Sunday, November 30, 2008

Catching up...Mesa

What a great time I had in Mesa! I don't even know where to start!

Family History Expos (.com) always deliver a fantastic event. Mesa was no exception. Course it didn't hurt that the weather was FABULOUS and I have a soft spot for Mesa anyway. I LOVE the desert, and the extra vitamin D being absorbed straight from the sun is always a good thing, but especially when homebase has already seen snow this season.

Everyone was so excited to hear of Kimberly's upcoming arrival. DearMyrtle made a beautiful baby quilt for everyone to help tie.

After the St. George conference in Feb, I received an e-mail from Generation Maps informing me that I had won a gift certificate in their booth drawing. Since I had just gotten engaged, I decided it was the perfect chance to illustrate the ancestry that Steven and I brought together. Since it took me a while, and several ideas, to finally come up with the exact thing I wanted, I know I had to have pushed the patience of the Chart Chick herself, Janet Horvaka, but she never let it show. She was wonderful to work with! When they were finally put together, and ready to ship, it was discovered that she lived just around the corner from my parents, and in-laws. Who knew? We displayed the charts at the wedding party, and they seemed to be the main attraction. Janet and I hooked up on Facebook, but other than the electronic communication, we were yet to meet face to face. That changed at Mesa. I always love it when you live that close to someone and have to travel hundreds of miles to actually meet with them!

Speaking of meeting up with Facebook friends...I also met up with Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems. But the best meet-up of all was outside of the conference, when my 'old' friend Tammakins and I hooked up for the first time in over 10 years. AND she brought along a mutual friend, Cori, whom I hadn't seen since Jr. High. I got to meet their special someones and relish in old memories, as well as make some new ones. And no trip to the Mesa/Phoenix area would be complete without some Sheri time. She went out of her way to transport JP and I to and from the airport so she and I could get some time together. We also went out to dinner together. I discovered Bajio's. I'm not a big fan of Mexican food but it was really good. I especially liked the sweet rice. Good Stuff.

Back to the conference! There are always so many wonderful classes its hard to decide which one to attend each hour. Seeing what's new in the software arena is always good. Of course everyone is trying to integrate with NewFamilySearch. It was great to see the strides that are being made. The only problem was, I kept forgetting where I was, and found myself applauding in ASL, much to the confusion and I believe, even concern, of those around me. ;)

Barry Ewell offered some great insights as he showed us what we could learn by following the example of Sherlock Holmes. The people of are always gracious and helpful, and despite technical difficulties, Kathy Meade gave a great presentation on Swedish online research. I don't spend nearly enough time on my Swedish ancestors. I need to change that, soon, hopefully. But first I need to focus on my Scottish lines a bit longer, they seem to be the ones haunting me lately.

I could go on and on, but I'll save it and just put in a plug for the syllabus, found at :)

I could spend my whole 'allowance' at the conferences, if I had any 'allowance' ;) There were plenty of new faces this time, and some old favorites. I always love The Genealogy Shelf, but their on-line store isn't nearly as fun as browsing in person at the conferences. I seemed to hang out a lot at The Family History Store, they had some beautiful "do-it-yourself" charts, and while I'm not a big scrapbooker, I couldn't help but appreciate their scrapbooking supplies, not to mention their clipart collections. Ancestry has a new book which I had read about in their magazine on the plane down there, interestingly enough, Finding Granddad's War is the story of a man who decided to learn more about his grandfather's experiences in WWII by tracking down his grandfather's old war buddies. Something that is especially dear to my heart right now as my own grandfather's health is so poor and I've begun to realize just how little I know the man who has had so much influence on my life. It's one of many books from the conference that are definitely on my Christmas wishlist. And Rootstams (FHE) had a new shirt that if Grandpa wore t-shirts I would have gotten for him. "Plaid to the Bone" yeah, I know, but I like corny like that.

Two newcomers really caught my eye: Genlighten and A friend of mine and I have talked for a while about doing something just like these sites have done, so I was glad to see they saved us the trouble. Simply put, they are trying to hook up those with research abilities with those who need the help, and vice versa. Check them out.

LDSJournal was also in attendance. They are still in beta, but I know I'm thinking of signing up ;)

But probably the most 'educational' of all had nothing to do with Family History. I noticed one of vendors had an interesting device attached behind her ear. It was very similar to a cochlear but it was square instead of round, and it lacked the cord of a cochlear. So finally, as she was closing up shop, I decided to be intrusive and inquire about it. Her name was Kathryn (Rhinehart) Bassett, and I learned the device was a BAHA, or a Bone Anchored Hearing Application. She was kind enough to give her card, complete with website, where I could find out more. I can't explain my fascination with such things. But even though I've never majored in ASL, deaf culture, or communicative disorders, you would be surprised how many of my school papers I've been able to on cochlear implants. (always starting from scratch, never using the same research, or in other words, not 'recycling' previous papers.) Now I have a new topic ;).

The cochlear attaches via a magnet, whereas the BAHA "snaps" on. Cochlears work by artificially stimulating the auditory nerves. I'm yet to actually make sense of most the information I've found on-line for the BAHA (medicalese--yeesh! I'll pull out a medical dictionary soon ;) ) but from what Mrs. Bassett was telling me, the BAHA works when there are no nerves to stimulate.

As for my presentation...let's just say I was extremely frustrated with myself. I'd planned for every possible thing that could go wrong...almost everything. Most of my back-up plans revolved around receiving some packages I had sent to myself c/o of the hotel, all of which contained discs of PRF. I knew before I left that I should have grabbed a couple more to take with me on the plane, but I put my trust in the postal system. Wasn't that a stupid thing to do! The packages never arrived. It all worked out alright. My class was the last hour of the conference, many were heading out already. My class was small, which made it much easier to cover the areas the attendees were interested in, which was especially good since most the attendees were experienced with PRF. Unfortunately, all I had were the screen shots in my presentation so I couldn't deviate as far as I would have liked for them, but we live and learn.

I was actually amazed at how many people asked me about the software outside of the class. So lesson 2 from the conference: Don't share so much outside out of class ;)

Nah, I would never turn down an opportunity to share information.

In other notes from the trip: I decided to get some fresh air (and an extra dose of the aforementioned vitamin D) during lunch the first day. I absolutely fell in love with downtown Mesa. I realize that not all Mesa has been fixed up quite that well, but walking through downtown, down Main Street, it was just heaven. The wide streets were so incredibly clean, and all the boutiques along the way, with the old fashioned, small-town feel. Fantastic!

The trip: I flew. First time on Delta. Going down it was a good flight. I'm used to going SouthWest so the tvs were cool, though I couldn't see them. But it wasn't that much better. Especially when I asked for Apple Juice and they didn't have any! How lame is that? Oh, but its okay, they offered me Bloody Mary Mix instead. Now if I ask for apple juice, sweet, innocent, 'clear liquid' almost bland apple juice, in what world would I want spiced up, acidic, thick, tomato juice? And then the one attendant got all sarcastic with this kid because she asked him what they called male stewardesses. And they haven't called them 'stewardesses' for 30 years...and blah blah blah.

But hey, in the row behind me were two working dogs (and their masters of course). A couple of high country search dogs. So that was cool. But really people, when you meet a working dog, even though they have to be good around people and are friendly, ask their handlers for permission before approaching! While they weren't officially 'working' on the flight obviously, I can't count the times I heard their handler give them a command such as sit/stay and immediately thereafter someone decided they needed to call the dog over to pet it, tempting it to ignore their handler's command. They are highly trained, but they have limits...their ability to obey commands can at times, save their life, or the life of the handler.

Coming back, the flight was on a Delta affiliate. I believe they are called "puddle-jumpers" that too was a new experience. The flight was pretty much the same, but definitely less 'personal-space' and when I got off the plane, it took me a good 5 minutes before I started recognizing anything as being the same airport I'm used to flying in and out of ;)

But the important thing was, it got me home. I've always enjoyed traveling, but I must say, as much fun as I had in Mesa and as wonderful as everything was down there, I don't think I have ever been so homesick in my life. Unless of course it was the weekend before, when Steven went to Washington and I was left behind. Now I know what all those sappy romantics are saying when they say that their home is wherever their loved one is. So now the idea is to take him with me ;)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I walked through a county courthouse square
On a park bench, an old man was sittin there.
I said, "Your court house is kinda run down,
He said, "No, it will do for our little town".

I said "your old flag pole kinda leaned a little bit,
And that’s a ragged old flag you got hanging on it".
He said "have a seat", so I sat down,
He said, "is this your first time you been to our little town"
I said, "I think it is"
He said "I don’t like to brag, but we’re kinda proud of
"That Ragged Old Flag"

"You see, we got a little hole in that flag there,
When Washington took it across the Delaware.
It got powder burned the night Francis Scott Key sat watching it,
writing "Oh Say Can You See"

It got a bad rip in New Orleans, with Packingham & Jackson tugging at its seams.
It almost fell at the Alamo beside the Texas flag,
But she waved on tho.
It got cut with a sword in Chancellorsville,
Got cut again at Shiloh Hill.
There was Robert E. Lee and Beauregard and Bragg,
And the south wind blew hard on
"That Ragged Old Flag"

On Flanders Field in World War I,
She took a big hole from a Bertha Gun,
She turned blood red in World War II
She hung limp and low a time or two.
She was in Korea, Vietnam, She went where she was sent by her Uncle Sam.

She waved from our ships upon the briny foam,
And now they've about quit waving her back here at home.
And here in her own good land,
She’s been abused, burned, dishonored, denied and refused,
And the very government for which she stands
Has been scandalized throughout out the land.
And she’s getting thread bare, and she’s wearing thin,
But she’s in pretty good shape, for the shape she’s in.
Cause she’s been through the fire before
and I know, she can take a whole lot more.

So we raise her up every morning
And we bring her down every night,
We don’t let her touch the ground,
And we fold her up right.
On second thought
I do like to brag
Cause I’m mighty proud of
"That Ragged Old Flag"
--John R. Cash,

The first time I heard this poem, I was sitting in a Sacrament Meeting, in July if memory serves me correctly. I couldn't have been older than about 10. But even then, it filled me with a sense of pride, and I absolutely fell in love with it.

So today I dedicate it to the Veterans past and present who have lived and died to protect our Grand Old Flag and all it represents.

And I send a special salute to my Grandfathers. To Grandpa George H. Taylor, 1918-1988, whose homeland injury prevented him from serving abroad for the land he loved, and filled him with regret all his days, but who instilled in his children and grandchildren the love and respect for this great Nation. And to Grandpa R. Doyle Shields, 1924-, who risked it all and saw the horrors of war from the front lines during the Battle of the Bulge, among other battles.

Thank you for your service.


I head out for the Mesa Family History Expo in roughly 48 hours!!!! And just in the nick of time, The podcast is up! My interview with the infamous Dear Myrtle. (ok, infamous in the genealogy world for all you non-genealogy people).

I got the link for it this morning. I've been so anxious for it to be released, but now I find myself too nervous to listen to myself. Check it out ya'all.

You'll want to click on the little graphic that says "pod" in the upper left of the title. NOT the little radio dial looking thing on the right. That one plays the "current" pod. The one on the left will play my pod.

Oh yeah, and while you're there, you might want to check out some of the other podcasts too. They're even better cause they don't have me in them ;)