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Thought for the Day

The woman was shot once in the thigh with a small entry wound but no exit wound—a stray bullet that struck her while she was walking down the street. In the trauma bay, the surgeons taped a paper clip over the entry wound so they could identify that spot on the X-ray. Goldberg wheeled the monitor over to show me the X-ray image: paper clip and bullet. “Very small,” she said, pointing to the slug, “like a .22.” As so many other patients do, the patient asked the trauma surgeons if they were going to take the bullet out, and the surgeons explained that they fix what the bullet injures, they don’t fix the bullet.

They left the wound open to prevent infection and put a dressing on it. “We’ll probably send her home tonight,” Goldberg said. “Isn’t that awful?”

She meant it as a strictly human thing. There’s no medical reason for a patient to be in a hospital longer than necessary. The point was the ridiculousness of the situation. A woman gets shot through no fault of her own, she comes to the hospital scared, and if she’s OK, Goldberg says, “It’s like, here, take a little Band-Aid.” The woman goes home, and for everyone else in the city, it’s as though the shooting never happened. It changes no policy. It motivates no law. In a perverse way, the more efficiently Goldberg does her job inside the hospital, the more invisible gun violence becomes everywhere else.

— Jason Fagone, “What Bullets Do to Bodies”

The Internet, in a Nutshell

Thought for the Day

Before I got into comics I did a bunch of different art jobs, and illustrating comics is by far the hardest of them. It combines everything: storytelling, anatomy, fashion, design, cars, architecture, etc. It’s relentless in what it asks of you as an artist. And you have to do it faster than any other artistic discipline.

Chip Zdarsky

Giving up the Dead

I’m having an email correspondence with a genealogist in Ireland. I’m looking to hire her to find records on my Holmes ancestors before they came to Canada. It’s been a slow conversation, with a number of delays, but I’m hoping that something will come of it.

But today we were talking about a particular part of the tree, and while looking at my records for that part of the tree, I realized that I’d failed to transcribe some data.

Here’s the story. I’ve mentioned before that the first of my family to come to Canada are Andrew and Susan (Susannah) Holmes, who emigrated here in 1845. I’ve also mentioned that Andrew died in quarantine at Grosse Île, Quebec. But they brought with them six of their seven children, who spread out and several of those kids end up in Lambton County, where I grew up.

So I’m interested in the one that stayed behind, Mary Ann Holmes, born around 1811. She was the oldest of the seven children and she was already married at the time the family moved to Canada (the second oldest, Margaret Holmes, was also married, but she brought her husband along to Canada with her). Some time before 1861, Mary Ann joined the rest of the family in Canada. Her husband, James Dowler, remained in Ireland. The author of Those Irish Holmes’ writes, “‘Tis said he loved the Emerald Isle, the thrill of its strife, and another woman.”

Mary Ann went to Lambton County and moved in with her brother, John Holmes and his wife, Mary Wilkinson. John and Mary only had one kid, but Mary Ann brought five with her. The youngest of those five might have been born in Canada, if the censuses are to be believed. If so, either Mary Ann was pregnant on the ride over, or James Dowler wasn’t the kid’s father. Or the censuses are wrong. This line of the family doesn’t have it easy. Mary Ann’s daughter, Ann Dowler, died in the London Insane Asylum. Her older brother, Thomas, might have also spent some time there.

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Thought for the Day

So here he was without maps or supplies,
A hundred miles from any decent town;
The desert glared into his blood-shot eyes;

The silence roared displeasure: looking down,
He saw the shadow of a small groundhog,
And an audience surrounding him, agog.

— with apologies to W.H. Auden

Mmmm, what’cha say?

Are You My Stalin, Dwight?

Dreamwidth for iOS

Shortly after WisCon, I decided that I wanted to be able to work with my Dreamwidth journal on my iPhone. An iOS app seemed like a natural thing that should exist in the world and, conveniently, I know how to make one.

Sadly, I was quickly impeded by the state of the existing API. The API was designed in another age: back before Rest/JSON, and at a time when people expected “LJ/DW clients” to be desktop apps that’d download all your entries for off-line reading. There are some glaring omissions from the API (and it’s certainly… old-timey).

But, hey, it’s open source, no? I mean, I suppose I could send them a pull request. True, I don’t really know Perl and find that LAMP development is about five times harder than it should be. But, hey, minor stuff.

Over the summer, I started talking to some of the folks at Dreamwidth about this, and that started me into conversations about a new Rest/JSON API and whatnot. But progress on that front has been slow. Which I get. They have their own priorities, and some weirdo from the Internet is pestering them with, “hey, if you added an X I could make you a Y.” I just think it’s a Y that’s interesting.

A few days ago, I was hit with another urge to work on the Dreamwidth iOS app, and I built out a quick app that implements some of the basic functions. I can login, see my recent entries, view some basic profile information, and post a simple entry. That’s not nothing.

But I’m still stuck with those API limitations that seem to prevent me from really making this thing useful. Le sigh.

2016 in Film

For the last few years, I’ve been saying that I feel like it’s been a bad year for film. This year, that trend continues, and I feel like I haven’t seen very many films. I missed the festival again, so that takes away yet another outlet. Many of the films I liked this year were released in theatres in late 2015, and one that made my “top 5” list is actually a 2013 film. But I’m into talking about movies that I’ve seen in 2016, and the release date isn’t as important to me.

This year, few films really stand out as films I will think about and love forever. But if I had to pick a top five, they’d be these ones.

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Revising Those Irish Holmes

I’ve written, before, about the booklet I had as a teenager: Those Irish Holmes’, by F. M. Emerson Holmes. The booklet was a family tree of all the descendants of Andrew and Susan (Susannah) Holmes, who came to Canada from Cavan County, Ireland, in 1845.

A few weeks ago, I got hit with a bit of a genealogy bug after letting it sit for a while and I started finishing up my revision to that booklet. Basically, I’ve tracked down almost all of the original names in the book and updated them with the latest information. Unsurprisingly, in the 35 years since the book was first published a large number of the people documented have since died, including F. M. Emerson himself.

Newer generations are harder to find the details about. Sites like Ancestry don’t share details on anyone marked as still living although you can occasionally find a name in the most recent census (the Canadian 1921 census is the most recent census that’s publicly-available).

As an aside: I feel like there’s been an up-tick in quality on how people have been using Ancestry. Just a few years ago, it felt like a bit of a slog to pick and choose the good quality records from other people’s trees; recently, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much good-quality information people have been adding. One area that’s really been helpful is in regards to photos. When I started adding photos to my family tree a few years ago, it seemed at the time like photos were rare. Now I’m fascinated by the number of distant family members I find with really good-quality photos attached to them.

Also in the last few days, I’ve learned a few more details about a bit of a family mystery.

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