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Read about quality family history and life story news, views, methods, products, links, services

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July, 2006

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July 29, 2006

Who knew that obituary writers could have such well-honed senses of humor? I think many people might automatically assume that an "obit" writer is serious and dour, much like the common misconception about those who work in funeral services. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Obituary writers are actually fantastic talents who are often writing mini-biographies of the deceased. The obituaries are avidly read by many who subscribe to newspapers and those whose job it is to write the tribute and essence of someone's life in the short space they are usually accorded often do it with pathos, flair and style.

The recent annual conference for obituary writers, the 8th great obituary writer's conference, attracted many of these talented writers from around the world. This year's gathering was in Las Vegas, New Mexico (that's New Mexico, not Nevada) and Cathy Dunphy wrote an entertaining and enlightening article about it for that is posted online by the Toronto Star (here). This article gave me newfound respect for these writers and also led me to the Carloyn Gilbert (no relation to me) heads the writers' group and her web site has some really interesting information about obit writers. I recommend a vist - go here.

July 25, 2006

The fact that you are on this website reading items about personal history shows that your are among the growing population both aware and interested in this subject. I've seen over the past there years steady growth in media coverage and interest among people about the growing trend of telling and preserving our stories. This is great!

Could it be that we are reaching a tipping point — a time when critical mass pushes the subject into the mainstream? I certainly hope so. More evidence is at the Newsweek magazine online site with the category "My Turn Online" and Andrea Gross' submission "These Stories Will Change Your Life: What hearing my family history taught me about my mother and father."

Ms. Gross (a fellow APH member we all know as Andy) writes in a compelling and conversational way that reels the reader in instantly as her opening paragraph demonstrates:

"Dad is laughing so hard that everyone else in the room—all 32 nieces, nephews, cousins and long-time friends—is laughing too. This strikes me as strange since no one knows what he’s laughing about; he hasn’t yet reached the punch line."

You can read the entire article here.

July 24, 2006

In the past week you probably have been watching the news about the war in the Middle East between Lebanon (Hezbollah faction) and Israel. This area of the world has been a hot spot for a long time, and I suspect it will be for years to come. We can all hope and pray for peace, but there is much to be done on both sides for that to occur.

The most distressing aspect, like in all wars, are the innocent civilians that are caught in the middle. Every day must be filled with fear and concern whether the violence will hit home.

History has shown us, however, that even in terrible situations like wars and violence there are stories of heroic proportions. Personal historians have the opportunity and responsibility to help preserve those stories when they can. If you are currently going through great hardship, or have in the past, I urge you to write a journal, save notes and photos and find a way to pass on your story. It can be very encouraging and helpful to others, as well as cathartic to you. It might be that your dark past can be a life changing event.

July 17, 2006

Many people enjoy the open road, especially riding on two wheels. The joy of motorcycle riding is a downright passion for a lot of people. This past weekend in the small town of Grants, New Mexico the 6th annual Fire and Ice Bike Rally was held. I was there (although I don't own a motorcycle or ride — not yet anyway) and thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts enjoyed a weekend of riding, activities, good music and fellowship.

You might have an image of motorcycle rallys as drunken and rowdy gatherings of outlaws, but it's a misconception for most events. This rally was family friendly and safe. I didn't hear of one bad incident. As some of you may know, I work for a radio station (96.3 The Buzzard - Real Classic Rock) and we were on location broadcasting. It was fun to meet people and hear their stories.

July 14, 2006

Once you have written your life story you are faced with how to have the book printed. There are lots of options and it can be a bit overwhelming. You certainly want to find both an affordable and professional means for printing your memoir, autobiography, or life story.

I really think the iMemoryBook is a great way to go because you can both build your book online with ongoing revisions and additions and then when you are ready have the book affordably printed. The quality is great, there are many options for size and quantity, and it's turnkey. More here.

Another option are POD houses — print on demand — publishers. Here's a link to a recent article from the North Jersey Media Group about Timothy Hall and his company, Long Dash. He's a fellow APH member.

July 11, 2006

Everyone is familiar with AARP — an organization devoted to seniors and "young" seniors (you can join at the age of 50, which means I'm now eligible). They have a widely circulated magazine filled with interesting articles — see AARP The Magazine.

The other day I came across an online magazine dedicated to the 50-plus crowd. looks to have some interesting articles. I particularly enjoyed reading about a group of 60+ men who all grew up in the same Brooklyn neighborhood and a few years ago started reuniting every couple of years. While only one still lives in New York City they all have lots in common and they've found that they can share their lives, their feelings and grow as men with their bonds of friendship.

There is also an article on Don Johnson, the actor who shares the same birthday as me, albeit he's one year older. Mr. Johnson has learned from his life experiences, especially the struggles, to find peace and contentment. That's not easy to do in the entertainment industry.

There are more people in the 50 plus demographic than ever before and we "Boomers" want to live full lives with health, personal and spiritual growth, and, if possible, financial freedom. These two magazines are helping me keep in touch with that.

July 6, 2006

I grew up reading a lot of science fiction and I've always loved the genre. The stories are key and putting characters in challenging and "other wordly" situations allows your imagination to soar.

I like the Internet for many of the same reasons. Thoughts and philosophies can be shared online and we have an incredible library of resources at the click of a mouse.

A man who understood the importance of the science fiction and fantasy genres (he supported many writers, often giving them their first shot), and knew how to utilize the Web to expose gifted writing to readers worldwide has passed away. Jim Baen didn't believe that electronic publishing needed to be encrypted (to protect against readers getting it for free). He embraced publishing for everyone, and despite the traditional wisdom that tells you don't give it away, he succeeded.

A pretty good article about Jim here on Keith Ferrell's blog at TechSearch (he was a one time editor of Omni Magazine) and a terrific from David Drake here.

July 4, 2006

The 4th of July is an important holiday for those of us in the United States. Independence Day recognizes the birth of our country, the day when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. This country's founding fathers signed the document declaring independence from the kingdom of Great Britain.

Today the holiday includes parades, picnics, hot dogs and barbeques, and other summer pursuits. And, of course, fireworks. Spectacular fireworks displays are common in cities from sea to shining sea. This celebration was actually envisioned by John Adams. According to Wikipedia (a pretty cool Internet free online encyclopedia), he wrote his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776:

"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."

I hope your celebration was enjoyable. The freedom we have in the USA should never be taken for granted. Nor, should your life. Holidays and special occasions are often rich veins of memory ready to be mined for your life story — and to be shared with others.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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