Friday, February 25, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are?

I have really enjoyed the show 'Who Do You Think You Are?' and was happy to learn that it has been picked up for a THIRD season.

But what I am really sick and tired of hearing about is the comments that say 'why can't they do an episode with 'normal people' for once.' I don't think people realize what really goes into producing the show that airs each week. The producers just don't pick names of celebrities out of a hat and say 'okay, these are the ones were doing this season.' Much like if the show were based on 'normal' people's family histories, they have to find ones that have INTERESTING stories that can be turned into a program that people will WANT to watch.

Now, I have to admit, one episode with an 'ordinary' person might be interesting, IF their story was, but for how much work it takes to put a SINGLE episode together with a celebrity as its focus, I don't think it would be a good decision. What I do think is last week's episode with Rosie O'Donnell is what led to the renewal for a 3rd season. She didn't just let the experts do the research for her, SHE did some of it herself. One of the first things she said was 'It won't be as easy as it looks on TV.' and truer words could've never been spoken by anyone else. Because its NOT as easy as it is made to look on TV, and she proved that with her episode.

I admire Lisa Kudrow for creating a US version of this show that became popular in the UK and hope that the episodes come out on DVD. I was happy to also find a connection to Sarah Jessica Parker, but it took viewing her episode more than once to make sure I heard the surname correctly and then it took a little more digging to find that connection.

I look forward to the rest of this season and hope that the 3rd season comes out sooner than later. Perhaps they could do the stories in anticipation of the upcoming season and that way have them done and ready to roll whenever.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Missing records still missing

Well, my family and I made it through the blizzard of 2011. And with the small exception of the snowblower dying and one shovel handle breaking in two, it really wasn't that bad. Just two weeks after the 3rd largest snowstorm in Chicago history, we are having a heat wave of sorts. Believe it or not, by Thursday it will be close to 60 degrees. Most of the two feet of snow that was dumped on the city is melting away and it almost feels like spring, something Chicago doesn't get to see very often.

Last week, I finally order some additional memory for my computer and it came (via UPS) today. My brother installed it and so far, its running much faster and smoother than it did a few hours ago. I can even play some Facebook games that I couldn't before because they were very slow to load.

I was going through my files, try to decide if I should rearrange my binders and perhaps divide them up into collateral lines and direct lines. At this point I have lines that I don't even research taking up space in binders and ones that could be in binders in smaller 3-prong folders, which don't hold that much.

Remember when I thought I had found Fred A. Ring's parents because I matched his birthdate EXACTLY to a Frederik Alexander Gotje Ring? And then those records mysteriously disappeared? Well, they are still missing, except his two sisters are there, just not him or his brother. I just don't understand how they could disappear, but I'm glad I wrote them down. Now the question I'm pondering is whether or not I should put this information into my family tree file on my computer. And there's also the matter of Fred's death certificate which says his father's name is Hans, another name for John. How confident am I that even though the record itself has somehow disappeared from the website, that it is reasonable because of the dates of birth being EXACTLY the same its probably the same person? I am but I'm not, after all death certificates are only as reliable as the person that provided the information. In Fred's case it was his daughter, Carrie. And that's another thing, IF the parents I found ARE the right ones, its not just because of the matching birthdates, but the fact that Carl's (or Carel) wife's name is Anne CAROLINE and Frederik's middle name is ALEXANDER, two names that belong to two of his children.

I guess for now, I can keep the information in my binders until such a time (if any) that the records mysteriously reappear or I find some other evidence to corroborate the missing ones. My genealogy instincts have been pretty good, but this one is a tough call. But then again that's just part of the research experience I guess. You have to learn as you go along and as you learn you develop those instincts and feelings and have to decide whether or not to agree with them. Don't count them out.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February Already!

Its February first and where I live (Chicago) we are about to get hit with what meteorologists keep proclaiming will be the 'biggest' snowstorm since 1967. Unfortunately, I wasn't here for that one but vaguely recall the snowstorm we had in 1979 because in order to get to school (and yes we DID have school) we had to walk in the street because there was so much snow on the sidewalks. My brother (who is 13 years older than me) was only 8 in 1967 and according to my dad went outside jumped off the brick banister from our front porch and promptly disappeared into the snow.

So if you are living in the path of this latest snowstorm that is going to start sometime this afternoon and last till tomorrow afternoon or evening, here's a suggestion from a genealogist.

Stock up on food, water and candles. Make sure your laptop or iPad batteries are charged and in case you get a power outage. Warm up your printer and have your genealogy websites at the ready. A winter storm is probably the best time to do some research or even get started on your family history if you haven't already. Let's face it, you have to keep busy doing something if we're getting 1 to 2 feet of snow right? Tell your kids (or grandkids) stories about when you (or your parents) were younger and what they did when there was a snowstorm. Heck tell them stories about the blizzard of 1967, 1979 or earlier ones (like 1930 for Chicago). Tell them what it was like to see cars, and buses abandoned in the streets because of all the snow. Or what it was like to try and get to work downtown, like my dad tried but didn't quite make it.

Then once the snow has stopped falling and the winds have died down enough you can go outside, dig out as a family, since the kids probably won't be in school till Friday. Build a snowman (or snow family) or a fort in the backyard. Have a snowball fight, I think the most important thing is to do something fun as a family with your family. You could also help out your neighbors by shovel, snowblowing or plowing their sidewalks or driveways, especially the older neighbors that can't get out and do it themselves or if they live alone.

Genealogy isn't always about just doing research but exploring family history and getting to know the family you have around you right now. Make genealogy fun and make the time pass faster especially during a blizzard.

Stay safe, stay warm and see you on the other side of the blizzard of 2011.