Thursday, July 2, 2009

Weekend Escape- SCGS Jamboree 2009

Copyright 2009, The Hopelessly Hooked Genealogist (B. Harrison)

This Blog is written primarily as my own personal diary of my progress in furthering an interest in genealogy and compiling my family tree. I don't write entries every day, and don't necessarily write for the reading enjoyment of others. I do hope to pick up some readers along the way, especially family members. So far only one close relative has shown even a remote interest in genealogy, my cousin JoAnn who lives in Texas. So, I am still the Lone Ranger, and have thus bestowed myself with the title of Family Historian. For my family, I am the historian. My hope is that one of the grand-children or future great-grandchildren in the family will one day become infected with the genealogy bug, and will be glad to have all of the information that I have compiled.

Last weekend, I attended the Southern California Genealogical Society's big JAMBOREE in Burbank, CA...a 3 day fun event. I flew out to SoCal from Phoenix on Thursday evening, and enjoyed a 4 day stay at the Burbank Airport Marriott, where the conference was being held. The adjacent Convention Center was filled with genealogy vendor exhibits of all sorts, selling useful products and services to aid everyone in researching their family trees. There were also representatives there from many of the major American Patriotic Societies, including Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), Colonial Dames, Daughters of Union Veterans, and many others. I stopped by their booths and signed up as an "interested prospective member"; since this is the year that I do intend to finally follow-through with that long held goal of honoring my ancestors through participation in the relevant patriotic societies based on my lineage. I was already working on my DAR membership documentation, and hope to get that one completed this summer. While at Jamboree, I took my USB flash drive to one vendor to have a nice 10-generation wall chart printed of my family tree, larger and nicer than I could have done myself on my home printer.

The Jamboree included seminars and workshops given by leaders in the Genealogy realm. The esteemed and highly educated and respected speakers were very knowledgable, and entertaining as well as enlightening. We learned all sorts of things, from the best online research sites; to how to organize a research project; to how to best digitize photos and documents to include in a family book; to overviews of the latest updates in all of the major genealogy repositories, research sites, online tools, and family tree software.

We also had a lot of fun. There were lunches, dinners, and banquets. There was the Marriott itself, a recently remodeled luxury hotel with great food and great room service. Not being an early riser myself, most mornings I enjoyed the luxury of having my pre-ordered breakfast delivered to my room at my designated time. I enjoy nothing more on a mini-vacation than awakening to a hot pot of coffee and a nice breakfast delivered to my room, to savor at my lesiure while beginning my preparations for the day ahead. I usually skipped lunch in favor of a refreshing nap in my room between the morning and afternoon seminars, or used that time to browse the vendor booths. Evenings were my time for a bit of socializing at the dinners and banquets (where we networked and met new friends, and were enlightened and entertained over dinner by selected speakers). Following dinner, I usually retreated to my room to peruse my shopping acquisitions of the day (various genealogy books, booklets, pamphlets, and CD's); and to of course check my email and Facebook postings.

Last but not least, I usually checked in on my Facebook "farm" on "Farmtown" before going to bed, and made sure my farmtown neighbors were not neglecting to water my flowers and pull my weeds in the fun virtual farming community we "live" in. I tried to send out my daily "farm gifts" as well, lest my farmtown neighbors neglect to send me any. Farmtown is just one of the many little game diversions to be found on Facebook, and those of us who spend a lot of time on the web and doing online research need those small diversions of social communicating with other Facebook friends that these games provide. I tend to the farms of my Facebook Farmtown neighbors, and they tend to mine. My Farm has grown quite large; I am currently a Level 26 Farmer and just acquired the Big White Farmhouse, of which I am very proud. However, I am still an ambitious farmer and have a ways to go yet...I am jealous of some of my neighbors with bigger and fancier farms. I want the meandering river with bridges, and gazebos and greenhouses, that I see on their farms! Must keep harvesting those crops to get more coins and get rich enough to acquire those items! In short, I am a Farmtown Addict!! All of this time and effort spent on "farming" does detract from the amount of time I could be spending on genealogy, of course. However, it also provides breaks and a fun diversion, which helps to stimulate those groggy brain cells after hours of staring at old census records online. One of my favorite excuses for avoiding drudgery is: "I can't clean the house right now, I have to harvest my Farmtown crops!". In fact, as I write this blog entry....my crops are calling, need to go hire a crew to harvest soon!

In summary, I really enjoyed going to the SCGS Jamboree, and have greatly enjoyed discovering Facebook and that online genealogy community as well. In fact, Facebook is how I discovered the Jamboree to begin with. I just got on Facebook a little over a month ago, and have connected with almost 100 new genealogy friends in that time. Facebook also enabled me to re-connect with a few old highschool friends. It keeps me in the loop with relatives; since no one really wants to email or snail mail anymore these days...everyone is on Facebook! I originally joined Facebook to check up on a wayward college student daughter who is off at college in another city; however that quickly fell by the wayside as I focused on genealogy networking. I can honestly say that Facebook is to be credited with re-igniting my interest in genealogy that had been dormant for years. It also got me hooked on playing Farmtown, but there are worse habits to be afflicted with.

Genealogists are a quirky bunch. Some people have hobbies such as collecting coins, or building model airplanes, or quilting, or singing karaoke, or playing video games. Many of us have those hobbies too. However, a genealogist's favorite pastime and form of "fun" is finding long-lost ancestors in census records, discovering a Revolutionary War Patriot ancestor for the first time, or finding a photo of the cemetary headstone of a great-great-great-grandparent. Only a genealogist would understand the "happy dance" that ensues, following one of those discoveries.

The following quote from Family Tree Magazine, written by Allison Stacy (Publisher/ Editorial Director) describes it best: "You can tell someone's a genealogist if the person engages in certain behaviors- spending weekends at the library, for instance, or visiting cemeteries with a surprising amount of enthusiam. I showed my true colors after the sudden collapse of Cologne, Germany's city archive: Whereas the average person would see the desrtruction and say ' What a disaster! ' or, ' Wow, I hope no one got hurt ', my initial reaction was to ask, ' Gee, I wonder how many of those records are on microfilm' ".

In closing, I would like to take the liberty of sharing a link to the Blog postings of Elizabeth O'Neal, below, as shared by Randy Seaver on Facebook. Elizabeth funnily describes the Jamboree experience with affectionate humor as "JamStock 09", saying it so much better than I can. Vist Elizabeth's genealogy blog at www.littlebytesoflife.com to read about the following:



"* JAMSTOCK '09: What REALLY Happened at the Geneablogger Dinner

* JAMSTOCK '09: Son of Blogger Jamfest Rocks the Marriott

* JAMSTOCK '09: BREAKING NEWS

* JAMSTOCK '09: Genealogists Stage Sit-In

* JAMSTOCK '09: Let the Love Begin! "


I intend to become a follower of Elizabeth's humorous blog now, too! Genealogy can be such a serious business, it is refreshing to read a humorous take on the collective community of all of us Hopelessly Hooked Genealogists.