Cleaning Up the Family Tree

I know, I know … no new profiles recently. But I’ve been working like a fiend behind the scenes doing database cleanup on my 48 year old genealogy files. I have public trees in several places including Ancestry.com, but my real work happens in FamilyTreeMaker (FTM), which I’ve used since it was a DOS program (yes, I’m old and have been doing this a long time). I’ve also been synching my tree between Ancestry and FTM since the capability was offered, keeping both up to date.

FTM
FamilyTreeMaker Available at https://www.mackiev.com/ftm/index.html

But there are problems. Lots of problems. Importing and merging records over many years gave me a tree full of errors and I hadn’t really done systematic cleanup. I had duplicate names recorded as separate facts, a mishmash of place name formats, and serious errors such as people attached to the wrong parents. Oops.

So that’s what I’m working on now. I joined a Facebook group for FTM Users, which has wonderful resources on working with the software which has developed powerful tools for cleanup that I had no idea were part of the software.  Ancestry doesn’t have them, although I do like their relationship tools better than FTM. Lucky me, I can work in both and synch.

ResolveplacenamesMy trigger for doing all of this was using the new FTM plugin Family Book Creator to pull data from my tree into a book of my father’s ancestors. Looking at the index of place names, individual names, source list, and scanned images gave me a road map of things that need fixing.  I started with the easiest (and smallest) group: duplicate people. Then I worked on reconciling place names, making sure that all elements were present and in the same format of  City, County, State, Country. Although I’ve been careful about this in the last few years, I had decades of old work that needed correction.

Next I went to Manage Facts and was appalled to see that importing records from FindaGrave, Fold3, and Newspapers.com created dozens of new fact labels with data that should have gone into a different field. I worked through these one at a time and have a strategy for working with new finds.

Now I’m working through the Data Errors Report, which had 36 pages of problems such as missing dates, duplicate events, duplicate names, children born when mother was too young or too old, etc.  I can’t fix the “missing date” problems for most of these people right now but I hverified that my extended direct lines are complete and I have a report of what’s missing to work on later.  The other errors are taking time to work through but it’s satisfying to know what needs doing.

DataErrorReport

My biggest challenge ahead is cleaning up my Source list. It must be done and I know why and how, but I hate citations and hate that I have so many to fix, which is why I started with everything else.

New Year, New Start

Weight Watcher ChickensThe line would have been out the door except that it was bitter cold outside, so instead it snaked around the small reception area until it was clogged. Can we say, the first day of Weight Watchers meetings for 2008? I thought we could.

The receptionists recited the spiel over and over – here’s a clipboard with the registration form, there are different programs, how do you want to pay, here are your materials, how weekly registration works, are you staying for the meeting? They kept running out of clipboards and soon most of the chairs were taken.

I have to admit that I felt pretty smug since I knew the ropes, was there exactly when the center opened so I didn’t have to wait long in line (which I hate doing), and even had a small weight loss this week. The new folks were nervous and excited, anxious to hear about successes and how the program would almost magically make the weight fall off. Well, it doesn’t work quite like that.

But people joining WW – or any other weight loss program on January 2 – bring a commitment to really work the program as it was written, and not as it was modified over weeks and months and years by sometimes blasse dieters. Yeah, yeah, I know this is a food plan and not a diet, but it still is a diet. We lose track of portions, journaling, better food choices. We get complacent.

Our WW leader had us come up with one thing we want to accomplish by the end of 2008 and then one thing we will do this week to help us get closer to that goal. There are 52 weeks in the year, lots of time to accomplish big things, a little at a time. I’m not going to say what my goal is because I don’t want to jinx it.

Weighing In After Christmas

Tessie with Empty BoxesThe bad news is that I gained 2.4 lbs this week. The good news is that I went to Weight Watchers and got on a scale knowing that it would probably be up 3 lbs. Considering how much I ate this week, it’s not a surprise. I am a stress eater and worrying about my mom has been majorly stressful, plus I’ve been sticking close to home because I wanted to stay near the phone. FYI, she’s doing better and we think she’ll be heading home this weekend.

But let’s get real — I haven’t exactly been hanging out at the gym even before Mom went to the hospital. And I haven’t walked much at work because the sidewalks have been covered with ice and snow because the good people of New Haven don’t shovel or plow particularly well. And I haven’t been to water aerobics in two months because the water was so cold. Well, that’s a pretty stupid reason and who’s to say that they didn’t warm it up when we started wearing coats?  Not in the pool, of course, but still.

I have, however, been faithfully going to my Weight Watchers meetings and collecting the new materials. Every year they reinvent the program slightly (sometimes hugely) and get ready for the swarming hordes who repent the pounds gained over the holidays and, armed with new year’s resolutions, set out to Lose The Weight.

We know how hard that is to do. But it IS doable. The hard part for me is not so much following the program I’ve chosen but in remembering my motivation. It’s easy to slip into “I’m fat anyway so what does it matter?” and then it’s easy to eat the extra cookies or skip the chance to walk an extra 15 minutes. To feel deprived and then entitled.

The Shrinking Knitter had a great post a few weeks ago on “living as if I was already where I wanted to be” that I haven’t been able to forget. Erin had another valuable post on Just Being the After. I recommend both to you heartily as food for thought about ways to approach new year’s resolutions and refocusing motivation.

This last week, if I was actually living as if I was already where I wanted to be, I would have eaten a little of everything I actually ate but in very moderate amounts, with more vegetables and fruits. Walked some and gone to the gym once or twice. Been more self confident in my own skin and happier in the clothes I put over that skin.

But I did and do and will love my family and my friends. I did and do and will enjoy selecting presents that speak to who they are and what they like. I did and do and will celebrate Christmas and love my cat and yak on the phone with people who matter, just because.

This week’s assignment is to reclaim my motivation for my physical self. I wrote down reasons for why I want to lose weight back in September and most still apply but I want to think about this and really get focused in a realistic way. Not only why but what I’m willing to do to accomplish it.

2007 is almost over and I’m in a very different place in so many ways than I was last year at this time. Another year older and wiser, with a new job and a new state and a new cat, and only 10 lbs heavier. It could be worse. It will be better.