Wednesday, August 30, 2023



I suppose when most people talk about things they regret in life they are big things like not becoming an artist or traveling to the Great Pyramids or quitting a dead end job. Okay, I regret all of those things, but it is some of the little things I regret more. Or at least I roll my eyes about them.

Until it became politically incorrect to portray cultures as mascots, I was proud of being a Boise High School Brave. I was proud of being the band drum major and dressing like an Native American Chief (or an Indian Chief or an Indigenous person Chief). I used to feel so cool donning the leather buckskins and headdress and applying war paint. 

But I remember when I showed my daughter photos of me dressed as the Boise Brave, she was pretty disgusted. I was confused at first. Maybe she didn't understand that to us growing up the brave was a proud symbol. A brave was a warrior. A brave was something to look up to. But to her, I was treating a people as a mascot. 

I tried the arguments that have been pointed out to me are white people microaggressions, like "No one objects to the Fighting Irish, Vikings, Cowboys, or Mariners." But those are white people cultures (which is ironic because I'm told quite often white people have no culture). Bottom line, to my daughter at least, being the Boise Brave was embarrassing.

So I tucked away the photos, my old moccasins and any other symbol of my misguided past as a Boise Brave and accepted that in high school my only accomplishment was being a band geek and graduating ninth in my class of 491. 

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

I see dead people


I suppose most people get into genealogy because they want to find where they came from. But I have found that it creates more questions than it answers. There are currently more than 6000 people in my family tree. And I use the term "tree" loosely, because it is more like an upside down tree with these roots that spread out seemingly forever and you keep uncovering them wondering where they end or begin.

The depressing thing is that most of the people you discover in the roots doing genealogy are dead. You don't find out much about the living part of the tree. Privacy laws prevent most of that. So you may find a few names, especially if they are close relatives, but the only ones you really find much about are long dead.

But as I pointed out in my last post, even the stuff you find out about all of your dead relatives is a paper trail of where they began, wandered about and ended up. The internet has made that easier, but also more complicated. I suppose before computers you had to spend your time mucking about in county courthouses and libraries sifting through documents. Now AI does much of that work for you but gives you lots of crap along with substance.

Still, it can be depressing. I have found more than my fair share of people who have been murdered, committed suicide or died way to young. I have also found so many babies and infants that only lasted a few days or weeks. And the staggering number of marriages, divorces and remarriages blow my mind. It adds to the confusion with some people having three or four different last names and children with several different spouses. 

Ancestry now also taps into yearbooks and provides photos of many people who no one has bothered to upload images of. It is endearing and sad at the same time. I like those photos so much more than the ones they dig up for obituaries. Obituary photos all seem to be of a weary, worn person  staring at the camera with a perplexed look wondering when they got old. At least yearbook photos capture people who still had potential.

I've mentioned before that my roots spread far into the dirt of America. My ancestors were farmers, farm hands, laborers and drifters. There wasn't any blue blood fertilizing those roots. Many served in the military but it seems out of necessity.  There are a lot of young men who were drafted and served as Privates and left as Privates. I don't appear to come from a long line of leaders.

I wonder what it is like to be royalty and born into a lineage that is well documented and clear. I am sure none of the Royals bother with seems to be for those of us trying to unstir the melting pot and figure out what the original recipe was.

For the most part I am just left shaking my head wondering what the head cook was thinking.