Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Gramps Tee-Shirt

“Hee, hee, then he asked at what URL he could find it.”

I had been working with my elderly friend, Jane, for several weeks; it had started out as a rescue mission, helping her with Windows 8.x and her email. It segued into a labor of love, helping her with her family genealogy.

Let me summarize this project:
  1. Her great-grandparents start it
  2. Her great-grandparents ten childrens’ families populate it
  3. It goes generations past herself
  4. Her data is summarized in an artist’s sketch book, whose pages are approximately 2.5 feet square
  5. A out-of-state family member installed a program called Gramps on her computer, said “this should help you,” and then, like a thief in the night, vanished
  6. My friend, a game computer person, lacks technical savvy
Jane introduced me to Gramps after an email session. “He left after saying, ‘This should help you.’ But I can’t make heads or tails out of it. Maybe you can.”

I could. Gramps is an application built to document the results of genealogical research. It is loaded with features.

Soon I was visiting weekly. Teammates, she’d read the data from the artist’s sketch book and I’d enter it into Gramps. She compensated me with lunch; it was win-win.

Once, visiting the gramps web site, we saw tee-shirts sporting the Gramps logo for sale.

 Jane  immediately wanted one; “Oh, I like that. I love 
tee-shirts! And I love Gramps.”
 Knowing her birthday was coming, I pretended not to notice but made a mental note.

An accomplished procrastinator, I didn’t look again until it was shortly before the birthday. Oops.

  • I couldn’t find the site.
  • Using Google got me to the site, but I couldn’t find the genealogy shirt.
  • Fighting panic, using another Google search, I got where I needed to be.
  • I couldn’t remember Jane’s color preference. I made an educated guess.
  • I formed a contingency plan regarding delivery delay, held my breath, and placed the order.
  • The shirt arrived in plenty of time.

Having previously celebrated her birthday with my wife and a mutual friend, she was not expecting a celebration on this visit. She was shocked, surprised and delighted with the gift.

Weeks later she told me about a visit with her brother and a couple of men she and her brother had grown up with and had not seen in many years. Wearing her Gramps tee-shirt, she got a great deal of mileage out of talking about Gramps, the 10 family genealogy, and the friend ( me ) she was working with using Gramps to organize the data mountain she had accumulated.

“They were really intrigued by Gramps,” she told me. “They asked lots of questions. Like so,
and she told me.

“Who wrote it?” they asked.

“Walter,” I told them, “
said that it’s open source. I’m not sure I even get what that means.”

“Was it expensive, then?”

I replied, “Unbelievably, the program is free.”

“How did you get it, again?”

“My niece’s husband,” I repeated, “installed it for me. I suppose he downloaded it.”

“Well, so what’s the URL,” they asked.

At this point she grinned, cheshire cat-like, at me. “I suspect they didn’t think I’d know the URL, or maybe even what a URL is,” she giggled, and continued her narrative.

I wordlessly stood up, slowly, increasing the dramatic effect. I mouthed, “The URL?” to them, shrugging my shoulders. Then I put my arms at my side, moved a little closer to all of them, and turned around, revealing the backside of the shirt.

“www dot gramps dash project dot org,” they said, almost  as one.

“It was a triumphant moment and felt just wonderful,” she said. “It was great fun."

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