If I had skipped the homework discussions, I would have missed the best part of Tom Jones's class on Advanced Methodology. More than anything else they gave me a new and different sense of what should be going on when you tackle a hard case -- or, in one of his favorite metaphors, how you try fitting the various pieces together and then try another way, and compare.
My own favorite metaphor is not as unfailingly cordial as his. Every now and then I felt like the winner of a Midwestern state-fair pie-eating contest who had dropped in on a high-level wine-and-cheese tasting session. Others were discussing the subtle relative flavors of two vintages of wine (and whatever it is that cheeses have), while I was asking, "How do you spell 'cheese' again?"
OK, it's not really that bad, but if you've read this far you know there is another realm of genealogy out there. For me, that realm is more easily discerned by trying to solve a hard case, and then discussing it with others who also tried exactly how you attack that case (which was how the "homework" was done). Reading hard cases in final form in the NGSQ or comparable publications is fine, but it doesn't change my naturally lazy disposition as much as that kind of discussion. Must be one of those learning style things they talk about.
As for the Friday banquet, suffice to say that I am not a banquet person. But the experience was totally redeemed by Debbie Mieszala's inspired storytelling. I won't give it away. Just take my word for it, if you have a choice about attending a banquet where she is the speaker, don't dither about it, just GO.
And now the week is over. What's up with that? How can the buzzing second floor of the Radisson revert to just another hotel corridor? How will I manage without being surrounded by enthusiastic genealogists? Will I remember to take off my name tag before the plane lands at Midway?
Or should I just go on wearing it until January 2012?