Sometimes, It Takes A While

We’ve been back from our trip now for a full week and even while on the trip, I’m sure that we could have found time to edit and post some of our pictures.

But we didn’t.

No, we’ve fallen behind – yet again. Myself, it’s partly because I jumped right off the plane, so to speak, and went back to work. That tends to put a damper on recovery time and has really sapped my desire to do a bunch of “work” on our pictures.

Never fear, though. Eventually, we will get to them and put them up for all to see.

It just might take a while…

More DNA More Questions

After the last DNA test, I decided to expand the scope of my test to include the Y chromosome. This can be used to trace deep paternal ancestry back many generations – in fact, it can even go back into pre-history. The Y chromosome is normally passed in it’s entirety from father to son with only an occasional rate of mutation. This means that on that one chromosome, all male descendants of a distant ancestor will have near identical Y chromosomes.

For example, the farthest back I’ve been able to trace the Phillips branch my tree is a man named Solomon Phillips who died in North Carolina in 1797. He might have been born in Virginia, but I have very few records and they all deal with North Carolina land sales and purchases, plus a court document for distribution of his estate since he died fairly young [47] without a will.

By submitting my Y-DNA to a “one name project” [usually an organization dedicated to tracing a single paternal name through DNA and genealogy] for “Phillips” I was able to confirm that Solomon is indeed my ancestor: 

There are only 3 testers in this family group 49: Me, a newly-discovered far distant cousin, and what appears to be one of my two male first cousins whom I’ve lost contact with. This test confirmed that both of these men and I are descended from Solomon – especially since the distant cousin was descended from a different son of Solomon than I was.

The interesting thing is that this distant cousin and I ONLY share DNA on the Y chromosome. No where else. But what we do share is only one tiny mutation off. That means in two different branches descended through 6 or 7 generations on a different fork, there has been only one minor transcription difference. That’s very close, and what they refer to as a genetic distance of “1”, which in the case of our shared ancestor, gives us a very strong statistical chance that this person is our common ancestor. Of course, with DNA, it’s all statistics and it could even mean that Solomon is NOT the common ancestor, but someone before him could be. However, based on our documentation, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

As for new questions, this raises more, such as “who was Solomon?”, “Where did he come from?” and many such. There are no records I can find before his move into North Carolina.

There are more questions, but I’m getting tired of typing now.

The Beginning Of A Journey

In my last post I mentioned that I was going to get DNA tested and the results are in! It’s both disappointing, interesting and frustrating.

One of the bigger disappointments that the test showed is that there are zero markers for Native American. Now, according to genetic science, it’s really about statistics. So, statistically speaking, I have no Native American markers. But, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have native heritage – only that the markers weren’t passed to me. However, it’s very likely that because I don’t have the markers, that I don’t have nearly as much native blood as I thought.

This has also been corroborated by my inability to find a close-proximity Native American in my family tree. Being told each of my parents was likely 1/8th native led me to believe that, for example, my maternal grandmother should have been 1/4th and one of her grandparents should be full blooded. That didn’t turn out to be the case and I have yet to find one. Which of course leads me to believe that there might not be near as much as I though and, if there actually is, it will be much further back than any of us thought.

It’s also frustrating in the sense that I haven’t really found out much of anything new in my family line that I was hoping to, but it’s also interesting that I found a smattering of DNA showing a more Mediterranean heritage than I thought. I thought, in fact, that there wasn’t one – that I was mainly northern and western European. However, the test showed almost 5% Italian or Greek, which is not yet something I found in my line.

It made me want to dig further.

In order to dig further, I’ve now submitted another test, a Y chromosome DNA test that will be able to better identify my direct paternal ancestry.

We’ll see how that turns out when the results come back.

DNA Testing

I’m becoming more and more fascinated by genealogy and tracing my family history back to wherever it might go. In playing with, I’ve found many lines of people going back to Virginia and Maryland of all places – now, it seems I’ve come full circle.

In order to get a better picture of the line, I’ve decided to get a DNA test. I’m rather interested to see what it might show. Especially since I’m having some difficulty locating the Native American people in the line. I’m pretty sure I found a few in Laura’s lineage, so her DNA test should show that. I’m hoping mine will show some too, but it looks more and more likely that it will be smaller than I previously believed.

I hope to find connections to the Phillips line all the way back to England. I may have found the link, but without corroborating documents or any evidence, I may not know. But if I can link my tree and DNA results to someone else’s tree who has stronger documentation, then maybe I can nail down that long-lost ancestor – and it won’t be a dead end in 1739 with Solomon Phillips. I have good documentation up to that, but then it all falls apart.

But, 1739 is nothing to sneeze at – the family has been here a long time. Longer than I previously thought.

I’m kind of excited to see what the test shows.

One Million Miles

Not yet, but that’s what I’m shooting for.

After almost 10 years at my last job, travelling to the work sites every week, and my propensity for travelling any place that I can, I’ve racked up just over 904,000 miles just on United alone. Most of those were on Continental before the merger, but I’ve added a good amount since.

If you want to count ALL my miles, I’ve done well over a million total on various airlines. At one point I had 240,000 on American, but they cancelled my account for lack of use (good riddance, I say).

With my new job, I don’t travel nearly as much. In fact, NOT travelling every week was kind of why I took it. After all – I rather enjoy spending time with the wife. The new job is mostly local, with occasional travel. I travel maybe 4 times per year, usually half of that is vacation.

So, where I used to accrue 75,000 or more miles per year, I now sometimes don’t even reach enough for elite status. Of course, I have a way to maintain the lowest tier if necessary, and I’ve put that to use a few times.

What I need now is a way to cheaply and quickly earn 96,000 miles. Based on miles, I think I can do that with 5 round trips to Bangkok. (Or maybe only 3 with some business trips to Seattle scattered over the next couple of years.)

Hmm… maybe I’ll pop over for a dinner of green curry a couple of times.

New Underwater Development Process

In order to make better pictures underwater, I’m not only fitting out a used case for my 5D, but I’m also learning a new technique for developing the underwater raw photos in Lightroom to better reflect what they should look like.

Normally, pictures you take underwater are extremely blue:


Previously, to fix this, I would import the file into Photoshop, run a custom action which would add a red layer, do some magic and then, I’d save the PSD file and adjust it some more and maybe it would look okay:


Now, I don’t know about you, but that looks a bit strange what with the purple water and all. So, I’m now working in Lightroom using a technique that uses white balances and black levels to make corrections. It’s non-destructive, doesn’t require a second PSD file and is very flexible. Much faster as well. Here’s that same picture with the new method:


Blue water, proper skin tones, over all, much better.

New Underwater Direction

After some setbacks and issues with the EOS M, I had an epiphany. We have two “old” EOS 5D cameras. Why couldn’t I just find a used housing for one of them? Sure enough, I found one for half price of what I would normally have to pay for a new case for a new model. I picked it up and have been finding used or on-sale lens ports to go with it.

This idea has several advantages as well as several disadvantages. First, the speed and responsiveness of the camera are incomparable to even a high-end mirrorless. Second, the pixel quality is one of the best in the industry despite it being a bit long in the tooth. The dynamic range is also much better.

The down side, though, is that the housing weighs eight million tons, and with all the accessories, it will be difficult to carry on a dive trip.

Well, I’ll just have to try it out and see.