Why GenForward?

It should be clear from the explosion in interest in genealogy and sites like Ancestry, that there is a deep seated desire for people to know more about their pasts, to better understand where they came from. People want to understand who they really are, where they came from, and how they fit into the world. They will spend hours online, searching for the smallest scrap of family history, a photo, a marriage listing, a birth certificate, or an immigration record. How much do these things really say about the people they refer to? About their lives, thoughts, knowledge, hopes and fears? A century or so ago, people did have a bit more of an excuse for not having left much of a traceable footprint. Photographs were expensive, letters, diaries or journals and such things could be easily lost, disposed of or destroyed (how did we ever manage before e-mail…

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What If? – How One Decision Can Change A Life

Ok, let’s start today's GenForward Living Legacy blog here by saying that I’m pretty happy in my life right now. Yes it would be great to have a bunch more money, and to maybe have to do a bit less work, and maybe have a bit more in the way of actual family time, but hey the big things outweigh the little things. I sometimes sit back and think about the madness that has been my life. Of how I went from being a small boy growing up in a small town in the county, to where I am now, sitting here in the USA, married to someone from another different country in Europe, doing what I’m doing and being happy. The odds are ridiculous. My past has been filled with good times and bad, smart decisions and even more poor ones (but usually made with reasons of good intent).…

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Classic Kids At Play 1970’s Style (Part One)

In today's GenForward Living Legacy blog I will touch on another conversation that comes up regularly with my son, which is about the kind of things we had as kids in the dark ages, which is apparently when I grew up. Casting my mind back I can think of several items that topped out lists to Santa. These were mixed in with the usual  present from some random ancient relative that we’d never met, but who clearly had little idea what had gone on in the world of children’s toys since the invention of the top ‘n’ whip, plus the, “parents trying to buy things to encourage creativity” type gifts. I still try this one myself today, should know better really. As a child I pulled the heads off my Fuzzy Felts Nativity set and ate most of my Pay-Doh because it smelled so good, so why I expect my son…

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Classic Kids At Play 1970’s Style (Part 2)

To follow on from part one, we're now back for part two of my GenForward Living Legacy article about toys I grew up with:   Ok, lets leave Steve behind and go onto another staple of the era. I was also lucky enough to have one of these and we used to run riot with it. There wasn’t a piece of furniture that didn’t have chunks out of it’s legs thanks to my next favourite, the legend that was Evel Knievel! In short, the most heroic bloke on the planet. Every small boy wanted to be him. Off the scale cool, when “cool” was still cool. And just like our real life hero, every time you wound up his miniature double, there was a huge chance that it was all going to end up in a horrific accident. Let’s face it, it really wasn’t our fault. The whole purpose of the the thing…

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God And Other Opinions

As I am writing more and more for these Genforward Living Legacy Genealogy blogs, I am becoming aware of the fact that, for good or for bad, I am putting a lot of my personal opinion out there in the world. That being tha case, I thought that it would be wise to make it clear how I veiw opinions, including my own, and the spirit in which I would like the opinons I publish to be taken. Ok, lets start on some really dodgy ground...... I was not brought up in a particularly religious fashion. My mother was Catholic, but I wouldn’t say practicing. We went to church for Christenings, weddings and funerals. I did the odd stint at Sunday school and I did have a reasonable grasp of my bible stories as a child. If pushed, I would say I am a non believer, but only if pushed. I…

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Thousand Year Old Playground

  Ok, today on my GenForward Living Legacy genealogy blog I’m going to touch on a combination of some memories from my childhood, along with a bit of history regarding the place I come from. I am doing this because it seems that the place I come from has recently hit he headlines in the UK press regarding the ruination of a historic site. Seeing the photos of this really brought back a bunch of memories for me so as I say, I’ll go into a bit about my memories in relation to this place as well as a bit of history (as it’s something I like anyway). I come from a town right on the Norfolk/Suffolk borders in the area of the UK known as East Anglia. It’s an area that may well be familiar to people who are serving or have served in the USAF as there are two…

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To Challenge Or To Censor

Today on my GenForward Living Legacy genealogy blog I am talking about one of my great loves, the movies. I started out just talking about TV as we were growing up (I’ll go back and finish this one another time), but as I moved onto my life in the late 70’s and early 80’s and started to talk about things we watched, the article ended up being a much broader overview of censorship and what children are exposed to, and how this has influenced how I treat my son today:   Once we got out of the early 70’s and into the early 80’s the world really began to open up with the mass advent of the Video Recorder. In the UK, the establishment just wasn’t ready for the video recorder. I recall clearly that the “pirating” of videos was commonplace, and there was basically no certification. My mum used…

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I’m His Father, Not His Friend!

I was reading an article this morning in the UK press about how liberal parenting and a desire of father’s to be their son’s best friend, is harming the development of teenage boys today by effectively transferring authority from the parent to the child, personified by a “Yes, but what am I supposed to do about it” attitude when the child acts up (link enclosed at the end of this piece). By the time I’d finished reading, I felt like I had just read something I had written myself, and thought that I'd use the piece as a springboard for another story of my life on today's GenForward Living Legacy Genealogy blog. I do not want to be my son’s best friend. It’s not my job. My job is to be his father. An appropriate role model, who provides discipline, boundaries, and as he matures, a roadmap for him as…

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Draft Week: Football Addiction, A Precautionary Tale

Draft week is finally here!! As a result I’m going to spend a bit of time on today’s Genforward Living Legacy genealogy blog talking about the guts and the glory that is, the best sport on earth. Although I originate from the UK, I am really not a fan of British football (the one where you actually use your feet). In my younger days, I did go to matches occasionally and must confess to following Spurs in the golden era of Hoddle, Waddle, Ardiles and Villa (google some of the goals, really). The game in the modern era has just become far too soft for my tastes, plus lets just say, it’s been a fairly painful experience following the England national team over the decades (a set of emotions perfectly personified in the truly brilliant movie, Mike Basset, England Manager). No, despite being from the right side of the pond,…

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Deny, Deny, Then Blame Something Else!

Today's GenForward Living Legacy Genealogy blog is on the subject of accountability, driven mainly by a genuinely mind bending attempt at non accountability by my son last night. I have always been a big proponent of having the courage of my convictions. I have been in many situations in my life where I have had to make decisions that had potentially big impacts, often without always having all of the information at hand that one would want. As with any human being, those decisions were not always the right ones when viewed with hindsight. Regardless, I would always try not to shy away from the decision I had made, primarily because when making choices I always try to make sure I do it with the "right" motivation. What I mean by this is really things like considering others before myself, what is morally the right thing to do, and primarily, will I…

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Why It’s Hard For Kids To Be Free (Incorporating “Texas Rules Of The Road”)

In today’s GenForward Living Legacy genealogy blog I am touching again on the subject of encouraging independence in my son. This time I am looking at first of all, how things were when I grew up and how that let me grow gradually in independence and self reliance. Secondly I am looking at the reality of our lives today, and how living where we do actually puts up some barriers to this kind of organic growth in my son’s life: I have written in the past several times on the subject of how kids today seem to be far less independent that we used to be back in pre-history when I was growing up. I have to face the fact that despite all of the efforts we might make to poke my son into standing on his won two feet and spreading his wings a bit, the issue of independent mobility…

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Embrace The Difference: American Stereotypes

I have been asked by a few people to maybe spend a little time looking at the differences between life over here and life back in the UK. These differences are many and varied, so I thought in today’s GenForward Living Legacy genealogy blog I’d start with some of the basic fundamentals. Let me just make it clear though before I start, the things I touch on here are differences I have observed. I’m not saying one way is right, the other wrong. As I have written in previous articles, I have no issue at all with people not being the same, it’s what makes the world go round. Given the tug of war between an American life and schooling, and me at home throwing in my two pence worth, I’m not sure how my boy’s going to turn out. Maybe best of both worlds: So, let’s start with some pre-conceptions…

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More Classic 70’s Children’s TV

in today's GenForward Living Legacy genealogy blog, I have the urge to write about some more of the children's TV we were exposed to in the 1970's:   I still remember to this day standing outside the local cinema in the queue in 1977 waiting to watch Star Wars and simply not realising what was about to happen to the world. As a small boy, film and TV had a big influence on me, and some of my strongest memories of childhood revolve around TV shows and movies. I really don’t know how to compare it to today though as I was brought up in kind of a cross over period (1970’s-1980’s) for TVs and movies. In the UK we had three TV channels. That’s your lot. Whilst it wasn’t quite such a big deal to own a TV, most people only had one and we’re talking maybe 21 inch…

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There’s No Time Like…Oh Tomorrow Will Do…

People procrastinate. It’s just a fact. I can be as guilty as the next person of putting off till tomorrow what would better be done today. Another incident yesterday with my son made me reflect on the whole GenForward Living Legacy genealogy project and what it really means so, for a change in one of my blogs, rather than share some funny life stories, I’d like to share with you a bit about GenForward as it sits today, what it will be in the future, and what really motivates us to get behind this project. I was once again going through what has recently become, the saga of the Math’s homework. My son is not a fan of math. He’s not bad at it by any stretch of the imagination, he just doesn’t really like it. Moreover, he sees homework as a chore. Unfortunately, much as both my wife and…

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How Many Of These Do You Know?

In Today’s GenForward Living Legacy genealogy blog we’ll take a walk down memory lane and talk about the music that for me, defined our era: I’m a child of the 70’s and a teen of the 80’s and as such was exposed to a wide variety of music whilst growing up. Also, I grew up in the UK where, particularly in the 80’s, the Indie Music scene was big. Lots of small record labels pushing out all kinds of music. This meant that in the past, if I had started waffling on about the music I grew up with, most people outside the UK would probably not have heard of half of it. Nowadays though, we have YouTube. This means that everyone can easily access and listen to, pretty much anything that I can come up with, simply by clicking a link. So, I can now happily talk about some of…

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More Music Memories – 90’s

Given that I got so carried away with the last GenForward Living Legacy genealogy blog post about the music I grew up with and that formed the theme tune to my life, I found that it really needed to be split into multiple parts. First off I hit up the 80's which really represented my teenage years, now I'll move into the 90's when I was striking out in life on my own and slowly coming to terms with being in my own skin. The 90's as a whole were a bit of a mixed bag when it came to music as a quick look at the UK top 20 singles of the 90's will tell you https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_singles_of_the_1990s_in_the_United_Kingdom , containing such treasures as "Wet, Wet, Wet", "Robson and Gerome", and lets not forget, "The Tellytubbies". Fortunately, I didn't really inhabit these waters when listening to music, and nor did my peers so hopefully we can steer…

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Our Old Friend, Mr. Alcohol

I have talked before in some of the earlier GenForward Living Legacy free genealogy blogs, about wishing that my son was showing more in the way of independence, and being more like I was when I was dragged up in the 1970’s. Writing some of the lists of music and talking about concerts I had been to, then started me thinking about what I was potentially letting myself in for if he was even remotely as bad....err...independent as me. One aspect of my early independence I’d like him to stay well clear of was my early dealings with alcohol. The licensing laws in the UK are different to USA, allowing alcohol to be purchased at the age of 18 instead of 21. Enforcement of the law was also far slacker in my day, especially living in the country as we did. I started my pub drinking career at about 13. I…

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Education Is For The Children, Not The Schools

Today in the GenForward Living Legacy genealogy blog, I’m looking at the education system. I’m not an expert educator, nor am I claiming to be. What I am good at however is looking at what’s going on around me and drawing some fairly obvious “common sense” conclusions from the actions that I see (always remembering that you have to ignore a lot of the propaganda, it’s the actions that tell you what’s really happening): The end of another school year looms and its set me to thinking, surely there’s a better way to approach children’s education and a better calendar than the one that gets used, in terms of making everything as beneficial to the student as possible. I’m not suggesting that there should be no school holidays (although I do think they should be far shorter); the thing that I have really noticed is the affect the constant stop/start seems…

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A Life Worth Living Is A Life Worth Recording

In today's Genforward Living Legacy genealogy blog I'd just like to pass on some thoughts about why we do all of this: What’s the point of paying for life insurance? What does it really do for you? Well, for a lot of people it’s about making sure that their family is provided for financially in some way when the inevitable time comes. Some just pay for it because they have to, in order to secure a mortgage or other loan of some type. Of course we all know that money matters, but it’s not irreplaceable. In fact too much money at the wrong time can actually prove to be damaging (just look at the way some of the big lottery winners turn out given money without proper guidance). There is however something that is not so easily replaced. That something is you. Your presence to guide and protect those you…

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Easy British Fish And Chips Recipe – And Other Good UK Stuff

In todays GenForward Living Legacy free genealogy online blog, I am looking at some of the differences between foods we get in the UK and USA, and things that are hard to get in the USA. My son really only knows his American upbringing, but he still gets exposed to British stuff at home. He loves (and his friends always go mad for when they come for sleepovers) British pancakes rather than American ones (will maybe do that recipe another time). He likes Yorkshire Puddings with his roast beef, he's working on his taste for curry and he loves proper fish and chips. Though we're certainly in no hurry to go back to the UK, there's certain things that you miss after a lifetime growing up there. I do most of the cooking myself and I do try to get my son involved so that hopefully he'll be able to do this stuff for himself…

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Confessions Of A 40 Year Gaming Addict (Part 1)

In today’s GenForward Living Legacy free genealogy blog, I’m going to delve back into a subject that is still a big love of mine to this day. “My name is Tom, and I’m a gameaholic”. I’ve never really been clear of it, but now am old enough to not let the problem get in the way of real life. Sadly this hasn’t always been the case. It’s obviously something my son has readily picked up on as ever since he was small there’s been multiple different consoles and computers about to game on. I do enforce time limits on him though, sadly something that was never really done with me: Some weeks ago I put out a couple of articles about the toys we had as kids growing up in the 1970’s and early 80’s. It was a really interesting time to be growing up as there was a lot…

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Confessions Of A 40 Year Gaming Addict (Part 2)

Ok, here we go again with today’s GenForward Living Legacy free genealogy blog. This time it’s back as promised for part two of my confessional about my history with video games and how at times it got well, out of hand. Now we move onto the real big problem areas: After my Amiga I had a bit of a break from gaming generally as life kinda got in the way. I moved out of home, moved houses a couple of times, bought a house, moved from the country to London, basically I was all over the place. Then the mid 90’s hit. A little sanity returned to my life, and I had time to re-engage with my gaming addiction. I have always been a PlayStation Guy. Have had all 4 generations, more than one of some generations. Even now I have a PS3 and PS4 sat hooked in upstairs in…

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Adventure, Divorce, or Eaten by Bear?

In today’s GenForward living legacy free online genealogy blog I’m considering the milestone we’re about to hit this weekend. Our son is about to go to his first “stay away” summer camp: For me, as I am sure for many others of you out there, the summer school holiday period is a real pain. I work a lot from home and to have the level of distraction created by one or more hyperactive near teens bouncing around the house is more than I want to be dealing with, especially for 3 months. I have already instigated a routine where he gets himself up, dressed and breakfasted to some degree, often his signature dish of “egg”, either fried or boiled with some toast, but at least he’s fed without bothering me. He then does a couple of hours of some kind of productive learning. At the moment, it’s Polish language practice…

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Sweet Treats And Cigarettes

In today’s GenForward living legacy free online genealogy website blog, I am casing my mind back to the days of my childhood and looking at some of the sweets and snacks that we grew up with and loved as kids, some of which are still around, but some of which would no longer be considered politically correct: I have always had a bit of a soft spot for coconut. The first of my personal favourites from childhood is one the certainly falls under the not politically correct heading. Spanish Gold was basically kind of crunchy sugar coated coconut strands. All exceedingly unhealthy I’m sure but the main issue was it was packaged and sold to represent chewing or rolling tobacco. I loved the stuff and to be fair I’m really not sure how much of an effect the tobacco advertising element really had on me. First off, if you eat…

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Hybrid Healthcare Could Be The Way

In today’s GenForward free online genealogy blog I will be talking a little bit about a subject that has been pretty much front and centre since our arrival in America, but that to us a Brits all seems a bit of an odd argument. This article has been prompted with a discussion I was having with my son about entitlement in general. I just noticed that a lot of the points we talked about on the healthcare front never really seemed to come out in the media arguments surrounding Obamacare or it’s repeal, nobody ever really gave the full picture of how it actually works in practice. It’s also something that most of Europe seems to manage perfectly well: Healthcare. It sometimes feels like America is the only country in the civilised world without a decent healthcare system. Just to be very clear here, I’m talking about the system for…

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Classic Children’s Looks From The 70’s And 80’s

In today’s Genforward free online genealogy website blog I thought I’d take a look at some of the fashion items that being back memories, a subject my son had been asking about recently since he has been given a bit of freedom in choosing his own clothes etc. now. Some of these items are from childhood, some from teenage life (when things really get messed up as far as any sense of style goes!). Anyway, hope some of these bring back a few memories for you: Ok, so the 1970’s and 80’s weren’t exactly a hotbed of couture style. What with the punk era, new romantics and goths to contend with, dress sense could go a bit out of the window when left in the hands of impressionable children like us. Let’s start with a classic from the days of school......... Yes, the cutting edge child’s athletic footwear of the…

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More ways the 70’s child invented to cheat death

I just recently posted what at the time was a flippant comment on a post about how we basically didn’t do health and safety growing up in the 1970’s. It reminded me of a previous article I had written and also set my memory running onto other stuff that we used to do as kids without giving it a second thought. My son also finds these stories hilarious so time for another one I guess in today's Genforward free online genealogy website blog:   Now let me start by saying, I’m a believer in kids being kids and getting up to stuff and into scrapes generally. It’s a part of growing up as far as I’m concerned. We certainly did it aplenty in the 70’s and most of us survived to adulthood as relatively rounded human beings. These days though, there does seem to be a massive dose of over-protection…

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10 Signs You’re Probably A Child Of The 70s

Today in the Genforward free online genealogy website blog I thought I’d just keep it simple and look at some of the things that for me really defined my childhood during the 70’s:   You know you’re a child of the 70’s if: 1)      Knee protectors meant skin   2)      Some Of These Plus one of these Made this Into one of these   3)     You consider this to be commercial grade safety crash airbag suitable for safe landings from all heights (also note the correct location for sourcing these items)     4)      You were given these to play with as opposed to being arrested for carrying them as a weapon   5)      This was a gun with which you could lay waste to the Nazis (hey, it was the 70’s)   6)      When not on you bike, this could be considered transport   7)      This was a mobile phone…

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The Nose Have It!

In today’s Genforward free online genealogy blog I’ll be talking about my recent absence from the blog and posting, and the life lessons that come with this story that has affected about ¾ of my life. No, I haven’t been upsetting the wrong people in bars, I went in to have a “nose job”. This was not however the typical vanity number that is so popular these days, I’m just not that type really. No, this one was a total nasal reconstruction to actually allow me to breathe through my nose properly for pretty much the first time in over 30 years. Let me share with you a bit of a “before” image to give you an idea of how bad we’re talking here. Essentially the cartilage was jammed up through my nasal opening and the bones up there were just in chunks. So, how did we come to be…

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Nose 2, was it worth it?

In today’s Genforward free online genealogy blog I will be picking up where I left off on the saga of the new nose!   Ok, when I last left you it was the day before I was due to go back to have the stitches and splints removed from my rebuilt nasal appendage. This was actually supposed to be a bit of a non event. All very simple and straightforward. Of course, it wasn’t........ The whole operation side of things had been fairly straightforward. I was wheeled in, put on the rear opening dignity stripper gown, and then hooked up to some electronics and a drip. Given how much of a mess my nose was before we started, there was a possibility the surgeon would need some extra cartilage to rebuild things so I had to nominate an ear for him to steal the cartilage from. Given that I had…

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