Friday, August 19, 2016

Computer Tasks, Unwired

You think learning how to use a computer takes time, try going back the other way. I'm having to reverse engineer my brain.

I'd love to have a calendar that does it all but I haven't figured out how yet, except on a desktop computer. I still don't have any mobile devices and I don't want any.

Back when PDA's cost $1,000 by the time you added in a screen protector and a pouch for it and taxes and extended warranty that you had to have because you could see plain as day the thing was so fragile you'd probably smash it the first week out, all I wanted was something to put a calendar and notes on. I did not want something that could stand on its head and spit gold balls. Apparently, my needs were too small because there wasn't such a thing.

Even my $5 paper calendar is way over the top with pages of useless information like wedding anniversary symbols and mileage-from-here-to-there charts but misses the most important part; a page for notes in between each double page of little calendar squares. Hello, people?

So, back to the drawing board. I made my own. This is for computer tasks. This tells me the days when I have to turn my computer on or my life will spiral down the toilet. It also shows me the days when I can stay in bed and the universe will continue on as it should without me.

I can't write these things in the little calendar squares because I need to leave the squares open for appointments and surprises and the squares aren't big enough. I can circle the days (been there/done that) but I don't know why I need to turn my computer on. And if I don't know why then I have to turn my computer on to find out. And the next thing I know it's 16 hours of genealogy rabbit holes later and my God, is there no end to it?

Here it is, in all its un-digitized glory. One line for each day of the month, five columns for five to-do's. I never go over five unless I'm doing research and this is not for that. (But it could be.) This is pay bills, external backups, that kind of thing. The world-stopping stuff.

Any of you who have downloaded the slant chart already know the drill. Print a copy, then take it down to your local shop and get it laminated for about $2 and write on it with non-permanent ink. At the end of each month, wipe it clean with a damp cloth and start again. You'll only ever need one of these. If you have a smartphone or tablet you probably don't need one at all. If you do, download here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Elder Care, continued

"Life is what happens when you're making other plans."

However, making a plan ain't necessarily bad.

From the human-interest files of people I've actually met:

1) Couple married for ten years. Husband dies. Woman finds out from his Will that he's left the house to his son from a previous marriage. He leaves her a tiny amount of money and she has to be out of the house within 3 months.

2) Married for decades. Big house, big life. Woman leaves all financial matters to her husband. It's "his job" she says. Man dies. Woman finds out from his Will that he lost all their money in the last few years of his life making bad deals when his mind was going. AND she has to get out of the house to pay his debts. At the age of 70-something she's broke and homeless.

3) Married for decades. Husband dies. Friend has to show wife how to write a cheque.

Why are spouses not discussing financial and legal matters while they're both still alive? It seems like giving your spouse the middle finger by WINGING them with a big surprise.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Elder Care

My aunt who turns 94 this week was found a month ago lying alone in a parking lot after a fall. I don't know how long they (the Lifeline people) had been looking for her but it took a flashlight to find her. She was on her way to a card game. Or thought she was.

She was diagnosed with having dementia about ten years ago. For reasons I'm sure I will never understand she was living alone in a condo. A nice condo. Actually, a high-end condo. In Florida. Nice furniture. But alone.

Twice a day a woman would drop in, make her something to eat and leave again. The rest of the time she sat alone. Or walked around her condo. Or slept. Mostly slept. Once in a while she'd get together with some other condo residents and play cards. Or pretend to.

Less than a year ago she tripped over a living room table on her way to somewhere; caught a corner and went crashing into a heap. Ended up in the hospital for a couple of months doing 'rehab' and was then sent home again.

The plan for years was that the woman who made her food would come and live with her full-time when she couldn't take care of herself anymore. Hello! She already couldn't take care of herself anymore.

Now she's back in the same hospital. She won't be going home again.

I find it safest to go through life without opinions but I do have questions:

Why was a 90+ year old woman with dementia living alone in a condo? Why was she not put into a long-term care facility about the time she was first diagnosed with dementia? One of those 5-star resorts where there's company, card games, and actual CARE going on. Her late husband was a multi-millionaire. It's not like she couldn't afford it.

If you're afraid your parents will spend all their money and you won't get a big enough slice, get over yourself.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Research Notes

Between myself and other people my Research Notes in Legacy became a catch-all for anything and everything that didn't fit somewhere else, or work intended to be done later. Years since I first thought I should I've finally cleared my Research Notes of almost everything except census records.

Even with another twenty good years I won't live long enough to enter the data for 989 heads of household and their assorted spouses and children over several decades each so I'm leaving them alone. For now. They've all been tidied up so they can be printed in reports looking just fine. Close enough.

Although I'm fascinated with any kind of note organization software, the point of making OneNote or Evernote a way-station for genealogy research has gone right over my head. Maybe I just haven't looked into it enough.

No matter where you put your genealogy stuff to begin with, eventually it's supposed to end up in your database, right?

If I was to add one more third-party tool to 'organizing' my head might explode.

So I thought I'd shorten the process, now that I've taken the convenient dumping ground of Research Notes out of my realm of possibility.

The more this extended family thing stretches out the more it seems critical to be super-efficient about it. Unless you're really laid back and the pressure of it never gets to you.

I had an idea awhile back that I would quit when I got to 20,000 people. Well, it's now 22,135 and I still haven't found my missing great-grandfathers so this could go on for a bit longer.

I work on two monitors. I have Legacy open on one. I have Firefox open on the other. When I find a record I want I enter it immediately. I copy the text, strip the tab spaces out it using The Remove Extra Whitespace Tool, find the Master Source or create a new one, enter the Source Detail where appropriate and cite the source wherever it's needed.

Then I download the image, if there is one, number it, name it, enter the source citation and the rest of the metadata, and file it. Done.

Now there's the issue of what else I find out of the corner of my eye while I'm traveling around. I have a folder called for filing. I could call it rabbit holes or something like that.

If I see something interesting I simply drag the URL into the folder and forget about it til later when I might be interested again.

I would hate to miss anything.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Are You Organized Yet?

I've been thinking about this again after talking to Cuz. She sounded a bit dejected. We're both getting older and the time's coming to pass on our family history work to the next generation. Not right this minute but we're both old enough to be thinking about it. She said no-one wants her work because we live in a world of instant gratification and genealogy takes time and no-one's got time.

True. Sort of. If you're looking at it in the worst possible frame of mind.

It's not that people don't want your genealogy, which a lot of people say. Everybody wants their family history. It's a very IN thing nowadays. Everyone wants a family tree. What people DON'T want is the chaos of it.

I could stop here and tell some stories but I won't ...

Suffice to say --- Relatives come into your house and see papers and books and file folders and boxes scattered around everywhere and they immediately think, NO! I DON'T WANT THAT. They can hardly wait for you to die so they can throw it all away. Of course, chaos comes with the territory.

It's a matter of degree. If you can hand someone else a somewhat tidy package of files and instructions they might make it to the next step.

Step One for the Uninitiated: Take a Deep Breath. Do Not Be Afraid.

I wrote two posts on taking inventory over five years ago. My system hasn't changed much since then. I did what I said I was going to and I update the README files monthly to note any changes. It's gotten better tuned as I've gone along. And it takes the weight off my mind knowing at least I've tried to do something about it.

Genealogy Filing: Taking Inventory, Part 1
Genealogy Filing: Taking Inventory, Part 2