Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to my old man. I love him, more than I can usually express. I, like many men, have problems expressing my emotions. But, let me say here that many of the things that I love about myself are characteristics reflected from him.

Nelda Jean Graham (1933-2018)

I found out last night that my Aunt Jean, my mom’s oldest sister, passed away (in what was morning in Louisiana). She had been sick for a while and recently went into a hospice. Members of my family tell me she passed away without pain and in her sleep. She, and indeed all my mom’s sisters, is a noble lady and I know that God will reward her accordingly. Her husband, Jack Graham, passed away away in 2015. Now of my grandparent’s children, only three remain.
Her obituary:

Nelda Jean Milton Graham, a resident of Walker, passed away peacefully at her home on Monday, May 07, 2018 at the age of 85. Visitation will be held at Seale Funeral Home, Denham Springs on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 beginning at 9:00am. Rev. Merlin McCon will conduct funeral services at 11:00am. Burial will follow in Hiram Stafford Cemetery. She is survived by her son, Bobby J. Graham and wife Helena, daughter, Patricia “Patti” Graham Dunn and husband John W. Dunn, III, three granddaughters, Danielle G. Awkerman and husband Chad, Aurielle G. Boeker and husband Barrett, and Stephanie G. Saltz and husband Willie, two great-grandchildren, Graham and Opal Boeker, four sisters, Marie and Wayne Stafford, Billie and Melvin Estess, Madge Cotton, and Marlene Milton, and numerous nieces and nephews. “Good morning and it is a good morning. My day began with my meeting and greeting my Lord to praise Him and thank Him for all His blessings. Then I greeted my husband Jack, my father and mother, Bill and Bertric Milton, brother George Milton, sisters, Carol Hooper, and Linda Williams, nephews Melvin and Mark Estes and lots of relatives and friends. As you know God didn’t promise a life of ease. I’ve had my share of ups and downs but He was always there and always so faithful. So, to those I’ve left behind, I say remember me with love and a smile. Well, maybe a tear or two, but please don’t grieve. Just know that when St. Peter answers your knock at the Pearly Gate I’ll be on the other side waiting to welcome you home. Till then all my love. Nelda Jean.”

I love you, Aunt Jean, and look forward to seeing you again.

Jason’s Wedding

So this past Friday (April 20th), my brother took the plunge and remarried. He has been saying for awhile that this was going to occur and so it did. I am really happy for him and his new bride. Her name is Shantel and is from Slidell, Louisiana. I have met her twice, I think, and she is really nice. Her daughter was down from the Air Force and Ethan was home on leave from the Marines, so Jason decided to do it right then as they already had the license. He had previously thought to have the ceremony in the summer while I was there, but I told him to go ahead if he wanted. I have been to a wedding of his before, so really I just want him to be happy. And it seems like he is that. Pictures:

Ethan Graduates!

So, my nephew successfully completed book camp and was accepted in as new member of the United States Marine Corps. I am really excited for him and wish him well in this chapter in his life. His next stop is the Advanced Infantry Training. His plan in the Corps is to complete two years as an Embassy guard and then two years back with the infantry. Maybe he will be assigned to work in Beijing while I am there, which would be awesome.

For his graduation, my brother, my niece and nephew, ex-sister-in-law and her family traveled over to Paris Island to be there for his graduation. I wish I could have been there. Here is a picture of my niece, brother and two nephews:

Ancestry DNA results

I ordered an Ancestry DNA test on cyber Monday last year and was finally able to do it after I got the test from Jason in Hawaii. I sent it off from there and almost exactly a month later, I have the results. Here it is:

I thought the Scotch/Irish and English were probably spot on. The western European (Germany & France) is pretty spot on as well. The Iberian, southern European, Scandinavian, and even <1% Jewish were all within expectations. The one that really threw me was the Caucasus bit. 5% is a not inconsequential amount of my DNA. When you click on, it states that this DNA can be found in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Trace amounts can be found in Bulgaria, Jordan, Greece, Italy, Kuwait, Palestine, Romania, and Turkmenistan. I think this is from my father’s side, as a 2nd cousin of mine had 2% Caucasus. My father’s family tree has been extensively done, so I have no idea how this or when or where this DNA entered in.

Update: I sent my DNA results to MyHeritage and they had radically different results. Great Britain (Ancestry) went from 36% to MyHeritage’s 1.3%. I think Northern and Western Europe also must carry in some English DNA, because my father’s side is almost all Yankee New Englanders, who were predominantly English. Still, MyHeritage had no Caucasus, so I don’t know what to say. Here is their results:

Hawaii Trip – February 13-20th

If we are friends on Facebook, you can see my pictures here.

Last year my brother Jason and I decided that we would take a trip out to Hawaii to visit my niece, Morgan. Jason had discussed visiting her several times, so it was not difficult to talk him into this trip. He wanted to come before she graduated from BYU-Hawaii and left the islands for graduate school. I had not seen her in over two years as she served a mission in Utah.

The flight over there was long. I first went from Taipei to Hong Kong, then Manila, and finally a 9 hour flight to Honolulu. My back killed me, which was made worse waiting for Jason’s flight to land in 6 hours. Luckily, I came prepared with reading material. I always have that on hand. :-P We drove up to the North Shore, as we were staying at an Airbnb in Laie.

The next day we went down to Ft. DeRussy, an old coastal artillery fortification, near Waikiki. There is an interesting museum there, holding artifacts from the length of US military’s interactions in Hawaii. The museum was free, but the parking bit us in the rear. After this, we planned to visit Pearl Harbor. When we arrived, we found that the ferry to the Arizona was closed due to choppy weather, the USS Bowfin was closed because it was hit by lightning and that Aviation Museum flooded. It rained about 70 percent of our time there, which I did not mind that much. So, we decided to visit another day when Morgan was available.

The next day, we went out early to see what we were not able to see the day before. The Arizona was an amazing, solemn experience. The Bowfin and the Aviation museum were wonderful and mentally stimulating, as I knew them to be. Unfortunately, we did not see the USS Missouri, the “Mighty Mo,” because of time and expense. If anything, this would be the only thing I really regret. Saved for another time, perhaps.

We did a lot of driving around, looking at scenic sites. It is definitely paradisiacal in many regards. Not the tourists though. They were annoying, as they kept getting in the way. Jason is a nature lover and I am, to put it mildly, rather indifferent. Still, I enjoyed visiting the beaches and mountains. We did not go swimming, as neither of us were inclined and the weather was mostly abysmal. We were even almost trapped by a flash flood, only saved by my superior navigating and Jason’s steady hand at the wheel.

The Polynesian Cultural Center was awesome. I know that it is culture packaged for a tourist audience, but I still enjoyed learning more about the different islands and their peoples. We had a luau and the food was phenomenal. I was happy to spend time with my brother and niece, even if we did get rained on. Morgan described the North Shore as the armpit of O’ahu, because the rains come from elsewhere and just settle in the north. We definitely experienced that as we crossed over from dry, sunny Honolulu into somewhat torrential downpours.

All in, I loved my trip. I saw mostly what I wanted and was dragged to appreciate what I usually happily overlook. I would recommend a visit by others. My only criticism is the number of tourists (I do not, of course, include myself among this number). It did not feel like a romantic place, no doubt because I did not have someone of significance in that department with me. If I were to go on a honeymoon or something, I think I would prefer to go to Kauaʻi or Maui. Still, a lovely place.

On my return trip, it was brutal. I backtracked the same way, except with a 23 hour layover in Hong Kong. Idiotic me. I slept for 5 dismal hours and died the rest. I had planned to go into the city and visit a friend but I was so exhausted I could barely stand. In the future, I will not do long layovers. Definitely not.

My Nephew – US Marine Corps

My nephew, Ethan, took a giant step forward in his life. He has joined the United States Marine Corps and left for 13 weeks of Basic Training at Parris Island, South Carolina. I am really proud of him.

Since he was a young boy, he has wanted to join the Marines like his grandfather, Cy Wilson, did during the Vietnam War. There were some road bumps along the way, but he was able to overcome them. I am happy for him and proud of him. I know that he will make a great Marine.

Here is a picture of him with my brother at his swearing-in ceremony:

Dinner Dates

My year ended with some cheer with dinner dates with some friends. On December 28th, my 妹妹 (little sister), Masako, visited from Tokyo. She was visiting with a friend and squeezed some time in for me. We had some traditional Taiwanese dishes at a restaurant near Dongmen station. She shared with me the delightful news that she is moving to Taipei in February and I shared with her the horrible news that I am moving back to Beijing for work in August. I was happy and disappointed at the same time. Here are some pictures:


Since the Church and Temple are near to Dongmen, we walked over and looked at it. It is quite beautiful in the afternoon and at dusk.

On December 30th, two friends from church, Jean-Francois and Vivian Morin, treated me to dinner. I enjoyed it immensely, although they had to put up with my poor social graces. I am trying to work on them, and did warn the Morins that I am practicing. I thank them for their tolerance with someone who is a bit of a bore.

Whitney Shantel Cotton (1991-2017)

This week a cousin if mine passed away. I was asked to be a pall bearer at her funeral. When it happened, my first thought was what it was going to do to her family. Her young daughter, mother, two uncles, and grandmother (my aunt) were understandably devastated. It was a senseless waste. I wrote a poem about this obligation and my feelings toward it. Here is her obituary, beautiful but unable to fully capture the person she was and is. My mom waited for you in Heaven, love. She waits for me as well.