Sunday, March 22, 2020

When Time Doesn't Fly

When I think of all the moments in the past two weeks when time seemed to become rather dull, you'd think in turning to do what I often do almost mindlessly—patch up the connections on my family trees—I'd have made more progress. Now that it's time to check my biweekly progress, though, that apparently was not what happened. It makes me wonder: just what was I doing in all those stolen moments of idly working on my family trees?

Here's how things look right now. My mother's tree only advanced seventy eight names to close this week at 20,657 substantiated individuals, admittedly not my usual breakneck speed. On the other hand, my mother-in-law's tree did make up for that when I added 188 names to total 18,027 individuals. And though my father-in-law's tree is still stuck at 1,688, this time it was my own dad's turn to step ahead; there, I found ten new names to bring his total up to 668.

Part of the reason for any advances at all this time was the chance to take a look at DNA matches. While it is easy to tap away at names and dates in a pedigree chart, it takes quite a bit more concentration to determine where a random fourth cousin might fit into a tree pushing up to twenty thousand names. To be sure, I can't keep all those details in my head anymore.

The past week afforded me the time to take a long look at those DNA matches, compare notes between trees (for those who actually do post their tree online), and reach out to connect via email. Some of the connections came surprisingly easily, upon which discovery I filled in all the necessary blanks to draw the lines between the match's ancestors and my own. Sometimes the journey from third- or fourth-great-grandparent to the present filled in quickly, and thickly—hence the 188 new names on my mother-in-law's tree, for instance.

Another gift of time, this past week, was the chance to revisit 23andMe's new beta tree. I had mentioned, a while back, that the launch of their auto-generated tree had some of my husband's cousins listed as aunts. I'm glad to report that has been rectified—although I'm not sure that's owing to self-generated tweaking on the part of their computer system, or a real human reading the feedback I sent them on Day One, when I was chomping at the bit to try it all out.

With the additional time I'll have in the upcoming weeks, owing to my classes being cancelled, I'll be pouring my energies into seeing how to add information to this 23andMe tree. While out of the five major DNA companies this one hasn't generated the greatest number of matches, it does capture some branches of our families not represented at the other companies. This, of course, was one theory originally behind testing at each of the available DNA companies, and though the result is mostly just the luck of the draw, it certainly bears out that hypothesis.

Another task I'll need to attend to, in those empty spots in my stay-at-home schedule, will be to update my desktop-resident program and get the sync mechanism updated. This same new era of anything-can-happen developments can just as easily throw another curve at us. I'm thinking I want to cover myself when it comes to my genealogical research, and prepare with as many back-ups of that hard work as possible. At least now, I'll have the time to attend to some of those chores.

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