• Projects
  • Jul19

    No Comments

    Back when my wife and I bought our new house, one of the first things that needed to be done was to raze the overgrown front yard that didn’t look like it had been touched since Nixon resigned. (I blame Nixon for all of my own failures to finish projects.)

    As I tangled with tons of ivy and yelled at yellowing yucca, I saw we had a bigger problem to deal with – the wood in our steps and a retaining wall was infested with termites. So, I ripped it all out immediately and began to devise a replacement.

    After some thought, I purchased several skids of Pennsylvania wall stone and other supplies, then spent several weeks building things back, all by hand. My technique was to lay out all the stone on the ground, then scan for the next “right” stone – and go until done.

    I found that within each skid of stone I had picked there happened to be some larger flat pieces – which led me to build the part I’m most proud of – the new steps.

    It was terrifically hard work at times, but I was gratified in the outcome. Until today I had completely attributed my apparent innate ability in this regard to my Czech grandfather, who was a stone mason. He worked in the cemeteries of Queens and also built a summer home and garage in upstate New York out of native stone.

    But, after seeing a photo today, I now think my stonework ability is more likely an inheritance shared by both my Czech and Irish sides. Behold a photo of stone steps on Skellig Michael alongside my own off the cuff handiwork…

    Skellig Steps Comparison

    By the way – no mortar was used in my steps or wall, only gravity.

  • Mar21

    No Comments

    I originally posted this quickie a few years ago, and have noticed that Google has added a few interesting symbols to their map marker collection.

    So, if you like to personalize your Google maps head on over just to the left of Equatorial Guinea (which is where The Google happened to put these markers) and take a look. You can click on any icon to get the marker name, some tips on how to use it and a Learn More link that provides some additional info on creating maps using Fusion Tables. There is even more additional added information a their Change placemark icon page.

    Also, for the record: there is one icon that looks like a skinny swastika – be aware that symbol has ancient origins that go far beyond its use and corruption by he who shall not be named.

    Below is my original post, kept intact for reference by future archaeologists:

    A quick post for today: During my research to create my Tierneys in NYC Directories map, I happened upon a nice reference over at The Google’s fusion tables – a map containing all of the available Google maps icons and their names…

    You can find it here, or see below for a quick peek.

    I’m also in the process of reading “Beginning Google Maps Mashups with Mapplets, KML, and GeoRSS: From Novice to Professional“, so far I’m liking the format and content. I’ll report back when I’ve had a chance to get all the way through.

  • Jul18


    After seeing a post online recently about creating a pie chart for of one’s ancestry, I thought it might be fun to create a spreadsheet that could calculate someone’s ancestry percentages by country and create a set of pie charts that mimics a standard ancestor chart.

    I’ve created an Excel 2007 spreadsheet that does just that. It may still need some tweaking, but I like the cleaner look of my latest version better than the previous one. (I found that including names above all of the charts made it too congested and hard to read.)

    Ancestry Pie: Excel sheet capture
    All one has to to in this spreadsheet is enter a their family’s names, an applicable list of ancestral countries and then the ancestry percentages for each GG-Grandparent. (An example is at left.)

    After entering the GG-Grandparent’s ancestry, everyone else’s is calculated from those and a group of pie charts is created on a separate sheet.

    Ancestry Pie: Charts
    I welcome any ideas and suggestions for improvement – I can’t promise any support, especially if it is used with versions of Excel older than 2007, but I’ll do my best to take a look.

    Also included in the spreadsheet is a separate worksheet with additional notes and some slightly more detailed info on how to enter your data. (If anyone knows how to get Excel NOT to put data labels for 0.00% data without actually deleting the label, please tell me!)

    It can be downloaded from my Downloads page, or directly via this link.

    Ancestry Pie: Parent & Child Sheet
    Note: I updated the Excel spreadsheet on 11 Oct 2011 to with the following:

    • An additional country column for families with up to 10 different ancestral countries
    • Added a 3rd sheet that shows just the pie charts for Parents and Child, all with percentage labels
    • Cleaned up some more formatting
  • Jan3


    Probate court? We don’t need no stinking probate court!
    Well, actually we do. But these images found in our family albums are a good reminder that you need to go through everything well: My grandmother’s uncle wrote his last will and testament (a few times) on a pair of her photos.

    Being a wallet-carrying guy and spying the folds on the left photo, I’m going to guess he carried that one in his wallet. (Or maybe she did?) While they are simple in content, and my family already knew that Uncle James had left his houses to my Grandmother May, they would be even more helpful if we were unaware of that fact.

    Front of Images

    Front Images: James Farrell's will written on photograph of his niece May Egan (Tierney)

    Transcription of right image: To May Egan I will everything I owen (sic) at Death. James Farrell (Signed)

    Read on for the images and an additional use for them…
    Read More | Comments