Don’t you just hate it when you are busy doing something and the phone rings. You drop what you are doing and run to the phone but it is just a recording to tell you about your big chance to buy something or claim a prize in a contest you never entered.

These moments are brought to you by Robocalls. They are more than a bother. Sometimes people actually respond to them and end up losing money. It must be enough people to make it worthwhile for these scammers.

Consumers Union (a division of Consumer Reports) is running a campaign to end these calls before they reach your home (#EndRobocalls). They have an online petition and information at https://consumersunion.org/end-robocalls/.

If you agree, please sign the petition. No guarantee this will end them but at least it could. This is your chance to make your voice heard. #EndRobocalls.

Great map of Ireland

I’ve never been to Northern Ireland but I understand that it is beautiful. I’ve been to the Republic of Ireland but it has been many years and I’m ready to go back. So I think that when I do go, I will see both. And notice that I said “when” rather than “if”.

I can be a bit cynical at times. You may have noticed that in some of my more political posts. But when it comes to things like genealogy and travel I tend to be more optimistic. So I’m already planning my trip to Ireland.

The first question for us is – “tour” or “on our own”. Each has advantages and disadvantages but we decided “on our own” and renting a car would work best for us.

So with that decided, I thought a good map was in order. I found one in our local bookstore and I thought it would do the job but wondered if there was something better.

I looked on Amazon to see if they had more choices and there was something like the map I had seen in the store. Maybe it was the same. And there were several others. But there was also a better map.

No, let’s call it a great map of Ireland. The first thing that caught my attention was that it was from the National Geographic Society. I get the magazine and so figured this must be a high quality map. Then I read the reviews and knew this was the map of Ireland for me.

The thing that leads me to call this a great map of Ireland and the one I definitely want is the material. Most road maps are made of a fairly thin paper. This map of Ireland is printed on thin plastic that resists both tearing and water. For the planning it doesn’t seem that important but for driving it is a major improvement. When driving, you are constantly folding and re-folding the large map. And that makes it easy to tear a paper map. Plastic definitely has an advantage here. The waterproof aspect is another advantage but in my case it is not a big deal.

I am definitely pleased with this purchase and highly recommend this map if you are looking for a great map of Ireland for either planning a trip or driving.

An Irish Valentine

I was looking around the internet for an Irish Valentine. That is something appropriate for Valentine’s Day, Irish-style. And I found a new (for me) blog.

What could be better than giving an Irish Valentine for someone of Irish descent or someone fortunate enough to have a Valentine of Irish descent?

Also there is more interesting stuff on that blog. Look around

Protect your kids – vaccines, medicine, fear

The recent outbreak of a measles in the unvaccinated made me think of a book I read several years back (The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear by Seth Mnookin) and briefly mentioned it on this blog. See Protect the kids or why people do dumb things.

It was a good book as I recall but the issue of parents doing a dumb thing in not getting their children vaccinated is still very much with us. My article has link to an article by Seth Mnookin that covers some of the same ground he covered well in his book. I don’t think either of us is calling people dumb. Even smart people can do dumb things.

Another good article that specifically covers the current measles out break is The Vaccine Lunacy: Disneyland, Measles and Madness by Frank Bruni.

There is quite a bit of information out there. Some of it is very good and some of it is misleading. If you are a parent, read it, consider the sources, and act to protect your kids.

Climate Peril by John J. Berger

The full title, Climate Peril: The Intelligent Reader’s Guide to Understanding the Climate Crisis, gives you a better idea of what this book is about and who it is aimed at.

The author is John J. Berger, a Ph.D. with expertise in ecology and and climate science. He has written this book not for other experts but for intelligent readers who wish to understand the current debate about climate change and the likely consequences.

I am in the process of reading this book but there is much to it and I suspect this is going to take awhile. So this is both a progress report and a review of the book as far as I have read and what I see coming based on on chapter titles.

By the way, if you look at the Amazon site you will see many favorable reviews. In fact when I looked all who reviewed the book gave it 5 starts (the highest rating). You may also notice the Kindle version is considerably less than either the hardback or paperback editions.

Dr. Berger starts us a brief picture of what will likely happen as a result of climate change in the next 90 years or so. That is, the life time of those being born now and in the very near future. It is an alarming picture and it could be worse if greenhouse emissions continue to increase.

The next chapter reviews the evidence that climate changes are already occurring. But climate does change naturally. The next 2 chapters explain the normal climate alteration process and then the unnatural process which is occurring now.

This is where I am now. So far, I am very impressed. Dr. Berger does a great job in explaining the complex issues in normal climate fluctuations (why we have ice ages and warming periods) and why most scientists believe we are now abnormally warming the climate.

Of course, weather varies. We have hot days and cold days. But based on yearly averages, 2014 was the hottest year on record. And the past few years have been pretty warm too. See Bloomberg for a great animated graph.

But back to the book. So far I think it does exactly what it set out to do. That is, it is an explanation of climate change and climate peril for the intelligent reader. And so far, the book looks very good at it. I look forward to reading the rest which looks like it lays out various climate perils in greater detail.

Taxpayer-subsidized politics

Taxpayer-subsidized politics may be coming to a church near you. Why do I say that?

Paragraph (3) of section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 contains this:

(3) Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.

Simply put means that tax-exempt organizations (including churches) cannot carry out propaganda or political campaigning. This seems entirely reasonable to me.

But a bill has been introduced in the House (HR 153) which deletes the part above in bold. This seems to say that churches (and other cited tax-exempt organizations still cannot engage propaganda to influence legislation but are allowed to intervene in political campaigns. Seems rather confusing to me.

Also does it mean that if someone wants to support a candidate for office (or trash an opponent) that someone can now get a tax deduction by funneling the contribution through a like minded church or minister instead of a Super-PAC?

Doesn’t seem like such a good idea to me. What do you think?


Ireland flights on sale

Most of us with an interest in Irish genealogy (or those who just want a nice vacation) frequently look at plane flights to Ireland. Usually the rates are high if you would like to go during the usual tourist season.

If you see a good rate on a flight to Ireland often there is some sort of exclusion like “good on flights during February”. We were very surprised a few nights ago when we saw Ireland flights on sale. The best prices were New York to Shannon but decent enough prices for flights with other origins and destinations.

So check out the Aer Lingus sale on Ireland flights as well as their offers to elsewhere in Europe. There may be a reasonably-priced vacation in your future.

Irish Genealogy: John J Reidy 1906

I’ve enjoyed my membership in the Genealogy Bank. I am now in my second year.

It allows searches in a wide variety of older newspapers and they are adding more newspaper every month. When I got my monthly newsletter today, I was pleased to see they added more issues of the Gaelic American. This is a New York news papers publishing thing of interest to Irish-Americans, including news from Ireland.

Since I am interested in Irish Genealogy including the name REIDY, I was pleased to see an obituary of John J. Reidy who died July 17, 1906. This was in the August 11, 1906 issue. Among many other things the article says he was from Ballyelan, Ballingarry, Limerick and was active in the Fenian movement, and an uncle of James Reidy of New York.

There were also quite a few articles in the Gaelic American of this time on James Reidy of the Brooklyn Gaelic society and other Irish-American organizations. I suspect this is may be the nephew mentioned above but I do not know this.

Since Ballingarry is just down the road from Rathkeale where my REIDYs were from, I found this especially interesting.

How to Do Everything Genealogy

I’ve been doing a bit of family history myself so when I saw the title How to Do Everything Genealogy, my first thought was that covering everything in genealogy in a a book was certainly an impossible task and perhaps the author was some sort of charlatan. However, I soon discovered this was not the case and it actually was a very good book.
Continue reading

Medicare explained brilliantly

This is a review of Medicare For Dummies which was much better than expected. In fact, it was very good but I did have low expectations when I first saw the book.

Many years back my job involved computers and programming. I don’t remember the exact story so this will be a bit vague. For some reason I need to learn quickly about some commonly used program. I figured since I knew nothing about program X, most books or webpages about X would be way over my head.

So I figured I would start with the “Dummies” book and progress after I got the basics. It turn out badly. I didn’t really learn anything useful and felt insulted and frustrated in the process.

This book is much different. Continue reading

Family Search photoduplication services and rewards

I’ve mentioned that I use Family Search quite a bit and it is free so I try to help out by volunteering to index records.

Family Search has discontinued their photoduplication services. I had used this service for several records each year because the actual record usually has much more information than the abstract online or an index. But these records may eventually be fully digitized and available online. Meanwhile, it is a service I miss.

But this gives me an idea. Actually three, but I don’t know if they will be useful. Continue reading

Charles Greer who escaped from Sing Sing

I’ve written several times about the Charles Greer who escaped from Sing Sing in 1922. I believed he was the child of John and Julia Greer of New York City.

I did find a newspaper article that seemed to confirm I was right but I was hoping to find a second source. Yesterday I found it.

Ancestry.com now has added some Sing Sing admission records and a little searching led to the record of Charles Greer received in 1920 and convicted of murder as reported in the newspapers. Julia Greer of 1487 Amsterdam Ave, NYC was listed on the record.

Full Irish – political suspense

Mix a bit of suspense with politics in a fast moving and very entertaining novel and you have Full Irish by Pete Morin and Susanne O’Leary.

I was quickly drawn into the story when an Irish politician was murdered on his way to a meeting to deliver a small but mysterious package. The action quickly switches to a Boston law office and Massachusetts politics. And then back to Ireland. The 2 stories quickly come together in a transatlantic web of political intrigue and corruption.

I read Kindle edition so had no idea as to the number of pages. I just checked the Amazon site and they say the paperback has 260 pages. But it is fast paced and a quick read. I read the book in a few sittings. I have linked to a page that has both the kindle and paperback editions listed. I recommend the kindle if you have one and enjoy it. It is considerable cheaper.

At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and hope you do too.