Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I love GRIP!

I am away at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) for a one week institute entitled "Tracing Your Eastern European Roots."

This is my first week-long institute, and I think that I am hooked.

I would have posted this yesterday or the day before, but through a series of unfortunate temporary missteps on my part I was unable to get this up.

We have about 150 genealogists studying in six courses. This is a new course for GRIP, as I understand it, and so I wanted to take advantage of it. It is tough to find good genealogical trainings related to Eastern Europe.

We are meeting on the campus of La Roche College in north Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am actually staying in a dorm room, by myself, using a laptop attached to an Ethernet cable - no wifi, no decent 4G coverage. I am eating in a college cafeteria.

Anyone who has known me for a long time will know that this is pretty much my idea of heaven...genealogy on a college campus! Give me a TV, my clothes, and a car, and I could live here

Just kidding! I miss Cynthia and the pets too much for that. (Of course, Cynthia and I did live in student housing when we first got together...)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Absence Truly Can Make The Heart Grow Fonder

No, I am not referring to my absence from blogging, although I guess this applies to that as well.

Nor does it refer to the fact that I am sitting at Burbank Airport, thinking about how I am skipping Genealogy Jamboree again this year. Maybe next year.

I am referring instead to the past month or so when I have been acting president of the California Genealogical Society. Our illustrious leader, President Linda Okazaki, has been recovering from planned surgery, and I got to chair meetings and monitor some emails while she was gone.

CGS, like many genealogy organizations, is an all-volunteer organization. However, unlike most societies, we maintain a large and active private physical library with dozens of volunteers, with a very busy educational program (we have pretty much at least one Special Interest Group or class every week).

It takes a lot to run such an amazing group, and Linda has been unbelievable. She is, in essence, an unpaid executive director.

Linda is going to be back running meetings, etc. and I am very happy that she is recovering well and so dedicated.

So publicly, THANKS LINDA!

Geneabloggers Website Winding Down

Thomas MacEntee recently announced that he is essentially winding down his Geneabloggers.com website. He will be phasing out various regular features, and then moving his new content to a to-be announced website that will be the landing page for his various online and offline endeavors.

He and I have been friends since before either of us got heavily into genealogy, and so I tend to follow his various endeavors fairly closely. 

I wish him the best of luck, and I will follow up with additional information as it becomes authoritative.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My First Class Went Well - I Think

I presented my first genealogy lecture/class - Eastern European Genealogy, for the California Genealogical Society at our library in Oakland on Saturday, February 11, 2017.

We had a full house, and due to a scheduling snafu (it was listed at two different times in different places), we started at 1:30 p.m. All told, I think we had just under the 30 people signed up, as we had two people from the waiting list seated.

We went a full two hours, and very few people left. I hope that means that people enjoyed it.

Only one or two people came up to me at the end. The only real comment was from someone more qualified to teach the course than I am, who thought that I should have encouraged folk to not use Google translate but to instead learn to read the original languages. I chose to try to make the field seem more accessible, which I think is probably best for most people.

I am always insecure about making presentations, and without positive feedback, I will remain nervous about it.

The experience was very helpful, and I have a much better idea of what to do to improve the class if/when I present it again.

I was hoping to start a CGS Facebook Eastern European group, but that didn't happen at the time. I will try to get something started soon - I am traveling a lot in the next few months, and I want to get this taken care of before I forget.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

I'm Teaching My First Genealogy Class - Eastern European Genealogy for CGS! SOLD OUT!

As I recently mentioned, I am going to be teaching a class on Eastern European Genealogy for the California Genealogical Society on Saturday, February 11 at 1:30 p.m. (I don't know why it is listed as 1:30, since we usually start at 1:00.)

This will be my first time lecturing on genealogy - I have taught many things over the years, and I have spoken around the U.S. and in Ireland about transgender and legal issues.

The description of the class is:

Eastern European Genealogy
Eastern European genealogy presents unique challenges to the researcher because of shifting boundaries, multiple languages, multiple religions, politics and population movement. Ancestral towns frequently had multiple names simultaneously, and even locals had difficulty with consistent recordation of names and relationships. 

This class will highlight the best resources and strategies for those with ancestors primarily from regions that were formerly parts of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, corresponding to the modern nations of Austria, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and portions of western Russia.
I learned today that the class has sold out! We have 27 people who signed up, including five non-members who paid $30 and three members who also donated for the event. We have a waiting list.

This is exciting, and very, very nerve-wracking. I am a very comfortable speaker, and I am great at extemporaneous speaking, but preparing a full lecture with associated materials is challenging. I have been working on it for the past few weeks, but I since this is my first time presenting this material, I have to do every slide from scratch.

This is a great opportunity, and I am very much looking forward to getting this one together. I am planning on attending a week-long class on Tracing your Roots in Eastern Europe at GRIP in late June (the only reason I wouldn't go is that I am waiting on an unlikely appointment to an important state commission which would conflict with the class).

 Now, I just need to really learn Polish, and get my Cyrillic reading skills up for reading records, and...

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Elected Vice President of the California Genealogical Society for 2017

This past Saturday, January 14, 2017, was the annual business meeting for the California Genealogical Society.

We started with a potluck, then some of us had a brief tour of the emergency exits for the Library.

The business meeting was quick and interesting, as we opened with a letter from a longtime member about how CGS training helped her live her genealogical dreams, reviewed the past year, heard a report about the success of our first capital campaign, and discussed the plans leading up to our 120th anniversary celebration in 2018. I will have a lot more to post about those plans in the next few months.

After the meeting, we had a short board meeting to elect officers. I was elected as Vice President, which is something that I have been discussing with our President, Linda Okazaki, for the past month or so.

This does not mean that I will be the next President. I have not made such a commitment, for a variety of reasons.

First, I have a full-time, demanding profession, and we operate a major library with NO PAID STAFF.  That means that the volunteers need to do everything, and the buck stops with the President.

Second, I am still fairly new to leadership, and I want to make better connections with people.

Finally, I want to deliver results on the projects that I am undertaking before asking others to support me as their leader.

That being said, I am not approaching the position the way that my predecessor did - she made it clear up front that she was not going to be President. Instead, I am going to keep an open mind. I would like to do it, but I am uncertain that this is the right timing for me.

In terms of projects, I am taking on the lead for strategic planning. This is a function that excites me in several organizations, but I still need to improve my own skillset and toolbox to make this work out effectively.

Also, I am presenting my first genealogy class next month, on Eastern European Genealogy. This marks a real milestone for me.  I will post more about that soon.

I am very much looking forward to genealogy in 2017, and continuing my work with CGS.

Friday, January 6, 2017

I'm still here!

It has been far too long since I posted anything in this blog, but I am not going to give up.

Neither will I make a firm commitment that I will not fulfill - it is the reason that I don't like New Year's resolutions.

I think that one of the deterrents to actually regularly posting is my perfectionism - I feel like I need to say something important in an entry. However, I think that the real value of the blog might be to discuss my experiences, including frustrations, brick walls, etc. After all, the name of the blog itself is a reference to frustration.

So I will see how this goes, But it will be easier to post if I lower the bar for myself, and make this about notes on a journey and not profound discoveries or analyses.