The Gecko in the Printer

Last night I sat down at the computer after watching some Olympics and a very interestingly colored gecko walked out of my printer to glare at me.  He turned around and walked back into his cavern and disappeared in the mechanism until I turned on the printer and started to use it.  He wandered out, I printed two pages and my friend moved back into “his” home.

Now, the reason for writing you is to let you know that if you share any part of my Sandin blood, you are suffering from “pedigree collapse”.

In my Christmas 2001 musings I tried to warn you – explaining the difference in numbers between a “perfect” family tree and our “less than perfect” tree.  But then, according to a poll done by an independent sampling agency, only one out of every 20 recipients of my Christmas 2001 musings even know who Pono is, let alone read the letter.

Also, on the Sandin family website, I explain how my great great grandfather Jan Jansson married twice and fathered two of my great grandmothers (my farfar and my farmor [Swedish terminology for ancestry is so much easier and more descriptive] were HALF-first-cousins).  The same sampling agency mentioned above indicates that is visited by an average of 85 unique addresses per week, but careful analysis shows that they are almost all web crawlers (robots that are used to keep Google and its ilk up to date), and they couldn’t care less about pedigree collapse.

But that isn’t all.  I now find that Harald Bengtsson and Kerstin Larsdotter begat my 6th great grandfather Anders Haraldsson AND my 7th great grandmother Kerstin Haraldsdotter.  That makes Harald and Kerstin 7th great AND 8th great grandparents!  They each occupy two positions on my family tree in two different generations.

6th 7th 8th
                 / Harald
Anders   á
                 \ Kerstin L.
                    / Harald
etc. Kerstin H. á
                    \ Kerstin L.

In another complex little web, Hindrik Werre migrated from Finland to Sweden with his two sons Per Hindersson and Pål Hindersson in the early 1600s.  Per begat Hindrik Persson, my 8th great grandfather.  Pål begat Per Pålsson, my 7th great, who in turn begat Hindrik Persson AND Mats Persson, two 6th greats!  SO, Per Hindersson is my 9th great, brother Pål Hindersson is my 8th great, and father Hindrik Werre is a 9th and 10th great grandfather.

6th 7th 8th 9th 10th
etc. etc. Hindrik   Per H. Hindrik W.
                 / Per Pål Hindrik W.
Hindrik   á
                 \ Brita       
                / Per Pål Hindrik W.
Mats      á
                \ Brita

As you can see, Hindrik Werre occupies three positions on a perfect tree in two different generations.  Pål Hindersson, Per Pålsson, and Brita all occupy two positions.  HOWEVER, all of these folks are in Jan Jansson's ancestry, so his parenting prowess makes Hindrik Werre occupy SIX slots and the others mentioned occupy FOUR!

In all fairness, of course, parenting has nothing to do with it.  It all boils down to cousins marrying cousins.

Now this isn’t all bad.  If I had a perfect family tree back through something like 25 or 30 generations, I would have more direct ancestors at that early time than there were people on the earth.  And of course, that ain’t likely.  Even at Hindrik Werre's level (my 10th great) there would be 4,096 persons on a perfect tree.

So anyway, our family tree isn’t perfect.  Each time one person occupies more than one slot on the pyramid we suffer from “pedigree collapse”.  The Swedes call it “anförlust”.  I think of it as the gecko in the printer.

Check out these websites if this hasn’t bored you enough.