Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Trouble With Choices

The problem with too many choices is that as the number of options increases, the amount of time required to consider them all rises geometrically.

Perhaps it was a good thing that I started reviewing all my options for this week's Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree last weekend. I needed all that timeand then some.

As always, I'm heading down to southern California a day early, so I can attend the Genetic Genealogy 2018 event on Thursday. Since one day of DNA could not possibly satisfy my need to know more, I opted to sign up for a second DNA event on Friday, when Blaine Bettinger presents his half day workshop on Visual Phasing. Of course, the main events of Jamboree will be in full swing by then, so interspersed with that workshop will be choices, choices, choices. Which classes to take?

Over the years of conference-going, I've developed a process to help determine which would be the most beneficial topics for me to hear. Since conferences now offer apps for attendees, I download mine right away. Then I look at every class which includes a handout. If the subject is vaguely tempting at all, I will download the handout via the app and read it through to see if the topic matches up with the impression I got from reading that catchy title.

Then comes the process of elimination. I find myself constructing a decision tree based not only on what my current personal research interests are, but also keeping in mind what might be beneficial for my local society members or the students in my own classes and workshops. Especially for the workshops I present at local libraries, I meet people drawn from all walks of life and all levels of research experience, and sometimes, the questions they ask are not in my own areas of expertise. I find myself sitting in conference sessions about researching African-Americans or Native Americans, for instance, though I, myself, don't pursue those areas in my own projects.

It seems every year I try to streamline this selection process, and every year, there is more to consider. Yes, I started reviewing my options last Saturdayclue: it is now Wednesdaybut I still don't know which classes I'll end up taking. I'm certain I didn't take half that amount of time to make up my mind last year.

As the date draws closer, I always feel the excitement rev up about going to Jamboree. This year, two other members of our local societyand members of its boardwill be attending along with me. I think it's always fun to attend such an event, knowing a friend will be there, too.

Attending Jamboree is no small undertaking for people from our local society. After all, the first hurdle is the six hour drive. Add to that the specter of L.A. traffic, and this night owl finds extra inspiration to head out the driveway in the early morning (well...early for me) to beat the SoCal rush hour snarl. The time, the expense, the effort may seem like reasons not to go. But I've learned to look forward to this as a yearly treat, and to save up accordingly.

Of course, there is much to look forward to beside the excellent learning opportunities. The exhibit hall provides a way to keep current on what's happening in the genealogical marketplace. Banquets make the week festive, and offer a chance to network. The hotel setting provides pleasant spots to socialize with genealogy friends whom I only see once or twice a year. And, since I get to travel with family on this expedition, it gives those long-suffering relatives a chance to dodge genealogy while escaping to nearby Disneyland or visiting college chums in the area. Couldn't ask for a more fun genealogy trip than that.


  1. Sounds like a great break! I consider anything away from home a break! :)

    1. Yes, it is. While I love my home, and am quite the home body, I do enjoy getting away. The change of pace is invigorating...and who can beat the chance to be immersed in a favorite topic like genealogy?!


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