All posts by tom

Merry Christmas 2018

Merry Christmas

​Each year at ​Christmas I​ ​post a version of Silent Night. This year I have something a little different to share with you. Don't worry though, Silent Night is in there​. 

November 11, 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1. ​The story told in the video below happened near the start of that horr​ible war.

​​For a few days around Christmas of 1914, the guns along the front fell silent and soldiers from both side joined together to celebrate the common holiday. The Christmas truce was not ​arranged or even encouraged by the commanders - it was the men in the front line trenches who took it upon themselves to stop fighting for this brief period.

​The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. It was never repeated—future attempts at holiday ceasefires were quashed by officers’ threats of disciplinary action—but it served as heartening proof, however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of weapons, the soldiers’ essential humanity endured.

​From The History Channel website

​Merry Christmas to all and a hope for peace on Earth!

Happy Thanksgiving!

​It's that time of year again. The weather is getting colder, the leaves are almost gone and, at least ​in this area, the first snow has fallen. Winter ​has come and with it, the holiday season begins with Thanksgiving. So....

Happy Thanksgiving 2018!

Happy Halloween

Happy Holloween

   Happy Halloween

   Happy Holloween

   Happy Holloween

Back to Pumpkin Fest

Country Bumbkin Pumpkinfest

​We have taken Max to Pumpkin Fest a​t Country Bumpkin every year since he was one. So, of course we had to go again this year. We went on Sunday so his Mom and Dad could come up for the afternoon too.

He always has a good time ​with the bounce houses, the hay maze, the petting zoo and the rest. He runs from one thing to the next and back again!

Graceful Exit

​Feeding the animals is always fun. Those tongues tickle his hands. He was especially fascinated by th​is Unigoat!


​I don't know how long Pumpkin Fest will still be interesting for Max. I hope it will be a few more y​ears at least. He really enjoyed it again this time.

Shoot the Moon – Nikon P1000 Moon Photos

​I was out before sunrise this morning and saw the bright moon overhead. I just had to go back inside to grab my new Nikon P1000 camera and try taking a few pictures. It is amazing what you can see with a 3000mm lens. I couldn't even zoom in all the way and still get the whole moon in the frame!

Moon at 2500mm zoom

At 2500mm zoom I could fit the whole moon in the frame

Moon at 3000mm

​At 3000mm the moon doesn't fit within the frame of the photo!

Moon at 6000mm Digital Zoom

​​6000mm digital zoom gets even closer but image quality suffers

I want to try getting pictures of the planets on another clear night. I am going to have fun with this camera!

Nikon P1000 – My Newest Toy

Nikon Coolpix P1000

​I am a long time Nikon camera fan. I owned Nikon's back in the film days and my very first digital camera was a Nikon D100 that I got in 2002. Georgia and I both had other Nikon digital​s after that. They were, and are, great cameras. If fact, I still have one D70 that ​almost never gets used.

When we started doing a lot more traveling by airplane and ship, we found these camera kits to be a problem for us. We needed a couple good sized ​camera bags to carry the camera, extra lenses, flashes, batteries and chargers and all the other stuff that we needed. So, a few years ago, we switched to what are often called bridge cameras.

​These cameras have built in ​flashes and non-removable zoom lenses that cover a wide range of focal lengths​. They ​may not the best at ​anything but they are good at a lot of things. They are the "jack of all trades" tools that are great for traveling. We bought two Canon SX-40HS cameras that ​served us well for several years.

Canon SX40HS

The Canons are still great travel cameras and we take them with us on big trips. For other occasions we usually just use our mobile phones for picture taking. The cameras in these devices have gotten really good and they serve us well for casual picture taking.

I have been eyeing other options for a while now though. The newest cameras have feature that the Canons lack. WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS ​location tagging for a few. I ​was also​ envious of the longer reach of the super zooms like the Nikon Coolpix P900 that reaches out to 2000mm. I have been hoping Canon would come out with a new model that would match or exceed what Nikon has. It hasn't happened yet though.

Then, a few moths ago, Nikon announced the Coolpix P1000. It would have all the connect​ivity of the P900 ​with a 3000mm equivalent lens. I wanted one! So, when Georgia said get it, I put in my preorder. Nikon released the camera on September 6th and Friday (September 14th) mine finally arrived.

This is a large camera. It is much bigger than the Canon SX40HS and more like a DSLR. With the big lens extended it is really a monster. You can click on the pictures below to see a larger version of the image.

Canon SX40HS vs Nikon P1000
lenses extended

​What to you get in that size a package? The camera body itself isn't that big. It is the lens that makes it huge. It is a 125X optical zoom (​4.3-539 mm, angle of view equivalent to that of 24-3000 mm lens in 35mm format) that opens up to f2.8 at the wide end and f8 at the extreme telephoto setting. There is also a digital zoom that can take it out to 12000mm but with some image degradation. Good if you need to get a shot of bigfoot standing on the next mountain over I guess 😉

Besides the long zoom, the features that I especially like are:

  • Shoots Raw, JPEG Fine, JPEG Normal or a combination of Raw + JPEG
  • ​Will shoot as close a .4 inches in macro mode
  • 5 stop vibration reduction makes it possible to shoot handheld at long zooms
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    ​Still images up to 4609x3456
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    Video at 4K UHD, 1080P, 720P, high speed video at 2x or 4x
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    Built in flash with accessory shoe for external flash or other accessories
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    Flash settings include Auto, Red Eye Reduction, Slow Sync and Rear Curtain sync
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    Wide range of scene modes to cover any situation including dedicated moon and bird modes
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    ​WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity with connection to Nikon Apps for image transfer and remote camera operation 

There are a few things I would like to change about it though:

  • ​Smaller minimum aperture, f22 or even f32 would be nice
  • ​Touch screen monitor
  • Bigger buffer for longer continuous shooting

Overall though, I am impressed with the P1000. I have only had ​it a couple days and there is an awful to learn about the camera and what it can do. I'm sure I will be writing other posts about it in the future.

Here are a couple quick snaps that show the sharpness and image quality. Click them for larger views.

Test Shot of Max the Photographer
Shot of Dogwood Tree Fruit

Completing Our Reunion Tour

Kentwood High School Reunion

​It has been a busy summer for reunions! Georgia's 50th high school reunion was Saturday at the University Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was our third, and last, reunion of the summer. The others were my class reunion and the Clough family reunion.

We ​drove to Grand Rapids on Friday and had lunch with Georgia's sister Judy before we checked into our hotel. Georgia had an early salon appointment on Saturday so we had dinner on our own ​Friday night and a quit evening in the room.

​Georgia did her salon and spa thing Saturday morning. We had a late lunch then some time to relax in the room before getting dressed to go downtown. The reunion started at 6 PM but the planning committee, of which Georgia is a member, ​got there early to finalize the room setup.

Reunion Commitee
Reunion Setup

​The classmates began arriving by six and we had a pleasant hour of socializing before our delicious ​tenderloin and salmon dinner.

There was plenty of time to visit with old friends after dinner. We finally wrapped up the evening around 10 PM then drove back to the hotel. We were tired but happy to have ​had the chance to attend this special event. 50​th reunions only happen once!

Kentwood HS Class of 1968

​Sunday we battled the usual end of the weekend traffic on our way home. We stopped in Chicago to see Max and his mom Angeli. Max had finished his first week of Kindergarten and we were glad to see that he was adjusting to it ​just fine.

A Genealogy Milestone

​Yesterday I reached a milestone in my family history research. I added the 10,000th person to my family tree on That number represents ​over twenty years of research time invested in this hobby but, I enjoyed every bit of it and I am not done yet.

10,000 People

​This seems like a good time to answer a ​ question that I get asked from time to time and to say something about my ​research philosophy.

Obviously, with 10,000 people in my tree, they can not all be my direct ancestors. That brings up the question​: 

"Why do you include so many distant relatives in your tree?"


Before I get into the reasons, I should say that everyone in my tree is connected somehow. There are no isolated branches or individuals, they all tie together​ no matter how remotely.

For example, The last person I entered (Kenneth D. Hayward) is the husband of my 2cd cousin 1x removed. That is a little distant and many family historians would not include him in their tree - but I did. Not only that but, if I find information about Kenneth's parents and siblings I will probably include that too. Those people are not directly related to me (as far as I know) but they are connected.

I have four main reasons for including so much of my ​extended family.

First: I hope the research I do will help other people searching for their ancestry. Using the example of the Hayward family, someone searching that line, now or in the future, might find them in my tree and learn something new to them. When I have information available to me, it just seems like a waste not to record it.

​Second: I am able to connect to other family historians because they see names from my tree and reach out to me with additional information or corrections. Ancestry helps with that by showing ​me other people researching the same families and allowing us to contact each other.

​Third: It is surprising how often ​extended family turns out to be connected in multiple ways.  ​In the past, more people lived in small towns. I often see multiple generations of marriages ​between the same families because that is who they lived close to and knew​. I have written more about this "cluster genealogy" in another post at

Fourth: ​​Extending the branches in my family tree help me correct errors. I know my genealogy has errors in it. I wrote more about that at ​​. To go back to Kenneth Hayward, he married the granddaughter of my great-great aunt (my great grandfather's sister). If I find discrepancies between previous research on that line and what I find on the Hayward line I can possible resolve the differences and correct my data.

​So, 10,000 down and many more to come. There are still a lot of ancestors to find. I will continue doing genealogy for as long as I am able!

A Family Reunion

​This past weekend, Georgia and I were on the road again. This time to Apple Valley, Minnesota where a Clough family reunion was held at the Apple Valley Community Center.

John and Lydia Clough With Their Children

​Back Row: Clarence, Richard, Raymond, Casper, Harry.  Front Row: Anita, Mildred, John, Lydia, Marion, Elaine. Photo taken 1951 on the occasion of John and Lydia's 50th wedding anniversary.

I come from a large family and I don't see most of my cousins very often - if at all. My grandparents, John and Lydia (Corey) Clough, had nine children born over a period of twenty one years. The births of their grandchildren spanned four decades - from 1927 to 1966. Some of my cousins were grown and married before I was born and some are much younger than I am. Also, the families were spread across the country. For those reasons, there are many ​cousins that I was never close to. It was nice to see so many of them at this reunion and to get a chance to know them better.

​One of those older cousins was Robert Clough. I only met him once or twice when I was growing up. In the last few years though, we ​were in close contact since we ​both had an interest in genealogy. We talked on the phone regularly and often exchanged letters with family information.

In February of this year Bob proposed a Clough family reunion and suggested a few possible dates. From the response he got, it was set for Aug. 18th. Sadly though, Bob passed away on April 2cd. It was something of a shock to all of us but some of my other cousins took on the task of making sure the family reunion happened anyway.

During the reunion, we held a memorial service for Bob​. His son passed out family history books that Bob had put together ​for ​the families of each of John and Lydia's children.

Elain (Clough) Swaney and Margie (Moore) Clough

​On a happier note, we also celebrated the 98th birthday of Aunt Elaine (Clough) Swaney. She is the only surviving child of John and Lydia. It was good to see her in excellent health and with her memory as sharp as ever.

This picture is of her and my mother at the reunion.

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