Happy Leap Day!!

Permilia, Hosea, Bentley, Lula

I've done practically nothing in the last three days other than dig through census records online and try to track various members of my family around the country. It's been quite fun. I don't know how much more I'll be able to do than what I've done now until I get some information from relatives or get to a library or something to get my hands on some different information different from what I've got now though.

One of the most interesting parts to me is the names. Have you ever heard of anyone named Permilia? One of ancestors was, and I'll tell you it was a pretty common name in the 1880s. Lula, Lilia, Lura, Luria... I've seen them all in the past few days, but never before now. Hosea, and his daughter Hosalee. A Dallie. A Murtice. An Elnora.

The weirdest of all... seems my grandmother's maiden name came from an ancestor's middle name. His original surname? Sheehee. I'll leave that one without comment.

Now For Something Completely Different


Okay... I missed my deadline for today (yesterday) I did not post on Feb 26. Though... I'm still awake, and I'm posting now, so does that count?

I have spent the day engrossed. After all of my talk about not knowing what my genealogy is and where my family is from, I decided to do something about it. I remembered that years ago after my grandmother's death my Uncle had given me what he knew about her side of the family. (I guess I've been talking about this for a long time.) So I went through my old papers yesterday until I found it. I spent a big chunk of today transferring that info into a tree at a genealogy website, as well as a program on my own computer, and trying to research connections. In just the few hours that I have been researching I've turned up lots of information from references in census records, and other public places. I have the WW1 draft cards for both great grandfathers and I have already been able to push my father's family back two generations further than what my uncle had given me. That research connected me to this branch of the family which has already brought some drama into my research. Two unmarried women who may have been mother/daughter, but may have also been aunt/niece, both of whom gave birth out of wedlock? Shocking!

I need to stop digging through the past and get to bed, but the last record I found tonight may be the most interesting of all I've seen today. My great great grandfather, on my father's side was listed as mulatto in the 1920 census. I'm fairly certain it's a transcription error though... what they are reading as an "m" just looks like a plain ol' "w" to me. Though wouldn't that be fun?

ExFiles: Casefile 002-File Update!

Completely out of the blue (and completely unrelated to my posting of our story) Ex002 contacted me this week! It was a surprise, of all the people who have found me through the web (including friends from high school, cousins, and a random others) this one was the most unexpected, and in some ways the most pleasant. It was great to discover that in the intervening 16 or 17 years since we dated we've both become adults, which is something that I never thought I'd be able to say. You lose touch with someone and the freeze in your mind the way they were, for better or worse doomed to be the person they were the last time you saw them. It's good to know that what was a semi-negative memory of a person can now be a happy memory of a guy with a cat and a husband and boat that they plan to sail around the world. That's much better.

Caching day

Back in November I set a goal for myself in terms of Geocaching: To clear Manhattan island of caches before the first day of spring. Not really a big task when you consider it. At the time I had already cleared Central Park, which is home to over 40 caches, and I had about 50 left in order to clear the city. The problem is that I've spent most of the month of February hip deep in projects, or sitting inside shivering from fear of the cold. I realized a few days ago that I haven't found a single cache since mid-January. So I set aside the project that I had been working on this weekend (my comic book) and decided that today was about caching. Before I stalled I had been clear down to 59th street, give or take a few straggling caches that were either disabled or most likely missing. The problem was that 5 new caches had been placed in that time as well. Two of the previously missing caches had also been confirmed as being in place. I set out today with 7 caches in my sights which would get me clear again, at least in the areas that I had previously cleared. It was a great day to be out... mostly warm, but still crisp, and the snow had started melting but it wasn't so warm that it was muddy and sloppy. I'm proud to report that I found 6 of the 7 that I intended to find today, which leaves me 32 caches to find in order to complete my goal. Unfortunately one of those is the most notorious puzzle cache in NYC so I still have some work cut out for me. Regardless, I have 3 weekends left until my goal of March 21 rolls in. Wish me luck!

Subway Sketches Part CXCVII

My Y Chromosome is Boring Too

The DNA results from my Y Chromosome tests finally came in. I am part of Haplogroup 11a. Guess what that means? It means I am European. I did get a bit more information this time though. My haplogroup emerged from Africa and traveled through the Middle East and then the Balkans roughly 20,000 years ago, then rode out the last ice age on the Iberian Peninsula, (in Spain basically). After that my specific branch spread out over north west Europe where the M253 gene I carry appears in "high frequencies." Being able to pinpoint NW Europe is a pretty neat thing, that covers the England/Ireland/Scotland area that had always been my guess based on last names and VERY sketchy family information. So that leaves me with English/Irish and possibly Dutch. Certainly more than I had to go on before.

Iron Chef is a HOAX!

Well... duh.

The Village Voice food editor visited the set of Iron Chef America and was shocked to find that things don't go exactly the way they seem to on TV!

Shock! Horror!

It seems that the contestants know which chef they'll choose before they show up for taping, and the other chefs that he could choose from... not even there! Replaced by stand-ins. They also know in advance what the secret ingredient will be, and have requested the ingredients they'll need for dishes. The thing that seems to shock the reviewer the most though is that the chefs prepare only one of each dish, and then hours later after they film crews have done the beauty shots of the food, the sous chefs make new hot versions of the dishes that are sent to the judges. Well, blow me down! You mean the judges don't eat cold dishes that have been sitting in a studio for hours? Shocking! Did they learn nothing from the 1950's quiz show scandals? Where is Charles Van Doren when you need him?

Look... anyone who honestly believes anything they see on "reality" TV is in for a shock. There have been dozens of stories like this, (they restaged shoots on Survivor! Shock! American Idol contestants don't all get to see Simon, Paula and Randy! Gasp!) and even Mark Burnett the king of the medium refuses to use the word reality when describing his shows. More shocking to me is that someone who is supposed to be a respected critic can't tell the difference between entertainment, and reality.

Modular Money

Design Within Reach, which really isn't within reach of very many of us, has done it again. On the cover of their most recent catalog, and being pushed heavily on the front page of their website is their newest creation, the Kithaus. Kithaus is a return to the mail-order modular dwelling of yesteryear, when you used to be able to order entire houses from Sears and Roebuck and have the precut and preformed materials to build it delivered to your location. Kithaus will deliver everything you need to create the office space shown here, with a 9' x 13' floorspace, ready to be assembled and moved into.

So what does it cost? The standard model is $44,900. A fully furnished model is available for an additional $16,433 (it's currently on sale at 15% off!! SKWEE!). So you can have everything you see here for a mere $61,333. Now, to be fair they also offer a "baseline model" that doesn't include the louvered windows of the deck. How much is it? $29,500.

The thing is... I've seen it all before. In Ready Made Magazine. For years now they have offered the blueprints for their BYO Modular Dwelling. For $35. Granted, you'll have to cut (and purchase) your own lumber and provide your own furniture. Looking at the picture I count about 3 dozen 2x4s, a dozen or so sheets of ply... I'm going to estimate that I could build this room for $500. So with a little more sweat and elbow grease I save myself 99% off of the DWR Kithaus.


Even if I bought the "baseline" model I'd still be saving 98% by buying the blueprints from Ready Made and the lumber myself.

How "within reach" can you possibly be? Median price for a house in Greenville, SC (where my mom currently lives) is $142,00. Just 3 Kithauses would get me a full-sized home in SC. Median for the whole country is $248,900, so just 5 and a half Kithauses. Or 535 BYO Modular Dwellings. Which seems more within reach to you?

Subway Sketches Part CXCVI

A Puzzle Solved

Yes Jason, you got it right, that IS an Enemy Mine poster. A poster that has been hanging at the North 145th street A/C/B/D stop for more than 20 years. Since Christmas of 1985. And you dare say to me that the MTA is not the model of efficiency?!

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Here's a little photographic puzzle for you... what's wrong with this picture? Well, maybe not WRONG per se, but odd to say the least. Here's a hint... it was taken yesterday.

Lettuce Grow Together

I gave Kid Flash an AeroGrow system for Christmas, which was quite successful. Here are the resulting "crops." The system is hydroponic and only has water with special mineral tablets added as a growing medium. The area under the lettuce is a reservoir, and when you open the little door where you add water you can see the roots systems of the plants branching out and filling the water. The growth cycle is really fast, these plants are about 3 weeks old and this photo was taken just before the first "harvest." The resulting plants were tasty, though they were a little limp. They don't seem as crisp as plants grown in dirt for whatever reason. It's still fun though, to have a little garden growing in the corner and fresh lettuce whenever you like. The system has several types of plants available, and the growing cycle for the lettuce will probably be up soon, and we'll see what KF wants to plant next. My review so far... about 3.5 on a scale of 5. A cool idea that has a few drawbacks. We'll see how the next type of plant goes.

Subway Sketches Part CXCV

Derby Poster Finale

And as promised, when I am pressed for time and don't have a post ready... you get the finale poster! This was the final version that was published and given to all the girls on the closing night of last season. Their individual flaws go away a bit when they are placed together, with proper perspective and shadowing, don't you think?

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day everyone! I know I promised a sketch for you guys today but I forgot to scan it at work, and I went to Kid Flash's place rather than home for the evening, so you'll have to check in tomorrow. In the meantime click the above pic to see it animated.

The Others

One of the great joys of getting publicity is that other people who have this peculiar hobby of mine (the subway one... not that OTHER one...) contact me and give me the chance to see their work as well. So, meet Gerri, a fellow subway commuter who sketches on the Q line. There have been a couple others who have contacted me also, I'll dole them out as the week continues.

A sketch of my own will be posted tomorrow.

February 12 of 12

It's the twelfth and that means that it's time for the 12 of 12, a photo project started by Chad Darnell, for the other participants check his blog.

First thing this morning Ted wanted to check the Metro website to see if my article had been published. (He also checked his email and checked in with his friends at Cute Overload.)

I got to the office without having actually seen a hardcopy of the article. The other designers sent me back out to find copies for them (and to mail to my mom in one designer's estimation), obviously I found some.

A bit of coffee to warm up. It was bitter cold this morning, after being in the sixties over the weekend.

I've discovered the that useless cover that came with my Wacom tablet actually DOES have a decent use: to prop up my iPod.

My new office decor. The Dolly pictures came out of an archive drawer last week. It seems the company had done project for Dollywood awhile back and had the pictures as reference. The designer who was cleaning out the drawer handed them to me jokingly, unaware of my love (or perhaps obsession) with her. The Lynda Carter pic was added later after I had to prove to another designer how smoking hot she was.

Lunch at Mandler's Sausage Company. Nummy nummy chicken bratwurst and deep fried creamed corn.

While I was out for lunch it started to snow in teeny tiny dry flakes that were blowing all over the place. This is the view from the fire escape in the office where I frequently go to make phone calls.

After work I head over to the Apple store to hopefully discover why after I upgraded to Leopard Mail has stopped attaching pictures or documents to one of my three mail addresses. Turns out that they had no idea either which really seemed to stump them. In the end we had to delete and reload the program in order to get it working again.

Down in the subway on the way home. Up above it is still snowing, much harder than before, and about 2 inches have accumulated. Someone's act of random kindness for today was leaving this little piece of spring behind on the platform. (The sculpture in front is part of Tom Otterness' Life Underground installation.)

On the way home. Snow has gotten a bit thick, but I haven't seen any plows. This is the first significant snowfall that we've had this year. This bus appears to have fishtailed and slid into some parked cars. It was empty now and waiting for help I imagine. Someone who saw me taking the photo told me that it had been there like that for an hour and a half.

A few doors down from my apartment. I've always loved this stoop. Doesn't it look pretty in the snow?

Supper! Leftover potato soup from last night (potatoes, corn and bacon). And that's it... the day is over. Tomorrow I get to face the slushy leftovers of the snow, and probably another bitter day. Blah.

The Article

The article ran this morning! You can read the text better here, but I wanted to publish the article because the online version doesn't have images. Yes, they got my name wrong... I have no idea how, the reporter fact checked the article with me, and I seem to remember him calling correctly by name, but maybe not. Oh well!

For those of you coming here because of the article, thanks and welcome, you can check out all of the subway sketches here, or by clicking the link to Flickr in the sidebar. I did a FAQ about my sketches last year which you can find here. And of course you can buy the book here or by clicking the link in the sidebar! The book contains 99 sketches from a gallery show that I did in December 2006. Again, welcome, and I'll see you on the trains.

Genetically Speaking

While I'm waiting for the results of my DNA test my uncle, (my mother's brother) who would also have been informed by the test my sister took, has forwarded me a bit of family lore that I was unaware of. I hope he doesn't mind if I reprint it here (edited with the family names removed).

You are part Dutch.

I got this from my mom's cousin. His name was Jim *****. Your great-grandmother on my mom's side was Anna Mae *****. One of Jim's relatives traced the family back to The Netherlands. It's kinda fuzzy, but from what I remember, there were four brothers of minor royalty. Everything was left to the oldest brother. The other three emigrated to the U.S. with stops in England and or Ireland, where they may have married. Not sure. They came to the U.S. One settled in New Jersey I believe. Another in NC and the other got in trouble and was hanged.

So, to sum it up, you are probably part French, Dutch, Irish, English and Scottish from your mom's side.
Sounds about right based on the information that I have so far. Of course we don't know which of these 3 brothers we may be descended from at this point, but at least it gives me an idea. The family is seemingly from NC so that makes sense. The name that was followed to get this info was of course one of many names that could be chosen to follow such information, but it does follow the path that the genetic test would have followed interestingly enough.

I'm still waiting on my Y chromosome test results to see what can be discovered about my dad's family. The more I get into this the more I think that I may need to start researching actual genealogy information, though a few of my relatives have tried that in the past and failed, so I'm not sure where I'd do much better.

Mr. Picasso Head

Try it yourself here.

For My NYC Readers

UPDATE: Well, I got an email last night from the writer that had interviewed me warning that the article might get bumped for space, but that it would run eventually. Turns out that he was correct, it did not run this morning, but keep looking, I'll update you when it does run.

In the morning, on your way to the subway, pick up a copy of the Metro (the freebie give away paper) if you don't normally. I was interviewed last week by their city blogs column!

(For the rest of you I'll update this page with a link to the article tomorrow morning.)

Subway Sketches Part CXCIV

Sketch (?)

Ever wonder why a guy who loves comics, and has artistic ability hasn't created a comic of his own yet?

Yeah, me too.

That's all I'm sayin'.

UPDATE: (2-9) It was rude of me to post that without consulting my writing partners on the project, so I've taken it down for now. I'll update you guys on the project when it's more fully fleshed out (and after I consult with the other people working with me on it.) I apologize to them and to you for the post.

Subway Sketches Part CXCIII

My Haplogroup is TOO Obvious

My sister's genetic results came in this week. She and I belong to Haplogroup "H." Her tests follow our maternal lineage comparing us to the Mitochondrial "Eve." Every human currently on the planet is descended from this particular early human, so we expected to be connected to that lineage, naturally. After that the mitochondrial DNA mutates and splits and divides into further trackable groups. Group H, our group, comprises nearly 60% of Europe... in other words were European, and dirt common ones. Surprise surprise. Since we are of such a common lineage the project can't tell us very much that is specific. We had already guessed based on maiden names, etc. that we were European, possibly German or Dutch, though we have no real evidence of that. Our attempts at tracking our mother's ancestors through records have dead-ended at her grandparents because there's no records of them. My great grandparents are it. Seems like it is pretty much the same on our father's side too. I guess our ancestors weren't much for the record keeping. Unlike most families there aren't any familial bibles or other records that have been passed down for generations. We unfortunately also lost our best source when our grandmother died a few years ago. It isn't likely that my sister or I will be having children (I may adopt.. but that's another story) so maybe it doesn't matter. We're the end our mother's line anyway. Daughter to daughter genetic passage of however many generation it has lasted ends with us. We won't be repeating our history, so it doesn't matter that we've forgotten it.

And Now For Queens

The fourth and final installment in this series, my interpretation of the Queens of Pain player. I had the most trouble with this one. Kid Flash says that it is because they are the team that I like the least in the league. I think it is because she has the most severe foreshortening. Her right boob still looks wonky and the perspective on her right arm is also a bit off... All in all I am still happy with the outcome of all of these pieces. I'll post the full poster in the next few days (the next time I am facing a deadline with no post written probably).

What do you guys think of the combination of photographic elements incorporated into these? Some of them you can't even tell I think, like the Bronx player's tattoos, others are obvious like the corset here. Does it work?

Hansel & Gretel

It's been quite a few months since I've done any work that wasn't my "day job." This weekend though I started the load in of a production of Hansel & Gretel at a children's theatre that I've worked for in the past. They've actually been quite good to me and this will be the fifth season that I have worked for them. Arranging time to props shop, and do set work has been challenging with a full time job eating up most of my days but i think I've managed pretty well. This week will be the real test. I am at the theatre tonight sewing the 30 yards of "superflage" camouflage into the curtain panels that will cover the witch's house during the forest scenes, etc. Later this week I'll be making giant candy canes and lollipops and all of that sort of thing. I've figured out that quart sized deli containers look a lot like gum drops when they are covered in glitter, and that fairly convincing icing is no further away than a can of Great Stuff. I'm even recycling the paper tube trees that I used in this theatre once before. It's fun to be back in the thick of it again though, and not just drawing pictures of it like I have been for the past few months.

Subway Sketches Part CXCII

Dammit to Hell!

I was doing so well. I posted every day for 31 days.

Yesterday I sat down at work and wrote a new post because I knew I wouldn't have time to do it before I went to bed. I was set, I was on the road to 29 more days of posting.

This morning I received a comment on my previous post, "You jinxed yourself!" At first I wasn't sure what it meant. Jinxed myself in regards to what. I went to the blog to post a reply to the comment and realized... my post from yesterday wasn't there! That's what they meant... they thought I'd broken my streak, but I hadn't... had I? I reloaded the page hoping it was just a "refresh" issue. But it wasn't... the post was gone. (Also for some reason my graphics at the top of the page are missing...)

So I logged into Blogger. The post was visible in my edit feature... but as a draft, not as a post. I had pressed the wrong button! I didn't press "publish" I pressed "save now." The post sat in my control panel all night... accomplishing nothing. Drat and blast! So, I've published the post. That problem is solved... now I have to solve the issue of where my graphics got to....

Forgive me?

My Haploid Group Isn't Obvious

For Christmas I gave my sister (and myself) starter kits for the National Geographic Genographic Project. The idea of the project is to track the migration of the human species around the planet by tracking either the Y chromosome or mitochondrial DNA. Science has tracked these two bits of the human genome back 60,000 years and isolated them to a very small number of early humans. Each of these two genetic bits have remained pretty much unchanged over the millenia and allow researchers to piece together how humans moved. The idea is that they are gathering DNA from all over the world, both from paying participants, (like me) and from volunteers in the more remote areas of the world. Then they can get a more complete picture of where we all came from and who we all are at the root of our genes. As more participants enter more information will be revealed and we'll all have a bigger family. They aren't promising to tell us what country we're from, or tribe names, or anything like that, just a general picture of who we are, and were we came from.

Yesterday I received my first bit of direct communication from them and they say my "haploid group isn't obvious." So they have to take a few extra weeks to do a more thorough check of my DNA. On the one hand this is good news, it means that I am adding to the project by adding genetic markers that they don't have yet. On the other hand I have to wait a few more weeks, which as anyone who knows me knows is the worst thing you can make me do. My sister tracked the opposite type of DNA from me, tracking our mother's lineage, while I tracked our father's side. I'm assuming that we'll get results from her tests fairly soon.

One of the things that I often think about is that I have no real ethnic or genetic heritage. Unlike a lot of people who can say that they are Irish, or German, or Polish... I have no idea who I am, or where I'm from. I know that this project won't tell me exactly that information, but it will connect me, if not to Germans or the Irish, then to the greater genetic legacy of the world.