As we say above, this is mainly for friends and family. Michael's blog on the Middle East can be found here. Most of our other links can be found below on the right, but be sure to keep up as well with our family website, here. We also have discussion groups for genealogy, links to genealogical information on us, and our (semi-private) Flickr and YouTube accounts for those who are invited. You can also get a quick-navigation guide here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


A busy week at work. Not posting much. Maybe this weekend.

Summer issue of The Middle East Journal is about to go to press; am doing a special research project for MEI for an Embassy and other things are backed up.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

New Look

This won't make sense to those who learn about this blog after today, but I've just changed the look and layout. I'm trying to make it more readable, get more information on the page. Mostly I need Tam's input.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Old Testament Parenting

Haven't done much linking yet. Some link I followed brought me to this today, I forwarded it to Tam, she sent it around her office, they sent it on, etc. etc.; it seems to be a hit with parents. Those of you who are parents, enjoy.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Crazy Friday

I have Fridays off. Normally I would be putting out The Estimate, but lately that's fallen behind. Today I hoped to catch up a bit, but Sarah had an eye problem this morning. Tam also took the day off. We got a lot done (little of it related to work though). We finally saw Sarah's pediatrician, Doctor Ducic, a little before four. As we guessed from our own diagnosis, the "eye" ache was sinus related. Anyway. one of the problems of parenthood is the degree to which a minor medical complaint can hold both parents hostage. But all seems well now, and the family got an early start on the weekend. Sarah has some medicine to take, but she seems okay with it so far.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Getting Ready for Prime Time

Okay, soon we're going to actually tell someone other than the two of us that this blog exists. When we do, I guess I'll put up a "how to use this blog" post, since after inviting most of our relatives to come join our private Flickr and YouTube accounts, only one did. Believe me folks, it's not just a fad. I have my Dad's WWII letters to my Mom. Yes, the Iraq War generation will have only their inboxes, but their family hear from them daily if all is going okay.

I have no idea why I'm posting this. Guilt, I think, since I haven't posted much lately.

Way behind the rest of you...

No time to post. We're so far behind the universe that Tam and I only just saw the last scene of the last Sopranos tonight. Everyone else saw it last week and so far blog commentary roughly equivalent to the contents of the ancient Library of Alexandria had been expended on commentary, and we just saw it for the first time.

The only person farther behind than me is Tam. She admitted she hadn't even read the newspaper/Internet/water cooler commentaries and didn't know how it ended.

No, I didn't get it either. But then I know a LOT more about Spongebob Squarepants than I do about the Sopranos.

I have, however, heard we beat the Huns at Chateau Thierry. I'm not completely out of it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New Newsgroups

I haven't been blogging because I've been busy at work (so far I haven't tried blogging from work for fear of getting into a time-wasting habit) and doing other things in the evenings. I've created -- but so far done very little with -- some Google newsgroups for genealogy.

One is called Jones-Cleary. Back around 2001-2002 my cousin Steve Jones had a newsgroup that was very active for a while, raking in cousins. But it dwindled away. We're getting older, and genealogy gets frustrating if you aren't learning much. But I decided to revive it. Also created a Collins-Dunn one for my paternal side, one for The Estimate readers when we get back up and running, and a "Dunn-Mehuron" one intended as a family newsgroup exchange. I'll be letting everybody know about this when I let them know about the blog. (Meanwhile, no one is reading this anyway.)

I've put links to the newsgroups in the "Our Personal Links" box at the right. You need to ask to be members: just tell me who you are and why you want to join, and if your reasons are reasonably sane and nonviolent, I'll say yes.

General public Comments are permitted on this posting.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Don't expect daily posts; Father's Day

I just wanted to note that I am swamped at work and there's a lot of basic stuff that needs doing around the house as well. Don't expect daily posts here. (Who am I talking to? We haven't told anybody about the blog yet. I'm writing like I have a following. Perhaps blogging really is a form of insanity.)

Father's day was good. Sarah got lots of presents. (Hey, wait ...)

UPDATE: Tuesday night: I told Sarah about the previous comment. She said, "Did you really write that? Please erase it." I'm trying the artgum on the screen right now, but she didn't tell me I had to delete it...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hey, I Can Embed a Video

Okay, besides the imperative need to show the world rats playing basketball, which I assume needs little further justification, I wanted to see if I could embed a video on this blog. I seem to have done it.

Wow. And so to bed. It's Father's Day.

Rats Playing Basketball

Okay, it's been pretty serious up to now. We've talked about family history and Jamestown and tuna salad. Time to up the ante. TIme to go to rat basketball.

We have a YouTube account. We put up pictures of us and Sarah. We don't post them here because this blog is too public, and there are people who shouldn't see Sarah's pictures. The only YouTube video we have not blocked to the public is "Rats Playing Basketball." So obviously we must link it here.

Explanation? None needed. It's rats playing basketball. Enjoy. (Okay: taken at the Virginia Museum of Science over, I think, Memorial Day weekend.)

UPDATE: Note they are playing purely for rat food. If only the NBA... I guess I shouldn't go there.

A Note on Comments Policy

I've mentioned before that we aren't looking for comments from the general public. Comments from friends and relatives are generally welcome: we want a dialogue. But we're still testing the waters here. So far nobody knows this blog exists, but that won't last forever.

For now, only some posts are open for comments. All my family history posts will be, since dialogue is essential there. So will posts like our Jamestown and book review posts. But more private stuff will not be inviting comments. Tam's asleep now and I have to ask her if she wants comments on her tuna salad recipe. I'm still working this out, and we may have a trial-and-error period. Bear with us.

UPDATE: I guess I should allow comments on this post,shouldn't I? Okay, done.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Gorgeous Jamestown Book

I gushed earlier about Jamestown and mentioned that everybody's writing books on the subject. I want to praise one I've only partially read. It's John Smith's Chesapeake Voyages, 1607-1609, by Helen C. Rountree, Wayne E. Clark, and Kent Mountford. Published by the University of Virignia Press (Charlottesville and London: wonder what Mr. Jefferson would think of that?), 2007.

It's a truly interdisciplinary work. Rountree is the ethnohistorian who has done most of the groundbreaking work on the Powhatan and other Chesapeake Indians. Clark is apparently a local history type and Mountford an ecologist. They have tried to recreate and explain Smith's voyages (and the early explorations generally) in terms of the local cultures, geography, flora and fauna, and ecology of the Bay at the time.

I think the book was about $30 or so. The maps alone are worth it. I'm a local history/local Indians buff and find the book enormously informative, but I think geographers, ecologists, Save the Bay people, and local history folks will enjoy it as well.

I haven't read it all yet, but the maps alone are gorgeous and the book has tremendous production values.

UPDATE: A belated realization that you might want to find the Amazon link for this book. No, I'm not getting a commission.

Jamestown's 400th: Some Family Reflections, 1

It is, of course, the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. The Queen has been to Virginia, and all that. Many of the best-known authorities on the colonial period, Indians, the Chesapeake, and so on have weighed in with new books, and I've been acquiring them. Sarah even did her first ever book report on a kids' book about Pocahontas. Jamestown's big this year, especially here in Virginia.

But I have some personal reasons for being interested in all the hoopla. Like many people whose roots lie in the upper south, I've always been puzzled by why the Pilgrims, those weird puritanical latecomers, got all the glory. They didn't get here till 1620. They didn't even celebrate Christmas: how American is that? The Jamestown colonists were looking for gold, fighting each other, shooting Indians and importing slaves before the Mayflower ever got here. Now that's America. (Kidding, kidding, don't yell, please.) Of course the dominance of New England historians, of Harvard and Yale, especially after the Civil War, had a lot to do with it, and Longfellow and his ilk were writing things like "The Courtship of Miles Standish," and Thanksgiving was taking hold, and so Plymouth trumped Jamestown, at least for a while. The South was too busy getting reconstructed to remind everybody how late the Pilgrims got here and how lame they were at a party.

But for all that, and regardless of what your take is on John Smith and Pocahontas and all, I had ancestors who were in the same area not too many years later, and who also had links to the local Indians. I feel that Jamestown is closer to the record of my own family tree (some of Tam's folks were in Massachusetts early, so she may have more affinities there). And the Indian stuff is tantalizing: literally so, clues here, intermarriages there, but no reason (so far) to think I've got native ancestry myself.

Last weekend we went over to the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Maryland, to see the "John Smith Shallop," a living history recreation that's sailing/rowing its way around Chesapeake Bay for the summer months, to commemorate the 1608 voyage of John Smith to explore the Bay, the Potomac, the Patuxent, and the Rappahannock. (Why are they commemorating a 1608 voyage in 2007? Well, of course, because Jamestown is the big draw and no one will pay any attention by next year. We'll doubtless see the shallop again: it's coming to DC for the Smithsonian folklife festival, to Alexandria, Mount Vernon, and other places close by. If you're interested in the shallop, go here. For Jamestown celebrations generally, check in here.

We also visited recently the new museum that has opened at the Jamestown Settlement, the state-run reconstruction of Jamestown that has the replica ships, Indian village, and fort, and what is now a superb new interpretive museum. Last year we saw the new archaeological museum at the original site of Jamestown, run by the National Park Service and the Association for Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, now known as Historic Jamestowne. This is the original site of the settlement and where in recent years the original fort, long thought to have been under the present river, has been found and excavated. Both of these sites, which are nearly adjacent, are essential for understanding the place. I recommend if you haven't been there, go to both. They're next door to Williamsburg, but in my book, much more interesting (and less expensive).

Anyway, my personal interest in the subject stems in part from the fact that my Collins ancestors can be traced back to early Tidewater Virginia. By 1665, they were owning land south of the James, roughly across the river and a bit down from Jamestown. While the immigrant is uncertain, the name Collins (my middle name) is found as early as the earliest years of the colony, as I've noted here. But I suspect my own ancestor is one of two men who came over in 1635, probably as an indentured servant, as I argue here. In any event, they were here early. Not as early as Jamestown, probably, but early.

I've long had an interest in the surviving remnants of the Virginia Indians. There are eight recognized tribes today (recognized by the state, not by the feds.) Two, the Mattaponi and Pamunkey, live on small reservations that were created in the 17th century. (A good links list on Virginia Indians is here.) I've never been entirely sure why the Virginia Indians fascinate me, though I have known for some time that I have Cherokee cousins on my Dunn/Kell side. (My 3rd great-grandmother's brother married a Cherokee woman; his sons included two men who became judges and members of the Cherokee senate. They were generally more prominent than their Anglo cousins.) More recently I've learned that there may be multiple connections to the Indians of the tidewater: my Vinson relatives were intermarried more than once with the Bass family, who descend from the Nansemond tribe, who in turn were living alongside my Collinses and Vinsons in the late 1600s. After the Collinses and Vinsons moved to North Carolina they had many intermarriages with Richardsons about 12 miles down the road from an area which is today the center of the Haliwa-Saponi. The most common name among the Haliwa-Saponi is Richardson. Bass is also common. But the connections are, so far, all inferential.

So I suspect I've got some early Indian links in the tidewater. My fourth great grandparents, James Collins and Tempy Vinson, left a list of their 16 children's births,which is followed by a list of three Richardson children's births,not otherwise explained, and then by a list of slaves' births.

We're trying to make sure Sarah understands that Pocahontas and Powhatan have kinfolk around today. A few weeks ago we went to the Powwow of the Upper Mattaponi, one of the state-recognized Powhatan tribes. (For years I've pronounced it "Matta-PO-ny" (wouldn't you?) but at the Powwow I learned it's Matta-po-NYE.) When Sarah was much younger we took her to the Eastern Band Cherokee reservation in NC and she kept asking "but where are the Indians?" Despite our efforts she's still expecting Tonto, I guess. Now I think she's catching on. She liked the Powwow. (I didn't have the guts to buy the Tshirt that said "Immigration problems began in 1492" or the one that showed General Custer surrounded and said "First Successful Neighborhood Watch Program," but I wanted to.) I hope to get her to the Pamunkey and Mattaponi reservations soon. They're tiny, but they are, like the people themselves, still stubbornly there. (They aren't federally recognized reservations since they date from a treaty signed in the 1670s [LATER UPDATE: Treaty of Middle Plantation, 1677] I think, so their treaty is with Virginia. But they send a deer to the governor every year.)

I expect I'll be pursuing some of these issues, but I hope I've shed some light on why the whole Jamestown anniversary is of interest to us, over and beyond its interest to, say, the Queen, who dropped in as well. One's own connection to history personalizes it, makes it less abstract. We're trying to convey that to Sarah.

I'll try to offer reactions/reviews to some of the new Jamestown books as time goes on, and come back to some of these related topics.

This post, unlike our family posts, is open to comments from anyone.


Reading Recipes

Since I don't have much time these days to actually do fun cooking, I find myself at odd moments just skimming the various food and cooking websites to read recipes, glean some tips, and advice on cooking certain foods. I really dream for the day when I have more time to do some of these recipes, I especially like reading readers' reviews, where they make suggestions as to what they added, or substituted, for ingredients, to make the dish more appealing. I've collected quite a few recipes off the web this way, and some have become real family favorites.

Here's one recipe I created many years ago in my single days, it is now a family staple and has saved many a weeknight supper need.

Tam's Terrific Tuna Salad

Two cans tuna in water, drained
Dill Weed
Lemon Pepper
Green Onion

Mayonnaise (Light or Low Fat)
Dijon Mustard

Mix all together and serve, cold. For other flavors substitute red or yellow peppers for cucumber. You can also add grapes, apples, etc. It's a flexible recipe.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Not Much Today

A Busy Day; we'll become more regular as we get this thing up and running.

Some Late Night Thoughts on Privacy

It's the middle of the night and I should be asleep, but I think the devil invented computers (and blogs) to keep us awake. I've only been blogging a few hours and already I'm up late.

Anyway, the point I want to make is that Tam has raised issues about privacy. Well, I will be blogging elsewhere to express my opinions about the Middle East (my line of work). This is for communication with family and friends, discussion of genealogy, stuff like that. Or whatever else we want to talk about. Our names and info are already out there, along with pictures (we've had a personal website since 1999 or 2000) at tamandmichael.com; we'll be discreet here about things like where we live, and are keeping pictures of our daughter off this site (if you're family we've told you where to find them).

In a world where privacy is at a premium and everyone's on YouTube and MySpace, and lots of people seem not to even want privacy, I think that, short of turning Amish or ignoring the Internet, a relatively low-key, not too detailed family communication site will work. I hope I'm right. I'm limiting comments for now to the genealogy posts, but would rather allow free discussion throughout. I just fear spamalanches and intrusive comments that aren't on topic.

I'd really like this site to become a place where our family and friends can come and comment, even perhaps create a chat site, but where outsiders, spammers, and others won't impose. If the latter happens, I can make the whole blog accessible only by login, but I know that that will mean a lot of our family and friends who aren't all that cybersavvy will opt out.

So if you find this site, please respect who we are and what we want to do here. If you know us, drop in and say howdy. If you're kin, c'mon in. I want to have a nice get-together on a cyber-front porch where we all catch up with each other. If something else turns up in the mailboxes, we can always shut it down.

All that being said, let's talk a bit.

Michael Dunn

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Family History

As most of you who find this website will likely already know, I've been doing family history (genealogy, but with a lot of historical background detail) since I was in high school. In recent years, with two jobs and as the father of a young child, I've had little time to write. Some information is online, accessible through my genealogy homepage at http://tamandmichael.com/genealogy.htm, which includes my draft Collins family history, some material on the Dunns, and other material on other lines, plus an old and very out of date version of my genealogy database. [UPDATE: The genealogy database was updated online on July 16, 2007. See this post.] All these need updating. This blog for the time being will be a way to update it all, and I intend to let all my genealogy posts, at least, be open to comments.

I also plan to use this site to post new material. I've been gathering information for years on interesting Native American connections with both the Dunn and Collins lines, though I have no reason to believe I personally have direct native ancestry, at least so far as I've learned to date. This may give me some opportunity to raise some questions that others may wish to comment on.

I'll also use the posts labeled "Family History" to post new stuff I find, until I can incorporate it into the genealogy website, or to raise questions. I welcome comments to these posts.

Michael Dunn

An Introduction

First, let me emphasize what is already stated in the header above. This is for our family and friends. Michael Dunn will be creating a blog either at The Estimate's website (http://www.theestimate.com) or at a new Blogger website for The Estimate in the near future. The Middle East Institute (http://www.mideasti.org) is planning a group blog in which he will participate as Editor of The Middle East Journal. Tam's professional work is viewable at the Air Force Magazine website.

So we're not seeking comments here, although my family history postings will be open for general comments and conversation. We won't generally be posting pictures, to maintain our daughter's privacy; our private accounts at Flickr and YouTube can be accessed by those we choose to allow. If too many people seem fascinated by our private family blog, we may make it more private still.

But for the moment, this can be a useful way to record events. We didn't get a Christmas letter out the past two years. This can bring folks up to date, I hope. I also intend to use this to update my family history material, which will be referenced in my next post. Tam can use the blog for anything she wants to: rants, meditations, communication. As can we all. Sarah's too young to post just yet but this is her blog too.

More soon.

Michael Dunn

Monday, June 11, 2007

Welcome to the Dunn Family Blog

The Dunn family will begin blogging soon. We need to get our act together for a bit, so this is not quite ready for prime time. Stay tuned.

Michael Dunn