Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Just what I need - a T-shirt!

JMK Genealogy Gifts is offering a T-shirt (and other genealogy items) with the slogan "Geneaholic Anonymous - It's a Disease, not a Hobby."
Pretty Cool - thanks Jimmy!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

New signs of geneaholism

Having worked awfully hard at trying to identify, acknowledge and conquer my addiction, I have discovered some new signs of the disease "geneaholism:"

1) Constantly tinkers with genealogy blog colors and fonts to make all four blogs "look better."

2) Will travel to faraway cities two days before a scheduled speaking engagement, take his laptop and blog away for hours in the hotel room. (My excuse was that the TV channel selection was really limited).

3) Goes twice a week to the Family History Center to fill up his flash drive with images from microfilms that are nearly unreadable - then prints them out at home.

4) Keeps Bloglines as his number 1 tab (in IE7) and reads new posts every time one comes in.

5) Finds himself searching in for strange and funny census names, especially around holidays. Even worse, he posts a blog about them!

6) Tries to access the wireless internet at the library in the conference room for "show and tell," even though he knows that the wireless signal is weak and unreliable. To compensate, he downloads web pages to the flash drive at home and loads them onto the laptop for "show and tell" when the signal fails.

7) When a friend asks him to search for information about a defunct church, he also searches for the friend's ancestry and provides a 4 generation ahnentafel report a week later.

8) Plans all week to perform the "library trifecta" - three libraries in three hours to find three different unrelated genealogy treasures. This is followed by writing three blog posts.

9) Does not shy away from transcribing documents written in early colonial handscrawls, and forgets to eat lunch while doing so. M&Ms really help, though. Only 64 pages left to go!

10) While in New England for a funeral service, drags his wife around town to find the ancestral homes and gravestones of his family - again! I did it last year alone. My excuse was that it wasn't raining this year and the pictures would be better.

A bonus item:

11) "What? I cut the lawn four weeks ago. I watered the plants last week sometime. When did you buy new furniture?" I guess it's time to come out of the Genea-Cave.

Ah yes, I am addicted to genealogy and know it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My 24 Hours of Genealogy

NASCAR has its 24 Hours of Daytona, and Jack Bauer manages to pack a year of anti-terrorist activities into the Fox TV program "24" - I thought I would lay out my own "24 Hours of Genealogy" in "24" format.

3 AM to 4 AM: Awake and can't sleep - worrying about all I have to do today. Turn on computer, access Outlook Express and read my email (all three accounts). Click on Internet Explorer 7 and access my Bloglines account to see what other genea-bloggers are up to.

4 AM to 5 AM: Find interesting web links in some blog posts - open another tab in IE7 and access my Blogger Dashboard. Write two posts to Genea-Musings to start everybody's day off with some useful news.

5 AM to 6 AM: Open another IE7 tab, and access Search for census records for 1900 to 1930 for the families in my latest project. Find them in all four years. Capture the images to my hard drive in my project file, and transcribe the family data to paper.

6 AM to 7 AM: My wife is up and wants to read and respond to her email on the desktop computer. OK - I fire up the laptop computer and take it into the family room. I get my banana and Rice Krispies cereal and then read my favorite political news sites on the laptop (see - not everything is genealogy!).

7 AM to 8 AM: I shut down the laptop and get back on the desktop computer. I need to prepare for our CVGS meeting today. I gather the material for the meeting agenda and open Microsoft Word. I find last month's agenda and rename it for this month. I delete last month's program information and change the dates. I review the agenda to make sure everything is covered. Then I add the speaker and program information to the agenda, edit it and print out the masters. Then I work on the program flyers for next month. I take the flyers (one color, one black and white) from last month and edit them to reflect the correct dates and speaker presentation information. I print off two black and whites and 15 color flyers (while doing something else). I open last month's certificate file, edit it for the date and speaker's name and title, and print it off on a gold embossed form, then sign it and put it in a folder.

8 AM to 9 AM: Time to get ready to go out - shave, brush teeth, shower, comb hair, deodorant, get dressed, XYZ, find keys, wallet, watch, get an apple out of the fridge, etc. In the computer room, gather up what I need for the program meeting (tote bag, laptop, iPod, nametag, flyers, agendas, publicity boards, flash drive) and put at the front door.

9 AM to 10 AM: Off to the copy shop. Make 40 two-sided copies of the meeting agenda and 150 copies of the black and white program flyers. I fold the agendas while the flyers are copying. Charge it to the CVGS account. Then off to the Post Office and check the society mailbox for mail. On the way to the Library, I eat my apple. I get to the library at about 9:45, so I go in the back door to setup before the 10 AM opening of the library. Several others are already there setting up the snacks in the conference room and the audio-visual equipment. I set out the publicity boards at the auditorium door and the conference room door. put the handouts on the table, take some into the auditorium to handout if people forget to get it in the conference room.

10 AM to 11 AM: The library doors open, and here comes the crowd. They sign in, pick up the handouts, buy a raffle ticket, etc. I meet and greet, then go down to the auditorium to make sure the people there have signed in and have handouts. I check to make sure the speaker has arrived, meet the speaker and s/he is getting set up for their presentation. At 10:15, I give a 5 minute warning to the crowd in the conference room. We start our business meeting at 10:20 AM, and hear reports of activities, treasury, membership and programs. Then the raffle, and finally the program chairman introduces the speaker. The speaker starts and I sit down to listen and read the handout.

11 AM to 12 noon: The speaker continues until 11:45, then takes several questions. At 11:55, I stand up and say "one more question" and after the answer I thank the speaker, and present the certificate of appreciation to them. The crowd disperses - many of them to the conference room for some goodies. I make sure the speaker comes and has a drink and some members ask more questions. I give flyers to several members to deliver to other libraries and senior centers (the color flyers are for posting, the black and whites for handouts).

12 noon to 1 PM: Eventually the crowd leaves, and the conference room cleanup is finished. I gather the publicity boards and the leftover handouts. I escort the speaker to their car and point out where we are going for lunch. I walk over to the restaurant and meet the speaker and other society members and we order lunch. During the meal, we talk about different societies, other speakers, our own research experience - a great time of sharing and fellowship.

1 PM to 2 PM: After lunch, I bid the speaker goodbye with thanks. I go back to the library and give flyers to the staff for posting on the bulletin boards and handouts in the pickup slots. I put some flyers in the Family History area for pickup by patrons. Then it's off to the Family History Center. This is a 20 minute drive, so I fire up the iPod and listen to a genealogy podcast on the way.

2 PM to 3 PM: At the FHC, I put a color flyer on the bulletin board and put black and white flyers on the shelf below. Then it is off to review my microfilm. I scroll through, and note the pages I want to copy. Over to the microfilm scanner/printer/computer setup, and I transfer the microfilm images to the computer, then get out my flash drive and copy them from the computer to the flash drive. I delete the computer files, extract my flash drive, exit from the computer, put the microfilm away, and pay for use of the scanner/computer.

3 PM to 4 PM: Back in the car, heading home. I listen to another genealogy podcast on the iPod - this takes about 30 minutes since it is rush hour. At home, I unload everything, check the snail mail, and go to the desktop computer and check my email. I printout any queries I have received that need action at the library.

4 PM to 5 PM: My wife comes home and wants to check her email on the desktop. I go into the family room, turn on the TV news, pick up the paper and doze for about 20 minutes. My wife comes in to start dinner, and I go back to the computer. I check Bloglines for new posts, and create a blog post on Genea-Musings about today's society program.

5 PM to 6 PM: Dinner is on the table, and we talk about our day's activities. After dinner, I wash the dishes and then go watch the TV news and finish the newspaper.

6 PM to 7 PM: I go back on the computer, and check my email again. I decide that I better do something useful so I get the flash drive out of my pocket and copy the files from the microwave onto the hard drive. I rename these files so that I know what they are, and then print them out while doing something else. I remember that I found some census data this morning, so I open up Family Tree Maker and enter that data into the notes for the people in my project database.

7 PM to 8 PM: I need more genealogy podcasts to listen to, so I go to Family roots Radio and download the last two programs. Then I go to the Genealogy Guys and download the last two podcasts. I open iTunes and add them to the Podcast menu, then connect the iPod to the computer and load the podcasts onto the iPod. I find that I can concentrate on the podcasts while driving but not while working on the computer.

8 PM to 9 PM: I'm getting tired, but the evening is still young! I'm going to watch "24" tonight and see if I can get some tips from Jack Bauer on how to handle the society workers and library staff. For now, I decide to transcribe one of the files I downloaded from microfilm at the FHC. I open FTM and find the ancestor of interest, and use my magnifying glass to try to read the handwriting in the record I printed. Some of it is very difficult to read, mainly because of the quality of the film image. I love challenges like this, though!

9 PM to 10 PM: Time to watch "24" - I tell my wife she can check her email if she wants to. While watching the program, I read the latest issue of the NGS NewsMagazine that came today. I didn't get very far in the magazine - Jack Bauer was really active tonight!

10 PM to 11 PM: Back to the computer, check my email and Bloglines again. I decide to post some information on the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blog and write up some research tips and a notice about the next program meeting. Yawn - OK, I need to do something interesting and useful for the rest of the hour. I should check the New England Vital Records for 1880 to 1910 to see if the people in my project have birth, marriage and death records. I go to (I'm a member of NEHGS) and go to the database and enter some surnames and locations, limiting the years to 1880 to 1910. I start with marriages and find some likely candidates. I click on one of the records, and the dang viewer won't load unless I click something. I do, then click on "allow this viewer every time." OK - the record looks pretty good, I transcribe it to paper and then download it to my project directory on the computer, and go back to the list of marriages. My wife calls out "are you coming to bed soon?" I respond "pretty soon, dear." And under my breath I say "Boy, there's a bit more data to find for this project."

11 PM to 12 midnight: Boy, how time flies when you're having fun. Sleep? Nah! I can sleep in tomorrow. I'm finding all kinds of good stuff in the births and deaths on the MA VRs for the families that I found census data for this morning. There are three families to find all of the births for, and then to check on deaths for.

I know that Jack Bauer is still up, and if he can do it, I can do it - I'm heading for the 24 Hours of Genealogy.

12 midnight to 3 AM: OK, I think I have them all - 21 records in all. Big yawn. Shoot - it's almost 3 AM. Oh well - that was a long slog but it was fun. I can enter the new data into the computer tomorrow, er, today.

Yeah! Cool! I did it. Yawn. Zzzzzz. Off to bed finally, and I hope Elizabeth (Dill) Smith comes to me in a dream to tell me her parents' names. Or Thomas J. Newton.

Obviously, I left out some of the details all of the really personal stuff! (BG). But I do keep periodicals near the toilet and on my reading table in the family room.

I guess the "24 Hours of Genealogy" won't be on TV, or even Roots Television, any time soon. Do you think that vignettes on YouTube would work?

Monday, May 7, 2007

Getaways are a sure cure...

Well, there's nothing like being away from home to give yourself a break from the rat race of genealogy.

We were in New England from Thursday to Sunday last week attending my aunt's funeral service. I managed to do a bit of research - I found the ancestral homes they lived in in Leominster MA, plus talked to many cousins at the service and reception - some of them I hadn't seen for 25 years. The highlight wasn't the adults - it was the 4 little grandchildren of one of my cousins! I had a great time talking to them and playing with them.

Over the weekend, I was presented with my aunt's papers and photo albums to take home and sort out - another task, but a welcome one. There are some treasures in this lot and I will probably post about them sometime on Genea-Musings.

I had the laptop with me over the weekend, and was able to post some notes about my exploits in Massachusetts.

Now it's off to Santa Cruz on Tuesday, returning on Sunday, to see my daughter's family, including the 1 year old and 3-1/2 year old grandsons. Oh boy! The little one is walking, and the older one is finally talking intelligibly. I will have the laptop with me, so should be able to read my email and post on the blog occasionally, but I doubt if I'll do much research.

My sure-fire way to put the little ones to sleep is to recite their ancestry in a monotone voice - I usually get back 5 generations or so before they drop off. The older guy wants stories, so I tell him about his ancestors (especially his grandfather!), but I embellish them a bit. Who knows what he will remember!

I can get back to the genealogy rat race next week - this week I'm going to play with the boys and enjoy myself.