By H. David Morrow FuzzyGem@att.net
(Previously published in MISSING LINKS Vol. 8, No. 13, 31 March 2003) http://www.petuniapress.com/
It all started one day when, in a fit of frustration, GW (Geneaholic Wife) screamed, "I've got so many brick walls I'm getting a headache just thinking about them."
Ever the kind, compassionate caregiver, I decided I had to come up with a way to get rid of her brick walls as well as those headaches not directly caused by me. Besides the increasing costs of drugs, too much aspirin or substitute is not good for her stomach and liver. (I read that on the Internet so it Must be true.)
My first thought was to take all her walls and build an addition on the house.
"What size are all these walls," I asked GW.
"They're all different. The height depends on the number of people in a line that converges back to one person. The less information available, the thicker the wall is. And the walls get wider with each generation back before the documentation runs out," she explained.
For those of you who are technically competent, here are the equations:
(Current Surname + complete documentation) - (ancestor + 0 documentation) = Brick Wall
Height of Brick Wall: Number of people connected to Undocumented ancestor X 0ne brick length.
Width of Brick Wall: Number of generations X Height of Brick Wall. (This keeps the wall square.)
Thickness of Brick Wall: Optimum number of document papers X Length of any one brick.
"That's just great. How am I supposed to do something about your brick walls when they're not even close to standard."
She looked at me kind of strangely. Since I hadn't explained why I wanted to know, the question of wall size seemed irrelevant to her. This is one case, perhaps the only one, where size really doesn't matter.
I went to bed that night pondering this question: What does one do with a bunch of brick walls that are different height, width, and thickness? I was determined to find some way to remove this frustration from GW's life.
I didn't get much sleep that night. My background in creative thinking and problem-solving taught me to "think out of the box." Still, no matter how hard I tried, my mind couldn't make a box out of unequally sized brick walls. Suddenly, it dawned on me -- at dawn, of course.
My GW couldn't be the only one to have brick walls. There must be thousands of geneaholics who have them. Imagine: thousands of brick walls just lying around taking up space that could be used to store old pictures, family forms and copies of vital records.
Each and every geneaholic probably has at least one wall that matches some other geneaholic's wall. All I have to do is collect the walls from enough genealogists and match them up. Then I could easily build something I could sell. I'd be doing something good for frustrated genealogists, give myself a new hobby and make some money in my spare time. After all, some of the uses would be eminently saleable.
For example, suppose you're having trouble falling asleep. The sheep are all lined up in your mind, but they can't go anywhere because there's nothing for them to jump over. So you contact me and I sell you a small brick wall (appropriately sized for the type of sheep you count) which you can keep in your bedroom. Now you have a handy something for the sheep to jump over while you count them and you can sleep like a baby. This immediately clears out of my back yard all the smaller brick walls and gives me enough space to sort out the rest by size.
If there is sufficient stock of suitable walls, the next larger size group will be heavily (and cleverly) advertised in one of the major magazines for runners. Long distance runners will have priority. Marathoners are always talking about running through "walls," but have to endure different walls in different locations. I propose to sell them one wall they can take everywhere they go. When they run in Boston, Los Angeles, or New York, they'll have a familiar wall to run through. Like having a little piece of home everywhere they go.
All the remaining walls will be used for interesting and/or artistic projects. There is, for example, an unfinished tower-like structure in Paris. Right now it has only structural beams and literally cries out for completion. According to my research, the French ordered cheese bricks instead of building bricks. (Probably an error in translation.) They became so enamored with the taste of the cheese bricks, they simply forgot to put common brick over all the steel beams. How French!
If this doesn't use up all the walls (or net me enough money), I will be happy to sell other walls to cover other famous unfinished structures. The first thing that comes to mind is a bridge on the West Coast. I recently learned it costs a fortune just to keep it painted to prevent rust and other deterioration. If properly covered with bricks, they won't have to keep painting it. Think of the money they'll save.
Collecting everyone's walls will be easier than it sounds. Genealogical walls, you see, have an unusual property. They arise entirely out of paper. It is the lack of certain items of paper (sometimes called documentation) which actually forms the brick wall. So you won't have to use special freight trucks to send me your wall(s). Corrugated boxes shipped by UPS will be just fine.
I have designed a computer program that will automatically give you the dimensions of all your brick walls. My brilliance shows up in the fact that this program works with any existing genealogy program you may now be using. Called the Brick Wall Program, currently untested, it will work as long as you have the next unpublished operating system. I guarantee it!
Further, and for a limited time, purchasers of the Brick Wall Program will be entitled to send me up to eight of their walls at no charge. (I'll reassemble them in my back yard.) Please call me before you send your walls, so I can arrange my leisure time to be home when the UPS driver comes.
Oh, yes. The fees: $400 for each wall sent; $10,000 for the Brick Wall Program, which is pre-licensed for you to use on up to four different computers. I look forward to hearing from you and receiving your credit card numbers.
Thank you, in advance, for your patronage and purchases.
© H. DAVID MORROW