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Not feeling so great this morning.  The rain has finally moved on and it's left me with a headache from the pressure change.  Unfortunately it's one of those headaches that moves, so Advil doesn't really help it.

Walked yesterday.  Walked so fast in fact that we were at our gate before we'd done 40 minutes.  So we overshot and walked to the neighbours' and back to at least get it to 43 minutes.  I was thinking about it — even if I do nothing else, walking 45 minutes a day is a pretty good exercise routine.  So I'm kinda proud of that.

I submitted two guest posts yesterday:  one rewrite and one new.  Fingers crossed.  It's hard trying to fit into someone else's style.  I mean, my instinct tells me to write formally because that's how you write for submission.  But blogs are different and I really have to scale back and keep it conversational and light.  I have no trouble doing that on my own blog.  But for other people's... they don't know me.  They've never been the audience for one of my epic rants.  So there was a lot of "is this too much" and "is this enough" back and forth over the weekend as I wrote these guest posts.

And I added a new post of my own on Serial Polyglot: http://serialpolyglot.com/ I ran into an Irish language blog online that was just... ludicrous.  But I don't want to send him any traffic.  So I wrote about him without mentioning anything.  It's still a good rant.  =)

I do admit to being a bit fed up with all the advice from pro bloggers:  Write EPIC content!  Write compelling headlines!  Research the right keywords!  Use calls to action!  Every post must be shareable!  BLAH!

Feck it.  I spent over three years obsessed with SEO and traffic and content creation and backlinking...  And guess how much new traffic ReconstructingHistory.com got?  None.  I made it my full-time job to push traffic to the site and all I really got for my efforts was now people enter on different pages than they did before.  In theory, that makes it easier for them to find what they want.  But the truth is that there's no appreciable difference to us.

I built ReconstructingHistory.com before anyone was talking about SEO.  I built it before Google even existed!  I built it by networking with other historical costuming sites and helping people on email lists and forums.  I built it by being myself and attracting an audience who liked my style.  There were no website how-tos.  There was no talk of driving traffic or SEO back then.  I just talked to people and they came to my site.  So when I launched the pattern line, I already had an audience.  I didn't plan it.  It just kinda happened naturally.

Look.  I *know* these pro bloggers are giving really good advice.  And I know that I'm not reading their daily posts but rather a collection of posts they've written about getting traffic to a new blog.  It's all useful.  But I've just been drowning in it lately.  And instead of writing posts that sound like me, I'm trying to write EPIC CONTENT...  and it's crap.  It's too much like the hard sell.

So I'm not doing that.  I mean, I'm writing the best posts I can write, of course!  But I'm not fixating on this idea that every single one of them has to have the perfect internet headline or attract the most visitors or whatever.  If I do that, I lose my voice.  I don't sound like me.  And aren't these people coming to my blog to read what *I* have to say?  Me personally?  I mean, after all, there are plenty of other "Quit Your Day Job" bloggers out there who will probably tell you the same things I'm going to say.  My hope is that you read my blog because you know me, you like my style, you're familiar with my journey or at least what I've achieved, and that you want to hear how I did it.  And if you want to do it, you want my advice.

So please bookmark http://createyourdreamjob.com/ and like and follow the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/createyourdreamjob and/or the Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/CreateDreamJob I'm writing some great posts for this new blog.  Best of all, I'm not going to spin you a happy-go-lucky tale to the tune of the popular "Live Your Passion" bullshit.  I'm gonna tell it like it is.  I'm gonna give you the down sides too.  But I believe fervently in the fact in this age of easily-accessible technology that we no longer have to work for someone else or stay in the same place.  And if you want to cut the corporate strings and open a shop in your town or live your life "dialing it in" remotely from wherever you are at the moment, I can show you how to do it.  After ten years of doing this, I think I've been through just about everything — all the highs and the lows — so I've got some good advice to share.

Remember:  I launch 26 November.  Be with me!

McGann Genealogy
I've been working on my genealogy lately.  This is a task I started about 20 years ago and stopped when I ran into a brick wall.  I knew that every census record available said my great-great-grandfather, Micheál McGann, was from Ireland.  But that's the most specific information I could find.  Where in Ireland was a mystery.  No record I could find was more specific than "Ireland".

You see, I didn't grow up with any McGann relatives.  I am the only child of an only child of an only child (try THAT in an Irish Catholic family!)  My father's father was paralyzed in a mine riot when my Dad was three.  No more kids in that family.  And my great-grandfather died of an infected knee when my grandfather was three (three is not a good age for McGanns).  My great-grandmother remarried and never spoke about her first husband out of respect to the new one.

So there are no "old country" stories in my family.  I mean, there might be, but I never heard them.  And neither did my Dad.  He was raised by his Polish mother's family.  Genealogists tell you that your first steps should be gathering the stories from your family.  But it took looking at census records to find my great-grandfather's given name because no one in my family spoke about Winnie's first husband.

Just as I was hitting this wall in the mid-90s, I got an email from a stranger named Paul McGann (no, not the Eighth Doctor!).  When the internet was young and ancestry.com didn't exist yet, I posted my information to a genealogy message board.  Paul saw it and contacted me!  Turns out he is the grandson of one of my great-grandfather's younger brothers.

And in his house, they told stories!  There weren't tons of stories, but he at least gave me the tidbit that Micheál was from County Roscommon and his wife, Margaret Walsh, was from County Galway.  I'd always suspected that we were Northerners because McGann is the Northern variant of McCann.  But it looked like we were Westerners instead.  I have a soft spot for Galway and her beautiful boats, so this was no letdown for me.

However, that's all we got.  No proof that Micheál was from Roscommon.  Just a family story.  No solid date of arrival.  And certainly no town name or parish name.  Nothing specific.

I gave up the search at that point.  My life took a turn and I kinda left our family's history in the hands of cousin Paul.

A couple weeks ago, I was having a chat on Facebook with a friend who's going to Ireland this summer and he told me his family was from Cavan.  I told him mine was from Roscommon.  And of all things, a Facebook friend from Roscommon commented, "Where in Roscommon?!"  Of course I have no idea and I told her so.  Instead of just being disappointed, she sent me the email address of a professional genealogist she knows in the US who has specific experience finding ancestors in Roscommon.

Unfortunately, all my genealogical research got destroyed at the house in PA and I had none of my records.

Not to be defeated, I jumped on Ancestry.com and tried to find cousin Paul's family tree.  I didn't find it, but with an evening's worth of work, I found all the census records, birth certificates, death certificates, et cetera that I had to drive back and forth from the Philadelphia Archives to the Schuylkill Country Historical Society to accumulate. Everything is online!  It's awesome.  I was even able to search some records that I couldn't access before!

And because Ancestry.com compares your family tree with others that have similar names and dates, I was even able to find the names of Micheál's parents who came over from Ireland when Micheál was about 4 (or 7, depending on the source).

Well... here's where we hit the wall again.  Guess what year that was.  1847.  Ever heard of the Coffin Ships? Yeah. Passengers lists from 1847 are notoriously sketchy.

And frankly, even if I found Micheál McGann on a ship arriving in the US in 1847, there's no way to know if it's my Micheál.  The ship's records look like this:


There's not much there.  I did a little paging back and forth and pasted the info from the start of the book to the page that lists my great-great-grandfather:Compton16Apr1847

So this is definitely him.  Despite the commonality of the name Michael McGann, he's on the passenger list at age 6 (we thought he was 4 or 7) along with a younger brother Peter and an older brother Tom.  These we find on the 1850 census too, so that's good.  And there are mother May (Mary?) and father John, both the right ages.  And there's even an older Michael who I'm guessing was John's brother or something (he doesn't show up on the 1850 census with the rest of the family, but he may have gone somewhere else or even died on the journey:  they called them Coffin Ships for a reason).

(Wow.  Serious chills.  The Great Hunger and the Coffin Ships were always known to me, and I always assumed they were part of my family's history.  But to have it proven, to KNOW that your people came over on one of those overcrowded, typhoid-infested vessels, is just... eerie.)

But what doesn't it tell me?  Well, the column that tells what country the passengers are from is completely blank.  In any case, it would have only said "Ireland", not the county they were from and certainly not the town or village.

So I'm stuck.  I've gotten farther than I've ever gotten before.  I put them on a boat!  But I still can't place them in Ireland.

I found cousin Paul on Facebook over the weekend.  =)  But he's slow to respond to messages.  I asked him if he ever got any further — if he could put Micheál on a boat or if he found what town he came from in Ireland.  No reply yet.