Quotes I Like

“Self-discipline is when your conscience tells you to do something and you don’t talk back.”

– W. K. Hope

(Sorry for being late in posting – my internet was down.)




How to Visually Unsplash (aka ‘find free photos you can use’)

If you need free photos, this site has quite a collection.  There is a wide selection and you can either browse through the collections or search for something in particular.  You do need to sign up for a free account, and you can even contribute photos you have taken if you are willing to share them for free.  And, naturally, the photographers appreciate a credit, even though that is not required.  You’d want credit, so don’t forget to give them one whenever possible.

Check it out.

The main page:  https://unsplash.com/

Browse the collections (https://unsplash.com/collections) or search for something in particular.

About Unsplash:  https://unsplash.com/about

License   (https://unsplash.com/license)

All photos published on Unsplash can be used for free. You can use them for commercial and noncommercial purposes. You do not need to ask permission from or provide credit to the photographer or Unsplash, although it is appreciated when possible.

More precisely, Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash. This license does not include the right to compile photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing service.

Questions? Read our FAQ.

Tip: How to give credit

Even though credit isn’t required, Unsplash photographers appreciate a credit as it provides exposure to their work and encourages them to continue sharing. A credit can be as simple as adding their name with a link to their profile or photo:

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Let’s Try to Keep Order Here, Folks!

I’ve mentioned organizational tips before.  This one is pretty specific to genealogists (but if the rest of you can find a way to adapt it for your particular need, then great).

There are a lot of genealogy computer programs out there, each with different bells and whistles and capabilities.  I use an outdated one that remains simple and effective (called Personal Ancestral File, or PAF).  There may come a time when I will have to change to a newer program, but so long as this one works for my needs, I’ll stick with it.  (Tech developers hate me.)

Note:  PAF is a computer-based program.  If you used a cloud-based program it might be more difficult.  I’m not sure you could use this tip with those as they tend to be more restrictive in how you can format things.

Now, all of these programs organize your information in some way.  That is what they were designed for and one of the great things about them.

This particular tip is regarding Notes.  You put information in the main fields of the program.  Some will even let you enter custom fields of your own choosing, and you add sources for where you obtained the information.  But you can increase the usability of the information by how you organize it in Notes.

Originally, I put a summary or transcript of the information into the Notes section as I found it.  That meant if the first thing I found was death information, that was at the top.  Then maybe a couple of census entries (not necessarily in year order), maybe some City Directory entries, birth info and military service info.  But that quickly became unhelpful.  Everytime I wanted to see if I already had something and what I was missing, I had to hunt through the entire list.

Then I started arranging things as close to chronologically as possible.  In essence, I was creating a timeline for the person right in their Notes section.  It made it easier to see what I was missing (I could even make note of something missing or not found), and seeing the flow of their life through the years helped guide me as to where to look for more information in any given time frame.  Below is a shortened version of one person to give you an idea of what this looks like:


You’ll notice I can also indicate if I have an actual image of something and put the name of the file so I can go look at it again if I want to do so.  [I do not attach media to my genealogy program, but many do.  Having the name in the Notes serves that purpose for me.  It also flags me if no file name is listed but I know I have an image, to update with the file name or scan the original into electronic form if I haven’t done so yet.]

Hopefully someone reading this will find this useful.

Final Note:  In the above, where you see (…) that means I have omitted information in order to shorten it.  In some cases, I also removed people from the census entry.  I wanted enough to give you the idea without making you wade through everything.

Quotes I Like

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

                                                          – Marcel Proust

Some Blog Recommendations for Writers

Blogger Hannah Heath often has some good articles on topics not often addressed, and does so in a pleasing, interesting, humorous way.  You might want to check some of them out.  Here are links to some recent ones:

7 Tips for Writing A Character with an Intellectual Disability


9 Tips for Writing Good, Healthy Relationships in Your YA Novel


8 Easy Details You Can Include To Add Depth to Your World-Building


10 Tips for Unique, Creative World-Building


Pin Down Your History

You may or may not know this, but Pinterest can be addictive.  It is easy to get caught up looking at or pinning photos, and Pinterest does its best to encourage you by offering suggestions of other things that might interest you (usually based, I think, on what you have previously pinned, but some seem to come out of the blue).

Why do I mention this?

Last night I was reminded what a useful tool it can be for genealogy/family history.  I did a Google search for an old high school I attended, one of the few schools for which I don’t have a picture since they tore it down and built a new one shortly after I attended there.  And many of the photos were on Pinterest.  Not only that, but it showed me other pins of places in my hometown (some very historical ones and some more recent).  Pinning those to a Pinterest board of my own (in my case, one I’ve called Memories) can give me a visual history of my life, or others in my family tree.

Not only that, but I can create a broader personal history for me or anyone else by inserting these photos into a word processing program and then writing text about them as it pertains to my family.

In ‘the old days’, we pretty much had to write our family history enhanced only with photos that we or our immediate family had in their possession (if they would share), but in today’s world the Internet has become a giant communal scrapbook.  It doesn’t matter if I’m the only one with a photo of great-grandpa – if I post it on the Internet, others can now have a copy as well, even if they didn’t know one existed or that I had it.

Those of you doing genealogy/family history might want to check this out, if you haven’t already, and explore the possibilities for enriching your story.

Keep in mind that not all the photos available are on Pinterest.  Also do Google searches for things that might be on other websites.  No telling the gems you may find.

FYI for writers, pinning photos to a board on Pinterest or copying images can also be useful in visualizing stories you are writing.  People use their Pinterest boards for all kinds of collections, limited only by their need or interest.

In all cases, though, keep in mind that someone else’s photos are ‘owned’ by them, even when they share.  You can usually use them for your own private enjoyment, but trying to commercialize on them can get you into serious trouble.  Don’t steal someone’s work – you wouldn’t want it done to you.

Now photo away!

Placeholder Image




This is a subject that has been much discussed lately with regards to fandom of various books or movies.  Basically, it is people deciding what they think is the ‘correct’ version of a story and not only rejecting anything that doesn’t meet their criteria, but actively bashing, bullying and bad-mouthing said alternatives.

Maybe it’s just me, but I have to wonder why it matters so much.  Do they not have any kind of life?  Sure, I liked the original Star Trek series and some of the subsequent movies and TV shows.  I do not care particularly for the new iteration of movies.  So what?  I don’t go to them.  End of discussion.  I don’t attack them in blog posts, or bully the actors on their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram if I feel that person’s character was especially awful.  The people in the movie industry were paid to make a movie.  It wasn’t a single decision by a single person.  Those actors and actresses were hired to play certain parts in certain ways.  Very few of those involved in the process had any real control over creative decisions.  You may not have liked a character, but that’s how they were written.  You may not have liked the story, but that is what was written AND APPROVED TO BE MADE into a movie.  It takes a lot of money and clout to make movies.  If the people with the money and clout say change it or we’ll get someone else, then you change it.  Sure, everyone could refuse to do what was wanted to ‘preserve’ some version of the movie’s sanctity (different people have different ideas what that sanctity might be), but at best all that would happen is that no movie at all would be made.

I loved the Harry Potter books.  I did NOT love all of the Harry Potter movies.  What did I do?  I stopped watching the movies and simply read the books when I wanted a Harry Potter fix.  I loved the original Star Wars trilogy.  I did not love the prequel trilogy that followed it.  So I simply don’t watch those movies.

It gets a little simpler when original characters appear in movies since they have no history for fans to be tied to at the beginning.  So what does it matter if the character is male or female; black, white, brown or yellow; Muslim, Catholic or atheist; tall, short, skinny, fat?  I loved John Boyega as Finn in The Force Awakens.  His skin color was irrelevant.  His nationality was irrelevant.  But the same was true of Daisy Ridley.  Could someone else have played either character?  Sure, and likely many actors tried out for the roles.  And based on their acting skill, I would have either liked or disliked them accordingly.  It wouldn’t matter if the actors were Latinos or Muslims if their acting sold the part.  Yes, you can’t have a white T’Challa, because that heritage is a part of the character, but more than one black actor could have played the role.  Captain America was also slightly limited in who could play the part.  Not because heroes are only handsome, white guys, but because his origination story is set in World War II America.  There were prejudices and social restrictions in place that would have made it difficult for the character to be female, or black or even Japanese.  Such an alternative form of the character would have had to fight almost as many battles with his allies as with the enemy.  If the story began in 21st Century America, it would be a different matter altogether.

Bottom line?

If you enjoy it, enjoy it.  If you don’t, then just walk away and allow others to have their own opinion.

For all their griping and complaining, toxic fandom isn’t going to change the book or movie industry one iota.  You might be cruel and hurtful to individuals in and out of the industry, but your tantrum is not going to get you a steady stream of your fandom as you envision it.

If you want that, you’re going to have to sit down and write it yourself.  And then get enough money and power to make it into a film.  And then you can deal with what people say about your efforts.  You likely will find you don’t enjoy having the shoe on the other foot.