• Travel
  • Jul19

    No Comments

    Hello! Yes, I realize I have let this genealogy blog languish a bit, because, you know, LIFE. I do have some ideas for new posts and tools, so stay tuned.

    Cindy's CastleBut, Now for something completely different, and non-genealogy-ly: One of the other interests in my bag of, well, interests, is Disney.

    I love the history of it, the creativity, theming, Imagi-engin-coolstuff-ineering. As such, I am a frequent flyer on the forums and chat over on the super-useful Touring Plans site, app, and community.

    (I wish I were a more frequent visitor to Walt Disney World, but you know: MONEY, and I’m kinda attached to living in a house and eating food the rest of the year.)



    If you haven’t heard of Touring Plans before, I highly suggest subscribing to their site if you are planning a trip to Disney World. For a measly $12 or so you can set up plans to very much minimize your waits in the park and provide all sorts of useful info.


    Because, in case you haven’t been to Disney World in awhile: if you don’t want to live the Attack on Aqaba scene from Lawrence of Arabia on your trip, you gotta plan, man.

    Perhaps as useful as all of TP’s tools is the community in their forums and chat: you will not find a group more dedicated to helping others with the ins and outs of touring the parks. I have learned so much from everyone over the years. An even plus-ier plus is that the chat is often a hilarious place to be.

    Are We There Yeti?So, the reason for this post: in my years as a member of that community, I have put together spreadsheets for figuring out Disney Math such as if it is Worth It To Upgrade To A WDW Annual Pass (how is it NOT?)

    I have also published maps for urgent care centers near WDW, outlet shops, and a tactic to get a good spot for watching the Happily Ever After fireworks in the Magic Kingdom without the complete inevitability of shoulder-based tiny humans blocking your view.

    I have written stream of consciousness posts that ask such eternal questions as how a cast member (read: Disney employee) cleared a problem when we were Stuck at Tapstile and I use that post to add links to interesting articles on Disney-related tech.

    Teacups!At this point I think I need to launch my own Disney fan site. But until then I have created a page here to make things easier to find: “JJT’s Touring Plans Forum Posts and Maps Reference” has a compilation of links to all of my most frequently referenced posts. You can also find a link to said page by hovering your mouse over the Tools & Downloads menu above.

    May The Mouse Be With You.

  • May5

    No Comments

    Emma S Clark Memorial Library DoorBack when our kids were fairly small, my wife started a terrific tradition while looking for things to do in the otherwise lazy summertime: Library Field Trips.

    She began to seek out various libraries in our county of Suffolk on Long Island and they would pack up some things for snacks and/or lunch, pick a town and just browse the library there. As a life-long book and library fiend, I am aghast that such a thing never occurred to me, except maybe for larger libraries such as the New York Public Library in Manhattan.

    The kids have loved it – an opportunity to find new books they’ve never seen before along with at least the small sense of adventure one feels when visiting a new place. We’ve found some wonderful libraries, and also found that even though they’re all in the same county system, the facilities – and rules – can vary greatly. We’ve toyed with the idea of creating a dedicated blog for these trips, and now I regret not creating one a few years back. (Especially now that our son is 12 and less inclined to find the adventure. *sadface*)

    Stained Glass WindowToday I believe we have found my favorite Long Island library: The Setauket’s Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, opened in 1892 in memory of Miss Clark, who was the niece of millionaire confectioner Thomas Hodgkins.

    The library has been greatly (and beautifully) expanded several times since that first day, when the annual membership charge was a whopping 10¢ per year. The magazine area is housed in the original structure, constructed of arches and old wood that creaks comfortably beneath one’s feet.

    As my wife and son perused other areas of the library, my daughter Lily and I sat in this wonderful spot. I could easily imagine people running up to the overlarge entrance door in older times, shaking off the snow, pulling a volume from a shelf and sitting in the nook beside the fireplace and golden bottle-glass adorned windows.

    Clark Library StairsLily read quietly as I imagined these ancient goings on, and spoke only once to say “It is so peaceful here!” *Sigh.*

    As an added bonus to the library itself is that the area is of historical significance and has some beautiful churches and cemeteries to explore nearby. Walking out through the library’s nice plantings we then crossed the village green to learn that the Revolutionary War Battle of Setauket was fought here.

    Lily in a Flowering Tree




    For those who are viewers of the show Turn: Washington’s Spies on AMC, you might recognize the location name. (I have requested the first season from my own library, so please don’t tell me who wins!)

    NYS Historical Sign for Setauket village GreenThe area still has a nice rural feel to it, and it is easy to imagine carriages and soldiers milling about while crossing the triangle-shaped green on our trek over to the Setauket Presbyterian Church. As usual, the headstones in the cemetery called to us and we wandered through for the better part of an hour.

    Setauket Presbyterian Church

    Grave of Abraham WoodhullWe noted a few Revolutionary war soldiers as we walked through, and more than a few DAR markers. Then we stumbled upon one raised memorial that appeared to be built over the original headstone and had coins and stones scattered across its face.

    Abraham Woodhull PlaqueThe plaque on the top of the memorial informed us it was for Abraham Woodhull, “Friend and confidant of George Washington, head of Long Island Secret Service during the Revolution, and operated under the Alias of Samuel Culper, Sr.”

    Overall, an excellent field trip day, I must say.

  • May8

    No Comments

    I haven’t posted any podcasts links lately so thought I would post information on one of my favorites – The BBC’s Coast and Country Podcast has that great radio feel, where the discussion and description of the hosts and guests as they hike and visit sites make you feel as if you are along. (A wonderful thing on a daily commute.)

    While this podcast does not have a genealogy focus, it does offer some historical discussion and people with a family history in the UK will certainly appreciate the locations they visit.

    I enjoyed the 15 March 2012 episode with in particular. The last program of host Clare Balding’s series of ‘Inspirational Walks’ was a walk around the village of Stisted with the former poet laureate Sir Andew Motion. His musings on location, family, and inspiration were both interesting and somehow calming.

    As of this writing you can find that episode in the BBC iPlayer here. If it falls off the iPlayer, you should be able to find it using the main podcast link below. Enjoy!

    BBC Coast and Country Logo

    Coast and Country

    Countryside magazine featuring people, walks and wildlife from rural Britain. Clare Balding’s ‘Ramblings’ and ‘Open Country’ with Matt Baker and Helen Mark join forces to bring you a weekly tour of the best of the British countryside. In ‘Ramblings’ Clare joins her guests on a country walk that’s been significant in their lives. ‘Open Country’ travels to a different corner of the British Isles every week, seeking out the wildlife, the landscapes and the controversies that excite the passions of local people.

  • Sep21

    No Comments

    Babi's LettersWhile tidying up and checking on my Czech Babi’s (Grandmother’s) steamer trunk that I am taking care of for my mother, I found a nice cache old letters.

    This trunk made the trip back and forth from New York to Czechoslovakia a few times between the 1920s and 1960s…

    Babi ala LifeboatWhen my mother was about 5 years old my grandparents took her back to Czechoslovakia for a visit – and they somehow enticed Babi to take a photo in a ship’s lifeboat.

    SS Queen Mary PostcardAt least one of the trips was on the Queen Mary – we have several of these postcards from the ship in our albums.

    As with any photos on this blog, you can clickety-click on any the images for a larger view.

  • Feb6

    No Comments

    Going through some old albums today I found the entire TWA printed itinerary for the trip to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales that my sister and I took in 1981. Plus, my 1980s self wrote a detailed list of the location of every photo in the album. Woohoo! Thank you, me.

    And, in case anyone doubted my gift of eloquence, the album also contains photos of us kissing the Blarney Stone. A nice overview of the history of the stone can be found in this article at the Toronto Sun.

    Me kissing the Blarney Stone in 1981 

    Me kissing the Blarney Stone in 1981The hanging upside down and kissing a castle was later followed by an awesome pizza smothered in french fries on the ferry back from Ireland to England.