Monday, November 30, 2015

Nostalgic Over Lost Marbles and the Millennial Micro Generation Gap

 I survived Black Friday!  This was, in part, because I decided to properly honor Thanksgiving by staying at home and eating delicious pie, and then delightfully sleeping in the next morning.  And when I finally ventured into the cold on a day known for sales, steals, and brawls, it was in the afternoon after all the crazies had left to sleep off their all-nighters.

Still, going in and out of stores, though fun, can grow tiresome, and at around 8:30 pm I was ready to call it a day when my Mom and I went to the Provo Riverwoods.

Suddenly I found myself in Blickenstaff, an old fashioned toy store with goodies new, old, and remade.  It's a fun place to visit, and I quickly grew nostalgic over an era I never lived in, mainly the 40s-50s.  Ironically those were turbulent times, but I think it's the innocence and honesty of the times I long for.

 As I walked around I spotted a large barrel of marbles, each for a whole $0.29, and my mind went to two places: The first being "Hook," which I watched on Thanksgiving, remembering how Tootles "lost his marbles," and then getting them back by movie's end, overjoyed; and the second was my remembering elementary school, hanging with the boys while playing marbles.  I have so many scattered memories of my younger days, but I remember quite fondly laying on the dirt, circle drawn, as I tried to knock out fellow kids marbles, and not lose my own.

Playing marbles was an age old pastime, which Schulz captured several times in his comics, even going back to 1955, an early indication of this game's popularity on the schoolyard that somehow lasted into the 90's.  I remember when my 5th and 6th grade teacher, Mr. Bloomstrand, let a couple of girls and I pick out a free marble from a large jar full of colorful glass balls.  I picked a purple/white marble that has managed to survive these 20+ years, mainly because I never played it in a game in fear of losing it.

When I was in the 6th grade the game was banned, thanks mainly to a few kids who cried and complained over losing all their marbles, ruining it for the rest of us (a foreshadowing of life, really, or a sad omen for the future, encouraging a generation of poor losers and wimps.  I think losing marbles builds character.)

Pogs then became popular, they we're literally everywhere, and an easy replacement to marbles, until the school banned them as well.

But then this all got me to thinking, I was born in 1982, which makes me a millennial, spanning those born between early 1980's to early 2000's, and yet I don't really relate to those born in the last half of the millennial range.

Those of us who were born in the early 80's remember record players, remember VHS's and cassette tapes, remember a time before the internet existed, remember when music was able to fit on a CD and then an MP3.  I remember going to the little arcade at Pizza Hut to play games, before my family splurged on a Super Nintendo (I had to visit friends homes to play the original NES.)  I think I truly belong to a micro generation that spans two eras, the post analog and the pre digital.  That's where I belong.

I remember a simpler time.  I remember marbles and cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers.  Staring up at a clear night sky with no light pollution.  I grew up on Star Trek the Next Generation and Road to Avonlea.  I'm somewhere between those two as well.   

iPads didn't exist in school, we didn't need them to learn, we had books, and that was good. We weren't taught towards tests. We learned to cultivate our imagination.

I think I've gotten off topic.

Written rambling.


Those beautiful pieces of spherical glass.

A game I was never great at but enjoyed, and learned a lot, too.  Sometimes you win.  Sometimes you lose.  And there are real consequences to winning or losing.  There isn't a participation award, you either win or lose marbles, no in between.  You learn to be a good sport.  You learn to enjoy the win: It meant something, because you earned it.

Every generation needs to learn how to play marbles.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Turkey Gobble, an original poem

 The Turkey Gobble

 Gobble, Gobble, Gobble
The Turkey did dance
Autumn was coming
This was His chance
Gobble, Gobble, Gobble
Run away fast
Escape to the Forrest
And through all the grass

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble
Away he did flee
Away from the cranberries
And all the gravy
Gobble, Gobble, Gobble
Thanksgiving was soon
The idea of a feast
Was nothing but gloom

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble
The Turkey Relaxed
In a new field
He tiredly slacked
Gobble, Gobble, Gobble
A giant man came
He found the new Turkey
Quiet and tame

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble
The family did eat
Between slices of bread
The Turkey did sleep
Gobble, Gobble, Gobble
His rest was divine
Now in Heaven
The Turkey did shine

Poem by Sarah Stufflebeam
Art by Lindsay Stufflebeam

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, mini movie review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

All good things must come to an end, right? And after a year we finally have The Hunger Game: Mockingjay Part 2.  This movie acts as a second part.  There's no set up.  No review.  Part 1 ended with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) choking Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) after he was rescued from the Capital.  Part 2 starts with her getting her neck brace off to check for bruising and vocal damage.  That's all the lead up you get.  Rebellion is building throughout the districts, district 2, the soldiers of Panem, has yet to join the districts in support, and war is about to overtake the Capitol.  The center of Panem is about to become the new Hunger Games.

Mockingjay is based on the controversial book by Suzanne Collins.   Controversial because many fans didn't like it.  I almost didn't read Hunger Games at all because a friend told me not to bother with the series, as she didn't like the last book.  After several months of pondering I finally downloaded Hunger Games to my Kindle, and ironically Mockingjay turned out to be my favorite book.  It breaks from the formulaic structure of the first two novels, where the three act structure was 1. Deal with emotions in District 12, 2. venture to the Capitol for training, and 3. Survive the Hunger Games.

In Mockingjay Katniss finds herself in the secret, recently unknown District 13, and for a book that's actually slow in pace, this single book was split into 2 movies.  Honestly, there could have been one movie with a tighter plot.  Here we get a movie that's somewhat lackluster in parts.  The reasons why I love the book got lost in the movie's narrative and year long intermission.

Where in the first movie (stupid handheld jiggles aside, rendering Hunger Games unwatchable), it was nice seeing the story without hearing Katniss's thoughts and ponders.  In this new movie I started to miss her analysis and inner snark.  The final scene between Katniss and Gale (Liam Hemsworth), doesn't have the same "oomph" as the book.  The fact that I had to explain final points and character motivations to my Dad, who hasn't read the book, is proof story material got lost in translation.  The fact that this single book had to parts, and didn't fully explain or mention a couple points isn't good.  And also, some favorite moments from the book didn't even make the movie!!  Peeta's wedding cake for Finnick's wedding didn't make it!  All of Peeta's character development during his time in 13 didn't make the movie.  There's a few scenes, but it's not the same.

This movie is not a standalone.  And in all honesty, if you haven't watched any of the previous movies this movie would be a waste of time, it's that dependent on Part 1.  As a conclusion it works.  Is it a great sendoff to such a popular series?  I'm not sure. The final narrative in the book's epilogue was more impactful then the film.

I'm glad it's over.

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

How Tall Will You Stand?

"The final outcome is certain - the forces of Righteousness will win!!  But what remains to be seen is where each of us, personally, will stand in this battle and how tall we will stand."

~ Ezra Taft Benson

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Japanese Meander and Kamakura, Japan Day 4

Day 4 in Japan was one of our spontaneous short days, in which we slept in and recouped a little from Tokyo Disney Sea.  We made it to the apartment just before midnight the night before, standing most of the 2 hour train trip back.

There really wasn't much of a plan for this day.  I did the research for all the places and things we could do, and there were two things that we hadn't done yet that I wanted to do: Visit Meiji Shrine, Asakusa, Skytree, and go to Mount Takao.  With our last two days in Japan I wanted to separate those things between our last days, and hopefully squeeze in Akihabara for Michael.  Our tentative immediate plan was Meiji in Harajuku, and that's what we woke up planning to do.

But as soon as I stepped outside of the Apartment, feeling the air and sunshine, I declared, "How do you guys feel about the beach?"  And it was decided, we were going to revisit Enoshima and trek onto Kamakura.

 But first we had to visit the post office Michael found to buy stamps and mail off postcards.  It was a bit of a walk, but so worth it.  And we had a fun phone call home during the experience.

I cannot recommend enough, when you're on vacation, to buy a few postcards and jot down some of your memories, and then mailing them to yourself.  All the postcards I sent arrived the week after we got back, and it was so much fun reading them and seeing the postmark.

 And then we found a super yummy bakery next to the train station.  I bought pizza toast and some kind of hot dog pastry.  I was too busy eating them to take a picture.  Oh, but the eating!

This is very important: There are so many cultural rules when it comes to eating in Japan.  You can't eat or drink while walking.  You can't eat or drink on the train.  You can't sit on the curb or against a building wall to munch.  Here in Utah, if we were super hungry and bought yummy goodies, it's totally acceptable to immediately leave the store, lean against the building, and chow down.  Not so in Japan.  We were starving but weren't sure where to eat.  We walked a couple blocks and found an elderly couple eating lunch on a bench in a small neighborhood park.  We figured, "If they can eat here, we can eat here!" And we ate.  And it was good.

A funny story.  A couple weeks ago when I was at California Adventure, I had the Shellie May Disney bear from Tokyo Disney Sea on my purse, and one of the photo plus photographers saw it, and he mentioned he was in Tokyo several months before.  And then we had a fun, quick conversation about the cultural restrictions.  He joked about losing 15 pounds on the trip, because eating was so difficult, and he didn't know how to order stuff.  In Shinjuku he and his friends bought lunch, but couldn't eat it (as stated above), and it took them 5 hours to find a park where they could eat!  True story.  We had a good laugh in understanding over that.

 On the Odakyu line the train signs switch between Japanese and English.

 Enoshima again!  This is outside Katase-Enoshima train station.

 I never found out what the building poking through the trees was.  I think it's a giant Buddha, but I'm not really sure.  The next time I venture back there I will investigate.

 Mount Fuji!!!  It's BEARLY visible.  It was easier to see in person then what this image proclaims, but it was so nice finally seeing Fuji.

 A cat sitting outside the character shop, getting a whole lot of attention by passer-by's.

 At another train station in Enoshima, getting ready to hop onto the train to Kamakura.

These cute little birds were hanging outside the train station.

Krista and I got the best seats on this fun train!

 Honestly, I loved this train ride.  It's about 30 minutes from Enoshima to Kamakura, and the atmosphere was nice and relaxed.  People talked and laughed on the train!  And it runs right along the ocean, just behind houses and streets.  We caught the train during what I call "golden hour," which is just before sunset when everything is aglow.  So beautiful.

 A torii right at the entrance of a shopping street.

 There's really great shopping here, especially if you want to buy specialty cultural items.

 The Miyazaki shop.

There's so many Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines to visit, but with the sun setting around 5 pm there wasn't much we could do.

 Tsurugaoka HachimangÅ« was the only shrine we could visit, but it's the most important shrine in the city.  It was closing when we got there, but thankfully we were able to see it.

It got dark way too quickly!

 On the way back to the station we walked down the long street of stores and found some treasures.  Michael thankfully walked into a music store that focused mainly on handcrafted Ocarina's: Ocarina-Shirai.  The man who runs the store made all the instruments.  He spoke no English, our Japanese is super poor at best, and yet we managed to communicate.

I was just short the funds to buy this Alto Ocarina in the key of F, but Krista was gracious and gave me some money so I could get it.  One of my greatest treasures from the trip.

It's amazing how we weren't planning on visiting Kamakura at all.  It was an afterthought, but I'm so glad we went.  It was one of our favorite places we visited.

(Photos by Sarah and Michael Stufflebeam)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Why You Should Test Your Grandparents for Ancestry DNA, and other Ancestry DNA Discoveries

 My Maternal Grandmother's DNA Results

 A little over a month ago I received my maternal Grandmother's Ancestry DNA results. It was bright and colorful, showing more regions then I ever imagined having done genealogy work on our family tree.  I imaged she would be heavily Great Britain and Irish, instead the breakdown was:

Europe: 98%

Great Britain: 32% (3%-61%)
Scandinavia: 26% (5%-47%)
Iberian Peninsula: 14% (2%-25%)
Ireland: 11% (0%-27%)
Europe West: 5% (0%-21%)
Italy/Greece: 6% (0%-14%)
Europe East: 4% (0%-10%)

West Asia: 2%

Caucuses: 2% (0%-4%)

(Note: What are the percentage brackets?  Why not a set percentage to represent each region?  From When we calculate your estimate for each ethnicity region, we run forty separate analyses. Each of the forty analyses gives another estimate of your ethnicity, and each one is done with randomly selected portions of your DNA. Why forty? Ethnicity estimation can be variable from comparison to comparison — different combinations of DNA can give us different information, so doing multiple analyses can give us a more accurate estimate, as well as the likely range.)

(Note: Trace regions are areas where traces are found in the DNA, but the evidence is so small it could be there by chance.)

(Note:  I wasn't familiar about the Caucasus, but it's actually where the term "Caucasian" comes from.  The Caucasus DNA regions are located primarily in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey. It can also include Bulgaria, Jordan, Greece, Italy, Kuwait, Palestine, Romania, Turkmenistan.)     

  I was pretty excited about my Grandmothers results.  So much variety.  Pretty much all of Europe covered.  Regions I haven't found in my paper trail search on my family tree.  I was particularly shocked by the Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal, also found in France, Morocco, Algeria, Italy).

What variety would I find in my DNA?  With roots going back to the 1600's and 1700's in U.S. history, I've got to have a slew genetic regions, right?

But here's the interesting thing about DNA.  We only get what we inherit.  1/2 from my Mom, 1/2 from my Dad, 1/4 from my Grandparents, 1/8 from my Great-Grandparents, 1/16 from my Great-Great-Grandparents, etc.  How much genetic information can be lost in all those divisions?

 My Maternal Grandfather's DNA Results

 When I first administered my Grandfather's DNA test, which involved having him spit into a tube, the first test failed, so I didn't get his results when my Grandmother's results came in.  Thankfully Ancestry DNA sent me another test.

His results came last week, along my Mom and my results.

Here's what his shows.

Europe: 100%

Ireland: 75% (59%-88%)
Great Britain: 20% (5%-36%)
Scandinavia: 2% (0%-11%)
Finland/Northwest Russia: 2% (0%-5%)
Iberian Peninsula: <1% (0%-3%)

I wasn't at all surprised by his results, since his lines strongly go back to Ireland via Hallisey, Mahoney, O'Niel, etc.

Note, though, Scotland and Wales doesn't show up as a separate region.  Both can equally show up under Ireland and Great Britain, due to trade, war, lack of mountains, easy travel, etc.  I know my Grandfather has Scottish in him, and it looks like it's showing up under the Great Britain region.

My Mom's DNA Results

 I was really curious to see what my Mom inherited, since she gets 1/2 from my Grandparents, and whatever she gets and doesn't get, I have a 50% of getting or not getting.  What she doesn't inherit I have no chance of receiving, forever lost through whatever posterity I may have.

Her results were interesting.

Europe: 100%

Great Britain: 64% (41%-84%)
Ireland: 25% (8%-42%)
Scandinavia: 5% (0%-16%)
Iberian Peninsula: 4% (0%-11%)
Europe East: <1% (0%-5%)
Finland/Northwest Russia: <1% (0%-2%)
Italy/Greece: <1% (0%-3%)

 My Mom inherited none of my Grandmother's Europe West region, which was interesting, plus she didn't inherit any of the Caucasus.  She also received a small amount of the Iberian Peninsula, so I still have some chance, right?  Though my Mom is convinced the Iberian Peninsula percent proves we have French ancestry.  I think it would be cool having ancestry going back to Spain and Portugal as well.

 My DNA Results

 There were two things I knew about myself.  One being that I have a strong German linage thanks to my Stufflebeam heritage, and also through my Paternal Grandmother; Second, I have a strong Scottish/Irish/English/and some Welsh from my Mom's side, so I was going to be equal parts U.K. and Germany.

That's not what happened!!!!!

Europe: 98%

Great Britain: 70% (47%-91%)
Ireland: 23% (5%-41%)
Scandinavia: 4% (0%-14%)
Europe West: <1% (0%-7%)

Asia: <1%
South Asia: <1% (0%-2%)
(India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, also found in Myanmar (Burma))

West Asia: <1%
Caucasus: <1% (0%-4%)

I have pretty much no German in me!!!!

I was floored.

I was also shocked by how much UK/Irish I have in me.

 Check it out, I have more Great Britain in me then the typical U.K. native!

 I have an average of 70% Great Britain, while the typical native only averages 60%.  With all my deep American heritage how is that possible?  It's all those crazy 1/2 divisions from parent to child.

Iberian Peninsula didn't come up once in my DNA, though it was solid in my Grandmothers.  Essentially this means the Peninsula is every bit apart of my linage, I just didn't inherit any of it, but it's still apart of my identity.

Also, my Mom didn't inherit any of my Grandmothers Caucasus region, which means the trace region I have popping up in my DNA came from my Dad.  I wish he was interested in doing the test. Also, the Trace amount of South Asia come from his side as well, which is fascinating.

Also note, just because 70% of my DNA pops up as Great Britain, I can still have French and German roots in there as well.  The Great Britain DNA region is found primarily in England, Scotland, Wales, but it's also found in Ireland, France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Italy.)

The DNA results are interesting.  I've been linked to a lot of 4th cousins, so I have more work to do.

Another interesting feature of Ancestry DNA is a feature called DNA circles, which is still in BETA.

Hugh Patrick was one of my Hypothetical Ancestors, where I took his information from the research of others, not knowing for sure if that line had correct information.  There's a crazy amount of sloppy genealogy out there, in which I'm guilty of.
I was hoping of being connected to Hugh, because of his father, who knew our first President George Washington personally, knowing him long before the Revolutionary war, having served as one of his rangers during the French and Indian War.  James was also a Patriot, serving throughout the Revolution.
Thing is, it's hard to prove linage to James through a paper trail, because of the nature of records back then.  From The Patricks of Eastern Kentucky: "The children listed for James Patrick are only guesses. It is probable they are James's children but it has not been proven. It is also probable James had other children and another marriages, but it has not been proven."

 It's not clearly known who James children were, but there are guesses, and I have DNA links from his son Hugh, if he is his son.

James Patrick also has a possible daughter in Mary Ann "Polly" Patrick, and though she isn't on my family tree, I have DNA links to both her and her husband through their descendants.  They had more then one child, and I'm having cousin ties to a few of them, I just don't know where they belong on my tree.

There's still a lot more to discover, and this is really the beginning.  It's such a puzzle!