Breaking News: Scientists Pinpoint the Origins of Piles of Genea-Crap
by Kerry Scott on 25 April 2011
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MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin—Scientists at Clue Wagon Worldwide Headquarters announced today that they have found a way to trace the origins of the mysterious piles of crap that appear on the desks of genealogists whenever they get near a computer. “We’ve seen this play out time and time again,” said genealogist-ologist Dr. Pat Smith, who studies genealogists in their natural habitats. “Genealogists sit down with every intention of doing good work, sticking to their research plans, and carefully entering information into their databases. Then they get distracted, and three hours later, they’re buried in a pile of printouts and empty candy wrappers. It’s a problem.”
Dr. Smith says he’s invented a device that tracks the actual thought patterns of a genealogist as she sits down to do research on the internet. To demonstrate, he hooked the new device to an unnamed genealogist in Milwaukee. Here’s a transcript of the actual thoughts in the genealogist’s brain as she sat down to enter some data into her database:
Okay, I’m totally going to enter stuff in my database. Here is my pop. Here is my box of Kleenex. I’m ready to go.
Okay, here’s Luella Woolley. Do I have her picture in there? No? Lemme go get that. [open photo manager]. Oh, hey, look, there’s my kids. Have I tagged those photos of them from our vacation yet? Nope. [tag tag tag]
No, wait, stop that. Focus on Luella. I’m entering Luella in the database. Got her picture…uploaded. Okay. Let’s pull her folder from the file cabinet. Hey, haven’t looked in here for a while. There’s the name of the funeral home. Did I write to them? Do that now. [type type type] Hey, did I check the newspaper since they added to the GenealogyBank collection? [check check check]. Not there. Maybe under first name? Kid’s name? Hey, what’s this interesting article?
Okay, no, focus on Luella. I’m supposed to be entering her stuff into the database. [enter enter enter] Wait. Have Luella and Albert been added to the Minnesota Marriage Index yet? [check check check] Not there. Maybe this spelling? [check check check] Maybe that spelling? [check check check] Hey, I probably should be writing this down in my research log. Where is that form? [shuffle shuffle shuffle] Hey, this form is kinda sucky. Should I remake the form? Yes. [type type type]
Wait, no, no remaking forms. Focus. Focus on entering stuff in the database. Except…what if I search the marriage index for just her first name? What will happen if I type just “Lu” or “Lou”? [check check check] It would help if I had her maiden name. Can I find her in an early census? When was she born? Is that in the paper file? [shuffle shuffle shuffle] Okay, she was born in October 1883 according to the cemetery. Let me check all the Luella’s born around then in the 1900 census. [check check check] Hmmm. None of these look like a direct hit.
Wait. I have her in subesequent censuses. Where were the parents born? [shuffle shuffle shuffle] No, none of these match. Hey, is she on Find A Grave? [check check check] Oooo, look. There she is…but there her birth date is listed in 1882. Go back and check all of the Luellas in the 1900 census born in 1882. [check check check]
Hey, I’m kinda hungry. Any chocolate Easter candy left? [pillage pillage pillage] Holy cow. Two chocolate bunnies. The kids will never miss these. [chomp chomp chomp]
Wait, no. I’m supposed to be entering stuff in the database. And I will, just as soon as I put stamp on the letter to the funeral home. Where are the stamps? [shuffle shuffle FREEZE] HOLD THE PHONE. Could they have gotten married in Washington State? They lived there later. Maybe they married there, came back to Minnesota, and then left again. What sort of records would Washington State have online? [google google google]
Hey, what’s this? Washington Digital Archives? HOLY COW!! PAYDIRT!!! Print! Print! Print!! Oh, and PRINT!!! ADD PAPER!! HOLY COW!!! LOOK AT ALL THIS GOOD STUFF!! PRRRRIIIINNNNTTTTT!!!
Dr. Smith reported that the genealogist in question spent three hours and 12 minutes on this. At the end, she still hadn’t entered Luella Woolley’s information into her database, but she now had a big pile of stuff she had to sort through. Additionally, she failed to start dinner on time, so her poor family had to eat the Mama-Got-Carried-Away-on-the-Internet Dinner (frozen pizza and breadsticks made from dough that comes in a pop-open can).
Dr. Smith’s next project will be to study the nutritional deficiencies of the children of genealogists.
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