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Viral Spiral?

If you’ve been living under a rock for the last two weeks, I’ll be the first to announce:  Ebola is trending! Now I’m not just talking about trending on social media like Twitter and FaceBook where the hashtag #Ebola stays the same no matter what posting language is utilized. The virus has become a main topic of news stories on news sites and rumor blogs. With the airports beginning to conduct screenings on passengers, #Ebola looks to be a focus of our attention for some time to come.ebola4

I had planned to screen-cap some tweets and post them as samples of what people were tweeting, but the emotion is almost palpable, so I scrapped that idea. I’ll also steer clear of posting heartbreaking photos of suffering people, though they are easily found in a Google search … yuck!

Like most people who are touched by the suffering of others, this situation has definitely caused me to reflect about the brevity of life and what’s really important. I have friends and family living in various places around the world, and my concern for them has definitely increased. I’m also concerned about my elderly mother and mother-in-law. Because my mother-in-law lives in a facility with more than 100 others, in the event the virus spreads, I know her exposure would escalate. My mother requires regular blood screenings at her local hospital, and that could also increase exposure. Continue Reading →

American Raphael

People who have read this blog over the last couple years will be aware of my love for genealogy. For one sample, I posted here about my Philadelphia forebears, a family with the surname West. The West Family is my 88-year-old mother’s line and she is the last known person from her clan. With the common name of West, doing research to locate other family members who might be distantly related to her has always been a challenge.John West Sign

The last time I was in Philadelphia (doing family history research), I snapped the above picture. My mom and I had driven out to Newtown where she’d lived during her years in boarding school. There’s a historic marker on one of the main roads through town drawing attention to this historic site. An innkeeper named John West owned a tavern there in 1742.

John West was the father of painter Benjamin West who was born on this day in 1738. Little Benjamin would have been about four years old when his father owned this tavern … in the same town where my mother, almost two hundred years later, began her education not a mile from this landmark.

What could be simpler, right? Continue Reading →

Doomed To Repeat

Apparently, there are several people who have observed some variation of the quote:  those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Among those to whom this concept is attributed are Edmund Burke and George Santayana.HistoryBookHistory

As a child, history didn’t make it to my Top 3 list. I’ve come to believe that was because my teachers weren’t especially jazzed about it either. It was simply like Latin to them … a dead language, but part of the core curriculum they were required to teach. Later on, when I had a history professor in college who clearly loved history – it was embedded in his DNA, I think – his love was so contagious, every one of his students found they loved it too.

In the years since that history class, I’ve learned just how much I love history. However, one of the things that disappoints me is The History Channel. So often I’ll sit down to view a program I thought I’d enjoy, but much of what is presented is a fantastical approach to history! Conjecture is okay in its place (if you have some reasonable basis for conjecture) but I’m bothered when people naturally think if something has aired on The History Channel, it’s completely factual. Viewers are hoodwinked into believing what’s presented on some programs, without ever knowing it’s not based in fact! Continue Reading →

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