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1st Blogiversary and The Power of Negative Thinking

By Daniel Hubbard | August 1, 2010

Like many bloggers of yore (in internet terms I suppose “yore” means more than a year or two ago), I’m shocked to discover that my blogiversary is upon me. It has been exactly one year since my first post. At the end of this post, I’ll celebrate a little with links to some of my favorite posts but now, on to this weeks “real” post—

The Power of Negative Thinking

This tongue-in-cheek topic, I’m sure, will take some explaining. Sitting down to work on a family with the typical negative-thinking thought, “I can’t do this,” is not going to get anyone anywhere. In fact, no one would even get to the point of sitting down. So, here is the personal experience that put this post title into my head.

The other day I was translating an old handwritten note. It was found mixed in with some family papers but there was no way of knowing what it was. The handwriting was terrible, the note, as it turns out, was for personal use only, so it was written with only the author needing to read it. Even a doctor’s prescription needs to be read by a pharmacist. The script was an old German style that often looks nothing like modern script and that doesn’t differentiate so very well between different letters. Oh yes, the vocabulary was outdated and oddly florid for a note meant for one’s self, and some things were abbreviated.  It was an enjoyable puzzle and though I wasn’t sure what, if anything, would come out of analyzing it, I was determined to figure it out even if it looked as daunting as the Rosetta Stone. When I had gotten to the point where I had transcribed more than enough to get a feel for what it was, I decided that I couldn’t really justify spending more time on it. It was  a minister’s notes for a funeral. It named a cemetery with a rather generic name but did not name the church or a town and it did not name the deceased. There was really no way to find where it was written. It was time to give up and write up a translation of what I had. It was time to end the struggle.

Yet, it turned out that it wasn’t. Sometimes there is nothing so liberating as calling it quits. After walking away from it, grabbing some lunch and then sitting down to finish up what was really already done, I couldn’t help taking a last farewell glance at the original and I read about half of what I couldn’t read before. It was the absolute most poorly written part of something I had looked at on and off for days. I suddenly learned the deceased was a man and I found him identified by his initials. If I hadn’t given up, I don’t think I would have gotten nearly so far after many more days of picking it up and putting it down with a bit of frustration.

There is, of course, a difference between thinking so negatively that you never want to have a problem mentioned in your presence again (unless you are allowed to make cathartic death threats) and the realization that what you are doing has reached its limits. At that point it might be time to relax and preserve what you have. That is a good idea anyway. You just may end up with much more than you had. Sometimes just a dash of slightly “negative” thinking makes things turn out much more positively in the end. Sometimes stress-free eyes see things that bound-and-determined eyes miss. Sometimes a relaxed mind realizes things that an intensely concentrating mind doesn’t and a bit of both ways of working is often the best.

Back to the Blogiversary

Time to stop thinking about dashes of negativity and put on my party hat.

My very first post, Boltzmann’s Grave, is still one of my favorites. A friend from my physicist days even planned to use it in a physics class she was teaching. That one also gets a lot of hits from Google. I don’t know what people looking up Ludwig Boltzmann think of it but I’m happy they stop by.

The other post that seems to generate more than its share of search engine visitors is Locusts on the Plains. Like Boltzmann searchers I suspect most of the people looking for information about the Rocky Mountain Locust are not genealogists but if they learn what they were out after, why not?

Most of my posts aren’t about my own ancestry but a few that I’m fond of are, if only slightly, about the people in my personal past: A Seemingly Insignificant Place, Pilgrimage and Grave Portents.

A post that got the honor of a couple of response posts was Not How-to but Why-do? There was Why do you research? at Family History Research and Why Do I Do Genealogical Research? at Stardust ‘n’ Roots. It was fun to start a small conversation.

Thanks all for year number 1!

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Topics: Genealogy, Methods | 2 Comments »

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2 Responses to “1st Blogiversary and The Power of Negative Thinking”

  1. Greta Koehl Says:
    August 1st, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Happy 1st Blogiversary! I’ve enjoyed this year’s posts so much and look forward to more. (I have to be careful with my negative thinking – it’s often just an unwarranted assumption.)

  2. Donna Says:
    August 2nd, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Happy Blogiversary! And many more…

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