Sunday, February 1, 2015

Eat a Live Frog ...

They say “Eat a live frog in the morning and nothing worse will happen the rest of the day” (I think that’s a bastardization of a Mark Twain quote). I’m rather hoping the same principle applies to years. January has been very difficult, and I would like to think that the rest of the year will be much better.

There’s been a few things that happened in regard to my research and my blog that normally would see me catastrophizing them for days, if not weeks, but for the life perspective provided by the deaths of three good friends of 15 or more years in this month; two at the beginning (I hate cancer!) and one towards the end (a shock). All three were true bright spots in this world. My heart hurts and I miss them very much.

In my last post of last year I said that I would be using this past month off blogging to: finish some research I owe someone who helped me, update my blog’s resource page(s), update ‘favorite blogs’ page, and try to fix whatever went wrong with my genea-software.  Yeah, well, there’s another quote about the “the best–laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley” (bastardized Robert Burns, I believe - “agley” being Scottish for “awry” or “totally-off-the-rails”. [I’d have another phrase for it if my Mom didn’t read this blog.]).

I’ve finished the research; but didn’t get it written up and sent off yet. I’m sorry, Ms. Clark; you will get it.

I wanted to have the newly refurbished blog good to go on February 1, 2015, but I accidentally and irretrievably killed a week’s worth of work (user error – too many windows open, I lost track of which window I was in and overrode the safety “are you sure?” messages). I have to re-do one of my new resource pages - one of the longest ones (sigh). Thank God, I didn’t erase the source material yet. I hadn’t yet gotten to updating the favorite blog page yet. I will get there. It’s frustrating and I felt rather stupid that night, and in other years, I’d have been upset with myself and catastrophized the whole situation for days. But it is what is. I will fix it and it will go up whenever it’s finished.

And speaking of catastrophizing…I really haven’t got the energy, but the next problem would definitely deserve it in a normal year. “Trying to fix whatever went wrong with my Genea-software”, well, that problem was far worse than I’d realized. I’d had some other problems with my Family Tree software in the past year, but between customer service and me, I’d always gotten it sorted. After the last update was downloaded, it stopped working, and this past month I found out that not only did it no longer sync with, it had erased 60% +/- of my tree on my computer! And we can’t get it back!! And trying to create a new tree to then sync with the online one didn’t go well either. And then, the worst is that I’d been lax in my backups since my move this summer as I tried to catch up on the “52 Ancestors” posts and I had no recent backup. I wanted to cry and I was sick (metaphorically and literally – missed nearly a week of work with a bad cold). But given what had happened in the month already, it just didn’t rate.

At least the online version of the tree at Ancestry is still intact. But I want my own copy on my own computer, too, as that makes it much easier to keep track of the information I’ve found that didn’t come from, helps me paint a broader picture, and helps me in other ways. I’m really tired of the repeated bugs with the Family Tree Maker program. In my blog reading last year, I’d seen that many of the people whose work and blogs I respected used a genealogy program called Legacy. So I just bought the new Legacy 8 software. I installed it this weekend but the hardcopy manual is back-ordered. (Figures.) I think there’s a .pdf version I can download. I’ll look. I need to read it to figure out how (& how best) to use this. [I’ve also programmed an alarm for monthly backups in my phone!]

I hadn’t really planned on doing the full “do over” that a lot of the genea-bloggers are doing this year, since I’d only been at this a year and was certain that I had documented every fact I’d claimed (except for the folks with the “? in  a puzzle piece” pictures on the Ancestry tree) but had planned on going back over the tree as I’d been very hurried last year, and I needed to create “to do” lists for each person, among other things. Well, now I have to re-do/re-copy everything by hand to get the information from my online tree to the new computer tree (no sync).  This is going to take a lot of time, but this way I can organize my computer files (the downloads need to be sorted & saved per family – I didn’t have time last year), and make “to do” lists for each person, and double check the cites, and explore new hints/ideas….I guess it’s a “do over” by default. I also want to learn to how to better use Evernote for my research. The overall problem is damn discouraging, but ultimately not a totally bad thing. It will, in the long run, be better as I will know what I have and be more certain of the connections made, which will provide a better foundation for expanding up. This year is unlikely to be as exciting (or fast) as last year; but doing things well, and in an organized fashion, will have long term rewards. I hope.

photo credit: hgjohn via photopin cc
photo credit: hgjohn via photopin cc
I’m not certain now what that means for the blog. I want to try to keep it going. I have also realized in this month off that I also want to keep it fun for me. As I’m still working a high stress day job, that will mean that my dream of daily posts had best remain a dream for the time being.  I don’t want to add stress to my life as my body nearly always reacts to too much stress by getting sick. At this point, I’m thinking about doing two regular posts weekly, with occasional additions. One would a genea-diary type entry just talking about whatever I’m doing relating to my genealogy or blog work that week like this one, or at least, some hopefully interesting aspect of whatever I’m doing. The other regular one a week would be a list of articles/blogs I found interesting or helpful that week (so I don’t overload my bookmarks again). It’s not going to be a “best of” post because I don’t have the knowledge to make that determination. I don’t even promise that the articles & blogposts will be written that week – just that I found them that week. I’m stealing the post title from my boss at work; that post will be “Noteworthy Reads”. I also still hope to do a 52-Ancestors-style Ancestor write-up once or twice a month, and I expect there will be occasional other things meriting extra posts because I when get excited, I want to share with someone.

So what are my lessons from January? 1) Appreciate the good people in my life while I’ve got them and try to make sure they know they are appreciated. 2) Many problems aren’t worth the energy to catastrophize. Just fix it and/or look for alternatives. 3) And back up, back up, back up!

How was your January? What were your lessons?

(I just thought he was cute. I found him when looking for "computer error" pics in the public domain. )


  1. Jo, it sounds like you've had a tough time of late, so hopefully your future will be a lot brighter. I'm really looking forward to your posts (no pressure, just for fun!). The beaver (?) chap is very cute, but don't go eating anymore live frogs!

    1. Thanks, Dara. I hope so too. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm hoping my posts will be as good as yours: Interesting and allowing more of me to come through too.

      Since my car is buried under eight inches of snow and it's not going to stop snowing for about seven more hours, I think I'll get some of the work on the blog construction done today after I start some soup in the slow cooker. (I called out of work today.)

      I think the critter in the water is an otter, or at least that's what the original photographer said he was. (One of new resource pages is going to have a list of all the places I go to find public domain or Creative Commons licensed pictures. I enjoy finding the right pictures almost as much as writing the blog itself, lol,)

      I hope you have a good week!

  2. It's a bummer that your software is acting up at such a critical moment and in the middle of a very crucial task. I hope for your sake that all the bugs there get eliminated, because histories are really on the line there, it seems. That is quite maddening since those glitches don't have to be a thing in the first place. Good luck!

    Matt Wynan @ IDTUS


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