The following article is another by my good friend, Tom Fiske.
In the past several years I have undergone several serious medical operations. These are not the “you’ll be off your feet for a few weeks” types of procedures. Oh, no! These are the “Get your affairs in order” types of skirmishes between the doctor and my Maker.
I am not complaining because the doctors have been winning. It is the phraseology that bugs me. “Get your affairs in order” means one thing to one person and another thing the next. Say that to me and I immediately think of my genealogy. It means “get all your genealogy work into print or printable form.” And I do the best job I can. Afterwards I tell my treasured spouse how to get into the computer where all the financial information is stored, if I think of it.
Then the crisis is over and perhaps a lost cousin from Cincinnati calls me with new information. I carefully install his family back to 1870 and that throws off the pagination on a huge hunk of my genealogy book. When I have another heart attack the process begins again. It is not an endless cycle, but it is one with a lot of stops and starts in it.
After all, we moved from Arcadia, California, to Fullerton to be near a son who could help his mother when she finds herself alone. In other words, I came to Fullerton to kick the bucket. But I got a Ham radio license instead. Now I am doing my genealogy on the Amateur radio bands as well as by Internet. Yes, I have found two cousins by talking with them on the radio.
Furthermore, Ham radio requires my expertise on the roof in order to install and maintain my antennas. We Hams do emergency preparedness work and our equipment has to be ready for the next earthquake. I need to “get my affairs in order” about every time I go up there. I am not quite eighty years old yet, and I will quit going up there when I reach that age. Until then…
So my genealogy changes and lots of page numbers change with it. I have been using a standard genealogy program to make two books, one for my mother’s side of the family and one for my father’s side of the family. Both have changed significantly since the last time I was told to get my affairs in order. I have learned to make the two books in computer memory and not print them any more. The problem is that I never know when I will need to have them printed on paper with enough copies for family members.
My problem is finding a method of numbering pages so that the next email from a lost cousin will not screw up half the page numbers in my genealogy. I have a Ham radio handbook that is assembled by certain topics. These topics are given chapter numbers in normal order, followed by decimal points. Technology changes a great deal, so there are topics, sub topics and sub-sub topics set apart by decimal points, so that a vacuum tube could be found on page 3.12.06. That would be fine for family lines if a person could get an indexing genealogical computer program to use that system for page numbers. If I had such a system, I could put my genealogy in a loose leaf notebook and add pages where appropriate.
Then, when doctor tells me to put my affairs in order, I could smile for a change.
However, maybe I am looking at the problem all wrong. Once I have the books in my computer, I could print them to a DVD and include a GED copy afterwards. No pages are necessary with a DVD. And, I bet most family history libraries would love to have an indexed DVD of my family history. I could make ten DVDs and leave instructions for sending them to all the big libraries. That would take only a few minutes and would ensure that my work would last a while, provided that the library would be willing to update the information to the latest mode from time to time. (I do not know what follows DVDs, but I bet another method of storage is already in the wings.)