Frequently Asked Questions: 


 1. Don't you already have a FAQ page?

That is correct. I have maintained a FAQ page at my public website, but for security reasons I have moved a number of questions to this site instead. I still use the original one for questions relating to my website and science topics. This page will be limited to questions on myself and my family, and on genealogy and family history topics.

2. Why are the links on the front page broken?

It is a bit technical, but the short answer is that I had to patch together a couple of websites and the result still needs work. I have been maintaining a website through Synthasite/Yola for several years, and that is the address that people use to find me. Unfortunately their servers do not support more advanced features like PHP and SSI which I had included on previous websites. And so for now I am using a work-around in which the widgets on the front page are hosted by an independent server, and it is not entirely reliable. When I find a new webhost that supports the features I require at a price I can accept, I will switch them over.

3. I get security warnings about the front page of your site.

As far as I know there are no security problems with this website. A small number of people have received warnings because my website uses content from other sites that I maintain (for reasons given above), and some high security setups get nervous because they think the content is trying to hijack my web traffic. Another issue which I am aware of is that the top menu on each page contains a link to my professional website, but since Yola/Synthasite does not support menu links I had to write a work-around that unfortunately some search engines and software view as being suspicious. 

4. I knew you long ago - do you want to connect on Facebook?

Sure - I almost always accept friend requests from people I knew in school or elsewhere. I even accept requests from distant cousins and other relatives. My facebook page is here.

5. Are you a real doctor?

Yes I am. I have the degrees and everything! Of course some people forget that the term doctor applies to anyone who holds a doctorate, rather than just a medical degree. I hold a PhD in theoretical physics.

6. So what do you actually do for a living?

Until a recently I worked as a physicist, primarily as a research assistant, teaching assistant, and lab instructor but I also did some tutoring as well. I had always planned to continue in academia and one day to hold a faculty position at one of the local universities, but when I had to take responsibility for my parent's care (see below), that lifelong dream had to be put on hold. (And the economic meltdown, plus a moratorium on hiring new faculty in the province, haven't helped me either). So at present I do odd jobs, such as writing specialized computer algorithms or designing circuits for companies or the government. The pay is not too bad, but I would still like to return either to academia or get into medical physics (which was another longtime interest for me). Only time will tell which path fate means for me to follow...

Family History & Genealogy

 1. How many people are listed in your family tree? How far back does it go?

That is difficult to determine. Officially the tree contains something around 50,000 people - however truthfully a significant fraction of those are distant cousins that are contained in other family trees that were sent to me and merged in. My own personal family history is probably limited to around 10,000 individuals. The earliest records I have are from around 1530 AD, but most of my family lines have only been traced back to the 1700s.

2. Can you send me more information on my ancestor?

Unfortunately I don't have anymore information available than what is already posted (with the exception of close relatives). And since the information is often from other family history researchers I cannot even guarantee that what is posted is accurate.

3. Why aren't you maintaining your rootsweb site any longer?

I do maintain a couple of pages still, but the main one I abandoned many years ago. I started getting over 500 requests per day for information, and it flooded my email system. Worse still was that I discovered some of the trees that had been sent to me over the years and incorporated into the site were very inaccurate, and many users expected me to fix everything for them. After repeated requests to cut back on the e-mail and the requests, I ultimately had no choice but to drop the site completely and focus on a few very specific family lines.

4. I want to be removed from your family tree. How do I do that?

It depends on which tree. I am maintaining and updating this website, so I can remove anything upon reasonable request. However some of the family trees that I helped to develop years ago are long since out of my control, and so I cannot do anything. In particular a software package I used in the 1990s copied my entire family tree to a public website without my knowledge or consent. Contact the webmaster or others associated with those trees now to get help. 

5. Can you send me photos of my ancestors or family?

Again, it depends on the family line. For close family (ie aunts, uncles, first and second cousins, etc) I do have some photos and I am always happy to share. But much beyond that and I have no better access to historical photos than you do.

6. Do you have any famous relatives/ancestors?

That depends on your definition of famous. My 20th great grandfather (that is twenty greats followed by grandfather) was King Robert the Bruce of Scotland, famous for fighting the English along with William Wallace. My 29th great grandmother was Lady MacBeth, made famous in Shakespeare's play. I also am descended from at least a dozen kings of Scotland dating back to before the Norman invasion, and from several of the Norman nobles who came over with William the Conqueror. It is believed (without definitive proof yet) that another of my family lines descended from the Royal House of Lancaster, who ruled England. I probably also have more modern famous cousins, but I don't keep track of such things. (In response to a few requests, I did make a list of some of my famous relations.)

The Hacking Incident

 1. What was the hacking incident you keep referring to?

This was a widespread security breach discovered in October 2011, (although it actually happened over a two year period).  At some point in 2010, someone broke into my home WiFi network and stole several passwords from my computer. I caught them breaking in in February 2011, but at the time attributed it to some engineering students who were living nearby and like to show off their hacking skills. I thought it had ended at that point, but it turned out to be more nefarious. In October 2011 I was alerted to the fact that someone had used the stolen passwords to edit my public webpage and to send e-mails from at least one of my personal accounts. They removed some content, and added other content, and made it appear that I had written things that I do not agree with.

2. How did they break in? I would have thought an uber-nerd like you would have better security!

Obviously I am not going to give step-by-step instructions for breaching WiFi security, but it is very easy. In fact, in the spring of 2012 there was a magazine on every newstand in town whose primary article was detailed instructions on performing such a break in, with an almost comical disclaimer telling people not to use the methods they were giving. Breaching WiFi security has become a joke, with many nerds and nerdy magazines considering a badge of honour to be able to break encryption protocols. (I should also add that in my defence, at the time of the initial breach I was sharing an internet connection with another individual who was using weaker encryption methods than I would prefer)

3.Do you know who the hacker was?

I have a suspicion based on some of the phrases they used and the information they had access to. I was also able to collect some identifying information that the hacker unintentionally left behind in my network logs. However I am not going to give their identity online.

The Lost Decade (1998 - 2008)

1. Didn't you attend the University of Alberta?

Yes, for a matter of a few days or weeks. I started out as a graduate student at the University of Alberta, but because of my parent's health problems I was forced to transfer to the University of Victoria a short time later to tend to my parents. (And I mean no criticism of UVic here - it is a really great school and I really enjoyed studying there with a lot of great people. But I had wanted to live in another city and another province for a while before getting bogged down with responsibilities)

2. Why didn't you know how bad they were before you left?

I did know, but I couldn't get anyone else to pay attention. I opposed having my father in particular leave the hospital since there was no one to care for him, but the staff repeatedly assured me that there would be home care and support services. They lied. I filed paperwork to have my parents go into a long-term care bed or a care home, but it never happened. The staff assured me that if the time came for me to go away and the care home still hadn't taken them, they would immediately go back into the hospital. Again, they lied - when I went to make the arrangements they told me that there was no such program and I was entirely on my own. So I took off for Alberta anyway, but my family and the hospital system put up every figurative roadblock they could, and then bullied me into coming back. I was too young and naive to really handle the situation.

3. Why didn't your parent's go into a care home or stay in the hospital if they were that sick?

Excellent question. I have asked it myself many times in the past decade. They had medical insurance that covered it, and they certainly qualified for a space in a care home. I even filled out all of the application forms for a care home space. But for the entire decade, the hospital system just kept saying there were waitlists, or that specialized care was needed so only certain places could take them, or that the paperwork had been misplaced. I don't really know what went wrong, but for an entire decade I just kept being told "just look after them for a few more months".

4. And you didn't try to leave anyway?

I was a gullible kid of 21 when they first pressured me into it, and they threatened to leave my father on a street corner with the homeless if I didn't sacrifice my life and education to care for him. After that I moved away from home at least five times, but each time various people would track me down and hound me day and night until I gave in (usually they would offer great rewards and aid, but then fail to deliver). Worse yet was that I later learned that my father was actively stopping me from leaving, by intercepting my mail and sending anonymous warnings to prospective landlords. A couple of times he actually sabotaged my truck so that I would be delayed in leaving. Being older and wiser I wouldn't fall for it again, but I was young and foolish then. By the time I was really able to deal with his behavioral issues and counter his old-boys network, the offers and opportunities had dried up.

5. So why didn't your older brother take the load?

Another very good question that was never really answered. He was living with our parents for the entire decade, unemployed for twenty years so there was no conflict with work, and three years older so he should have been better able to handle it. But for that entire decade I would look after them and handle everything for them while he watched TV or played. Sometimes various people would make allusions to my brother having mental health issues or an undisclosed developmental disability, but they never told me any details. Whatever the reason, I spent a decade working 80 hours per week to keep the family going and pay the bills, while he relaxed in our parents home, lived off of their disability pension, and did as little as possible to actually support himself or them.

6. This sounds odd - I know people who were sick around the same time and they didn't have half the trouble.

As do I. I have met a lot of people over the years who didn't have nearly the level of trouble I did. I cannot be certain of why that is, but it is worth mentioning that my father was a master of office politics and manipulations, and he did work in the hospital system for thirty years. He routinely boasted of knowing the system so well that he could manipulate the system to suit his own wishes. He also had a history in the 1980s and 1990s of loaning money to friends and coworkers, and then demanding unquestioning loyalty in return. And after eight years of looking after him he admitted that he had tried on at least four occasions to keep me from leaving home. After he died I found notes in his belongings that indicate there was an offer a care bed in that first summer, and he got his friends in the system to cancel it. Another note indicated that he had called a potential landlord of mine and pretended to be a former landlord giving a bad recommendation so that I would be refused an apartment. I also found letters addressed to me from different universities, which he had intercepted and hidden to keep me from leaving. I know now for a fact that when I was in high school, he had a friend of his in the school system destroy several of my university applications. And shortly before his stroke, he embezzled $500,000 from my mother's investments and pension fund and gave it away to a coworker so she would be financially dependent on him. I do not know why he did those things, but perhaps the other people who had an easier time didn't have someone like him intentionally making it more difficult.


 1. I have questions about your physics/mathematics/robotics/programming/dictionary/something else activities...

The answers to those questions may be answered on my more public website, at

2. You said that your webhost doesn't support PHP, but the pages are written in PHP?

That is true. The webhost doesn't support custom PHP script written by users, they only handle their own. I would change hosts, but I don't want to lose all of the links that I have earned over the years.

3. Why is it that your personal pages for friends and family members has over 6000 hits from six continents? Do you really know that many people?

Sometimes it seems like it. However the truth is that I use the same multi-colored counter on several websites to keep track of all guests to my assorted sites. This is a remnant of when all of my personal and public websites were united into one, and I never bothered to change it. But since launching this separate site, I have had about 1500 - 2000 hits with many coming from classmates, friends, family members, and slightly more distant relatives.

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