Counting Chromosomes
A blog of random musings on genealogy, genetics, science, and history

Q: Why the title, "Counting Chromosomes?" Will the blog only be about DNA?

Not only about DNA...though much of it no doubt will be because DNA testing is the most important new tool for genealogy. As to the name, that's mostly a marketing thing.

I wanted something catchier than "My Blog," so I went looking at as many genealogy blogs I could locate for ideas. And there are a bunch of them. Some titles are creative and memorable, some...not so much. I also wanted a title I could put a license plate on, if you will: register an internet domain name with that title.

Having done some branding work for companies in the past, the next thing I did was compile an extensive list of synonyms and words related to my core subjects. Then I started brainstorming, rearranging the words, mentally adding prepositions, that sort of stuff. You can get some spectacularly bad results this way. Nobody wants to read "Getting into Genes," "Genes Treed," or "Mr. Rogers Nucleotide." It's okay to laugh at my expense; I do it all the time.

While this was going on, I had music in the background on a random playlist. A catchy, alternative-rock tune came on that I instantly recognized, but couldn't place immediately. I stopped what I was doing to listen and see if I could place the song. After a few moments, it came to me:

Well, full details didn't just pop into my head. I knew the group, but had to look up the song and album after the fact. The song was "Rain King" from the album August and Everything After (1993), by Counting Crows.

I looked back to my jumbled list of words and the first word I read was "chromosome." An interesting tidbit is that, during cellular division, geneticists don't count chromosomes to determine the actual number, they count centromeres, the structure that holds chromatids—strands of a replicated chromosome—together. When our 46 chromosomes (23 pairs) undergo meiosis, there are actually 92 chromatids, but we count 46 because the sister chromatids are still attached and we're actually counting the centromeres.

Ta dah! "Counting Chromosomes." What cemented the deal was that was available for registration. No brainer.

With deference to the band and Adam Duritz, David Bryson, Charlie Gillingham, Dan Vickrey, David Immerglück, Jim Bogios and Millard Powers, I wish I could say they are one of my all-time favs and the title is a homage. But I can't. They were on a random playlist while I was staring at the word "chromosome."