Eight Odd Things

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?

This is a fascinating story of the search for family and the lives of those family members. It’s available for purchase on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

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.


  1. Congratulations to your friend John on his book — and on his sleuthing, which seems to have been successful. As for not being rant-worthy, I don’t know: I see things on your list that would lead me into a rant. You are so right about this notice about being noticed; I’d be a lot more impressed if I were getting the blogs I’ve tried to follow over the years. A great shot of your favorite puddle!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Maureen. John’s book is very interesting. The stuff on the list has been accumulating for a bit, but some (litter, Facebook, WordPress) are a recurring theme in my life. I hope your week is off to a good start.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats, and I hope the book is a success. I’ve done a ‘little’ genealogy, and it’s hard work to find what you are looking for but also very rewarding. Turning it into a book, well, that’s an entirely new level. I can relate to your ‘8’ and enjoyed a smile so thank you for that.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Congratulations to John. His book sounds like one I’d love. BTW, your top 8 resulted in several smiles and nods. It always happens when I clean out the cupboards and donate dishes, shelves of things I don’t use. The next day I’ll need that item. Great photos as always, Dan. I particularly love the ones of puddles and reflections. Have a great day!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks Gwen. John’s quest changed when his grandparents turned up on the 1940 census – he had always been told they died in the 30s. I guess we all suffer from “Now I could used that” when we finally gather the strength to clean. I hope you have a nice start to your week.


    • Great list! #3 and #5 and #8 would definitely be on my list.

      Yep, Baby Smoke really needs to concentrate on his tail so he isn’t mistaken for a rat. Well, sorta kinda not like a rat. Poor Maddie. Every time she turns around there’s something new in her park or more trash on her deck!

      Old Glory is looking mighty spiffy, even in the fog.

      Rivergirl’s comment still has me laughing!

      Liked by 2 people

      • We think we have two Baby Smokes. I almost see a bit of fluff on the end of his tail. There’s also a baby grey squirrel (who looks even more like a rat). We don’t normally see the babies. I hope they all have a place to ride out the winter. As I understand it, it’s not like humans, they aren’t moving back in with mom and dad.

        No. 3 – who hasn’t done that? The kicker was when I had to buy something (a small fastener) to replace one I had kept for at least 20 years! Oh well, I’m still glad I packed that stuff off to the dump.

        I’ve read Rivergirl’s posts when she highlights those ads. I am fine with refrigerators.

        I hope you have a great week, Ginger.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I could feel my blood pressure starting to creep up as I read your list. Of course when I got to the pictures I got happy again. This is a great list! Of course number eight is the most valuable one. And I have to admit that I used to love disco when I was dancing to disco. I got over it. And I pretty much agree with all the rest.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You mean I can’t sing along any more?! That reminds me of that movie where Samuel L Jackson is singing, “I’m not talking ’bout the linen’ and Geena Davis corrects him, “it’s ‘movin in’ not ‘new linen.'” Cracks me up every time. The song is “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight.”
    Seriously, the vacuum by the trash cans. That is aggravating.
    Oh, you guys and your ‘stuff.’ We had our garage painted and before anything went back inside, we cleaned house. Which means I threw out all the scrap wood and stuff I knew my husband did not need. Of course, now he needs a 2×4 that I threw away. Give me a break.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “No, not those gestures. When I make them, they are intended”—thanks for the laugh this morning since it’s 27 degrees and snowing here. Love the puddle pix❤️

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks, Dan for the shout out and for all the nice comments from folks. The book was an interesting journey. It started out as a straight out series of blog posts on my genealogy hunt, then I decided I also wanted somewhat of a historical fiction voice to try to bring these long lost grandparents to life, and then as was likely inevitable when I began the project (although I didn’t know it), a reflection on my father (gone now for 35 years) and why he chose to keep this entire half of our family story a secret. It strikes me that our origin stories often are different than we thought, but each one is is unique.

    Some of the background information is HERE — http://www.searchformygrandparents.com and happy to chat with anyone about the book.

    Even though I am seemingly a public person to those who know me through running the crazy association where I spent 25 years (where I was fortunate enough to meet Dan) and doing a lot of speaking and writing, in reality I am more of a private person about things that matter than I like to let on. Opening up in the book took a while. Before I published it, I really only tentatively shared an early draft with 10 people or so I trust, and Dan was one of them, which says more about him than me.

    Love your blog!


    • Oh, yes, and re your list, I am particularly guilty of a variant of #2, where I put headphones on and then sing very loudly with most songs, even though I don’t really know the lyrics to most of them. My wife finds this both hilarious and concerning.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks John. If you really want to open up to this crowd, we have to bring you back on a Saturday.

        I enjoyed this book very much. It gives me a taste for what it must have been like for my grandparents. It’s also just an amazing story. I wish you all the best with it.


  8. I love your eight things, Dan. I agree with all of them. The latest annoyance from WP about my blog being recognized is laughable. Twiggy hates the school bus too. Maybe we should have lived in one when she was a puppy. Super post. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Face Book ! The software that convinced me that MicroSoft has a few redeeming qualities. Between the continual give us your password prompt with no permanent opt out and the way too many posts that are suggested for me what could go wrong with FaceBook ? Oh gee did I forget the part where FB will gladly go for profit and scrap democracy in the process. And I have not even gotten to the lie of Community Standards. Yes I do not like FB with a great deal of passion. Happy Monday Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The book looks intriguing. I always loved biographical histories. I’ll check it out. I like the 8 things idea. I understand all of them as well. #7 really hits a nerve with me. Like, I just bought a year’s supply of antacid tablets and you think what ..I want to gift them to everyone on my Christmas list? Or that one Playschool family house isn’t enough for my grandchild?it’s the blind unintelligent AI that rubs me the wrong way. And that so much of the populace idolizes it. Zuckerberg. Looks like he needs a huge time-out. Never liked Facebook and at least now I know my instincts are still somewhat intact. And, no, I like the intimate setting at the bar. Four deep with demands and dissatisfaction would ruin my day. Lol. PS Tell Maddie her complaint is legit. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I don’t like “Congrats! [your blog] is getting noticed messages” either. Newbies are great, but what about longtime followers? They need to know what I’m up to when I do it.

    I also agree that Meta ain’t gonna fix what’s broken over at FB. I resent the fact that Mr. Zuckerberg is ruining another decent word, “meta.” Look what damage he did to the word “friend” 🤨

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow! You raise a really good point about him ruining words. Like Amazon ruining the name Alexa. The getting noticed messages are particularly irksome given that I have been losing followers since late March and they haven’t been able to fix it. I think you should fix what you have before adding on. It’s like putting racing stripes on a car that’s chronically broken down at the side of the road.


  13. Congratulations on your friends book. I’ll point my mom to it as genealogy is her thing.

    I liked the list. I would rant about that bottle just outside the recycle bin! Really?!!

    I loved the puddle reflections, and the little stream images.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Dan, I have to comment on 1, 2 and 8.
    1) I call that Fat Fingers Syndrome or Going Too Fast For My Own Good Syndrome. Whatever you name it, though, the results tend to me the same – going where neither of us want to go and wondering, “Did I do that?”
    2) You may not want to be right next to me when one of my favorite songs starts playing in the grocery store. Yes, I sing to it and not very well, but at least I’m quiet and try not to offend people.
    8) Poor Maddie. She should spend some time with Odin, the Norwegian Elkhound. He loves people. We were at this huge dog park a few days ago and Odin started following a complete stranger around simply because the stranger gave him some attention. I wish Maddie knew that kind of non-anxiety inducing friendship. Give her a few skritches from me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1) I guess we all suffer. At least when I do something really stupid, you’ll understand. 2) I can avoid you in the market. This woman was two stools away, didn’t know the words, didn’t have a good voice and whistled during the instrumental portioned. 8) Oddly enough, Maddie doesn’t bark at everyone. There are some people she likes, but not many. ‘

      I hope things go/are going well for your brother.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. My first blog was on Sharepoint too. I tried to set something up for the company. At first they hated it. I’ve never understood why so many people dislike something new even if it will improve their working situation. Smoke looks like the Loch Ness monster!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We never had very good adoption with SharePoint. It was sad, because it could address many of the problems we were having, particularly people saving multiple different copies of (what should have been) the same document. I’ll have to check out Baby Smoke again in the morning.


  16. Hey, Dan, thank you for the suggestion of this book. I’m going to check it out. Your list ….. forgot which number it is but it is in reference to throwing things out. Sure enough every single time I do that, I NEED something I threw out. Now it seems I am very hesitant in throwing anything out so I’m gaining another problem. sighs

    FB …. So many reasons why I am not on there. Gag! Don’t know about you but I am old enough to know when I need a new refrigerator. Right?

    Rain …. yep here too. Dan, if this keeps up we both are going to be up to our ears in snow this year. NOT looking forward to that!

    Really enjoyed your gallery. Keep living simply and maintain normalcy as best as you can. Good thing Maddie wants to walk each day …. keeps you on your toes to say the least. Great post!! Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Amy. The sudden need for a recently discarded item seems to impact many of us. I’ve been throwing away a lot of items this year that I’ve held for decades. I am still glad I was able to bring myself to throw things out. The things I’ve had to replace have been minor. The cost was less an issue than the time involved.

      I am on Facebook only as necessary to keep in touch with a few friends who are only out there, and because I am still the administrator for a couple groups. I also have a page for my blog.

      I hope you do check out the book. I think you will find the story very interesting, and John is a great storyteller.

      I keep walking, as you keep hiking. Keep looking for the beauty in the world.


    • I didn’t mean to offend, Ruth. This woman was two stools away, didn’t know the words, didn’t have a good voice and whistled during the instrumental portions (and she couldn’t whistle very well). I’m going to guess I could let you slide on most of this (except disco ;-)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Absolutely no offence taken – when they were younger my kids were always telling me to shut up, because I was embarrassing them! But I’ve had the last laugh, because my grand-kids like singing along too, the more the merrier :-) PS I certainly can’t whistle, and don’t even try :-)

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Dan – it sounds like John has a very interesting story to tell … I’d love to read it. I’m amazed at how far people will go to improve their lives – it takes a huge amount of courage (and probably fear) to escape. Sadly it’s still going on – though in FB time … I’m so pleased I never really got into FB; it always amazes me that many people gripe about FB yet inform their customers to check online … even the BBC.

    I’m glad too I never went with WP – the dreaded Blogger may not be sophisticated, but it’s simple for me. People just aren’t responsible and don’t think about others. I’ll stop there – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blogger was an easier platform to deal with. There are days when I miss it. Like when it’s late and I’m trying to do something and the WP engineers have changed you I have to do it. I follow a few people on Blogger. Like you, I follow them for the content. I wish the notifications were better (same day wold be nice) but I get there eventually.

      I avoided Facebook until I had to be there to maintain pages for organizations I worked for. Then I found that some of my friends were there. I don’t spend much time there and I post very little on my own.

      I hope you’re having a good week.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Dan … at least it’s sunny today – and I have a busy time for just over a week – keeps me honest! I do nothing on FB – other than check a few friends, perhaps by chance see a few other things – but never for long. Re posts I hope they come up in my Feedly … I guess I should look at my blogger dashboard – but don’t! My posting is pretty erratic – which gives people time to get around for visiting – I hope! Cheers to you -and have a good week yourselves … Hilary

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I enjoyed this post. I often throw out what I need later. Useless adds: Yes, all the time I get adds for what I just bought. I never need two or more of the same things. I avoid Facebook. I have an account there to look at what family is up to but rarely communicate on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m like that with Facebook. I go to check in on a few people because it’s the only place they show up. I don’t even go to my own page unless someone leaves a comment there. I had plans to do more with that page, and to create a separate page for Thursday Doors but I abandoned those plans.

      I don’t understand the ads for things they know you just bought. Unless they want you to feel like “Oh, I could have had a V8.”


  19. Sounds like a good book. I have always wanted to do ours, but the ancestry website wanted me to pay and I didn’t want to pay. I want to do a DNA test too. Our last name is supposedly English and it has many spellings. People are always misspelling it or mispronouncing it. I once found a website that said there was folklore of why our name has many spellings which were the Hungarian gypsies were asked to leave England and they changed the spelling when they left.
    Yeah, I don’t like lazy people either.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. John’s book sounds like a must read, and I’ll go and check it out. (I worked as a psychiatrist for many years, and this is one of the aspects we study in passing, but I think it has much more importance than it is given credit for). I kept nodding at your list as well. I’d better not do one. I don’t think I’ll be able to stop at 8!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha – I think I could have continued, but 8 was enough for one day. John’s book in fascinating. Just the story of what happened is interesting. To think about the deeper meaning really draws you in. I hope you enjoy it.


  21. I don’t understand how WP can think it’s improving. And I will never understand litter, especially the face masks. On a positive note, your puddle of golden reflections is beautiful – my favorite puddle! John’s book looks interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Litter really disturbs me, especially when there’s a trash can within 10’. I’m glad you like the puddle. I can’t pass them without trying to get a photo. I take a lot more than I share – sometimes they work out.

      John is going to join me at the bar next week. I think you’ll enjoy that post.

      Liked by 2 people

  22. I love your list – I was nodding my head in agreement multiple times. The timely recommendation of the book is a blessing – I ordered a copy today for a gift for my youngest who has made researching our family tree her hobby for the winter. Thanks, Dan!!

    Liked by 2 people

    That does sound like a good book. Just the blurb is intriguing. I shall click it on Amazon.
    Littering makes me nuts. I truly do not understand litterers.

    Liked by 2 people

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