Friday, December 27, 2013

Arthur Answers Again, The Final Part

This is the final post with my answers to my latest “Ask Arthur” post. While this post concludes this particular series, I always welcome questions—but more about that later.

The first of today’s questions from Roger Green is about me and the future. He asked:

“Now that Illinois has marriage equality, what life situations would have you thinking about moving back into the US?”

The short answer is none—which isn’t that far from the long answer, actually: Career opportunity. For example, we might consider it if Nigel was offered a short-term work contract (I’m unlikely to get such an offer). However, in that case, marriage equality and my ability to sponsor him for a green card would be unimportant (because he’d get a sponsored work visa; this is similar to how I was able to move to New Zealand). If we wanted to live in the US for longer, or without being limited to one employer, then the whole green card thing would matter.

More important, I think, is that I’ve lived in New Zealand for more than 18 years now, so the country I left doesn’t exist anymore—not really—because it’s changed so much in the nearly two decades since I last lived there. So, it would be like moving to a foreign country for me, too. While I’m not too keen on the idea of starting all over again at my age, I’m even less keen when in so many ways it would be like moving to a foreign country again.

I don’t see that we’d gain anything by moving to the USA. Whichever country we lived in, we’d still have to travel to the other country to visit family, and with the same travel times and costs associated with that. If we were to move to the USA just to live there, we’d be giving up a stable and settled life to start over in foreign country and the only real difference is which family we’d have travel two days to visit.

So, marriage equality or no, the only thing I can see that might make us move to the USA would be if there was a career opportunity, which seems unlikely.

Next, Roger asked about my distant past:

“What is your ancestry? Have you, or a family member, ever done your genealogy, and if so, how far back can you go?”

My most immediate ancestry is mostly German, with some English thrown in the mix. Going further back there are hints of Swiss, more German, maybe even some other European ethnicities thrown in. Some of this is supposed rather than verified.

I did genealogy work starting during the Roots-inspired craze back in the 1970s. I began by writing down what we knew, then asking older relatives for information. And then I pretty much stopped because I didn’t have the time or resources to go to a research site—which in those days meant a building—to pour over microfilm.

An aunt had done extensive genealogical research and I had the chance to ask her about it. Unfortunately, she’d abandoned it many years earlier and forgotten most of the details. Still, I was able to ask her questions about her father and grandfather to kind of expand on what I knew.

Years later, I was living in New Zealand and bought genealogy software, entered all my data and in the process found information from others that meshed with my own (which is why some of my information is supposed rather than verified—I don’t have copies of their source data). I also began using the Internet to do research I’d been unable to decades earlier.

I’ve been able to document ancestors, at least partly, back to the early 19th Century for sure, some branches back into the mid-to-late 18th Century, and some possibly to the late 17th Century. Some of the earliest stuff isn’t fully verified yet, well, not to my satisfaction, anyway. But does anyone who’s not a professional researcher ever actually finish their genealogical research?

And that’s it for this “Ask Arthur” round. I may do another round in six months or so, but in the meantime, I always welcome questions in comments or by email. Sometimes I can answer in the comments, too, or else I’ll do a post about it if the topic is longer. In any case, don’t be afraid to ask.

Special thanks to Roger Green for playing along!

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