the taste or consistency of wet cotton candy, scoop out and throw down the sink.
  17. Re-read label: "Stir potatoes before serving."
  18. Run to couch to catch a few seconds of Heroes before the third commercial break.
  19. Wolf down Hungry Man dinner before end of the third commercial break.
  20. Make some toast to pack in the corners.
  21. Heroes is over, Hungry Man.

November 17, 2007

Digging on the Family Roots - Part 2

One of the  few pics of my family together...
Since March of 1999, I have been developing my "True Life" web site as a repository of my personal family history and of my extended family history, while I discovered it.

The story section of my True Life site has progressed slowly but steadily over the years, with over 50 illustrated personal tales online in various "story albums". There will be hundreds and hundreds of stories added before the project is anywhere near complete. I figure this will be sometime just before I die, due to the slow rate of my writing, but still - it's progress...
(To read my various life stories, go here:

On the other hand, the Genealogical side, the family tree aspect, had never really progressed much as part of the web project until just recently. For years, I've been gradually entering data from family records, photographs, films and correspondence into a Family Tree Maker database. This has been an on-again-off-again effort, done a few hours at a time, here and there, whenever the urge compels me, or something inspires me. (The most recent inspiration came from Alex Haley's "Roots" mini-series and novel, neither of which I've ever seen until recent weeks.)

I'm happy to report that a family tree and browsable index of names are now on my "True Life" site here:

See Also...

"Video opens old wounds" - The video of Robert Dziekanski

My response to the post on Patti Gillman's blog, "Truth, Not Tasers", on the despicable tasering of Robert Dziekanski by RCMP at Vancouver Airport ...

"The video of Robert Dziekanski showed a disgusting level of excessive force being used on a confused, desperate and defenseless man. One media commentator has described the RCMP on the scene as acting like "bullies", and another has stated that the officers stationed at YVR as being among the poorest trained or something. (Maybe it was that the cops posted at YVR were among the least experienced.) In any case, the airport, customs and the cops all failed in their job to help someone in need. It is disgusting that it takes deaths made public to embarrass our public servants and officials into a sense of moral outrage and accountability. Meanwhile this Robert's mother, and you and yours, continue to suffer."

November 11, 2007

Digging on some Family Roots...

As a kid, I often felt detached, as if I didn't have a strong sense of family to be associated with.

A good deal of this feeling must have come from my typical pre-teen angst and my constant impression that everyone else had gotten a better deal in life than me. But also, and very significantly, I think it evolved out of the fact that I really didn't have a very close extended family. My Dad seemed to only contact his brothers or his sister once a year (like a phone call on Christmas Day) or less often. By 1977, after we'd been in Vancouver for a few years, my Mum had also lost a lot of her family connections: her mother, Edna, had passed away in 1971, and her father Ernest, after whom I am named, had recently also passed on.

In my Dad's case, he tended to move us every few years for a new job or for some other reason. My Mother, as an only child, hadn't had very much direct family in the first place - a couple of cousins with whom she had been close as a young woman, before marrying my Dad.

It seemed like marriages, jobs, and life in general all tended to pull people apart as a family, but what was done to bring them back together?

My Dad told me stories about his upbringing in Price Rupert, his family, and my mother's family, and it's primarily because of his storytelling that I became curious about my roots and began to form some sense of who I was and who else was in my family.

As I have grown older (and hopefully wiser), it has become easier to cultivate a sense of family identity, heritage or common background. I discovered Genealogy in 1998, and began doing a little research on some family names and birthplaces using the Web. I realized that it was also far easier and more gratifying to write about my direct experiences and memories from my immediate family, than just to research dead relatives, and so my True Life web project was born, and launched in March of 1999.

The story section of my True Life site has progressed slowly but steadily over the years, but the genealogical side, the family tree aspect, had never really progressed very far until just recently, and I can thank Alex Haley for it, sort of.

My wife and I have been watching the mini-series "Roots" and "Roots: The Next Generations" on DVD. I never did see much more than a glimpse of Roots when it first aired back in the late 1970s, so I've always been curious about it, and have wanted to watch the whole series from beginning to end. When I finally did this year, it is a great experience - moving, inspirational, and eye-opening in many ways. Watching Roots motivated me to put more effort into getting my family tree online as part of my True Life web site.

I've always had a picture of my family tree - a graphic chart of it - since the time I hit my teens. My family tree is a yellowed mimeograph of a hand-drawn chart, originally produced sometime in the 1960s by a cousin of my father, a gent named Osborne Love. Cousin Os's family tree chart sat rolled up in a cardboard tube in my Dad's briefcase for years and years, tucked away, and mostly forgotten. Dad showed it to me and my sister once, and we did talk about it. It was interesting, but I didn't know what to do with the information beyond the fascinating first moments of presentation. So, we were descended from the MacDonald clan back in Scotland. Some relation to a woman who helped a guy called "Bonny Prince Charlie" (whom I did know was some kind of Scottish Royalty). Cool, but not connected to my current concerns very much, and so nothing much came from it after that. I now believe that Dad's Cousin Os did a great deal of research over the years, and appears to still be actively pursuing it. (A *huge* tip of my hat to you, Os, for all your hard work!)

Other members of my family have also taken an interest in the family history, researching Love family roots back in Prince Edward Island, citing books that mention old relatives, and giving me details of various people's births, deaths, and life details. Once I started my True Life project, the various documents, stories and records began to take on new significance. Using the paper family tree charts from Dad's briefcase as a starting point, I began building a family tree using a program called "Family Tree Maker", and have updated it that way on and off ever since.

After publishing an initial version of my family tree database to an online "World Family Tree" project, it was discovered by a distant relation named Audrey, with whom I shared a great-great grandmother. Her introduction, how she found me, and our shared relation was a major revelation to me, and I was delighted to receive her grandmother's photographs of my great-great-grandfather, Edward Bright Love, and his son, my great-grandfather, Albert Henry Love, and others. Combining Audrey's photos with cousin Os's documentation, anecdotes and dates gave me, for the first time, a picture of people I had never known about, and it was quite exciting.

Recently, relatives from my mother's side of the family discovered me and my web pages in a similar way, and have offered their comments, memories and inspiration for me to continue onward. Most recently, I finally published an interactive family tree on my True Life web site.

In my past, there is a good deal of English and Scottish culture on my Dad's side (the names being Clanranald, Love, Owens, McConnell, MacDonald), along with, I believe, some English and Jewish heritage on my Mother's side (the names there being Clarke, Gillman, Huntley, and Marks).

There's still so much more to learn, but I do now have a clearer picture of my lineage, going back seven generations and 250 years! Even though a lot of it is in the abstract historic realm, I do feel a sense of belonging - of being part of the history of a large, extended family.