29 July 2010

I Just Indexed The President of the United States!

So here it is, 1:00 AM. I cannot sleep so I decide to put in some time at one of many volunteer jobs I do indexing and transcribing. This morning's choice was the San Francisco funeral home records over at sfgenealogy. The funeral homes we are doing this time are: D.I. Kenny (1906-1929), Ganter Felder Kenny (1895-1906), Ganter Maison Domergue (1916-1975) and N. Gray & Co. (1921-1932). I had done about 50 of them and decided to do just 1 more then call it a night.

Does the name: WARREN GAMALIEL HARDING ring a bell? It should, he was our 29th President. I may be a little more intimate with President Harding since
I wrote about him back in September 2009 for "Shades of the Departed Magazine."

I have to tell you, it felt a little creepy, yet a little exciting to see his name pop up like that. Especially in a funeral home record. Especially after I wrote an article about him. Especially since is was 1:00 AM and it was dark and quiet. Bwahahahaha!

So have you gotten around to volunteering for one of the many indexing projects that are going on? Even if all you can do is 1 entry per day, that is 1 more record than before.

11 July 2010

Free Slurpee Day!

That's right, I said FREE SLURPEE DAY! We have been overlooking a very important holiday that is celebrated every year - 7-Eleven Day. This is the day that 7-Eleven stores across the country have a gift for you - free Slurpees. From their website:

"Happy 7-Eleven Day! Real holiday or not, you're getting a present! Stop by a participating 7-Eleven store today for a free 7.11 oz Slurpee drink. It's the official way to celebrate 7-Eleven Day. It's easier than getting a costume, and way less weird."

So take a break from your research and get yourself to a 7-Eleven for a Slurpee. Me? You should know by now, I never miss an opportunity to celebrate. Even though a costume is not required I believe that I will don the genie outfit anyway. It will make the day all the more special to me.

05 July 2010

Perhaps I Can Join The Circus In My Next Life

A reader of this blog asked me recently if I would share some of my experiences I have had in starting a new business as a genealogist and historical researcher.

Hanging out my shingle and taking on clients. I have worked long and hard to be prepared for this transition in my life. However, no amount of time in the classroom or attending conferences, seminars and week-long institutes can teach you how to be your own boss until you experience it in real time. Self-discipline is torture for the procrastinator in me. Staying within the time limit set by the client is something I really need to work on if I ever want to see black in my accounting ledger.

When we do research for ourselves, we really do not think about time. How many times have you found yourself at your computer and all the sudden looked up at the clock and thought "Jeez Loueeze, is it really 3:00 AM?" We will write and rewrite our findings, print out records and documents and put them on the ever growing stack we already have to file away. Jot down a citation on a sticky note to enter into your database later.

When you are working on a client project, you simply do not have the time to be unorganized. I can tell you from experience that having to go back and locate a source for a page that you copied
(from a book that you neglected to copy the title page for or even make a notation of the title of the book) can eat up half of your billable hours by the time you finally locate the damn thing.

If you are researching for 2 or 3 clients at the same time in the same repository, it is so easy to get papers mixed up. I always have separate folders, each a different color. I have sticky notes in the same colors as the folders. This comes in handy when I am at the copy machine. This works well for me and is so simple.

Oh, and that research report advice seasoned pros give about "writing as you go?" The best advice EVER. When you are finished with the research portion of the project and start on the report, you will find that if you write as you go, the report is almost finished. The conclusion of a report has always been difficult for me to write for some reason. I used to think that a conclusion is simply the place where I got tired of thinking. If you write as you go, the conclusion is really a summary of your findings. And that part of the report you have already done by writing as you go.

Recently I had three different client projects going on at the same time. Two of those projects took me into geographic areas I had never done any actual research in. It ended up taking me longer to locate resources in unfamiliar territory than I had anticipated so I basically had to eat the "overtime."

One project involved several counties in southeast Texas - Coryell, Bell, Milam, Robertson, and Madison, then a little south to Fort Bend County and then east to Jefferson and Hardin Counties. Yipee Ki Yeah. The other project had me in Rapides Parish and Grant Parish Louisiana.

Eating that lost time really left a bad taste in my mouth so in case I ever find myself in those places again, as I went along, I created my own personal finding aids and a separate resource notebook for each state which I have divided by counties. It really is not very time consuming to do this and it has been one of the best presents I have ever given myself.

One last piece of advice I can give you is like the saying "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."
When you have your office at home, you have to separate it as much as possible from the rest of the house. I have started setting the timer on my oven in the kitchen to go off when it is quitting time. When it buzzes, I make myself step away from the desk and leave the room, shutting the door firmly behind me. The "Genie" has left the building.

So there you have it. Some of the mind games I play on myself to get the job done. Some of you may think my ways are a little strange, but my motto is - "Whatever it takes to make it work"

I have just now realized that in my next life, I could join the circus with the new skills I am acquiring. I have become a quick study in the art of juggling. Dealing with clowns don't scare me anymore and I am finally learning to balance my professional life with my home life. Once I have the balancing act fine-tuned I will more than qualify for the "The Queen of the Wheel" act.

Awesome. I love happy endings.

04 July 2010

In Which She Attempts To Get Caught Up

So, long time no blogging. I am here to tell you people that taking on paying clients is NOT for sissies! I am sure that each report I write will come easier as time goes by. I am sure that I will get a handle on time management as time goes by. I am sure that I will not be so nervous as time goes by. I wish that time would come soon.

El Toyon Chapter NSDAR, of which I am registrar, goes "dark" for the summer. Except for me. I scheduled 4 workshops for prospective members over the summer - 2 in July and 2 in August.

San Joaquin Genealogical Society, of which I am the editor of the newsletter, goes "dark" for the summer also. Except for me. I have a newsletter to get out by the end of July.

I am a member of the Northern California Chapter of the APG (Association of Professional Genealogists) and we meet quarterly in different cities in Northern California for field trips. On June 27th we met for lunch and then had a behind the scenes tour of the San Mateo Historical Museum Archives. We were a small group, three of which are extreme brain-ee-acks and for some reason don't mind me hanging out with them! On the tour were: Carolyn Ybarra, PhD (in cultural anthropology from Stanford University), Cath Madden Trindle, CG who Kathryn Doyle featured in a
post over at the California Genealogical Society Blog and Jeffrey Vaillant who is among other things a board member of the Marin County Genealogical Society and also sits on the Board of Directors for the California Genealogical Society.

And . . . a special guest! None other than Becky Wiseman who authors the blog
kinexxions. That's right, Becky couldn't resist stopping in Stockton for a couple of days to visit with me.
Becky took the photo below. But she used my camera. So do we share the credit?

Carolyn Ybarra, Cath Trindle, Sheri Fenley and Jeff Vaillant
on the steps of the San Mateo Historical Museum

Yes, I know you recognize that dress I am wearing. It is my
"I've put on alot of weight and nothing else fits,but I am going to lose the weight so I refuse to buy any more clothes in a larger size"
dress. I swear by all that is holy, one wisecrack from you people and I'll un-friend you on Facebook!

Close-up of the museum

Inside the dome of the museum
I performed quite a gymnastic maneuver to get this photo and the one below

Me and Becky taking a farewell photo of ourselves at an un-godly hour of the AM

I do believe that I have covered everything and I am up to date. If not, please let me know. Take and number and have a seat, it may be awhile before I can get to you!

It appears that I left out a wee bit of information- The San Mateo County Historical Museum is located in Redwood City, California just a little bit south of San Francisco. Check out their website HERE. Also Cat Neilsen who is everything California Genealogy joined us in the archives. Sorry, I truly did not mean to leave you out Cat!