Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sad to be leaving SCGS

Got to go. I leave Kim to finish up the printing that has been ordered. We have enjoyed SCGS and I'm sure we will be back. I scored this year--because we couldn't be away from the kids and the business for long, Kim got to drive everything down, and I got to fly. It worked. He gets to stop and spend some time with his Dad in St. George, and I get to hurry home. I'll see him tomorrow but I'll still miss him. We love working together--usually. :-). I love conferences. Can't wait for the next one.

Why I haven't been getting enough blogging done

(Generation Maps does not endorse any genealogy software. We just like to tell you how great they are.)

I was really motivated (as I'm sure you can see) by the bloggers summit. All sorts of stuff I want to do now. But I just had to take a break and go down to the beach. Ken McGinnis and Geoff Rassmussen and Kim and I went down to Venice Beach, and then up to the Santa Monica pier for dinner last night. We had a great time and tested out our new T-wing phone's camera.
My grandparents lived in Westchester most of my life, so even getting off the plane into the humidity was a sweet reminder of being spoiled every summer when we came to visit. My big Uncle Ken would take us rollerskating up and down Venice beach. It has changed alot but still brings back such sweet memories for me. And Santa Monica is in my blood. My Great-grandmother owned the Greyhound Bus depot a couple of blocks up from the pier on 5th street and our family still owns the property. Five generations of my matriarchal line have brought their daughters and granddaughters down to the pier to ride on the carousel. It was so moving to be here at the genealogy conference, surrounded my pictures of Nama and Grandma in the booth and then being down at the pier last night. So sweet.

Great to talk to Geoff and Ken. We work with the best people. It sounds like their charting order system will launch with us on Monday. We are all excited to finally get that up and running. Geoff got applause in his class yesterday when he said the ordering system was almost ready. We will be home just in time for the launch and are looking forward to it. Legacy 7 has lots of great new features, mapping, sourcewriter, and a set up wizard to help you get started. It was hilarious when Kim handed Geoff the phone backwards and he took a picture of himself accidentally. But somehow that picture got deleted on the new phone. Darn it. You can never post the really good stuff on your blog I guess.

New friends at SCGS

A few new companies I found at SCGS:

Light Impressions. I'm excited to find a new resource for Archival Supplies. Established in 1969, but not seen by me because it is a local California company apparently. I believe I had seen them before, but finally got to know them. A great resource. I'm not sure how the prices were against University Products. Alot of the same stuff. But it is always good to have another resource and I'm sure I'll find products that one has and not the other. One of my favorite items is the Filmoplast--an archival tape with a soft adhesive good for fixing tears in books. Cheaper at University Products, but good to have another catalog to learn from.

The International Society of Genetic Genealogy. A education resource for genetic genealogy. Going to have to check them out more.

Bridge to Yesterday. Two dynamic ladies that will collect your family history into an "ethical will" They do the research for you and publish a book for you to hand down through the family.

And I was excited to finally meet Randy Seaver. One of my favorite bloggers. He has great insights into the genealogy industry. It was great to meet his wife, the "Geneaholic widow" Thank you to her for allowing him to enlighten all of us. He said in the Blogger Summit yesterday, "See dear, there are others." :-)

Genealogy Blogger Summit at SCGS

I'm probably the last person to post about the Blogger Summit yesterday morning. I finally have a minute this morning to work on my blog. We have been having too much fun. But my post will be the best. I took better notes than anyone else did I'm sure :-)

If you put Steve Danko, Schelly Dardashti, Dick Eastman, Leland Meitzler, George Morgan, Randy Seaver, and Megan Smolenyak on a panel, you better give them 2 hours. Because that is a group that "have never been known for a loss for words" and even if they were, the audience would want them to keep going. For the bloggers on the panel that I have been reading but hadn't met yet, I felt like I was here in Burbank meeting movie stars. I feel like I know all about them.

Learned alot. Benefits/Drawbacks of blogging: Addictive (yeah duh), causes stress (there are so many things I want to blog about--find the time), relieves stress, and you have less time to do research because you are too addicted to blogging. (Yeah, try running a genealogy business too--worst thing you can do for your own research.) George Morgan told Schelly 2 days into starting her blog to be careful or it would take over her life. She wrote back that he was too late. I feel your pain.

Things I want to utilize more: Steven Danko uses his to connect with cousins. I'm going to do that more. Use it as a repository for my memories. Then maybe people will bring my genealogy to me?!? I think it was George that talked about someone sending him a death certificate for someone he had been looking for for years, and sitting there sobbing because it was such a miracle.

New terms: Blogalanche--a storm of hits to your blog because of a mention somewhere else. Census whacking--trolling the census looking for strange names or occupations. Haven't tried that yet. Sounds like fun.

Schelly mentioned that many people will comment privately to her about her blog, but few people want to do it publicly. Glad to hear that. I've experienced that too. Good to know I'm not the only one.

Randy said blogging was like a buffet. You pick and choose what you want, write about what grabs you. I would add--you can also easily end up stuffing yourself. A little gluttony on the blog situation can be a good thing.

I also appreciated their take on the broad nature of communication today. Blogging goes into facebook goes into newsletters goest into podcasts goes into video. They all cross pollinate and are fluid with each other. It becomes really powerful. I've seen that with our newsletters and the blog, good integration. Need to work on a facebook page. Megan really utilizes hers. I'll let you know when it is ready.

Dick was right on when he said a blog is "easy to start but difficult to keep going." My problem lately hasn't been lack of topics, but lack of time. I have a constant desire to get back to it. I'd probably have that if I was posting 25 times a day though. So I guess when you start a blog, you just have to get used to that feeling.

But the classic moment in the session was when someone passed an I phone up to the podium with a link to and she had already posted a picture of the session while it was going on. That is the power of blogs. Quick, up to date. Awesome.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Report from Southern California Genealogical Society Conference

Well we made it to sunny California.
We are listening to the Oompah music this evening in the vendors hall. We are glad to see lots of people here this time. It looks like the conference is growing. A good thing.

Karen Calisterio has been telling us about the new website they launched last weekend. She is a wiz with graphics. It looks great. They do all sorts of things, well worth a look. I love their scrapbook kits. I also have one of their charm bracelets with a picture of my kids on it. It is one of my favorites.

The SCGS group has a huge section of the vendors area and are doing book sales and also have a "tech zone" where users can come and get research help. Jay Holladay did a great job of setting up the databases that are available at the library for use here at the conference. They have done a great job of putting on a festive atmosphere. Lots of drawings. Lots of fun.

Time flies when we are having fun. About ready to close up. I'll let you know how the rest of the conference goes.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Genealogy and Serendipity web review

As promised, here is a quick overview of what I have found on the web about Serendipity in Genealogy. Again, plenty of well-respected people. list one story one story, pointers
The genealogist is left with a feeling of awe, as if his or her ancestors are helping with the search. one story Check on the right. list one story Hank Jones

I love Randy Seaver's term for it. A genea-gasm.

Henry Jones discusses in his books how he doesn't mean to discount real research practices. Good genealogy research needs to be done in a scholarly way, with real, solid, evaluated research steps. But that is the beauty of this topic. You go about it in a systematic way and every once in a while you catch an incredible break. It is really awe inspiring. To me, the serendipity shows how important family history is.

Do you know of more stories?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Genealogy and Serendipity book review

I've recently been fascinated by the serendipity in genealogy. We are in a unique position in this industry in that we have a product that is used after some genealogical work has been done, unlike software or database services that are usually purchased before or during research. Because of our unique situation, we hear lots of stories about research and genealogy adventures. I have been amazed at how many people have "coincidental" experiences working on their family history. Often people want narratives of the stories incorporated into a chart, or they just want to tell someone about it and I get to be the lucky listener. While none of these stories are mine to share, I can guarantee that Megan Smolenyak's observation "If you were to gather fifty genealogists in a room, chances are that fourty-five of them would readily admit to having experienced a few unexplainable incidents in the search for roots." (pg 1, In Search of Our Ancestors) is absolutely true.

So, I have just read Psychic Roots: Serendipity & Intuition in Genealogy, and More Psychic Roots: Further Adventures in Serendipity & Intuition in Genealogy by Henry Z. Jones Jr. and In Search of our Ancestors: 101 Inspiring Stories of Serendipity and Connection in Rediscovering Our Family History by Megan Smolenyak. Those were the only full fledged books I could find on the subject. (A list of blog entries and web pages to follow in another post.) Do you know of any more?

Henry had me from the beginning because I was raised as a big Disney fan. (He was an actor in several Disney films.) My grandparents lived in LA most of my life and we went to Disneyland every chance we got. As videos came out, not only did Grandpa have 3 copies of every movie ever released, he made sure we all had copies too. So Disney movies were in my Ancestral DNA. His stories, and even a chapter on his acting life were as good reading as the rest of the book. I particularly loved his comments about Stan Laurel. You can tell what kind of person Henry is because of his kind words about everyone in the industry.

While a few of his genealogy comments went a little farther than my comfort level allowed (relating it to being psychic or having a collective conciousness), you have to give him credit for "outing" the subject. This book would never have gotten as far without his solid reputation as a genealogist. And he sports an impressive list of well-respected genealogists as contributors to the book. I can cut him some slack for the small amount of Southern-California spirituality because he was striking out into un-charted territory. I'm so glad he did. You will enjoy the incredible stories he has to tell.

I think Megan refined the subject though in In Search of Our Ancestors. She states that they ran into so many serendipity stories while filming the TV show Ancestors that the subject couldn't be ignored. She did a wonderful job presenting them--letting them stand on their own--with very little commentary and analysis. I think in a mystical/religious/spiritual matter such as this, people have to come at it with their own set of ideals, and Megan did a wonderful job of letting the reader draw their own conclusions. My favorite chapter of all three books was her last "What Were the Odds?" The stories about overhearing a conversation at the FHL, happening to book a Bed and Breakfast that you didn't know your great great great great grandfather had built, finding a page left on a copier, having a book fall off the shelf and open to the right page, and cousins from Washington State and Germany showing up at a Key West archive at the same time are great reading. All three books abound with such stories.

I have experienced things like that too. Several times, I have been speeding through a microfilm in Salt Lake and it just happened to stop on the right page. I have opened up a book entirely in Swedish right to the right page, and had a hard time documenting the find because there was no table of contents, index or even page numbers. One particular family fell together so quickly and easily for us you couldn't say it was just coincidence. The reasons I think it happens may be different than the reasons you think are behind it, but if you haven't run into it yet, you just haven't done enough genealogy yet.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Blog post of the week.

Covering a couple of weeks:

Thought provoking/weird: (follow the wikipedia link in the comments)

Most likely to make my kids happy:

Most likely to teach you something:

Most useful:

Space conserving charts

A left to right is always smaller than a top to bottom chart. I get to explain this one all the time during family reunion season. If you think about the box on a family history chart, with the name, dates and places for a person, it is usually wider than it is tall. As much as you try to squish it, that is just the way a name is written--the way our language works--horizontally. So if you utilize the height for the greatest amount of people you will get a smaller sized chart than if you use the width for the greatest amount of people. Thus a left to right chart (be it ancestors, or descendants) is always more compact than a top to bottom chart.

The place where left to right becomes most useful is in trying to compact a descendancy chart. Most people think of your regular family reunion chart as top to bottom, starting with the ancestor at the top and working with the descendants going out beneath them. With alot of people, that can get really wide, and hard to hang at a family reunion. When people are trying to save space, we can print the chart left to right and then they can turn it 90 degrees and still hang it with the ancestor at the top and the descendants going out to the bottom. You'll just have to tilt your head to read the writing. As long as you don't mind that, you'll usually save about two-thirds of the space.

A circle chart is also always most space conserving. Each box gets smaller as you move out to the last generations so you usually can't fit dates or places in and you usually use a smaller font in the outside rings. I can get 12 or 13 generations in a 42x42 circle chart, when a well filled out left to right pedigree chart can be 40 feet or so.

No matter what the style, or what the size, we can do it for you at Generation Maps.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Like everyone, there are many things that make me unique. Many of these come from my Dad.

  • I like watching and going to College Football games.
  • I like mayonaise on broccoli or spinach, and tomato soup with popcorn in it.
  • I like swing dancing to 50's music.
  • I like to work hard.
  • I like fresh vegetables straight from the garden.
  • I like singing harmony.
  • I love a good dumb joke.
  • I like a good party or just hanging out and having fun.
  • I can ask if everyone is ok before I ask how bad the condition of the car is.
  • I have an affinity for being called "Princess."

I also:

  • Have bad knees.
  • Enjoy traveling to work and learn something (not usually to relax.)
  • Can figure out how to fix about anything, but sometimes get myself into trouble.
  • Barbeque chicken that is black on the outside and raw on the inside (He has gotten better at that but I haven't.)

My Dad taught me to expect alot from myself. Especially in scholarship. It was never a matter of if I was going to college, but how many degrees I would get. I'm glad I have absorbed his confidence to write and teach and study hard and continue to learn.

He is the man we all go to when we need some powerful persuasion. He can talk someone down in price, talk his way out of a traffic ticket, and get a better business deal.

My Dad taught me to look and act professionally and has always held positions of leadership and service in our church and community. He taught me to leave the world a better place than where I found it.

Even though my Dad excelled in his career, he taught me to keep my priorities straight. His family has been most important. It means the world to me that he has been proud when I've made career choices that would strengthen my family.

My Dad has been a wonderful example of dedication to your parents. Not only was he a devoted son and took wonderful care of my Grandmother in the years after my Grandfather died, but he was an incredible son-in-law. He helped his in-laws for 30 years while my Grandmother was in a wheelchair, traveling back and forth to California, and then when they moved closer. In my Maternal grandfather's last years, Dad and Mom took exquisite care of him, supporting him every way they knew how.

My Dad has taught me to be honest and faithful to your promises. When I was a little girl, Mom once told me that even though they had troubles once in a while, I never had to worry about them being divorced, and I never doubted her. I went to my Dad even just this weekend to ask his opinion on the "right" thing to do.

Dad has been a wonderful support to Kim and I the last couple of years in starting this business. He retired just in time to help us and shore up taking care of our home and kids while we have been working. Generation Maps wouldn't be where it is today without his background support. And I think our relationship has grown even stronger. I am so thankful that he continues to take care of his daughter.

It hasn't been easy being the father of 5 daughters. My Dad has accomplished it with grace and has made it look easy.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Blog post of the week.

This week I have a couple of posts for you.

The first one I was intrigued with was a post by the Ancestry Insider. He compares genealogists to the ancient Shaman. (BTW--I learned the identity of the Ancestry Insider today, and he was right, I know the blogger but I didn't know the person. His blogging identity has outstripped his person. Sorry. Hopefully someday I will be able to get to know the person.)

I enjoyed Randy Seaver's "book report" on the novel he was reading about genealogy. Last week, for an escape, I re-read Davita's Harp by Chaim Potok and loved the way he wrote about coming to terms with your heritage. Our heritage is such a part of us, even when we try to run away from it. While I wouldn't recommend the book to everyone, I am enthralled with Jewish history and heritage so I really enjoyed it.
We also just bought National Treasure II and the kids have watched it several times recently. The whole premise of this movie is the hero's quest to clear the name of his ancestor. I love how well versed he is in his family's history.
But my favorite movie involving some family history is Disney's Mulan. Good strong female heroine. Handsome hero. Nice love story. Honor to her ancestors.
Yesterday I started _Honoring our Ancestors_ by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak. And I just bought In _Search Of Our Ancestors_ by her. I'll let you know how they go.

And then I have to mention Dick Eastman's follow up to the blog post I mentioned last week. Apparently I wasn't the only one to notice. He said this has accumulated 4 times the number of comments to any other post in his 12 years. He struck a nerve. The bottom line that I saw in this post: Competition for the big database sites will be good.