Friday, October 29, 2010

Everything is Okay...

Just wanted to let "everyone" know that I'm okay and so is "everything" else. I'll probably be here in Indiana for another week. Have been visiting friends and family and pretty much enjoying myself. Relaxing. Doing what needs to be done. No research, yet. Might get a little of that in next week though.

I'm staying with friends Cindy and Bill. Good people. Great friends. Bill and son Ben were the ones that made the cot "platform" for the van (more than a year ago!). Bill and son Sherm have helped with a little remodeling... the cot is outa there! They have built a plywood bed for me. It's the same size as the cot and it used the existing platform as its base. With a 5" memory foam mattress it should be REALLY comfortable. I laid down on it for a while yesterday to "test" it and nearly fell asleep in just a few minutes. Oh, sooooo nice! And their help is greatly appreciated.

Since I had to take everything out of the van so they could construct the bed, I'm taking it as an opportunity to sort and reorganize my stuff (again). I got it pared down pretty good while in Montana (before going to Alaska) but there are still a few things that I don't need to haul around anymore. And the van will get a good cleaning too.

Tomorrow I'm going to an all-day genealogy seminar with friends Cindy and Susan (stayed at her place in Montana last July) in Elkhart and am looking forward to that.

Weather has been pretty good here except for high winds and severe storms on Tuesday and high winds on Wednesday. Pleasant temperatures and sunny skies just can't be beat!

No decision yet on where I'm going next... it will be in a southerly direction though!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Seems like I made a wrong turn somewhere in Utah and 1700 miles later have ended up in Indiana!!

The journey isn't over, it has simply been detoured for a little while.

I'll be back...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Redefining "Shoe Tree"

Wednesday, October 13th - - Several times in southern Oregon I saw trees like this one - out in the middle of nowhere, miles from any town, with shoes strung through some branches and dangling from others. This “Shoe Tree” happened to be situated near a pull out so I could safely stop. It was about 50 miles east of Fallon, Nevada along U.S. 50 midway between the junctions of Nevada highways 361 and 372. Proclaimed on billboards in Austin and Eureka - the only towns in the 250-mile stretch of U.S. 50 between Fallon and Ely - as “the loneliest highway in America.”

The significance of it all? I haven't got a clue... but it sure is lotsa shoes! And, aside from the two towns, it was the most interesting thing along the way...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Nevada Sunset

Near Carson City, Nevada.
October 11, 2010.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mono Lake

Mono Lake near the town of Lee Vining in east-central California.
October 11, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pleasanton Family History Expo

By all accounts, the recent Family History Expo in Pleasanton, California was a success. I'll add my kudos to all of the reports with one exception...

The speakers were good. The topics presented were varied and interesting. Visiting with geneabloggers previously met was wonderful. The exception? In plain and simple terms, the venue was awful. Two classrooms in each building separated by fabric curtains certainly did not enhance the learning experience. To give her credit, Holly Hanson (president of Family History Expos) apologized for the classroom environment in her end of the Expo presentation, saying that the Expo will return to the area next year but in different and hopefully better facilities. That's good news for everyone! All in all, the Expo was well worth the time and money.

The first session I attended was with Arlene Eackle. And even though I have few ancestors in the south (a couple in Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky), I learned a great deal about locating the “right” ancestor through property records.

At 11:30 I learned what was new in RootsMagic4 with Bruce Buzbee. RootsMagic has some interesting features. I'm almost convinced that I should switch from Legacy! Almost.

The lines for getting lunch were quite long and I missed the 1:30 session with Lisa Alzo that I had planned on attending. Her talk was on Websites You Might Be Missing - a review of some cool tools and useful web sites for genealogists. I'll be able to get some of that information from the Syllabus but I'm sure more information was given in the lecture.

At three o'clock I sat in on Tim Cox's presentation on Hard Drive Organization and learned about how he files his genealogy documents and images. I'm always looking at how other people do that since I have several thousand documents and photos that I scanned before leaving home last September and have yet to organize them. I want to devise a system that will not need to be changed sometime in the future! Probably an impossible dream.

The final classroom session for the day was with Jean Wilcox Hibben on Shaking the Myth: Proving/Disproving Family Legends. Jean has devised a method of evaluating evidence by asking a series of questions to help determine if the legend could be true. It was fascinating to “step through” one of her family legends using this process.

The first day wasn't quite over when the last session finished. I, along with most of the geneabloggers and quite a few other people, attended the live Genealogy Gems Podcast with Lisa Louise Cooke. Her guests were Craig Manson and Sheri Fenley. They discussed writing for the online magazine Shades of the Departed which was created by footnoteMaven. Both Craig and Sheri were fantastic guests, and the dessert bar was pretty good too!

Lisa Louise Cooke and Craig Manson

Day two of the Expo, I was a slacker. It was noon before I made my way to where the Expo was being held. I went in to a session at 1:30 but left after 10 minutes. I couldn't hear the speaker due to the noise from the neighboring session... I went to a 3:00 session but left soon after it started because the subject wasn't what I thought it would be. At 4:30 Holly Hanson gave the final presentation on breaking down brick walls on those troublesome ancestors providing several inspiring examples. And then, it was over... a few days respite and I'm back on the road!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Confessions of a BAD Genealogist.

I've missed working on my family history. I would like to get back “into it” again. I'd also like to make a stop at a little library in Salt Lake City in the not too distant future. I'm not sure how I can “get into” the genealogy while traveling, but we'll see. First though, I need to figure out what it is that I need to research! It's been over a year since I've done anything in that regard.

After spending some time this last week re-immersing myself in my genealogy databases, I realized that they are a bigger mess than I remembered. I have two primary databases. One for the maternal lines (6330 people) and another for the paternal lines (1680 people) and a few smaller “special research” databases. And yeah, I've spent much more time on Mom's families.

When I first started working with a genealogy program (back in the dark ages, it seems) it was with the DOS based PAF (Personal Ancestral File). My first personal computer (about 1994, three years after I completed the book on the Phend Family History the old-fashioned way!) was Windows based and, after a year or so of working with the clunky DOS program, I moved on to Reunion for Windows. I also tried Family Tree Maker and a series of other early genealogy programs but stuck with Reunion.

This was back in the day before genealogy software had sourcing capabilities and, to be honest, before I had an understanding as to the importance of keeping track of ALL of your sources. The data went into the assigned fields. Sources, if any, were thrown into the notes. In 1997, Leister Productions sold Reunion for Windows to Sierra Software and focused their efforts on the MAC version of Reunion. I stayed with Reunion for a few more years but then Millennia came out with version 2.0 of Legacy Family Tree. I tried it. I liked it. I switched. I'm still using it!

So, now, some sources are where they are supposed to be, although not necessarily “correct” by anyone's standard. And some sources are still in notes. (My “theory” regarding sources has always been to provide enough info so that someone else could find it. Just not formatted according to Mills or anyone else!) But some of the data that has been input doesn't even have sources. And, to top it off, I've been totally inconsistent in where additional information has been entered – sometimes in notes, sometimes in events/facts, and some even in both places! I could lay the blame on the software but in reality it is/was downright laziness on my part.

Thinking that I might have some extra time on my hands, I purchased RootsMagic about a month before embarking on this journey of mine. I finally installed it last week. I imported my biggest Legacy database into RootsMagic. And that is when I discovered what a really, really big mess I have. Worse than I had ever imagined. There's nothing like a different program to “bring out” the shortcomings of the “special” things I'd done with data entry in Legacy.

Like I said, my databases are a mess. I want to get the data “out there” in cyberspace, I want to share it. But not in its current condition!

So, what am I going to do about it?

A little over a year ago, I remember reading about Amy Coffin's efforts when she began Planting a New Family Tree. At the time, in my mind, I silently congratulated her while at the same time thinking she had to be absolutely crazy!

And here I am, considering doing the same thing! But that idea causes my brain to freeze up. So many people, so much data, so much time! But it would also take time to go through each person in my current databases – check their data, sources, notes, events/facts, etc. So at this point, I really don't know what I'll do. Or when I'll do it. Obviously, since I'm still in traveling mode, and the available time for working on a project of this magnitude is limited, it is going to take a long, long time to complete no matter which route I take and no matter which software I go with.

But first, I'm gonna go check out the ancestors and see what information I am missing on them... if I'm going to Salt Lake City, I need to get prepared!


Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with any of the software programs or companies mentioned and have not been compensated by any of them for mentioning their names in this post. As a member of Geneabloggers, I did receive complimentary versions of Legacy 7.0 and RootsMagic 4.0 at the 2010 California Genealogy Jamboree. However, I had previously purchased both software packages.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Greetings from... California - Again!

Well, I thought I'd better get something posted since Barbara has asked if everything is okay. It is and I am. Thanks for asking Barbara, but I didn't mean to worry anyone. The thing is, I just haven't been doing anything “exciting” and, if you can believe it, I haven't taken any pictures at all for the last week! So, we have a post with no pictures!!

You can blame a very nice campground in Southern Oregon, within a relatively short drive into town, where there was a very nice library and all of the other amenities of normal life. And very pleasant weather! I know I had a short break from the road just two weeks ago, but, well, let's just say it was time for another break... I have made it into Northern California and have stopped at another very nice campground for a couple of days before heading a little further south.

I've been in a kind of “holding pattern” for a while, not wanting to get too far away from California. Attending the Family History Expo had been in the back of my mind and, prompted by a comment from Sheri, I finally got around to registering. So, I'll be in Pleasanton October 7th through the 9th and am looking forward to seeing some of my fellow geneabloggers again as well as attending some of the sessions being offered. Sort of another little break from the road...