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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nijmegen March

A blast from the past!  This is a picture of the 1984 Field Station Augsburg, Nijmegen team.  This team trained for six months to enter the Nijmegen, Holland four-day march which follows the same routes utilized by the allies during Operation Market Garden.  Anyway, we had to march a total of 120 miles with at least 10kgs in our rucksacks.  I know that doesn't sound like much but it's excruciating after a long day of marching.  FYI, I'm second row, third from the right.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Winter Has Come!

Taken from my mother's backyard deck in Barboursville, WV.  Looks like the river's getting a little high!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Faberge Egg

I ordered this from ebay and received it yesterday.  Of course, this isn't one of the real Faberge eggs as they cost in the millions but it WAS produced by the current Faberge company.  The jewels in the egg are Austrian crystals--this may be the first of many in my collection!

Thursday, November 21, 2013 DNA Results3

I recently ordered this DNA kit for my mother just to see the similarity between our DNA and if would identify us as parent/child.  Her results are listed below:

52% Great Britain
18% Scandinavia
14% Europe West
8%   Ireland
5%   Trace Regions

As a reminder, here are my new updated results:

32% Europe West
25% Great Britain
19% Scandinavia
16% Ireland
8%   Trace Regions
As you can see, her DNA is predominantly British (almost as much as a native according to the site) and mine is more admixed.  It could be my father's DNA is more concentrated in the areas that I have or, I simply inherited a different admixture from both parents.  The site DID identify us as parent/child so this adds credibility to the results.

Friday, November 8, 2013 DNA Results2

It seems that has refined its algorithm for analyzing DNA results.  If you read my earlier post, you know that the original results of my DNA testing were:

52% Scandinavian
20% British
19% Central European
9% Southern European

Now, the new algorithm has yielded:

32% Europe West
25% Great Britain
19% Scandinavia
16% Ireland
8%   Trace Regions

This is a little confusing for a couple of reasons.  First of all, there is no longer a 'Central European' category, only "Europe West" and "Europe East."  Therefore, I must assume what was lopped off from Scandinavia has been primarily added to the new category of Europe West.  Also, what is the distinction between the "Great Britain" and "Ireland" categories.  Isn't the latter just a part of the former?  Hopefully, the results will be further refined in the future for the sake of clarity.

I ordered the kit for my mother and we're awaiting the results.  It will be interesting to see if Ancestry will identify her as a close relative based on these.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Good Help Is Hard To Find!

Yesterday, I decided to look for some office furniture at my local Office Depot.  I needed a filing cabinet, ideally one made out of wood so that it might blend in better with my other furniture.  I drove about a mile to get to the store nearest my house.  Not only did it not have what I wanted but the furniture department was a disaster with everything arranged helter skelter and with trash on the floor.  I wonder where the manager responsible for this despicable display was?  Anyway, I quickly departed that location.

The next closest location was only a half mile farther so I decided to give it another try.  I did find an acceptable cabinet there but couldn't find any salesmen around to ask questions about it.  Amazingly, the only employee I could locate was one cashier who was already very busy!  Where were the others?  Did someone pull the fire alarm without me knowing?  I waited about 10 minutes and then gave up.

I don't think such poor customer service/poor maintenance is unique to Office Depot.  I've noticed a steady decline in these areas the last several years and believe this correlates with a general decline ongoing in society.  It may be worse in some parts of the country than in others but I believe all are going down.  That's why, in just a few years, I will be looking for a landing place abroad.

Who is John Galt???

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bring On The Decline!

After watching "The Walking Dead" and becoming more and more cognizant of the general decline of my country, I decided to acquire more powerful weaponry.  The first is a sniper rifle with a range of 1,000 yards.  The second is a .223 Bushmaster better for dispersing anarchic mobs of 'zombies.'  After all, they are darn hard to kill! 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pensacola Redux

Hmm, I haven't posted anything about Pensacola other than commenting on the condition of my hotel.  I guess that's because I found the city to be totally uninspiring and comparing unfavorably to San Antonio which I'm not a big fan of either.  I can't imagine why anyone would want to move there unless they live for the beach although I'm sure there are better beaches elsewhere.  Why didn't I like it there?  To be honest, I can't put it in words other than to say 'blah.'

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Enjoy The Decline2

I arrived in Pensacola, Florida last Tuesday but will talk about my impressions of the city in a later post.  One item I do want to address now is the condition of the hotel I'm staying in.  I arranged this hotel prior  to coming down so didn't see it before I moved in.  What I did do was go to the "Trip Advisor" website and read the reviews.  They were mostly positive with an overall rating of 4 stars out of 5.  Since I'm not too hard to please, I figured this hotel would be fine for me.  So, I called them up to reserve a room.  Their initial rate was higher than my maximum per diem ($102) but they agreed to lower the price to that amount.  I couldn't go wrong with a room rate that high, right?

Well, I was wrong.  I arrived at the hotel and immediately sensed not all was as advertised.  The lobby reeked of cheap.  After being told I had been upgraded to a "suite," I felt a little better but was then brought back down to earth when I saw it.  The carpet was stained and the furniture was old/scarred.  The remote didn't work because the batteries were spent and the staff replaced them with more dead batteries.  Speaking of the staff, they seemed almost catatonic albeit 'nice' and had trouble dealing with the simplest of requests.

The most embarrassing feature of this hotel was the free breakfast buffet.  Actually, I think it should not have been free but that the hotel should have paid the patrons.  The food was that bad.  Further taking away from the ambience was the presence of paper utensils, cups, bowls, and plates.  I think this is the first time I've ever experienced this regardless of the hotel's price.  What were the reviewers on Trip Advisor thinking?

Is this an aberration?  Or, is such poor presentation a result of cost-cutting measures?  Actually, I believe it's just a reflection of the decline of American society in which poor customer service is simply one feature of the decline.

Saturday, August 31, 2013 DNA Results

Just got my DNA results. In some ways, they match up with the Genographic Project results but differ in others. Genographic seems to classify the DNA based on ancient migration patterns whereas, Ancestry focuses on more recent groupings. As a reminder, Geno categorized me as:

44% Northern European
38% Mediterranean
16% SW Asian

with two reference populations being Danish and Greek.

Ancestry yielded the following results:

52% Scandinavian
20% British
19% Central European
9% Southern European

I happen to know that all my ancestors came directly from the British Isles to America so the Scandinavian influence must have resulted from an earlier migration to Britain, Viking perhaps? Also, the Central European is probably related to the Anglo-Saxon migration/invasion of Britain.

One more fun aspect of Ancestry's analysis is that it links you to potential cousins based on their results compared to yours. Who knows if any of these studies are completely valid but it's still very interesting to consider.
I wonder if the Scandinavian influence explains why I feel this uncontrollable urge to travel all the time?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Whichever Way The Wind Blows Me

I've been wondering where fate would send me for my next travel opportunity.  Well, in a total surprise, I was asked yesterday to go to Pensacola, Florida for a few weeks to work.  Although I have traveled the world extensively, I've never been to Florida, a state in my own country!  It should be interesting even though it's for a relatively short period of time.  Of course, I will post pictures of this next adventure soon.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Enjoy The Decline!

It is not the purpose of this blog to do book reviews.  However, the topic of "Enjoy The Decline" aligns well with my view of America and its future.  I especially enjoy the advice given about leaving the country before its inevitable decline as this is what I plan to do in approximately nine more years.  I do recommend the book for those who have wondered what is happening to this country and what they can do to cope.

Monday, August 5, 2013

My Genographic Story

I recently joined National Geographic's Genographic Project and learned some interesting things about my ancient ancestry that I'm excited to share. You can see my personalized infographic here.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Genographic Project

A few months ago, I sent a DNA sample in to the "Genographic Project," a DNA analysis program sponsored by National Geographic.  After about six weeks, I got my results which were somewhat surprising.  Prior to this, I knew that the majority of my recent ancestors came from various locations in the British Isles.  However, the project compared my DNA with what is referred to as "reference populations."  The two that aligned most closely with me were 'Danish' and 'Greek.'  The former would make sense as my ancestors were probably part of the Anglo-Saxon migrations into Britain 1,500 years ago.  But, the Greek was strange and I still don't understand how the percentages led to that conclusion.  Ultimately, these results don't mean that I'm from those areas absolutely; they only mean my DNA aligns well with the current populations in those locations.  Following is a breakdown of my percentages:

44%--Northern European
16%--Southwest Asian

The first category refers to the earliest inhabitants of Europe.  The second refers to those who came in later migrations after agriculture became prevalent in the Middle East.  The third is a result of ancient migrations where common DNA is still shared after all these millennia.

Another interesting result, 2.4% of my DNA is Neanderthal and 2.7% is Denisovan, a kind of Asian Neanderthal.  Supposedly, all individuals with origins outside of Africa will have comparable percentages of these.

Anyway, I will try to post some screenshots of my results once I figure out how to do this.

Monday, July 29, 2013

My Future Travels

I will keep posting photos of past trips/stories as I still have many more in reserve.  These days, I've been thinking about future trips and possible destinations for these.  As readers of this blog know, I would love to visit Georgia again and will consider doing that relatively soon.  I can't wait for my job to 'possibly' send me back there.  I also have a new interest in Bulgaria due to some recent acquaintances and would like to visit that country for the first time.  Being nine years out from retirement, I'm also starting to think about some locations outside the US for permanent residence.  A friend once said that I could never find another country as stable as the US.  He may be right at the moment but the US seems to be on a downward trajectory and may not be the 'best' ten years from now.   Even if it is, I am fed up with the degradation of our culture and what this has yielded.  It will be time to move on . . .

Monday, July 22, 2013

Leaving Taiwan

These were the last sites I saw on the day I left Taiwan, the Taipei 101 building and a shot of the downtown area.  I hope I get to visit again someday.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Weekend Resort2

Still at the resort, this picture shows a row of beetle nut trees.  The beetle nut is very popular in Taiwan especially because of the way it's 'marketed.'  Anyone who's lived in this country will know what I'm talking about.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Weekend Resort

My friends and I had a barbecue at this resort one day.  It's located not far from Xinshe in Taiwan and just over the hill from where I worked.  In the background, you can even see some beetle nut trees. 

Monday, June 17, 2013


I like this one as well with the clouds in the background.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


A nice picture of "Taipei 101," the tallest building in Taiwan.  Goodness!  I wish I could have spent more time in that country.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


A picture of me with some of my Taiwanese friends in the area of the museum.  It was an exciting day.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013


I was told these teenagers were from the Corps of Cadets and would become political officers at some point.  As you can see, they were marching in this area.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sunday, May 12, 2013


A picture of the "National Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine" in downtown Taipei.  I recall it was so huge, it was difficult to get the entire structure in the frame.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


A peephole in the shape of a fruit.  Interesting design for the times.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


A majestic villa inside the compound.  One item I recall from the tour, there weren't banks  per se at that time in Taiwan so the Lin family would bury their money at various locations around their compound.  I assume all that fortune has been recovered?

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Still at the Lin Family site, some pictures of the small pond in the middle complete with Lotus plants.  A very calming environment indeed.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


A respite in the middle of the complex.  I can just imagine losing yourself in such a tranquil place.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


As I walked further into the complex, I realized this was quite the interesting place after seeing the sights above.  I don't know how most people are but I often forget the names of such structures soon after they're told to me.  At some point, a volunteer guide working at the place took over the tour from my friends and made me even more confused as she went on for almost an hour about all the details of the place.  She was quite informative but I needed much more time to take it all in!

Sunday, April 14, 2013


The next series of pictures I will post are from a trip I took to Taipei.  Taichung, where I was living, is only about 45 minutes from Taipei on the HSR.  As a matter of fact, it's convenient to travel to most of the major cities in Taiwan using this type of transportation.  I wish we had such convenient modes of transportation in the US.

The first place I visited in Taipei was the Lin Family Mansion located in the Banqiao district of the city.  This family is very famous in Taiwan and apparently gained most of their wealth through banking.  I was told some of the descendants of the original family still live on the grounds but only on a small part of it.  Some family members even live in the US.

This picture was taken right after entering the complex.  More pics to come!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Kaoishung Revisted--The Last Picture

This is the last picture from Kaoishung.  It's truly an amazing city with very friendly people.  I always wonder why those from the southern part of countries are so personable.  I don't know if that's true across the board but it seems to be in my travels.  Anyway, what a way to end the day--eating a famous Taiwanese dessert.  Doesn't it look delicious?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Kaoishung Revisited(10)

Two more pictures from Kaoishung showing the coast and skyline in the bottom one.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Kaoishung Revisited(9)

And here is the restaurant that simulates a city block on the inside.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kaoishung Revisited(8)

This is me standing in a unique restaurant.  On the inside, there are street signs and faux shops creating the illusion of being on a city street.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Kaoishung Revisted

If you look a few posts down, you'll find where I left off in Taiwan.  I had posted a picture of the pagodas at Lotus Lake in Kaoishung.  Pretty amazing, huh?  This picture is from the top of one of those pagodas and gives a great view of the temple below.

Actually, I returned to the US from Taiwan on 26 January but haven't been posting much due to the hassles of getting back to work, etc.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Everyone Has A Sweet Tooth, Right?

One reason I love to travel/live overseas so much is the ongoing commercialization of the US and the effects it has on my everyday life.  Literally, everyone has a hand out and 'reputable' businesses are constantly devising new ways to part the customer from his money.  Take my dentist for example.  She pushes dental products to the point she seems more salesman than physician.  But, far worse than that is what I saw when I went for my biannual cleaning earlier this morning.  While in the waiting room, I saw for the first time two vending machines, one with candy and the other with soda products!  Can you believe it?  Items that are horrible for one's teeth are prominently displayed in a dental office.  That's the moral equivalent of a rehab clinic providing Hydrocodone to people recovering from addiction to painkillers!  What is this world coming to? 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Back Home!

I'm back home and will be visiting my family next week.  I can't wait to pet this adorable cat.

Friday, January 25, 2013

In Taipei

A little bit out of order because I have so many other pictures to post.  However, I felt inspired today to post two pictures from my hotel window in Taipei.  I'm staying at the Grand Hyatt Taipei and obviously have a great view of the Taipei 101 building, the tallest in Taiwan.  The other picture is just a street view from the same location.  I should be happy but I'm a little sad because I leave Taiwan tomorrow after six months.  I will definitely be back in the future though to meet the most hospitable people in the world again!

I am so lucky to have a job that allows me to travel and live around the world!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Leaving Taiwan

I'll be leaving Taiwan in under a week and, as with most of the places I've traveled, wish I had done/seen more.  I also wonder if I'll ever be back to this part of the world.  Still, I take solace in the fact that I actually got to live in such a wonderful place at least once in my life.

I will continue to post pictures of my travels here after my return to America.  I fell behind before unfortunately.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Notre Dame

This is a sad day for ND but the players/coaches deserve praise for a great season.  I expect more success in the future.
This is a picture of a former dorm mate of mine at ND.  He's standing next to Brian Te'o (Manti's father) outside the stadium in Miami prior to the game.
Go Irish!!!