Archive | April 2014

Celebrating DNA day!

DNA Double HelixSixty-one years ago today according to the Wikipedia article on DNA Day,  “James Watson,Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin and colleagues published papers in the journal Nature on the structure of DNA.” As I am sure you all know, understanding the double helix nature of DNA was a major break through, paving the way for the multitude of amazing discoveries since.

Fellow blogger and genealogy junkie Sue Griffith has detailed the DNA day sales on her blog so I won’t repeat that information here.

So how to celebrate? I know, blow off work and spend the day doing my personal genetic genealogy when not in the garden 🙂


My Guacomole aka Avocado Butter

GuacmoleWknifeMy guacamole is really an avocado butter which I spread on my bread or toast when I make myself a sandwich.

The key ingredients are avocado, garlic, lemon juice, green onions, and a dash of tabasco sauce. I make guacamole without any tomato or peppers because I try not to eat nightshade plants (arthritis issue, another story…).

This time of year my Fuerte avocados have the perfect oil count for this and a silky smooth butter-like texture.


  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 medium lemon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 scallion or green onion
  • dash of tabasco sauce (to taste)
  • dash of salt (to taste)


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Translating Farm Books Using a Norwegian OCR program

When I scan in documents I use a product called PaperPort for my Optical Character Reader (OCR – turns images of words into text that can be edited in a word processor) but it does not know about Norwegian characters.  So it has been a lot of work for me to clean up the result of a Norwegian scan in order to use Google Translate on it. Needless to say, I was delighted to read that there is an online OCR program for Norwegian!   Jim Bergquist, a fellow subscriber to the rootsweb Norway list, posted the step by step process to that group for translating farm book entries using this tool and he has given me permission to rephrase his method on this blog. Here it is:

  1. Crop the text part of your scanned image and save as a separate image file. Make sure to do a multi-column pages one column at a time.
  2. Go to . This is an online Optical Character Recognition tool. You don’t have to download or install any software.
  3. Instructions at the bottom tell you to:
    1. Click the “File” radio button. Press “Select Image”. Use the file box to navigater to where you put the image on your computer.
    2. Leave the language in Norwegian.
    3. Enter the two numbers or words separated by a space. These are used to prevent automated robots from using the site for hours.
    4. Press “Extract Text.”
  4. Three buttons will appear at the bottom of the screen and the extracted text will be in the left hand box (see example below).
    • Download, to put it on your own computer (a good choice).
    • Translate, I haven’t used – it may send it as-is to Google Translate. However, OCR usually requires some corrections to be made, so you should look at the result and correct it before trying to translate.
    • Edit in Google Docs, if you are familiar with working on documents in the cloud.
    • Of course you can just cut and paste the text in the left hand box over to your word processor instead of any of the above options, which is what I did.
  5. When you have corrected any OCR errors in the file, select the text and paste it into Google Translate.

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A Web Site with Tools for Y and other DNA analysis

There is a wonderful site at with many good tools for Y DNA and autosomal DNA that run as programs on your PC plus a cool ISOGG Y tree add-on for the Chrome browser. My specific interest at the moment is figuring out which Y SNPs are already tested by 23andme so as not to test them again at FamilyTreeDNA since my Dad has kits at both places. I blogged about how to do that manually back in February, but now there is a program that will do that for you. However it took me a while to figure out how to do what I wanted from the instructions given, so I will do a step-by-step tutorial in this post in order to remember what I did.

BrowseMenuFirst download your raw data from 23andme by going to the “Browse Raw Data” Page which is listed in the menu that appears under your name on the top right. Then on the raw data page click on “Download” in the second top bar on the right hand side. This takes you to a page with various warnings and requires that you reenter your password as well as the answer to your secret question before it starts the download.

Save the download file somewhere that makes sense for you. I have a folder called RawData in the folder DNA that I use. Once the raw data file is downloaded, you will need to unzip it before using it with the various tools. To unzip in windows all you need to do is open a file explorer window (a manila envelope is the icon) and then right click on the file name to get a little menu that includes “extract all” which is the one to click.

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Succulents: low water use, easy care, my new passion?

Spring flowers abound around my home but more than ever I am delighting in the succulents I planted and propagated last fall. I had one large aeonium in the back that was overgrown with crab grass. So I took it completely out and planted about 30 of its florets as a border around my front circle wildflower garden. They were not this big last fall!


There is something about those giant green florets that I adore. So I decided to learn more about succulents and treated myself to two of our local legend Debra Lee Baldwin‘s books, the kindle versions, for my birthday. First her original book, Designing with Succulents and then her latest book, Succulents Simplified: Growing, Designing, and Crafting with 100 Easy-Care Varieties. I am delighted with how readable they are in my Ipad kindle app. I can expand the great color photos to look at details and then click on the done button when finished. The pictures are really lovely and the garden designs are amazingly colorful.

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