Saturday, October 1, 2016

Editor's Corner

October 2016

The article "Deep Sea Diver Shares Some Expertise" was first published in "Hobbie$, Etc., June 1995; reprinted for the "Pencil Stubs Online" issue of May 2000, and again this month because "The Abyss" movie is being reshown on HDNET Movie Channel and others on network TV. This article is an interview by your editor with James Smith, owner (at that time) of a deep-water exploration and salvage company--Oceaneering, International, who explained that the submarine called Deep Rover in the movie, is the "CalSub" his company owns. As far as the movie goes, HDNET's intro states "The Abyss is regarded as the toughest shoot in Movie History. The actors worked underwater several hours a day, resulting in physical and emotional troubles during the entire six-month shoot."

If you didn't catch any of the scheduled replays of this highly interesting movie, check for it On Demand or Netflix, etc. Watch for the sub mentioned in the interview with the Oceaneering owner.

The other article by Melinda Cohenour, "My Daddy," expresses many sentiments shared by your editor who happens to be her sister. This month our Dad would have been 103 years old.

John Blair, also thinking of family, added "Things My Father Touched" to his other six poems this month. They are: "My Name Is Ival," "Full Moon Tonight," "Moment By Moment," "Tonight," "Piano at 75," and "Repeatedly."

Phillip Hennessy's poem "Strangers" along with Bud Lemire's "Be You" and "Mollie" by Bruce Clifford round out the October poetry content. The latter poem is very much also a 'family' remembrance.

Judith Kroll's "On Trek" titles her piece about her father, "Old Folks" highlighting his longevity. LC Van Savage's column "Consider This" is also about family, and features Noel and his interests which began at an early age.

Thomas F. O'Neill, "Introspective," tells of a field trip with his students to Shanghai's science symposium while Mattie Lennon in "Irish Eyes" takes us along with him to hear Percy French once again.

"Reflections of the Day" by Dayvid Clarkson adds a blessing to your own day. He has a calming and soothing way of sharing his thoughts.

Rod Cohenour's "Cooking With Rod," helps you ladle up a healthy version of chili, and Melinda Cohenour's "Armchair Genealogy" discusses the interesting research aspects the new DNA testings can bring to your own genealogical family tree.

Story by LC Van Savage is about a child who finds a different kind of friend, a bee. Beth and the Bee is a good read aloud child's tale. The Bear tales featuring Ollie-Dare by Rebecca Morris, concluded with the September issue.

Thanks again to Mike Craner for his expertise and patience that allows this little ezine to continue its mission of encouraging writers, experienced and beginners, and to promote reading.

Watch for us in November!

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
This issue appears in the ezine at and also in the blog with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

On Trek

 Old Folks

      One of the biggest regrets we can make in this life, is not getting to know the older folks in our lives. Their experience in life is invaluable. I often thought if I would listen to my elders, and take heed to what they say, I could save myself a lot of heartaches.

      However, like most youth, I knew it all. :) So I had to find out the hard way on may aspects of growing up.

      My dad is 93 and he is going strong. He was in WW11, raised three children, buried his wife of 53 years, and continues to make his life exciting.

      Watching him has taught me that life does have it's ups and downs, but attitude is the key. The pic at bottom of page is Dad and me, last summer. He is still going strong, and he plans a trip out late august and or later. Daddy always sees the positive side of everything. He will be 94 in July. He plays pool, he keeps up his home, he is going to do a speed dating event in July. He came with me to my 50th class reunion, and had a ball. His motto is, Keep moving. Love ya pop!!

      My daddy's attitude is something to be admired. He finds the good in everything. Recently he and his girl friend took a trip on a train, and they got a sleeping room. They didn't realize how small that room would be, but they made the best of it. My dad didn't complain and moan over it, he laughed, and his companion laughed as well. He said, we were close before, but now we understand what really close means!! To laugh thru a seemingly unpleasant experience made it bearable, and they managed to find it fun.

      I have, for the most part, grown to emulate my dad's way of viewing life. We have a choice when we wake enjoy the day, or look for fault. We need to look at the world as a big play pen, taking the good with the bad, remembering all we have learned, and remembering those that have walked by our side.

      My grandmother use to butter bread very slowly and methodically making sure she covered every corner, nook and cranny. It was an act of beauty., In those seconds while each of us watched her in anticpation for that tasty, lovingly prepared buttered bread. I failed to realize at that moment the importance of that moment. But later on, it was etched in my heart forever. I learned that no matter what I do in life, do it with purpose, do it with meaning, do it with love. If we are going to spend the time to do something, then do it right!!. The white hair, the wrinkles, the slow moving body was all attained thru years of learning, trial and error, and tons of love. Why, they still send me love as a spirit.

      Bless our white haired souls, and listen and learn from them while you can!!!

      Featherwind (Judith)

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Cooking with Rod

I love chili just about any way it can possibly be prepared. The problem most of us have is that chili, as typically prepared, utilizes a lot of salt and is usually prepared with the cheaper cut, therefore fatty, meat that can be tenderized by stewing. This is wonderful for the purpose of taste, but for most of us today with a focus on health conscious diets this does not fit the bill. 

In an effort to satisify our cravings for chili and meet the dietary requirements of heart healthy living, I have made a directed effort to carve out fat and sodium while maintaining that distinctive deliciousness of CHILI! Here is my take on heart-friendly chili - a recipe that has proven to provide all the pizzazz expected from a bowl of tasty Fall perfect chili. 

Bon App├ętit!!
Rod's Heart Healthy Homemade Chili
Meat mixture:
  • 4.5 lbs ground sirloin, 90% lean, 10% fat
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 3 Tbsp. chili powder
Sauce mixture:
  • 2 lg. cans crushed tomatoes, no salt added
  • 2 cans (15 oz) diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 2 cans tomatoes with diced green chile (like Rotel), no salt added
  • 1 lg. red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 lg. Vidalia onion, diced
  • 20 oz. water
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 3 green onions (white and green) diced for garnish
Step by Step
    1. Prepare meat over medium heat, after adding spices, thoroughly brown the meat, scumbling to ensure even browning and no burning. Drain if necessary, in my case there was no fat.
    2. Add all canned goods into a large stew pot, add peppers and onions. Add additional cumin and chili powder. Stir well.
    3. Add meat mixture and water and let simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or scorching.
Serve hot and add green onion garnish to each bowl. I took advantage of low sodium woven wheat crackers (6 to a serving, with only 120 calories, 35 from fat, and only 160 mg sodium) to serve with each bowl.
For cheese, I bought cheddar sticks which are merely 85 calories and 15 mgs sodium per stick.
A crisp, simple tomato and iceberg lettuce salad with a Tbsp. of tomato salsa as a dressing or even a squeeze of lemon adds a nice counterpoint.
Enjoy the heart healthy chili! (See pic below.)

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Consider This

Noel, Rocks And Big Green Lizards

       When I was a kid---wait! Don’t turn the page---I’ll really try not to bore--- I was goofy over bugs and creepy crawlers, dinosaurs and fossils. I’ll admit I never found a dinosaur I could sneak home although now everyone in the scientific community recognizes that all birds are descendants of dinosaurs, so I might have gotten away with a feathered creature or two.

      But anyway, when I went foraging for those things in the surrounding woods I’d haul lots of them home but never found anyone who’d chat with me about them. My sister would scream, my parents would bellow to “get those dirty @#$!#% things out of this house instantly!!” and my girlfriends would do what my sister did, only louder. Oh the loneliness! I had to find out about those things from books. Think of it! Books! No one in my immediate family had the slightest interest in those “disgusting, useless----things!”

       Mongo and I had sons who were very interested and I was happy about that and we had some lively hunts for “those things” over the years, but they grew up and found that girls, parties and cars were far more fascinating than wondrous fossils, so again, I was sad and alone with my weird passions.

       But then came Noel, rhymes with “bowl,” last name Ouellette that doesn’t rhyme with anything. He is my sister’s grandson and a good pal of mine for a lot of reasons but mainly because he just loves all those things I loved as a youngster, with heavy emphasis on the dinosaurs and fossils, and best of all his interest just continues to grow. And I get to learn more and more about the Big Green Lizards and the lowly, fascinating, history-laden fossils he finds.

      Noel, it can be said, is a savant. A dino-savant. At 11 years old, he met with Professor of Earth Sciences William Clyde at UNH, to show him what he had collected on his various adventures. A few months later Clyde recommended Noel to the director of the SEE Science Center (a children's museum) in Manchester NH to add to their exhibition on dinosaurs and paleontology. Imagine! Job security at 11!

      When Noel was around 3, I took him to a toy store and told him he could pick out whatever he wanted as long as it was no more than $1.50. He moved off to a huge bin beneath some shelves filled with a gigantic tangled mess of plastic dinosaurs, all species, all colors. And who knows? Dinosaurs could have been any color at all, not just green and brown. But whatever, Noel began to empty out that bin and one at a time tossed those toy reptiles onto empty shelves above. With each grab-and-toss he announced the “official” name of the beasts, where they were born, if they were born live or from eggs, what they ate, who were their worst enemies, how big they grew and how many years ago were they stomping about on the earth’s surface. By the way, to the uninitiated, MYA means Million Years Ago. For example, old T-Rex lived 65 MYA, give or take.

      Back to the bin. Noel finally emptied it, defining all of the BGLs, I said something like, “good job, Noel! Let’s put ‘em all back now” and I glanced up to see this large crowd of customers surrounding us, spellbound that this little kid was giving a fascinating speech and that he knew all those facts, and there were just so many facts. I said something stupid like, “Yes folks, he gets all his brains from me.” I was ignored.

      Noel is a well-rounded young man; good grades, he’s a musician and an athlete. He is also so much fun for me to be around. He arrives at my home with boxes of sorted fossils and we spread them all out on a table and he explains where they were from, how old they are---it’s amazing. I am never bored, I ask thousands of questions and Noel knows the answers to all of them. It’s also thrilling for me to hold in my hand a big scary tooth from a prehistoric crocodile he found on a dig in Maryland or any of his plethora of other fossils from New Jersey, Montana, Wyoming, or wherever he’s gone with his father. They travel to different fossil hunting sites each chance they get and Noel can spot a shark’s tooth as small as a comma that has as much significance to him as a Megalodon’s tooth would, and he is completely confident he’ll find one of those someday.

      Noel is always excited for any chance to display his fossils wherever help would be needed in a dinosaur and fossil exhibit, so email me and I'll put you in touch with him. I am certain one day Noel will be trudging around somewhere and he’ll see what looks to others like a big dusty rock, but he will know immediately it’s an undiscovered full-boned dinosaur. He’ll photo and claim it, get it shipped to a museum and in the world of bone worshipers, he will be famous forever. “Noelasaurus” has a nice ring to it, don’t you agree?

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Irish Eyes

Tones That Are Tender

Could I find again the woodland
Where I loved to lie and dream,
While Dragon flies were dancing
To the rippling of the stream.

(“Retrospection” by Percy French.)

         In the 1960s when my contemporaries were listening to Radio Luxemburg and singing (and talking about) “a Whiter Shade of Pale”, “You Keep Me Hangin’ on” and such numbers I had my ear glued to the steam-radio in anticipation of a Percy French song sung by Brendan O’ Dowda.

          Much has been written about William Percy French and now Berrie O’ Neill has written the definitive biography of the great man. Percy French’s grand- nephew Courtney Kenny puts it in a nutshell when he says, “For a very long time there has been a distinct need for a proper biography of Percy French. And here it is, at last”.

         Percy French who is largely remembered for his songs was a multi-talented person. In a period when Irish songwriters were penning ballads about widows daughters dying from TB and coffins being carried down bog roads Percy French introduced a lot of humour to the art. While he wrote some sad songs (the words of Gortnamona written when his first wife died is one example) most of his songs were comedic and consequently have stood the test of time. He could be inspired by a simple sight of phrase (what modern writers call a “gaddick”.) while entertaining on a cruise-ship he hear a passenger say, “They’ll be cutting the corn in Creeslough today” and “An Emigrants Letter “ was born.

          William Percy French born in County Roscommon in 1854 was a singer, poet, painter and parodist. He was, at times accused by the upmarket media of the day of being, “Demeaning to the Irish people.” One of his best known songs, “Come Back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff” has been often parodies. After the Equality Marriage Referendum here a native bard came up with” Come Back Paddy Reilly to Marry James Duff.”

          The author, Berrie O’ Neill, told me,

          “My interest in Percy French was not at all a planned one I was born on a farm near Eyrecourt, Co. Galway a long time ago. As the farming life did not appeal to me I joined the Bank of Ireland and by 1982 through a mixture of good fortune and having kept my nose clean I found myself manager of the city office of the Bank in central Belfast.

         Amongst my customers at the Bank was the late Oscar Rollins, successful business man and a councillor in the Borough of North Down. On a golfing trip to Southport in Lancashire he had serendipitously come across the grave of Percy French in Formby. Stricken by a sense of pathos he had become devoted to bringing about a much greater appreciation of the songwriter, poet and entertainer, particularly back in French’s homeland.

          With characteristic determination and strategic thoroughness Oscar enlisted to the cause no less a person than the famous Irish tenor, Brendan O’Dowda who was at that time seen as the personification of Percy French, He also found ready support from Ettie and Joan French, nonagenarian daughters of the great songwriter and entertainer.”

         Octogenarian Berrie went on, "When the Percy French Society decided that it would be appropriate to publish a biography of Percy French the search for a suitable author eventually and unexpectedly focused on me and I was entrusted with the task. With a little help from family and friends ‘Tones That Are Tender ­ Percy French 1854­1920’ was published by Lilliput Press on behalf of the Percy French Society in 2016. This, labour of love, was launched at Belfast’s historic Linenhall Library on 4th May, my eighty sixth birthday.”

         And they couldn’t have made a better choice. Ronny Maxwell of the Percy French Society told me, “ The author provides us with a most comprehensive study of French's ancestry and family background and we gain much insight into the social history of his time and an in depth knowledge of a charismatic, unselfish, rather eccentric, family-loving individual. The well-chosen title reflects French’s kind, inoffensive personality and the gentleness of his watercolours with their generally gentle shades. I have just finished “Tones That are Tender” and it’s many years since I read such an informative work. This biography brings out the many talents of Percy. The beautifully presented hardback includes thirty of his watercolours as well as snippets of information not in the public domain which the author ferreted out. For instance Dublin music publishers Piggott’s rejected his song “The Mountains of Mourned on the grounds that it wasn’t, “. . . serious enough for a ballad, not funny enough for a comic song.” What was the “gaddick” for this work which has stood the test of time?

         In the words of the great songwriter himself, “Looking at the range of the Mourne Mountains from Skerries one clear afternoon I found myself repeating, ‘the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea’. This line kept recurring to me till one day it wedded itself to an old Irish air, and the combination seemed so happy that I set to work, or rather shut myself in my top room with pen, ink and paper, and waited.” Wasn’t it well worth the wait! When he composed “The Mountains of Mourne” he was living at 21 Clifton Hill, Skerries and I’m sure that now , from his celestial “Top room” he is pleased the know that, as I write, his beloved Skerries has been selected as the tidiest town in Ireland.

         Written as twenty nine cameos this book (having given a brief ancestral history of the Frenches ) is a comprehensive account of the life and times of the genius who was born in Cloonyquinn, County Roscommon in 1854 up the his death in 1920.

         Tones That are Tender is a not-to-be-missed publication.

         Details at; or from Ronnie.maxwell@btinternet at the Percy French Society.

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Armchair Genealogy

The Mysteries of DNA and How it May Aid our Research

      Recently, I decided to submit my DNA to in connection with their worldwide Ethnicity Research project. This decision was based, primarily, on curiosity but also upon the scope of the study itself. For the first time, the methodology would examine over 700,000 markers in each subject’s DNA submission. Utilizing those markers, the specimen would then be examined via advanced computerized technology against DNA samples from around the world. The results of this testing would then project a profile of my personal ethnicity based upon comparison with hundreds of thousands of samples gathered from around the world. The result is my personal Ethnicity Estimate.

The Ethnicity Estimate

      This entire worldwide study was based on a dream shared by James LeVoy Sorensen, who was inspired by his discussions with Professor Scott Woodward of Brigham Young University. Sorensen believed so firmly in his vision that he, personally, funded the entire project. It was their belief that a study of actual genetic ethnicity would confirm that the world community is far more alike than different and that our kinship should promote a better understanding of one another and greater tolerance and appreciation for our diversity.

      In order to build a computer model that could change the output of data into true information, it was necessary to envision a way in which the mere numerical evaluation of almost a million genomic markers could be interpreted so as to predict ethnic relationships with a fairly high degree of accuracy. To do this, it was essential that the tested subjects be representative of a specific geographic community and that their personal family history be well documented for a minimum of four generations back in time. This project was launched in 2000 and over the next dozen years volunteers from around the world produced both the documented family histories and the permission for the project to utilize their DNA test results in building the model. The resulting four-generation pedigrees tied to specific DNA samples, mapped to a geographic area of the world was the basis for what I call the “Genetic World Map of Ethnic Origins”. The team studied people native to more than 150 countries on six continents, carefully tracing each person’s personal four-generation family tree data and DNA markers along with a photographic record of the indigenous population. [per website]

      The computer model also utilized world history to accomplish tracing of the movements of peoples into and out of each geographic region. Epic conquests such as the overreach of the Roman Empire and its influence on the regions that came under its control along with the almost inevitable intermingling of the blood of the conqueror and the conquered.

      Thus: my DNA matches that of several people from a certain part of the world. Those people are confirmed as living in that area for at least four generations. Their family history is documented for four generations. The average geographic sampling shows a percentage of ethnic origin based on the indigenous population. Thus, my DNA percentages are projected as well.

      The resulting ethnicity estimate was, for me, only the beginning step in utilizing the information to both confirm my research assumptions and to expand that research. For once you see a chart depicting what all your pool of ancestors has contributed to your personal ethnic makeup that is like a snapshot. Nice to take out and look at from time to time, but more likely to be stored away in an album and not viewed for years.

Understanding Basic DNA Contributions by our Ancestors

      An important thing to remember with this type testing is that it differs absolutely and completely from the traditional methods of testing – mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) and yDNA (the male DNA study).

      In its most simplistic explanation, DNA is present in every cell of our body. It determines our sex, the color of our hair, our height, our eye color and every single descriptive fact that makes us US. Every human has DNA made up of 23 PAIRS of chromosomes, one-half of which is inherited from our mother and one-half from our father. The same is true for each of them and all their ancestors as well. The 23rd chromosome is what determines our sex and that is determined from the contribution by our father. If one side of that chromosome pairing were an X, the result would be an XX (X from mother and X from father) thus a female. If the father contributed instead a Y chromosome that 23rd pair would be an XY (X always from the mother, but Y in this case from the father), thus the child is determined to be a male. The core of each cell contains the male contribution; the nucleus surrounding that core contains the mother’s contribution or mitochondrial DNA. Strands of DNA are made up of four bases (Thymine – yellow or T; Adenine – blue or A; Guanine – green or G; and Cytosine – red or C). These bases join together always as T plus A (yellow and blue) and G plus C (green and red). The sequence in which these strands appear provide the matching elements by which all DNA is compared. (See Link: Family Tree DNA, Gene by Gene, Ltd

      For years, DNA testing has been used to track familial relationships by the comparison of the markers on each strand of DNA. It has been shown, for instance, that certain markers in a male subject’s DNA mutates over time. Y DNA is only transmitted by fathers to sons. Scientists study all DNA mutations to be able to predict the relationship of one male subject to his line based on the numerical deviation created by this mutation. Thus, father-son, or father-uncle, or grandfather-grandson relationships may be safely predicted by an examination of mutations on certain markers. Near relatives of the male sex can have their Most Recent Common Ancestor identified based on studies of those subject’s family trees.

      MtDNA, however, is transmitted by mothers to children of both sexes. The MtDNA has been shown to mutate on a much, much slower basis and in an established manner as migration of peoples from one geographic region to another took place over the centuries. Thus, the study of DNA has also been tied to geographic regions and to the cause of the migration. This study is based on anthropologic studies, which place us in what they term Haplogroups. These Haplogroups mirror human migration from our beginnings in Africa to other points around the globe and are tied to the causative factor for that migration and the basic manner of living each group engaged in: hunting versus gathering or farming, or a combination; earliest discoveries of cave drawings or statuary and so forth. Labels to define broad groups based on DNA samples combined with all other types of scientific studies into the Human Animal.

      It is not my goal to provide a complete and accurate examination of DNA for I am not sufficiently knowledgeable to do that. But, it is my goal to learn how to use the results of my DNA testing to support and expand my personal genealogical research.

DNA Analysis provided by Ancestry

      When I first received the email from Ancestry that my long awaited (5 weeks) results were in and that my initial analysis could be viewed, I was ecstatic. Upon signing into my website, I found a surprise! All my life I’d been told we were French-Indian-Irish, pretty much in that order. Of course, I had done some twenty years’ research and found we had a pretty solid Germanic population in our assortment of ancestors. Also, as could be expected, a large group from England. I had been able to see a pretty good representation of French Huguenots as well. I have not found any documented Native American ancestors in our direct line as of yet; although I have discovered both maternal and paternal lines lived among Indian groups and our 3rd Great Grandfather Jeremiah Milam Gilstrap wed not one, but two Cherokee women following the death of our line’s Rachael Copple.

      My surprise? Well, my ethnic makeup was derived from: 38% Ireland, 20% Great Britain, 17% Scandinavia, and 14% Western Europe (primarily France and Germany, but also inclusive of Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein). The remaining 11% was projected to be made up of the Iberian Peninsula (4%), Europe East (3%), Italy/Greece (2%), Finland/Northwest Russia (1%) and European Jewish (just under 1%). I was really surprised by the large percentage believed to have been from Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway and Denmark) but, as I considered this my mind turned to a photograph of one Charles Hopper, the trapper/hunter/guide who made history by leading the Bartleson-Bidwell party into what would become the Napa Valley of California. His was an astonishing visage: crisply white locks, fair skin, and penetratingly light eyes that seemed to be completely colorless. I had seen those eyes before! In my mother’s face!
Charles Napa Charley Hopper - about 1875

      I immediately began to research my Hopper line and was able to push that line back to one Andries Willemszen Hopper, born abt 1600-1629 in Breille-Amsterdam, Noord Holland, The Netherlands. He immigrated to New Netherland (New York) in about 1653, along with his wife and two or three small children. He acquired considerable property and was granted the privileges of a small burgher.  His wife was Giertjie (Steinmets) Hendricks.

      Unbeknownst to me, at the same time I was submitting my DNA to Ancestry, my sister had her DNA examined as well. The two of us are the bookends of our sibling group, she the eldest, me the youngest. Our looks are most similar, though we are also furthest apart in height. Interestingly, her ethnic mix differed from mine slightly. Of course, no two individuals (except for identical twins) share identical DNA. Remember, each person obtains half from mom, half from pop. Sister happened to obtain a different mix than I. Interesting and fascinating.

      As I continue to use the DNA results in my research, I shall explore the ethnic groups and plan to attempt to make a sort of index of origins, documenting those direct ancestors who may have contributed to that mix. That should be fun!

DNA Circles

      Another helpful and intriguing facet of the computerized examination of my DNA is the report Ancestry provides linking DNA cousins into groups they term DNA Circles. Thus far, my personal report now reveals no less than 20 DNA Circles tied to my direct line ancestors. This is really interesting, for not all members of the Circle have DNA linked to EVERY member of the circle; however, each member is SOMEHOW linked to other members of the Circle and – most importantly – each member’s DNA is linked to a family tree that shows direct descent from a Shared Surname Ancestor.

      To attempt to make this more clear, here is an example from my own tree:
Descendants of Capt. Martin Thomas Davenport, my 4th Great Grandfather on my mother’s line. In order to create a Circle of relationships, Ancestry requires that three things occur: (1) Circle members share DNA with other members of the Circle; (2) family tree evidence exists that the Circle member is a documented descendant of the key figure; and (3) each member of the Circle MUST share DNA with at least one other member of the Circle. In this particular DNA Circle, there are test results from 18 of his probable descendants. Some of these Circle members are represented as a group where more than one family member permitted their DNA results to be “administered” by one person. These 18 Circle members are represented in this particular DNA Circle as ten members (the 18 members are shown as five individual members including yours truly, one member group has five members, and four member groups are comprised of two each, thus 5+5+8=18.) My DNA has matched to six of the Circle representations BUT to all but three of the 18 DNA subjects. Those three are individual subjects and not part of a group but each of these three matches to other members of this DNA Circle.
By the names alone, I value the accuracy of this Circle designation, as several are either Hoppers or Bunch surnames. An examination of the trees of each of the members of this DNA Circle show exactly how each person descends from my illustrious and heroic Patriot Great Grandfather Martin Davenport. (I devoted a column to his participation in the Battle of King’s Mountain during the Revolutionary War.)
Capt. Martin Thomas Davenport
4th Great-Grandfather

      I’ve devoted the least amount of time to these DNA Circles because they are not surprises. These are folks I’ve carefully documented via Bible, family history, Census, and other acknowledged gold-stamp verifiers of lineage. It is rather interesting to view the photographs some of the tree holders have submitted as their profile pics, and I will probably take time later to add into my tree those cousins and document their own lines from our common ancestor(s). Why do I say ancestors in the plural? Well, some of these same folks appear in the DNA Circle for the spouses of the named Circle, where both father and mother’s DNA has carried down from generation to generation.

DNA Matches

      This is the core of the study for me, a listing of those people whose DNA matches to my own and the projected relationship we share as a result. Many – far too many – subjects failed to tie their results to a Family Tree on Ancestry. This sort of defeats the purpose of tracking relationships since one cannot study the trees to determine where our lines cross. Many started a tree but have not progressed with their research far enough to provide ancient links to pursue. But, there is a large number of cousins (COUSINS – we have thousands of cousins!) who have trees on Ancestry and many of those are public and tied to their DNA tests. Thank you, thank you, thank you! For this is the value of the testing. Confirmation of some of our wildest guesses, perhaps, as to the maiden name of that dear 5th Great-Grandmother whose identity was obscured by the umbrella of her husband’s surname.

For me, that exact situation proved fruitful in one key line: Christiana Garrison, second wife of Colonel William Joslin (of Deerfield) (1701-1771). Many family researchers have assumed their lines descended from the Colonel’s first wife, Mary, whose maiden name has been lost to history. I now have genetic proof from other Garrison family members that Christiana (what a beautiful name) was indeed part of my direct line. Christiana Garrison was the granddaughter of Jacob Gerritszen de Haas "Old Jacob" and wife, Christina Cresson.

      Old Jacob was born in New York, his children were baptised in the New Amsterdam Reformed Dutch Church, and Governor Willem Kieft witnessed the baptism of his twin sons there as the family was prominent. Christiana's paternal grandmother, Christina Cresson, was the daughter of Pierre "le Jardiniere" Cresson (Royal Gardener to Prince William of Orange, early settler in New Amsterdam, whose gardens in the New World prompted naming of The Bowery when it was an area known for its profuse flowering bowers of trees and fragrant and colorful, well designed gardens and spacious lawns). Her mother was Rachel Clauss. Rachel was born in Picardie, France of Dutch parents. Rachel and Pierre were wed in Picardie, France, before immigrating to New Netherlands (New York). Rachel died on Staten Island, Brooklyn, NY at the age of 74 in 1692.

      Christiana's grandfather, Gerrit Jansen Van Oldenburg Gerritszen de Haes (Garrison) was christened 5 Feb 1612 in Arnhem, Gelderland, Nederland, the son of one Willem Jansen and wife Hilleken Claessen.

      Voila! Another piece of the puzzle of genetics falls into place!

      Ancestry has computerized their analysis to reveal Shared Surnames for both sides of the match where both trees are Public. For those that are Private, one can message the administrator of the test and request information or even a Guest invitation to view the tree (with no permission to add, delete, change or modify any of the tree info.) This provides clues and some surprises where both maternal and paternal line surnames populate the other person’s shared surnames. Where possible, Ancestry reveals the PROBABLE connection: linking each subject’s line back to the apparent shared ancestor.

      When my test results first came in, I had a total of some 400 plus matches. Today, there are 464 Shared Ancestor Hints and 1,129 DNA matches indicating we are 4th cousins or closer. I have attempted each day to analyze the matches and make a Note (handy little aid Ancestry offers) that provides a pop-up view of the assumed relationship or what needs to be researched.

New Ancestor Discoveries

      And that brings me to the newest treasure in Ancestry’s bag of gifts: the DNA match that seems to document a relationship to some distant ancestor whose identity has thus far been shrouded in the mists of time! As of today, I have three new ancestors to investigate: William S. Strawn (Straughan, Straughn) (1812-1870); John William England (1825-1911), and, as it turns out, his wife, Sarah Wilson Gold (1835-1908).

      For each of these mystery ancestors, Ancestry has provided links to the other matching DNA subjects’ trees for me to peruse. My early scrutiny of William S. Strawn seems to indicate he is related as a descendant of a Browning on my maternal line. I shall work on that supposition and attempt to confirm it as truth or not. For the England-Gold line, I have as yet discovered no clue, but intend to keep on searching.

~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~

      For now, that is the extent of my comprehension of the valuable new tool supplied through DNA. As I become more assured of my understanding of the tool and the best way to utilize it, I may provide an update should it appear appropriate. In the meantime, I have received an email from a Joslyn cousin who hails from England (but most recently lived in China and is now moving to Australia) who has invited me to submit my DNA results to another venue where he has other Joslin-Joslyn cousins’ DNA entered. How exciting! You bet I will!

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      I went to science symposium a few weeks ago in Shanghai, China. I went there with some of my students from the Suzhou International Foreign Language School in Suzhou, China. We learned a great deal from listening to various scientists talk about their vision of the future. One scientist spoke about amazing breakthroughs in the area of medical technology. She also mentioned that there is a great possibility that babies being born today, can in all likelihood, have a life expectancy of 130 years – due to the rapped advances in healthcare and medical technology.

      One cannot help but ask - what will be the quality of life be like in the distant future?

      In China, fifty years ago, life was hard, there were food rations, and coupons were needed to purchase things of necessity. China has, however, come a long way in the last fifty years and there have been extraordinary technological achievements not just in Asia but throughout the world. In our modern era technology is doubling every 18 months and soon it will be difficult for the average person to keep up with the changing tides.

      However, in our fast passed world there are great technological advantages to these changing trends. For instance, the new high-tech gadgets and gismos can aid us in getting more done in a shorter period of time. But our high-tech lifestyles are also coming with a price. The price we pay is higher stress and less ways to elevate our stress from our stressful environments.

      We are certainly dealing with a lot more stress than our parents dealt with a generation ago. Stress also comes in many forms, it can bombard us on the job, in our personal lives, and many people are dealing with growing financial burdens.

      Some people deal with the stress by popping pills and this is something our parents may have chosen to do. But unfortunately medication over a long period of time is toxic to the body. There are certainly healthier ways to combat stress. One way that is more beneficial to the body and mind is exercise and another is meditation. At the science symposium, meditation was not mentioned, nor was the benefits of having a healthy spiritual life mentioned.

      There has been a lot of research done on the brain in the area of meditation and Spirituality. Research using MRI’s discovered that people who meditate on a regular basis are actually creating synapses in the brain that aid the person in creating deeper spiritual experiences. Meditating also stimulates parts of the brain that are believed to be responsible for intuition. Basically, our brains can be hardwired for spirituality.

      Human beings are evolving not just physically with each passing generation but spiritually as well but at the same time we are aiding the evolutionary process along. The more we practice spiritual exercises the more we evolve spiritually. In the area of spirituality, intuition, can lead to deeper insights to our spiritual connection with others, nature, and god.

      Spiritual Intuition through meditation is a flash of knowing, an immediate insight. It can also lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves in relation to others. Meditation can also aid us in resolving inner conflicts and other unresolved issues in our lives.

      The studies being conducted on intuition show that there is a distinction between religion and spirituality. Spirituality leads more towards the objectivity of the spiritual experience. In other words, it leads to a deeper understanding of oneself.

      Religion has a tendency to draw people into the ritual of religious pageantry rather than helping people gain insight into their spiritual nature.

      The intuitive mind is open to so many possibilities. Many great scientific breakthroughs and discoveries have been made through flashes of intuition. The thought that there are ways to increase one’s intuitive powers is pretty exciting to say the least.

      The thought that we are evolving not only on a physical level but spiritually makes sense to me.

      We will continue to evolve, physically, socially, psychologically, but most of all we will continue to evolve in the area of science. We are aiding the evolutionary process along through our quest for self-improvement.

      It also makes sense that in the midst of all this technological change we need some quiet time. A time to relax, to meditate, and quiet things down. It is a way of getting to know ourselves better. This process is as old as our humanity and this spiritual path has been taken by the old wisdom seekers. Science is just beginning to catch up with what the ancient mystics intuitively understood since the birth of humanity.
    Always with love from Suzhou, China
    Thomas F O’Neill
    WeChat - Thomas_F_ONeill
    U.S. voice mail: (800) 272-6464
    China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:
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Reflections on the Day

      Right now in this moment and as long as I draw breath - I choose not to allow fear, pain, and conflict to dictate how I live my life. I fully acknowledge the disease of disconnect our human family is suffering from. But that illness is not my truth.

      I choose here and now to create, serve, and celebrate life with gratitude, love, and fellowship at the heart of all I offer. This does not mean that I am blind to the injustice, manipulation, and control fed to us by corporate media, a bought & sold government, and the lost children of this world. I simply choose not to accept these conditions as food for how I nourish my soul.

      I believe there is a powerful fire within us that knows no boundaries, holds no titles, and does not discriminate. And united in the heartbeat of this fire we can create the life we love together.

      I will never shy away from a challenge - but I will also not allow challenges to shake how beautiful, capable, and powerful I believe we can become if we embrace our destiny as caretakers & stewards of this world. Hate & conflict leads to more hate. Fierce kindness & compassion leads to peace.

      This is my truth. I welcome one and all to embrace life as warriors of peace. We are the many.

      How empowering could it be to declare that we’re done with compulsive self-improvement and the relentless searching for what else might be ‘wrong’ with us?

      What if we were able to relax into this life, as it unfolds before us, instead of constantly trying so hard to ‘manifest’ a better one?

September 24 at 10:16pm

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Deep Sea Diver Shares Some Expertise

Note: Chosen reprint from Hobbie$, Etc. June 1995....
(James Smith, owner of a deep-water exploration and salvage company -- Oceaneering, International -- attempted to explain to this land-locked American desert dweller who edits Hobbie$, Etc. some of the more interesting aspects of his vocation. During the long distance interview he patiently gave informative comments to some of the rather naive questions this editor asked. Jim, as he prefers to be addressed, is an expert in more than one field, with weaponry high on the list. He modestly refers to himself as only being among the top ten in deep water knowledge, technology and equipment development and usage.
Jim: What is it that your readers would most want to know about my operations?

Mary: We publish this little paper in the middle of West Texas, so we are not at all familiar with deep water procedures. Perhaps you could tell about your company and what type of jobs you accept.

J: You know those big American Flags that you sometimes see flying, say at car-dealers for instance? Well, originally, the Pentagon gave those flags out for extra thank you's to someone who had performed exemplary service to the country in their own area of operations. They were flags that had flown over the State Department -- well, Oceaneering was presented their first one for work with Duke University doing the Navy diving tables. Now, everyone uses such flags at car dealerships, and so on.

M: Oceaneering is your company?

J: It's the one I put together, organized -- it's the largest one in the world, tied into other companies -- we bought the company "Can-Dive" when we did the Andrea Doria. We did "The Abyss" too, this was using the 'CalSub,' that submarine (Deep Rover) you see in the film. And we do all the military stuff you hear about, and all the deep wrecks. Well, I say the largest, meaning there's only one that competes with us and that is Withhold, a Government owned organization. When it comes time to do something really big, a really expensive experiment like 13,000 or 18,000 feet, you know, to recover some gold or something like that, it'll be Oceaneering that does it.

M: Because?

J: Because when you start dealing with something like that, it's almost out of the realm of people's comprehension.

M: An example?

J: The other day I was making a dive in the Newtry system -- a million and a half dollar suit.

M: I was going to ask you about your suit. I've read about the JIM suit.

J: This new suit's a million and a half bucks and just the joints, the spare joints you carry with you, that's $30,000 for a spare joint--they must be hand-made by little old men who work for Santa Claus or one of those deals. (Laughing)

M: (Laughing) Wow!

J: Yeah, the guys that make them, seriously, there are no other guys but them that make them.

M: And during this dive the other day?

J: What happened was, I was making this dive 470ft. Doing this job, right? And off in the distance, setting there watching me was an object the size of one of those Ryder Rental Vans, called a Sonar Sub -- a remote vehicle that has nobody in it. It has the capability of picking me up; or cutting steel cables. It has arms on it and TV. It hovers -- doesn't move -- because it's tied into the global system, so wherever you tell it to sit on the bottom, say, two feet off the bottom, and even though there's a current running or anything, it will not move up, it will not move left or right, and it will not move down. If you go over there and push on it, it will just sit. This sub weighs about 10,000 pounds. It can pick up -- you're not going to believe this -- five hundred pounds with its massive size. It was sitting over there watching me with the lights on and its TV going so it could keep an eye on what I was doing. Do you get it?

M: Is this part of your equipment, your company?

J: No. It was a corresponding operation. Along with this work we were doing, this sub was launched off a 225ft. Ship that doesn't have any anchors. But it was also sitting there above -- not moving. It was doing a "bird-dog" job. It just came in to help out because it was in the field and we only had one suit ready to go down.

M: So they were there to help?

J: They were working for the same oil field company. In deep operations, you need rescue capabilities which usually means at least two suits ready so if you get in trouble another diver can come get you. Since we only had this one suit ready at the time and the oil company was really anxious to get this problem solved, they let their equipment they already had in the field, come in to watch and be ready for backup. Just doing that favor of "guard-dog" since otherwise we weren't due to dive with only one suit ready.

M: I see. But I didn't know there were subs with that capability.

J: Most people don't know this -- about the global system and sonar subs.

M: But the sub could have rescued you?

J: If anything had gone wrong, he could have come over there, cut the cables, grabbed the suit and just brought me up. You see, the suit doesn't have anything in the way of air coming down to it.

M: Self-contained?

J: It has a double-system with forty-eight hours of self-contained life support.

M: This gives you more mobility, doesn't it?

J: Well, it has two motors on the back -- it's a motor-pack worn on the back with two motors, costing $150,000.

M: Wow!

J: There's two pedals in the feet of the suit that you rest on lightly-- when you put this suit on, you add joints to make it fit just right so you are set slightly above the pedals. So, when you press on these pedals you kick the motors in and they will spin you around or in any plane you can think of -- up and down, left and right, or in and out.

M: Do they have a little propeller?

J: Not too little, they're 2 ½ horsepower, so they're pretty powerful. They're pretty mighty -- they're more than a diver could swim if he was swimming.

M: I see.

J: And they never stop, they're spinning all the time, but the thing that you do with the little pedals, is put the pitch into them. They are spinning all the time from when we say "thrusters on" and we don't turn them on and off. They just spin then we just tap our toe and forward we go, and that's very important. You see, this suit is good for 1,000ft. And forty-eight hours that deep. So, you can see why a million and a half dollars for one suit, remembering that you have to have two for rescue capabilities. That's what was unusual, using the sub for backup. When I first saw this thing at about two hundred feet away, it come breezing up out of the darkness, the size of those big moving vans, before I knew it was there. It was a big dark ominous shape, and, before it turned the lights on, it looked like some big underwater creature. It parked about 5ft. away and turned the lights on, then just stayed there watching. I just thought I'd tell you that we have things down there to watch out for divers or problems, since most people don't know about them. This was only down to 470ft. I'll tell you where it was. It was on the Intercontinental shelf. Right where I was working was the point where the land ends and you roll over the cliff, and it goes down to about 5,000ft. deep.

M: And a fathom?

J: Well, a fathom is six feet, so this'd be like a mile deep on the other side of the cliff.

M: I see.

J: So, you don't want to go rolling. The suit would, if you severed the cable, since we worked on the edge, it would roll over there. And you would have to pull a lever and drop your motors, if you started going down that cliff with the cable severed. You couldn't help yourself at that point. The sub'd have to take over and pick you up to the top.

M: Would you have to worry about getting the bends when you were rescued and picked up straight to the top?

J: It's an atmosphere suit. You won't get the bends with it 'cause it works on the regular atmosphere that's in the room. It has oxygen in it, but it adds only to make up the atmosphere that's on the outside when you start, then maintains it.

M: I guess that was a very ignorant question. But this is so interesting and I had heard about divers getting the bends.

J: That's why we have this suit. The mission of the suit works out like this. You don't put a diver down to 470ft. unless we put them down to stay eleven hours. Because we can't get the money out of the dive for less time -- there's a lot of work to put a man down to depths, there's a lot of support work going on. So when we get the guy ready, we don't want him back up until he gets about eleven hours of work done, uses up the scrubber pack, uses some materials up, and that oil field wants the service and work out of the dive.

M: You said you were doing this particular dive. Do you have several that are capable of diving?

J: Yes we have a crew of actually seven. We have a tank where we train everybody. Before deep water diving, you have to have about 20 hours running the thing in the tank.

M: What about saturation diving?

J: I've done that too, the company has, but it's a whole different ball game in saturation, and it's done for a different reason. Habitat, for instance. British Ocean Corporation is the big name in that business. BOC does the underwater welders employment for off-shore drilling rigs.

M: Were those hard suits?

J: No, those were actually wet suits and masks. In other words, we drop down to 585 in a wet suit and a mask with a deep diving system. But, this suit here, you don't get cold, you can come right up, you can put another guy down, you don't have bends, you don't have decompression, you know, you can stay longer. With saturation, first, you saturate, then you stay down twenty-four hours a day, using an underwater chamber to live in, for a whole week. You work each shift, you know, twelve hours, but not all out in the water. You can't last in a wetsuit out in the water for eleven or twelve hours because you get too cold. You get cold on land, and you shiver, and your teeth rattle a little bit, but in saturation diving, after about eight hours, you start to get cold and you shake. Your teeth start to rattle and you knock chips off your own teeth, and can't stop shivering. Once that starts happening, you can't do anything except get them to pull you up.

M: You can't help yourself then?

J: No, you're not worth a dime. About all you can do is drop your tools and come back and get them another time and let someone else help get you topside. When you get there, all night you wrap up in blankets just to try and get warm then it takes about nine or ten hours to get to where you're just not shaking, and then it's time to go again. It's the kind of job that gets real nasty in the winter or deep water -- deep water's cold.

M: How many different places around the world have you made dives?

J: Every sea you can get in. The Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and any of them. Craig Island, the one you saw on TV -- I was up there. The different oceans that were open to the public, all around the world where we had any military -- Viet Nam, anywhere we had world field exploration, photography, salvage. Plus rivers-- a lot of rivers.

M: What is different about river diving? Do you have a current problem you don't get in the seas?
J: What's different with rivers is it's a whole other thing. Many people who dive in the Gulf, can not dive in the rivers. Of course, many who dive in rivers, can not dive the Gulf. The problem is what you can see in the Gulf scares a lot of river divers. What you can't see in rivers is scary for Gulf divers. The blackness is a great big threat to them, and they won't dive the rivers. The current runs and trees flow down the bottom -- trees, telephone poles, stumps, and stuff comes down the river and you gotta know what to do when one of these jobs comes along. There's something has to be done quick.

M: How do you know? In the blackness?

J: There's all kinds of witchcraft -- diver's craft -- you've got to know. Most people don't know it, but there's something called the seven-tenths rule in the river -- seven-tenths from the bottom, in the regular straight part of the river, the river runs the most, while on the bottom it runs the least. So even if at the seven-tenths depth, it running at 2 knots, it might be running only a quarter-knot once you get on the bottom. So we can do the work at the bottom. If it gets really bad, and they still need you to dive, they bring in a crane, and drive a big fifty-eight ft. I-beam of steel into the bottom and we go down behind it. That's the way you can dive the big jobs. Or, they can put a pipe down and you go down the middle and jump out at the bottom.

M: Are the rivers that deep?

J: Yes, and they can be real dynamic jobs. Any time decompression enters into it you have to have a chamber on the job. That's where scuba divers get into big trouble. It's foolish to dive where you don't have a decompression chamber, because the timing is so critical. You shouldn't go into decompression unless you have a chamber because if something goes wrong, and you don't have a chamber, and you get the bends, you can not treat the bends without a chamber.

M: A lot of people don't even understand what the bends means. Like me.

J: It's bubbles of inert gas -- nitrogen -- you've got 79% nitrogen in the air and 20.94% oxygen and we use the oxygen, then the nitrogen just travels. What happens is the nitrogen can cause mechanical obstruction in the brain like a little BB, like a tiny little BB, then when you start to come up, the bubble expands and produces a mechanical pressure on some nerve, or vein, or in the brain, and cause loss of speech or hearing, or can cause paralysis below the waist if you get a spinal hit. It can cause an embolism that can go to your heart -- well, it can stop your heart. Well, the way you treat is very simply, as you come up the bubble expands, so you put the guy in the chamber and you run him down to the treatment depth, which is like 175ft., and then the bubble reduces in size, to one-fifth of its original size and then you try to let it go back out by coming up slow, the same way it got into the blood, by absorption. But sometimes it jumps out of the capillary and gets into a particular place out of the bloodstream, and then when it expands as you come back up, you can't get rid of the bubble, then you've got permanent damage. So, the longer you fool around with one of these things -- if you do not treat right away -- I mean I'm talking two to four or five minutes is a long time in a bends situation. And twenty minutes -- forget it. You've got trouble now, you've really got trouble. If you lose everything below the waist on a 180ft.dive, that you spent forty minutes on the bottom, you won't get it back if you wait twenty minutes. You'll be paralyzed for life. A friend of mine is, and I know that that's what he was doing. A lot of guys refuse to use the tables -- they refuse to respect the tables.

M: The thrill of the dives and your knowledge of all this makes me wonder how you got interested in diving in the first place.

J: I joined the Navy with parental permission when I was sixteen and a half, and went directly to First Class Deep Sea Diving School, and then I graduated when I was seventeen as a First-Class Deep Sea Diver.

M: I've heard about the SEAL's of the Navy. What about that program?

J: What happened when we developed the SEAL team, I was in underwater demolition called UDT at Little Creek. O.K., we used to go in there and volunteer to go to jungle warfare school and volunteer to go to airborne school. You didn't have to, but I wanted to become airborne qualified or EOB bomb disposal qualified. Then whenever something came up they would put a group of guys together that had this specialty rating for whatever they needed. Well, what they found was, that it was a real pain to have to get this group together fresh every time, so they started to make everybody go to jungle warfare school and everybody go to airborne school and then they called that Sea-Land-and-Air, you know. That's how it evolved. Matter of fact, I was there when we built our own parachute loft. We had different stuff you never saw. Now we, (American forces) have jet boats and we have electronic breathing gear -- all a lot better than when I was there. We have laser equipment that's sort of nasty. We have sniper rifles, fifty caliber, that will shoot one and one-quarter mile accurately on an eleven inch white target.

M: Underwater?

J: No, we have pistols that will shoot underwater. We have a two and a half inch snub-nosed, jet, rocket launcher that shoots a fifty caliber rocket bullet underwater.

M: Is that like a torpedo type bullet, with fins?

J: It uses solid propellant that was made by a German scientist coming out of WWII, a guy by the name of Bob Rhinehart. The hammer of your pistol hits the front of the rocket and the firing pin which is sticking out all the time, to trigger the rocket through this little hole. It spins at 250 rpm and it doesn't have any rifling. It'll fire the same underwater as it does topside, so you can shoot accurately with it.

M: Wow!

J: It's nasty.

M: With your company, do you stay in pretty close contact with the government?

J: Well, yes, I'll tell you something no one else knows about yet. Recently, we went up to Canada to take delivery of the two new Newtsuits, No.24 and No.25. You'll never guess who was up there, "Popeye" of the Navy SEAL's. He was there to evaluate because they are buying the Newtsuit for the SEAL's so they can use it on the Nuclear Sub. It will let them go outside of the sub while they're down if they maybe need to work on the sub. We put "Popeye" down in the suit. All of the Navy SEAL's have this unique ability that the average person doesn't have. With an average diver, it might take him three days to tell him how the suit works, but with one of the SEAL's, you can put him in the suit and then while you have the head open, you reach down inside the suit and say, "Up above you on the right side is a knob and when you push this knob, you're going to get oxygen. You screw it out to set your pressure. You see that gauge in front of you -- we want that at 29%, never more than that. When you hear an alarm go off, it's going to be at 18%." Now, he will hear all that that you're saying and then you put the faceplate on and he will dive that suit perfect. He will retain all that technical data as he needs it. You don't get this far in the SEAL's if you don't have a lot of snap, you just wash out.

M: They're well-chosen people then?

J: Well, normally 110 people go through training and the average number to finish is eleven. The largest class, ever, to finish was twenty-two. When you start going through the UDT training, the team is right there, watching you, all the time, and they have a vote on who is going to get in. You don't mess up and get by.

M: You don't even get the chance, huh?

J: Oh, you get the chance. You don't have to be a super-human to get picked as long as you try, and don't give up, ever. They don't want supermen necessarily -- I mean a weight lifter is not what they're looking for. It is better to be smaller, but strong, wiry type of individual with tenacity -- a don't quit no matter what. They can turn you into, like, a steel spring, you know.

M: When you were mentioning different locations, I wondered about diving into the so-called bottomless pools, or lakes, like in caves, like in Carlsbad Cavern, New Mexico. Have some of these been explored?

J: Yeah, they have. Actually, they're using super special gear right now to explore some down in Bay Rhea area. As to being bottomless, they're really not. If you listened on sonar to the one that's called bottomless in Bay Rhea, you'd find out it's 411 ft. deep. That's too deep for the regular scuba diver, and they look bottomless. Here's an example of why they look bottomless. I was in the bottom of Lake Michigan, walking across in hard hat gear, the depth I was at on air was 247ft., and it was clear -- I could see about 100ft. All of a sudden, I came to a big hole, a big black hole -- which I fell in. But of course, my hose pulled tight, (I was on air, you know) and I went down about ten feet. There was cold water coming out of it. But you talk about an ominous looking thing. Here I am, over this thing about fifty feet across, and they pulled me across it. And then when I got to the other side, I was at 247ft. again right there in the straits of Mackinaw. But here was this hole fifty feet across, that while they pulled me, there was nothing I could see below me, it was just black, I mean I felt like I was crossing a bottomless hole, you know what I mean?

M: Yes.

J: I mean, that was a bad feeling. Because with the hard hat, you've got eighty-five pounds of weight on, and shoes that weigh fifty-two pounds -- if anything happened to your air, you couldn't blow yourself up, and if the cable broke, you'd certainly find out if it was bottomless.

M: And, anything could be down in those.

J: Well, anything could be, but it's usually not -- hopefully. Sometimes, there is stuff in there, you know, all kinds of weird stuff in there. You know the ocean is veritably unexplored as far as I am concerned.

M: I was thinking of like the Loch Ness monster in Scotland. Have you been able to dive in the Lochs?

J: Oh, it's probably there, but I didn't go in the Lochs, I was scuba'ing over there and I did go in the North Sea. I was there for another reason, working commercial, and I just didn't have reason to go into the Lochs. They're nasty-cold, you know what I mean? But there's too much evidence to my way of thinking for there not to be something there. If you've ever been in the ocean, and you go down real deep and you see the canyons, and mountains down there, and you don't go anywhere, you just don't see them -- I don't know how anybody could say that the ocean has been all explored. You could hide a whole school bus in some of those canyons, you know.

M: Right. Our granddaughter is living about four miles off of Lake Erie, and she tells us that most of the ghost stories in that area are about ship wrecks.

J: I've done a lot of diving in the Lakes. I did a wreck 105ft., in Lake Huron that was really interesting. I dove on a sailing ship sunk in a storm, that was sitting upright on the bottom. That was very fascinating because the lanterns had turned over sideways when she went down and they had burned up, making a black smoke spot on the side. I used to use lanterns, so I knew how they got that smudge-- that the ship turned over as she sank. It was a 105ft. Schooner and had a single cylinder steam engine that caused it to settle with the bottom down. That was about six mile from Mackinaw City. It's still there in the 105ft. depth.

M: I've been told ESP plays a big part in diving.

J: I wasn't going to mention it, but since you brought it up, on that particular wreck, I think it played a big part. There's something they use on a boat called a trace trail log. That means it's a rope they throw over the side and then it curls out behind, and it spins like a propeller, but it's a lo-ong, sleek-looking propeller. They're all made by hand and they look like a pencil with little fins, and they're real pretty. So, I had this thought, "I'm going to jump on this boat," and this boat's been dived on by a lot of people, okay? This was the first time I ever dove on it. "Now," I said, "I'm going down and get the tracetrail log spinner." And I went straight down, dug in the ashes, right at the top rail, and picked up that tracetrail log. I went directly to it. Now the odds of me going directly to that thing and picking it up, when other people have dove the wreck -- when whole scuba clubs have dove it -- you can figure the odds on me getting that at 100 to 1. But that's the kind of things that happen to me. I've done a lot of things like that. That, and colors.

M: Now, I know a little about ESP, enough to believe it's a factual skill, not luck and not a fake. So, what are you saying about colors?

J: I was diving a helicopter wreck. And I have little secret things I use, like I take an automobile antennae down, then I lay down on the bottom and I push the antennae out in front of me, open it up, then I slide it left to right, and if it touches any metal, it's gonna go "Click!" It's gonna be real loud if it touches anything, and I touched a piece of metal. You remember I said I was looking for a helicopter, well, the minute I touched it, I thought, "That's one of those things that stick up in the floor that they tie things down with." This is a wreck, now think of this. Then I reached up without being able to see this out in front of me , it's down in the mud, and shoved it through the little hole and I picked it up and let it slide down to my hand. Now how can you figure that one out?

M: It must be ESP, I told you I believe in it, and you were exhibiting that skill.

J: I knew when I touched it, what it was. Sometimes I can touch colors on a dive when you can't see, not even a little bit, and you don't think about it. It just happens. Like you touch a red object, and you'll know what it is, like, "It's a red baby rattle!" Now, get this, you're on the site of a commercial wreck, searching a boat out in the Gulf of Mexico, and you just bump something with your elbow, and think, "red baby rattle" and when you reach around and pick it up, that's what it is. The last thing you would think of on a commercial wreck out in the middle of the Gulf, and, that's what it is.
M: Really not the right place to expect it!

J: That's why I know it's some kinda thing -- I don't know what it is. It only happens when you aren't trying to make it happen, you can't just make it happen.

M: You can't plan for it?

J: No, and you don't want to depend on it to make a living either.
(Both laugh)

M: I guess the most terrifying thought to me is the diving in total darkness.

J: Tell me how to get light on this job. I was in the bottom of Charles River, and the bottom is fifty-two feet deep, then I drilled a hole with the jet nozzle and I had to go down in the bottom straight for forty-seven feet in a hole big enough for my shoulders only, and if you think there's any light down there, you think about it. First of all, the river's dark, the bottom's fifty-two feet, then you go down another forty-seven feet in a hole that you make in the bottom stirring mud up. You see how dark it could be?

M: I can imagine that, but I don't see the purpose of digging any deeper in the bottom of the river.

J: Oh, I had to go down parallel to a thing that we had shoved down into the bottom and jet it loose so it would come up. This was so we could move it about a foot.

M: A foot! All that, well, I guess I understand.

J: We had a reason.

M: Well, I was thinking when you started telling about it, it might be for a wreck, but I don't guess they get covered up that deep.

J: For salvage? You want to know how deep we have to go for salvage, down in the mud -- you want to know how bad they're covered? You take a big tug boat at 150ft. long, like the one we were searching for in the bottom of the Mississippi -- the tip of the boat's antennae was sticking out. So we had to jet it out. This'll give you an idea of what a real jet job is like. We jet while we suck it out with a thirty-inch pipe on a big pump and we suck the mud out from all around it, and get the boat out-lined, then we go inside and suck the mud out from the inside. That gives you an idea when you talk about moving mud, we really do move the mud. I was crossing the Mississippi River following a telephone cable and you know what the depth of my ditch was? Thirty-seven feet deep, down under the mud, right, and then the whole thing fell in on me.

M: Oh, no! But, did you have one of those jet nozzles? What could you do?

J: So, what happens then is, you don't panic or nothing, you just turn the jet nozzle around and start following your hose and jet yourself out again. You can do that because the cavity you're in is full of water because of the jet nozzle running. You keep moving in your own little cave. If you are pressed to the bottom too much to move when something caves in on you, you have to jet your legs loose first. 'Cause, if you go down in the sand, and you get one foot buried in the sand up to the bottom of your ankle -- that's not very far, right -- and you don't have a jet nozzle, you can Not just pull that foot free.

M: I know I've lost tennis shoes in the Reservoir while wading, but at least I got my foot out. (Laughing) I know that this is taking up a lot of your valuable time and we really do appreciate your information. What else can you share with us?

J: Well, it's just a job to us. Forty years of doing salvage and the rest of it, not to brag, that's just work to us. There's no exaggeration, believe me it's just a routine, everyday, it's not like something you care about. I don't even like swimming pools, because water is not a big thing -- relaxation or recreation thing. I spend too much time in water on the job. You get all the water you want when you're in the business. You lose all your water sports fun after the first twenty years.

M: You went right to the business after the Navy?

J: That's right, I got out the day before I was twenty-one. If I had it to do over, I don't think I'd probably go the same duties -- I was a torpedo man, then the diving and in the non-navy world, I don't find many torpedoes to work on, and you don't do too much of that now.

M: You think you would have chosen a field that would have more career possibilities on the outside?

J: Now, I would be smart enough to choose computer technician instead. Or an electrician or something smarter. In fact, I am that now, I'm a regular electrical engineer. And I did 1400 hours in Air conditioning from the University of Texas, El Paso. I'm trying to tell you I would have done my life differently. The diving part wouldn't catch me now like it did then.

M: Don't you think with your ESP and your aptitude for underwater skills, it was inevitable, that you would have come to it sooner or later?

J: I don't know. I'm also an underwater demolitions expert -- I blew the most steel up in the world working in the Gulf, and cut down railroad bridges with explosives -- that's not easy with the steel that is in a railroad bridge. I liked doing underwater photography -- I did Jerry Cramer for NFL films and I did the battle cruiser for television with Bob Allison. I did the diving work for the film "Abyss," so I don't know. I'll send pictures of that sub, and of "Popeye" for your next issue.

Editor's Note: The pictures of the suit and of "Popeye" were carried in the original publication of this interview, then the originals were returned to Mr. Smith. The picture of the Cal-Sub used in the Abyss was given to the editor however, and is shown below with one of the "stage-deckhands" alongside it.

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My Daddy --

The World's Greatest Feminist

      My DaddyJack may have been the world's most awesome Feminist. He taught all four of his girls to seek knowledge in our every action: playtime, camping during the cold winter when even the bacon grease froze in MomaMay's camp skillet, watching the stars on blankets in the backyard with a special snack and MomaMay and DaddyJack pointing out Constellations and telling stories, on our many car trips where we "navigated" with a map that showed mountain peaks and rivers and monuments, so many wonderful learning adventures. We were expected to call out points of interest and, if we had time and were so inclined, many a detour would be taken to explore.

      He taught us to value our bodies, to be proud of being girls, to throw baseballs and softballs, to ride bikes and horses, to pitch a tent and safely build a campfire and then to master cooking on one!

      He taught us math and engaged our minds in crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, word games, spelling bees. We stayed up late as a family and roasted marshmallows over the fireplace logs while he and MomMay regaled us with stories of the strong women in our lives and theirs.

      He taught us to be ladies and to permit men and boys we encountered to be gentlemen. He defined the boundaries to be observed in a loving and non-prejudicial way. He taught, by example, how a true Christian man cherishes his wife...a full helpmate, a full partnership as God intended where love was always the guiding force, never EVER violence. He and MomMay could and often did test wits in political or religious discussions, with full respect and honor shown to both by both.

      DaddyJack never ever administered corporal punishment to me. One time, after I had managed at about age four to escape our backyard and become lost in the mesquite and Spanish yucca thickets that then bordered our home, MomMay in exasperation and still quaking with fear demanded he spank me. He put me across his knee, raised his hand and then said, "Lenamay. No way can this big, rough hand be used to strike that tiny baby girl!! I will not spank her!" Believe me, though, the spanking might have been easier to abide than when he would peer over his glasses and say, "I am deeply disappointed in you! I thought you were smarter than this..." for NOTHING was worse than disappointing my beloved DaddyJack!!

(Pic below shows Daddy, sister Jacquelyn as graduate of TWU, and Moma.)

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Tonight I could be sad.

It’s nearly fifty years
Since I wed my one true love;
She’s been dead for three.

The world has gone to hell again
Or never left. Hundreds killed last week;
An end nowhere in sight.

And age lies heavy on me.

But I laughed just now
At the stink my cat has made
In the pan outside my office door.

(She has no sense of how to cover it.)

And I’ll no doubt smile
An hour hence
When I step out to view the moon.

Music, books;
Warm fur by me on the bed;
And eventually dreams will come,

Mostly good, I think.

©2016 John I. Blair

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Piano at 75

Each night I sit down on the bench
And play piano for a little while.

Pain in my back keeps me
From sitting longer;

Three quarters of a century
Have left my fingers stiff.

But the music still sounds good;
My body still remembers

How to stroke the keys, reverberate the strings,
Bring beauty from this wooden box.

So I’m smiling
When I limp away to other things.

©2016 John I. Blair

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Ival Is My Name

I have a funny name;
My name is Ival.

 You can call me John
And I will answer;

But I maintain I’m really Ival,
That’s the truth.

I’m not the only Ival –
There’s my son, my Dad;

My Grandpa had this name,
A slew of cousins,

And even quite a few
I’m not related to.

I say that it’s a Scottish name,
But sooth to tell

I can’t prove a thing about it
Except it’s mine as well.

©2016 John I. Blair

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Be You

Everyone should be happy and content with where they are
In life the journey can take you so very far
Life changes and molds you
Into the person that wears your shoe

 Many times we follow what we learned from the past
Other times, those teaches don't seem to last
I believe it's best to explore life's precious gift
Learn from every lesson, as it gives you a lift

Listen to your spirit, what feels right to you
Is where you should go, and what you should do
This makes us the person that we will be
Looking beyond what most of the people see

Some people know you, but only a small part
A chapter per say, but there's more to your heart
If they really wanted to, they could take a look
Why read just one chapter, when you could read the whole book

But then if they did, would they truly understand
For we are taught differently, on what makes us feel grand
I believe the best, is for you to Be You
For it has been what helped you to get through
©Sept 12, 2016 Bud Lemire
Author Note:
Sometimes we can understand others. But for those
we can't, it could be their belief is different than ours.
It could be they were brought up in a different generation
that has a whole different way of thinking. It all has to do
with a different Mind Set. They will always be right in their
own minds. But there is no right or wrong. Is he right, is she
right, are they both wrong? No, what is right for you, is RIGHT.
That is you being content and happy being the YOU that you were
meant to be. It's the journey that has made you who you are.
So why don't you just remember to always BE YOU.

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Full Moon Tonight

Full moon tonight,
Hiding shy behind the treetops,
Reminding me again

Of the tale of Many Moons
I read once to my son
And later to his daughters.

The princess asked
To have the moon
Or she would die.

All the wise men of the court
Told her why
She could not have it.

They said it was too far,
Too large, too hot, too cold,
Too everything.

But the wisest one,
The Fool, asked her
How big it was, how far.

She told him that it hung
Just behind the trees
And was smaller than her thumb.

I looked again tonight
And she was right.

©2016 John I. Blair

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Things My Father Touched

Touching things my father touched
Feels strange, but comforts me.

A walking stick he polished with his hand
Stands in a corner by my desk.

Hearing sounds my father heard
I think of how he struggled once,

Deaf in a lecture hall,
To grasp a teacher’s words.

Tasting foods my father loved,
Hot apple pie, black coffee,

Reminds me I’m as old today
As he lived to be.

©2016 John I. Blair

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In memory of Mollie 4/15/98 – 9/6/16 RIP
I remember the day we first took you home
Seems like yesterday with all of these years gone by
You did your own things and mingled and caused some fuss
I don’t regret any of our time

Now this house is so empty without you
You were part of our family, our home
So many memories keep rushing through me
Without you we feel so alone

This family is missing a piece without you
You must now be in a better place
It’s just so hard for me sitting here
Knowing we can’t see your face

I remember you scratching my feet from under the bed
Making us watching you eat
Sometimes you were looking for attention in wonderful ways
You always came running for a treat

Now this house is so empty without you
You were part of our family, our home
So many reasons to miss you so much
Without you we feel so alone

Sometimes we can still hear your sounds
Even though we know you are gone
Thank you for loving us unconditionally
And for having so much courage for you to move on

©9/9/16 Bruce Clifford

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You didn't know Love
was this, before
You didn't know how,
to miss me, more

Soul sister and brother,
we kissed one another
Strangers, but true
our dangers are through

The depths of your eyes
show me so many lies
exchanging rewards,
creating surprise

Each gentle explosion
of beautiful smiles
the mental erosion
of previous trials

Releasing emotions
we forgot that we owned
increasing such notions
we've got, and we've known

Trying so hard
to hold back the years
exploring dimensions
so cold, beyond tears

© 2015 Phillip Hennessy

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