A couple years before I started this blog, I began my blogging journey with a technical blog about Microsoft SharePoint and the broader topic of Information Management. If you think it’s tough to get noticed with a mix topic blog, try squeezing yourself into a crowded field of technology bloggers, most of whom are technically better than you are. One of the things that got me noticed was a pair of guest appearances on John Mancini’s blog during his summer-long “Eight Things” series. John said “everybody does 10-things” so he decided to do eight. I always liked that series, and anytime I’ve done a list, I’ve done a list of eight things.
Before I get to my eight odd things, I want to call attention to John’s latest achievement. John has written a book, best described by its title: “Immigrant Secrets: The Search for My Grandparents.”
I had the privilege of working with John in my years of service on the Board of Directors of AIIM International when John was CEO of AIIM. John is a fantastic storyteller, and some of the stories he shared were information-management-related stories about his struggle with the genealogical research he was engaged in. I won’t offer any spoilers, but suffice it to say, it’s far from what you might consider normal genealogical research.
Earlier this year, John asked me to review a draft of a book he had written about his quest. At the time, I wasn’t sure John was going to release the book, but I hoped he would. The story is fascinating. A couple of weeks ago, “Immigrant Secrets: The Search for My Grandparents” was released on Amazon. I have my copy, and if you like genealogy, research, mysteries, or you’d like to know more about what it was like to be an immigrant in America in the 1920s, you will enjoy this book.
Now for my eight things. I say “odd things” because they aren’t all rant worthy, but they’ve been bugging me.
1) Unintended gestures – No, not those gestures. When I make them, they are intended. I’m talking about gestures on my iPad that result in a split screen or a new screen or when I’m trying to scroll through my email and I inadvertently mark an email as unread. Then I show up at your blog and it all seems familiar.
2) People who sing along with the background music – particularly the people who can’t sing and the ones who don’t know the words. Even worse, the people who obviously liked Disco.
3) Finding a use for something I just threw out – I’ve been cleaning my garage all year as I build out and configure my dream workshop. I made the hard decisions to throw stuff out, and I’ve subsequently needed some of that stuff.
4) The evolution of WordPress – So many things have changed with the WordPress editor this year. Some, like having to edit widgets in blocks, are annoying. Perhaps most annoying are the latest emails I get – “Congrats! No Facilities is getting noticed. JoeGadzooks and (a bunch of) others have started receiving updates. – Yeah, what about the people I know who are no longer receiving updates?
5) Litter – Check out the picture in the gallery of litter laying on the parking lot within a few feet of the trash can. Also check out one of a vacuum cleaner being left in the park when we have a free place to recycle electronics in town.
6) Stupid Ad Choices – Back in May, we bought a refrigerator. Beginning in September, Facebook is plastering ads for refrigerators in front of me. How many do they think I’m going to buy? They also want me to spend $5 to, “Reach Up To 213 More Potential Customers.” I’m assuming that’s for the bar. I’m not sure Cheryl can handle a crowd that size,
7) Meta – I think Facebook needs way more than a name change to save it. And if I have to choose a person to lead me into the future of technology it won’t be Mark Zuckerberg – the same guy who’s trying to sell me a refrigerator to go with the one I just bought.
Note: Maddie wanted to get in on this. She just wants to know one thing.
8) People – Why are there people on my street?
A bit from the blurb
In a pair of ship manifests, I discovered my father’s parents, a pair of Italian immigrants arriving at Ellis Island in the early 1920s, intent on grabbing their share of the American dream. In the 1930 Census, I found a family of four – my grandparents, my father and his brother — with a tenuous foothold on that dream, operating a small fruit stand in Manhattan.
After that, I had mostly frustrating dead-ends — until the release of the 1940 Census. My grandparents magically reappeared in the Census – but as “inmates” at the Rockland Insane Asylum, never to reemerge. And through my entire lifetime until my father’s death, there was no mention that he had an extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins, all living within driving distance.
What happened? Who were these people? How did their lives go so awry? And why all the secrecy?
This is a story about my efforts to use genealogy to discover the truth about our family and a reflection on the impact of secrets on our lives. It is also the story of what it means to be an immigrant – and the impact that “otherness” and mental illness can have on the vulnerable. And lastly, it is my attempt to think through the “why” and “how” of my father, 34 years after his death.