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    Pompous Ass Syndrome

    Pumpkin Moon!

    Pumpkin Moon!

    (As always, this got too long! Have better things to do than wade through all of this?! No problem! Here’s the payoff!)

    You know what it is. We have *all* been there. We’ve not only been victims of it, we’ve had it ourselves!

    Pompous Ass Syndrome (PAS) is not a gift, it’s a curse, not only for the person who has it, but for the people who must have contact with them. First year law students come immediately to mind. One year in law school and they know it all and *love* to educate not only their fellow students, but anyone they know about how expert they’ve magically become. Yes, they must do two more years (three if they’re in a night program), to actually get a degree, but at this point that’s just wasted time. They’re ready to argue their first capital case before the Supreme Court, and they make no secret of it!

    It’s an easy trap to fall into, though. When we start something new, exciting and intensive, what a rush! How can we NOT share our new-found knowledge with anyone and everyone?! How can we not suddenly feel like we’ve mastered a whole new world when things start suddenly falling into place, especially when we seem to have a knack for it and realize success almost from the beginning?

    Genealogy can be like that and then some! I’ll never forget how I felt the first time a volunteer sent me a tombstone photo. It was of my great-grandparents graves and it was such a thrill! I remember that feeling every time I look at it. That first census record, marriage license — and it never goes away. Well, unless there’s really something wrong with you, but that’s another subject entirely. 🙂

    I’ve only been doing this about twelve years and in the beginning I immersed myself in reading anything and everything I could about family history research. Being an unapologetic hoarder of books, I filled my shelves with “Evidence Explained,” “[Insert here] for Dummies,” society journals, historical research manuals, style manuals. My nerd-self was in heaven — all that software! And, of course, certification organizations and “Professional Genealogy.” I had such high hopes for turning my hobby into a way to not only take care of the electric bill, but also to pay for MORE books! I so wanted initials after my name.

    Then, reality set in — that’s not happening. And I figured, hey, since I’m not going to be a “professional,” all that stuff doesn’t really apply to me, right? But that didn’t stop me from digging and digging and digging some more. And the more success I had, the bigger my head got. Remember this all started with the PAS stuff, right? Who needs all those research logs, source analysis documentation, “client” reports — though I *do* cite my sources, but that’s a small part of everything that is this hobby, yes?

    Several things have happened in the last few months, which I’ve already mentioned in other posts, but apropos the original point of this stream of consciousness, they included a birthday (I’m almost old now!), and the realization that what I have here is such a mess, it will all just go into the trash as, and rightly so, no one I know is going to want to try to separate the wheat from the chaff. I mean, if *I* haven’t been doing it all these years, why should anyone who isn’t even interested in it take that on? Then, we had the letter my Grandma wrote over 100 years ago that I’ve had here since 2009.

    So, in an effort to develop a REAL system so that all my work can easily be just boxed up and sent wherever-it-should-end-up (and THAT has changed several times over the years, too!) I have been furiously Googling for systems, forms, check lists, software, anything and everything that might spark a clue. In that process, I’m finding that I already have a system that isn’t really all that bad, and I’m used to it, so why change now? I just have to slow down and USE it consistently!

    But — and yes, finally, the point — in that process, some things kept tapping me on the shoulder, trying to get my attention. And then I found this post at StackExchange: “Can 19th century US Census records be reliably used to identify a family of origin?” The first answer to this question contains the gold:

    “Questions of this kind are a sign that the researcher needs to consider making the transition from person-based to source-based genealogy.”

    Need to what? Huh? Transition? But . . . I know what I’m doing! I cite my sources! Um — what’s “source-based genealogy?!” LOL!

    Jan Murphy practically lives in the genealogy section of StackExchange. She’s also very active in Facebook genealogy groups — her name pops up everywhere! (I thought about sending her a “friend” request, but not for long — I am so not worthy!) Unlike the guy who edited my question by adding a space or something to get a one point increase in his rep — SERIOUSLY??!! AND why ME?! I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to figure out what he “fixed!” — Jan’s answers are well-thought out, thoroughly documented, address the point and contain HUGE amounts of relevant, useful information!

    Life sends us the answers to the questions we’re asking, even when we don’t realize we’re asking them! There were little things poking my poor, overworked brain, but it didn’t come together as a concept until I read Jan’s response to that question.

    I still have PAS, but now it’s because I’ve taken another step in my fledgling stabs at research. 🙂

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