Monday, July 25, 2011

Maritime Monday - Service Record Pt. 4

Here we see another page from the Service Record of Estel E. Dillman, my paternal grandfather.  This particular page has a number of different pieces of information on it, so let's look at them one section at a time and talk about the significance of each.

First, it has the usual name, service number, rate, date and command information.  This is how we keep track of who this particular piece of paper is reporting on.  We can see that as of 13 May 1940, my grandfather was a Machinist Mate 2nd Class aboard the U.S.S. Brooklyn, having previously served aboard the U.S.S. Chaumont.  I discussed both of those ships, including links to Wikipedia articles about them in previous posts.

Next, we see that on 7 Mar 1941, my grandfather crossed the equator and was initiated as a Shellback in a ceremony I also described in an earlier post.  A week later, he crossed the International Date Line.  So far as I am aware, there is not a similar ceremony for crossing the date line as there is for crossing the Equator.  As I served in the western hemisphere, I did not have opportunity to cross the date line to find out.

Next, the record details his participation in the first expedition to Iceland for a month in the summer of 1941.  Better than a winter visit, I'm thinking!  Remember, though, that this was during World War II in Europe, and even though the United States were not formally involved in the war at that point, we were aiding our allies by providing suplies, and our ships were targets for German u-boats.

Next we see that on 01 Nov 1941, Estel was promoted to Machinist Mate 1st Class, which is the E-6 paygrade.  This is an upper supervisory level just below middle management if you want a civilian equivalent.  Sailors at this level are starting to do more management and supervision of lower ranked men, but are still very much in the thick of getting the work done.  They still get their hands dirty frequently.  They also train the lower ranks by providing guidance and experience working with the equipment involved.

In my own service record, it is unusual to have several different kinds of event recorded on a single page as it is on this one, but this page is by no means unique in Estel's service record.  Also, these old service record pages are narrow, where my service record has full letter-size pages.

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Employment

Week 30: Employment. Describe your first job. What did you do? Were you saving for something in particular, or just trying to make a living? Did that first job provide skills and make an impact on your life today?

When I was a kid, I had several paper routes, like a lot of kids at the time.  It was not great money for what was often very heavy work, at early morning times.  Still it did teach responsibility, being required to do your job even when you would rather be out playing, or sleeping.  

My first "job" was as a stockboy at a new local grocery superstore. I was just 16 years old.  I lasted there all of about 2 months.  That first job was an eye opening adjustment into time management, not just on the job, but also in my life.  I wasn't used to having that much time taken up by something, causing me to not have the time I was used to for other activities.  I wasn't doing any more than trying to make a bit of money, pay for gas and insurance on the car, etc.  And the short time I had that job was more of an education in expectations of others when you were working for them or with them, than any sort of skills learning.  I think a trained monkey could have done what I was doing.  I made minimum wage, which was at that time $3.35/hour.

The next job I got was in fast food, with a national chain.  Again, it was an education in time management and such, with some useful skills thrown in.  Dish washing, food preparation, cleanup.  All good useful life skills, if not very taxing.  There are still some useful bits of knowledge I use on a regular basis that I learned from this job, for example, if the french fries in the fryer are floating, they're done enough to serve, even if they don't have that rich, golden brown color we all love.  I also handled money in this position, dealing with customers at the Drive Thru window.  I still get uptight when handling other people's money.  I don't do well in retail work for this reason.  At this job, I made slightly more, $3.45/hour.  Again, it was mostly gas money and such, I was still living at home with my parents.

My next job was also restaurant based, but more of a sit-down place.  A steakhouse of a national chain.  I moved to this job directly from the previous one for a pay raise.  Again, it was more useful as experience than for skills learning.  I mostly bussed tables and washed dishes, and other basic cleaning.  Some useful life skills, but not much for career skills.  I didn't end up staying in this position too long, either, as I left them when I enlisted in the Navy.  My son now works at that same restaurant.  One of my old managers is still there, and now manages my son.

All of these places gave me experience in what to expect from life as a working-class person.  The expectations that other people have of you when they are paying for your time, the expectations your co-workers have of you being part of a working team, etc.  How much of your time gets eaten up by earning a living.  They all end up impacting your life, even if you can't see it while you're working those early, low-end starter jobs.

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Sunday, July 24, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Water

Week 29: Water. Do you have any memories of the sea or another body of water? Did you live there or just visit? What did you do there? You can also describe a body of water by which you live or visit in the present day.

Water and I have a mixed history.

Living in Minnesota, you're never far from water of some sort.  Summer weekends are frequently spent going to the lake, whether to a cabin, or just to a beach for swimming.  My family never owned lakefront property, but we did go fairly often to swim at any of several nearby lakes.  Of course, being Minnesota, the water is pretty cold until high summer.  I'm not one of those crazies who do the polar bear thing, cutting holes in the ice for a quick icy dip in the winter!

When I was young, my mother took me to swimming lessons like many kids.  I had a traumatic experience once during a lesson.  I got away from the side of the pool, in water that was a little over my head, and I was not yet able to swim.  I panicked.  It put me off swimming for a long time, and I never became a strong swimmer.  Now, I'll go to the lake occasionally, maybe a couple or three times in a summer, or I'll swim in a pool if I travel and stay in a hotel that has one, but I don't go out of my way to find a swimming hole.  I'll boat, or go fishing on occasion, but I'm not big into either of those activities, either. 

When I was older, I enlisted in the Navy.  We're talking a whole new level of involvement with water, here.  Everyone in the Navy must be able to pass a swim test.  Fortunately, I was able to pass the minimums sufficiently that I did not need remedial swim lessons.  I got assigned to a fighter squadron, which deployed on an aircraft carrier.  I went to sea numerous times.  My Sea Duty counter ended up at over 11 months during the 3.5 years I was assigned to sea duty in that squadron.  The longest deployment was when I made a Mediterranean Cruise, a 6-month plus deployment.  I passed over a lot of water on that ship. 

While I was enlisted, I lived a couple of miles from the Atlantic Ocean shore at Virginia Beach, VA.  As a pointer to my previous indifference to water, I may have gone to the beach a dozen times in the almost six years I lived there.  I found that I liked body surfing in the small waves there, but the abrasions from running into the beach sand were annoying.  I don't care for the way salt water gets everywhere, making everything taste salty.  And there were a lot of small jellyfish in that area.  Not enough to really hurt, just really itchy-annoying.

Water in Minnesota lakes is usually clear to a muddy green/brown.  Our lakes are known for being a bit murky.  It's hard to find that murky water beautiful.  Water close to shore even on the oceans is usually more of a greenish or brownish color due to all of the junk we dispose of, and algae and other sea life.  When you get really out to sea, however, the water is the most beautiful blue color that is most of what you see in pictures of Earth from space. 

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Poetry

Once again Randy Seaver is putting out the challenge:

Hey there, Genea-Nauts -- It's Saturday Night, and time for more Genealogy Fun!!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  Write a poem about "Where I'm From" using the template found at the website

2)  Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Google Plus or Facebook note.

Thank you to Kevin Huigens of the Family History Nuggets blog for the SNGF suggestion!

Well, it's no longer Saturday night, but I'm throwing  in my contribution anyway.

Where I'm from.

Ships across the sea
Brought ancestors to this land

Natives fight and die
We displace them on their lands
Now go west, young man

Horse-drawn plows break sod
Fell the trees, plant crops, build towns
How the west was won

Wars engulf the world
Many men do not return
My grandpa came back

New technology
Someone has to make it work
That is where I'm from.

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Bucket List

Are you ready for Saturday Night, and more Genealogy Fun??  I hope so!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

Knowing that a "Bucket List" is a wish list of things to do before death:

1)  What is on your Genealogy Bucket List?  What research locations do you want to visit?  Are there genea-people that you want to meet and share with?  What do you want to accomplish with your genealogy research?  List a minimum of three items - more if you want!

2)  Tell us about it in a blog post of your own (please give me a link in Comments), a comment to this post in Comments, or a status line or comment on Facebook.

Think big!  Have fun!  Life is short - do genealogy first!  

This is way old, but I wasn't able to do it when Randy first put it out there.  Kind of like Genealogy, we do it when we can, even if it's not when we would like to.

1)  I've never made a Bucket List for anything, so I've got to do a little thinking. 

   A)  I need to visit several locations in Louisiana to research my maternal lines.  I've not been down there since I was about 14 years old, before the genealogy bug bit me.  I think I'd appreciate it more now, even without the genealogy aspect.
   B)  I'd really like to visit Germany to research my lines there, and my wife's lines as well.  Late in 2009 I had an opportunity to go with the Dillman Family Association on a research junket, but I was unemployed and could not afford to go.  I saw some of the reports they did, and now I'm even more sad I couldn't make it.
   C)  I'd like to visit the UK to research those lines.  My first immigrant ancestor in the US was Robert Day, who sailed from Ipswich on the Elizabeth, landed at Massachusetts and soon pioneered with the initial group to what is now Hartford, CT.  For that matter, I could use a research trip to Hartford, and Sheffield, MA, and any of several other places in that region.
   D)  I really need to step up my documentation game.  I've been getting better in that aspect, but for many years I was playing the "Let's see how many names, how far back we can add!" game.  Now I need to go back and fill in the blanks.  This is going to require more outlay of money than I've had available for a few years, for travel and for document copying and for online access to digital repositories. 

2) I'm as connected to genea-people as I need to be online.  That said, I would be happy to meet some at a conference some time, but conferences are not high on my agenda. 

3)  I'm doing this to get a decently researched, documented family tree put together for posterity.  Most of my family are not terribly interested, but it needs to be done now before more records are lost.  It needs to be done now, when I have an interest in doing it, since no one else is putting the effort into it.  I'm doing this for my descendants, so they will have the information.  So they can follow on and improve what I'm starting.  I'm also doing it for me, so I can know where I come from, what kind of people, where they lived and what they did.  Knowledge for its own sake is a nice thing to have. 

This an all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Class Photo

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Monday, July 18, 2011

Maritime Monday - Aboard Ship

Estel E. Dillman MM2c aboard ship, ca. 1929

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Blanche Bieger & Alta Day

Blanche Bieger & Alta Day ca. 1929, hand colored.

Wordless Wednesday – a great way to share your old family photos! Create a post with the main focus being a photograph or image. Some posters also include attribute information as to the source of the image (date, location, owner, etc.). Wordless Wednesday is one of the longest running “memes” in the blogosphere and is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Vacations

Week 27. Vacations. Where did your family go on vacation? Did you have a favorite place? Is it still there? If not, how has the area changed?

I remember a number of vacations to various places.  One benefit of having family scattered all over the country is plenty of choices of where to go on vacation to visit family!  I recall several trips to Louisiana, one to Washington D.C. when I was about 11, many to South Dakota to my grandparents' house.

One vacation I remember well was the trip to Mount Rushmore back when I was about 12.  We drove from home in Minnesota down to Sioux Falls, SD, where we picked up I-90 and drove across the state to Rapid City.  We camped at a campground on the side of a hill.  It had an outdoor pool, which was nice, as the weather was hot!  It being on the side of the hill overlooking part of Rapid City, the view was nice, especially at night.  Although we did stop and see the Corn Palace at Mitchell, SD, I don't remember doing too much other than swimming in that pool and visiting Mount Rushmore once we got to Rapid City.  There are tons of tourist traps and things to do in that area of South Dakota, but for some reason, I don't think we did many of them when I visited as a child.

When my kids were about the same age as my brother and I were on that trip, we decided to make the same trip.  Being much more recent, I remember more of what we did, of course, and I think we took the opportunity to do more things.  First, we stopped and saw the car museum at Murdo, SD.  Then we bypassed the Corn Palace at Mitchell, which is vastly over-rated in my opinion, even though we did stop to eat at Mitchell. 

Meadows and mountains at Hill City

Mount Rushmore at night ca 2006
We stayed in Hill City, in a really nice motel with a great view of  mountains, and deer in the meadow at dusk.   There was a large deck outside the doors of our motel room where we could sit and look at this view.  It had a picnic table and a grill so we could cook out and eat.  There was also a pool which the kids used to beat the heat.  We rode the 1880 train to Keystone and back, an old coal-fired locomotive and train. There's a neat dinosaur museum at Hill City as well, and my kids have always been interested in the dinosaurs, so we spent an afternoon visiting that.

We did of course go to Mount Rushmore, being the prime attraction of the region.  We walked the paths under the presidents in 100 degree heat (which we had all week!) and stayed for the evening lighted show.  We drove around and saw the Crazy Horse monument, which looked about the same as it did when I was young, but I am informed that there has been some progress on it since I was a kid.

Blue frogs!
We visited a gold mine, and got to pan for gold in the mine tailings outside, and bring home our gold we panned.  Did I mention it was 100 degrees out?  We visited Reptile Gardens.  I recommend it, there's lots of critters to see!  These little blue frogs are toxic, from the jungles of Central America.  There were also frogs of other bright colors like yellow, orange and green.  Loads of snakes, a 21 foot crocodile, and giant tortoises you can feed were some of the other attractions at Reptile Gardens.  Well worth the time.

Pioneer Sod House, South Dakota Badlands
On the way back from Rapid City, we drove through the Badlands, a very scenic area of canyons.  The road is winding, and it takes a bit of time to get through, so plan accordingly if you go.  And hope for a sunny day, as the sun really brings out the colors in the layers of rock in the canyons.  We were there on an overcast day, and it wasn't as beautiful as it could have been, but still fun to see.  On the way out, there was a Pioneer Sod House attraction.  I would like to have gone through, but we were all tired and hot and wanted to get home at that point, and didn't feel like spending the money to go through it, but I did get a picture. Some of my ancestors lived in houses not unlike this on the South Dakota prairie.  We do have it nice now!

What vacations did you go on?  What vacation did you want to do, but never got the chance?

This an all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Wordless Wednesday - Reva (Dillman) Fulkerson

Reva (Dillman) Fulkerson b. 26 Sep 1916, d. 16 Mar 2006

Wordless Wednesday – a great way to share your old family photos! Create a post with the main focus being a photograph or image. Some posters also include attribute information as to the source of the image (date, location, owner, etc.). Wordless Wednesday is one of the longest running “memes” in the blogosphere and is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Brick Wall In My Tree

I came across this image this morning, and immediately had a different thought about how I would caption it:

from, part of the Cheezburger Network of websites.

Which of our trees does not have a brick wall in it somewhere?  In fact, most of us probably have several.
How would you caption this picture?  Post yours in the comments below!

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dropbox Update

As a user of Dropbox, I received an update in my e-mail (and you probably did, too) attempting to clarify the recent uproar over their Terms of Service (TOS).  I think they've done a pretty good job of stating their terms in more clear language, and further, of explaining why they need the rights they are claiming through your agreement to use the service.  That said, I still stand by my earlier positions in that they DO have access to your data, and you DO need to evaluate what you choose to store on your Dropbox, and whether the risk of abuse of your data is low enough to feel safe storing it with Dropbox.

Here's a bit of the statement Dropbox released on their blog:
Some of you have written us with very understandable concerns about the legal-sounding parts. In particular, our new TOS talks about the licenses we need to run Dropbox. We want to be 100% clear that you own what you put in your Dropbox. We don’t own your stuff. And the license you give us is really limited. It only allows us to provide the service to you. Nothing else.
We think it’s really important that you understand the license. It’s about the permissions you give us to run the service, things like creating public links when you ask us to, allowing you to collaborate with colleagues in shared folders, generating web previews or thumbnails of your files, encrypting files, creating backups… the basic things that make Dropbox safe and easy to use. Services like Google Docs and others do the same thing when they get these permissions (see, for example, section 11.1 of Google’s TOS).
We wish we didn’t have to use legal terms at all, but copyright law is complicated and if we don’t get these permissions in writing, we might be putting ourselves in a tough spot down the road. Not to bore you with the details, but please take a look at the license term in the TOS. We think it’s fair and strikes the right balance: “This license is solely to enable us to technically administer, display, and operate the Services.”

They have gone to great lengths to state clearly that under normal circumstances they will not access your data, and that data they collect is to better operate the service.  I'm not a lawyer, I don't know how well that would stand up in court if it were part of a lawsuit, but it does look pretty reassuring when reading it as a layman.  They have not clarified how they deal with potential abuse of your data by individual Dropbox employees.  One would assume they have provision in their terms of employment to deal with that, but the likelihood of abuse is highest from disgruntled (ex-)employees who are likely not concerned with remaining employed by Dropbox, and once your data is exposed, there's no stuffing the genie back into the bottle.

So, Dropbox (and really, all cloud computing services) remain a security risk that you need to evaluate for yourself.  A lot of family history data is probably just fine on Dropbox, especially if it's also posted to online trees such as or as well.  Just be careful of data you wish to remain private.

And I'm still not a fan of the Cloud...

This an all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dropbox, Revisited

It would seem the Dropbox issue is ruffling some feathers out there.  Not just in the genealogy blogging world, but in the tech sector as a whole as well.

Some people are reading the news, and pointedly highlighting the phrase, " the extent which we think it necessary for the Service."  to justify the whole thing as being necessary to run Dropbox. 

It's not an exclusion of any kind!  The wording is so vague as to be useless.  WHO gets to decide what is necessary for the service?  Which specific employees of Dropbox have access, and how is that controlled?  Is there a two or more person interaction that needs to take place, to place even a small check on access?  Or can a disgruntled employee with a little time on their hands go fishing?  If the access is possible, then it's also possible for that access to be abused.  How does the company work to prevent such abuse?

I'll agree that Dropbox as a company, and even their employees as individuals, do not have time to randomly rummage through everyone's data all the time.  I've been in IT for well over a decade, and I've had administrative access to all manner of data.  I know from experience that I didn't have time to just dig through the president of the college's e-mail, for example.  But had I wanted, or had reason to do it, I could have. What stopped me was my integrity, and training.  It's simply not something I would do.  But I've seen many news reports of where the integrity of people has failed, and they have snooped when in a similar position.  It happens far too often when an employee feels mistreated or undervalued.   It's one reason why many employers will simply pay an IT worker to stay home after they give two weeks' notice - it's better than letting them maintain access to data and possibly abuse the privilege.

The fact remains your data is out of your direct control, and therefore vulnerable to examination and misuse by the third parties you trusted to hold it safe.  For some data, that's of little importance.  But some data we as genealogists gather can be sensitive, such as family medical issues, the data that we don't publish, especially while those described are still alive.

I've never been a fan of Cloud Computing.  It's not Dropbox, specifically, it's that segment of IT  as a   whole that I have issues with.  Data security was one of the things I was educated about, and  trained to deal with, ever since I started in the field.  The whole concept of Cloud Computing, especially Cloud Storage like Dropbox, flies in the face of all of that.    This is just a particular example that highlights why we need to be extremely careful of what we put out there, and how it is controlled and accessed, and by whom.

I'm betting this isn't over...

This an all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman

Dropbox Warning!

We all know and love Dropbox, the web-based service that lets us share files between our computers using 'Cloud' technology, right?  Just drop your files in the Dropbox folder, and you can access them from any other Dropbox connected computer.  Great concept!

Here's the problem: By using a 'Cloud' service, you essentially allow someone else to hold your data for you, and you are subject to their whims as to what they can do with it.  Previously, Dropbox had a pretty decent statement of how they would hold your data.  It was all supposed to be totally private, not even Dropbox employees could get at it.  Until the US Government demanded some data that Dropbox was holding.  And then it turns out that Dropbox employees could indeed access data if it was necessary, such as to comply with a court order.  Or if some bored, disgruntled employee decided they wanted to snoop.

Now it's worse.  Dropbox just changed their Terms of Service (TOS), and there's some worrisome language in there that essentially assigns full copyright to all of your data to Dropbox: 
'By submitting your stuff to the Services, you grant us (and those we work with to provide the Services) worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions) of, perform, or publicly display that stuff to the extent we think it necessary for the Service.'
Oh, and sublicenseable, meaning they can let anyone else use your data as well.   Is that what you signed up for?  Is that okay with you? 

This is one of my biggest problems with 'Cloud Computing'.  It's like handing someone your wallet, and trusting them to just hold it, not let anyone else access it, and not access it themselves.  The pressure is just too great for them to just snoop a little, or give in to demands from others to get access for various reasons.  This has always been my problem with Cloud Computing, but the market was all gung ho with a new buzzword, a new (not really) concept, and a huge marketing push to drive customers.  What providers like about Cloud Computing is that it's portable.  They can build new data centers anywhere it's cheap to do so.  Cost of doing business in Hong Kong getting too high?  Let's move the datacenter to Thailand.  Somewhere that labor and rent is cheap.

Dropbox is very convenient.  But is it worth giving away your data?

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Dillman