28 January 2012

A Pleasant Surprise



This morning I was going to publicly start whining about how January 2012 was going down as one of the longest, most miserable, "don't want to get out of bed" months in recent history.

That is,  until I read an email from the author of one of my favorite blogs telling me that I was the winner of his weekly give-away!


Michael Popek is the author of a blog called "Forgotten Bookmarks."  He describes his blog like this:

"I am a used and rare bookseller.  I buy books from people every day. These are the personal, funny, heartbreaking and weird things I find in these books"

It was in fact, Dahling Thomas MacEntee who turned me on to Michael's blog about 3 years ago.  I have been a faithful reader ever since.

Michael shares the wonderful things that people have left in books.  There are the usual items :  pieces of paper with recipes written on them, letters written but never mailed, quite a few photographs and alot of just plain weird and bazaar crap.  A clever, witty comment accompanies each item Michael posts.  A few of my personal favorites can be found HERE, HERE and one of special interest to any genealogist researching New York and the Hudson River Valley.

I know, I know - I can hear some of you thinking - "Didn't she just write something recently about  trying to overcome the OLSS (Oh Look, Something Shiny!")  thingy?"  Well judge me not dear readers.  Here is my defense that time spent at Forgotten Bookmarks is not the time sucker you may think it is.

Each item left behind in a book tells us a little about the person who left it there.  Some of the books are really old, which makes the item left behind really old.  So this makes the item an artifact.  (still with me?)  So if I am looking at an artifact left in a book by a person from a long time ago that means I am doing some kind of social science kind of thing.  And what Michael is doing is preserving cultural history, right?  So voila! Reading  the Forgotten Bookmarks blog does not equal time sucking, rather it contributes to my ongoing commitment of education for myself and others.

I rest my case.  You are welcome.

26 January 2012

An Open Response To Dahling Polly Kimmitt

Yesterday, as I was catching up on 3 weeks worth of blogs, I came across one of my favorites - "PollyBlog" authored by Polly Kimmitt.

Below is a snippet of a recent post from her blog:

"There is a lot of negative buzz in the genealogical community lately about people overselling themselves, and I certainly don't want to come across that way because in reality I don't think anything I'm doing is all that spectacular. I myself am happy with it, but I'm not out to impress anyone. Then again, it seems kind of dumb that you can read my blog and have no idea what I'm doing. I always say that if you carry modesty too far it becomes an egotistical thing. A person who purposefully does not share anything about him/herself can seem closed-off, and for what purpose?"

At the end Polly asks this of her readers:

"Do you think this post is boastful, arrogant or publicity-based? Does it seem self-serving? I'm curious what people think about this one because it is different from my others. Let me know your thoughts!"

I started to leave a comment but found shortly that it was turning into almost a thesis and decided to address her concerns and put in my 5 cents worth of thoughts here.

Writing a blog and making it available to the whole world to read is very scary stuff when you first start out.  Some of my first thoughts were: How much about my personal life to I want to share with John Q. Public?  I am so very proud of my 3 sons and like any mother I love to brag about anything they do.  OK mostly it is all about me - I pat myself on the back daily for a job well done on those boys.  But, am I violating their privacy if I use their names?  They are all grown men now but the world is full of weirdos and we all want to keep our children safe.  Then came the most horrifying thought of all - what if no one evens reads my blog at all?  

So after about a year I made the decision to just be me - I decided not to write with a formal business tone.  My blog is a perfect way for me to meet and "talk" to people in the genealogical community.  Truth is, I am painfully shy, and a blog was a curtain to hide behind.  As I began interacting with others online more and more, my confidence grew. I started putting some of my research work in posts.  The comments and constructive criticism I received from others bloggers and genealogists - the peer review - the knowledge that people thought well enough of me and my work to take time to leave words of advice and encouragement turned the tide for me personally and professionally.  Gone are the days of living in a vacuum.  Yes a genealogist usually does work alone, but we now can reach out to one another in seconds for support and friendship.

I have learned that if there is something that you do well, why not let the world know about it?  I gave myself permission to toot my own horn when I accomplished a goal or if I have knowledge that can be of use to another then Hell yes I let people know.  How else are they going to know about it?  

I had a client last month who told me that when he decided he was going to hire a professional, he narrowed down the choices to a group of 4 or 5 genealogists of which I was one.  He went on to say that for each of us he had gone on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and our personal websites or blogs to learn more about each of us.  He knew that all of us were more than capable and experienced to take on his project but he wanted someone who he felt comfortable enough with to share his family and ancestors with.  

He said that there are a kazillion people out there that could pull records and find the facts and documents and write a cold and impersonal report.  He wanted a researcher to get to know his ancestors  and go into the project with the mindset that his ancestors were living, breathing people at one time in history and not just names on a piece of paper.

He said that I was the only one of the group of his choices that let people get to know who I am as a person.  

He said hiring a genealogist is not the same as hiring a plumber or a tax accountant, etc.  A genealogist would be privy information about what he holds most dearest - his family - both the living and the dead.  He wanted someone who he felt could conduct research knowing these things.

I said to him - "Well you have read my blog and so you must be aware that I can be at times snarky, irreverent and just a plain goofball and that didn't concern you that I might not be professional or businesslike enough?"  He told me that he had seen my work and had even spoke to a previous client (unbeknowst to me) and he was confident in my experience and abilities.  

Well that was a first for me and he is probably one in a million of clients that would make a choice for a professional with that criteria.  But it did make sense to me and was thrilled and honored that he thought I was the one who fit the bill.

On the other hand, there are probably many other prospective clients that did NOT choose or even consider me because of the very reasons he did.

Each one of us blog for different reasons.  They are so many out there that are wonderful blogs and the information that they have is invaluable.  They have been blogging for years and to this day to not even reveal their real name or location or (believe it or not) have any information about how to contact them.  But that is their choice.

It's your blog, and you have the power to do anything you want.  If my blog or posts ever bother some one I would hope they would tell me why and we can always agree to disagree but I will not change or delete because of that reason.  

There is nothing wrong with self-promotion.  If we were all rich and famous enough we would do the same thing but we would be paying a publicist to do it.

There is a huge difference between self promotion and getting your name out there to let people know what you can do for them - and and being a braggart, blow-hard and uppity know-it-all (for lack of a word that isn't offensive).  Anyone with common sense is able to tell the difference as far as I am concerned.

So Polly Kimmitt - I for one am so pleased to know more about you and what makes you happy in life. You are my kind of people!   I am sad though that you probably won't ever be joining me in the Unholy Abyss  playing video games and watching TV and abusing other time-wasters. But we can work on that. . .LOL.

19 January 2012

01 January 2012

Forecast of 2012 Arrives In A Fortune Cookie



"A Goal is a Dream with a Plan and a Deadline"

Last night we dined on our traditional New Year's Eve fare - take out from Dave Wong's Chinese Restaurant.  Yeah, we are a classy bunch here at Camp Fenley.  Tradition also dictates that I eat the fortune cookies before I start in on the main courses.  Being an adult who doesn't have any examples to set, I can eat my dessert first if I want to so don't judge me people.

The very first cookie I cracked open contained a slip of paper that read:  "A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline."

A perfect set up to segueway into revealing my genealogical plans for 2012, don't you think?

I have only one real goal for 2012, but it is huge people, really huge.  I am going to send in my application to the Board for Certification for Genealogists  this month and start the one year clock ticking to submit my portfolio.  Am I nervous?  Am I scared?  A big and hearty HELL, YES! I am shaking in my Jimmy Choo shoes!

This year I also have moved up the ladder in my genealogical volunteer gigs.

I am now a member of the executive board for the California State Genealogical Alliance serving as secretary.  I will also be a contributing author to the blog for the Alliance.

In May 2012, I will begin a 2 year term as the District II Registrar for the California State Society Daughters of the American Revolution.  I will also remain registrar for El Toyon Chapter NSDAR here in Stockton, a position I have held since 2007.

I also will continue as the editor for the San Joaquin Genealogical Society newsletter and serving on the board.  The board has approved the creation of a blog for the society, which I will manage and I hope to have its debut this next week.

In between all the above, I hope to attend all of the field trips planned for the year with the Northern California Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists beginning with the tour of the Special Collections of the University of the Pacific Library on January 5th.

I will continue indexing for various projects throughout the year.

 I will continue to participate in the monthly NGSQ article online discussion groups.  Last year, Angela McGhie, who is the head Honchess of the ProGen Study Group,  turned the article discussion group coordinator reins over to me.  

Leah Allen, author of Leah's Family Tree,  has volunteered not only to be my genealogy goal buddy, but has made the suggestion that we round up Northern California bloggers to form a group of buddies.  The more the merrier.  What fun it would be to meet up with a group of NorCal bloggers a couple times a year to cheer each other on and help each other obtain their goals for 2012.  I say we could include anyone interested in becoming a buddy in our group would work if we use the Google+ Hangout to meet.  Anyone interested?