About Me

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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Saturday, July 30, 2016

DNA and the Human Journey


Copyright © 2016
by Ralph F. Couey

In recent years, I have developed a growing interest in the history of my family.  Not just the last couple generations, but going back a couple of millennia.  Through some basic research, I had decided that our family was primarily from France, sparking a visit to the remains of the de Coucy castle in northeast France last summer.  After Louis XIV outlawed Protestantism, my progenitors emigrated to County Antrim in what is now Northern Ireland for a century or so, before finally arriving in South Carolina in the 17th century.  Now, with DNA analysis available to the general public, people are able to trace back even further with greater depth.

Out of all the choices out there, I decided to go with National Geographic's Genographic project.  There are others, Ancestry, 23Me for example, but NG has a sort of cachet with me, after growing up with their magazine.

I went online and ordered the kit, paying a reduced price as they were holding a sale at the time.  It arrived about a week later.  Inside the attractive box was instructional paperwork, two swabs, and two containers.  Following the directions carefully, I swabbed the insides of my mouth and dropped the cotton tips into the two containers which I then sealed.  The two containers went into a padded envelope along with a card containing a code which would be used to identify the samples.  That same code was printed in three different places inside the box, for obvious reasons.  Lose the code, and you have no way of tracking the results. 

I went back online and registered, using the code.  I then sat back and waited.  This process takes a long time.  I sent the samples around May 23rd.  I went online occasionally to track the process.  NG acknowledged receiving the samples, and when they had gleaned the DNA samples and applied them to their database.  Finally, around July 21st, I received an email informing me that the analysis was complete and I could read the results.