All posts by Banai Lynn Feldstein

IAJGS 2017

I intended to blog a few times during the week, but here I am, back home from the conference.

As usual, I didn’t really make it to very many presentations this year. I went to my own, the two major keynotes, several meetings, a couple films, and I popped into a couple sessions briefly.

I think my lectures went well. The crowd was a reasonable size for my presentation about CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing, which was immediately followed by the IAJGS Management Series session where I spoke about the same thing along with Daniel Horowitz and Shipley Munson who both spoke about indexing. My presentation on Search as an Art went well, though it had a smaller crowd than the previous two years.

The keynotes were excellent. I missed the mid-week one, which I was told wasn’t so great anyway. It was on Live!, so I can watch that later if I want. (It’s good to be the IAJGS webmaster.)

Avrami Groll did about a day of history presentations. I caught most of the one he did last year where he told a folklore story that I wanted to hear again. I amazingly happened into his session this year just before he told it again.

I had a few films in my schedule this year, which I haven’t paid much attention to for years. I ended up seeing two of about four or five I had marked, so that was good.

A late night visit to the Resource Room (which wasn’t even locked that night, whoops) revealed a gravestone for someone I’d been searching for. I need to follow up to verify it’s the right person, but I’m pretty sure it is.

Tuesday was my birthday and I got lots of birthday wishes throughout the day. A group of us headed to EPCOT that evening and that was a blast.

After the conference, I hung out with my best friend from college. He brought me to karaoke the first evening and an escape room the next day before dropping me at the airport. What a great ending to the week!

I owe photos to people so here are some of the best ones. Plus a few bonus ones from Facebook.

I had fun.

I’m Still Here

Did you miss me? Holy cow, have I been busy.

A woman approached me rather oddly a month or more ago at the Family History Library. She returned a couple times and finally figured out she recognized me from my blog, and mentioned she liked reading it.

“Thank you. I haven’t written in a while.”

But that was OK with her.

I wanted to write just after that, and yet I didn’t. One of the difficulties I have with this blog is that I often write posts that take a long time, like the Nitpicker’s Guides to WDYTYA, but I feel guilty spending so much time writing on my blog when I’m behind on my client work, most especially writing their reports. I haven’t been behind for a bit, but I’ve been busy helping the IAJGS Conference.

That’s right, they pulled me in again.

So tonight is my flight to that conference. I’m just taking a random few minutes in the middle of packing and last minute prep to write a quick note to my readers. I’m sure I have some left. You wouldn’t have deleted me from your feed if I disappeared from it. :-)

And, as always when this happens, I will try to write more. I have a conference next week, so that should give me something to write about. Maybe some short bits. Those are easier to write and publish anyway.

OK, back to the prep work. My main computer is a desktop, so there are things I can’t do once I leave. See some of you in Orlando.

RootsTech 2017 Wrap-Up

I have attended every RootsTech conference. For the past couple years, I’ve mostly spent my time in the Expo Hall at the IAJGS booth. This year’s RootsTech experience was quite different for me than all other years.

This year, I was a semifinalist in the Innovator Showdown for CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing.

I spent much of Tuesday in Provo at BYU for the Family History Technology Workshop. It was my first time attending that one-day workshop and I spoke about CSI. That evening was the RootsTech Media Dinner. I’d never been invited before. The semifinalists were set up around the room to demonstrate our entries, but I didn’t feel like a lot of people were interested in that. We had some showdown rehearsal time afterwards.

The next morning, we started at 7am. I was joking about being up at the crack of dawn, but it was actually before dawn. And just for fun, I ended up on the red train and got my morning exercise, running around in the dark to get to the convention center. We received a schedule that morning which filled the entire day.

The semifinalist showdown was at noon. While it seemed like they were hyping it up to make us more nervous, I was only worried about going over my two minute time limit. I put my entire script right into the Powerpoint and just read it. If I started improvising, I always went well over the time. When I finished, I finally looked down at the clock and it was at 0:00. I have no idea how long I may have gone over, but judging by my practice runs, it was probably only seconds at most.

The finalists were to be officially announced at the party that night, but we had a secret meeting at 2:30. Where I previously had the entire afternoon full, I was suddenly free, as I was not chosen as a finalist. It was good that I had another booth to help with to get me out of the convention center; I only had to deal with a couple people who asked me what was next for the showdown, when I knew it was already over for me.

I spent the next three days at my table in the Innovator’s Alley talking about CSI. I had a lot of comments from people saying I should have been in the finals. I agreed with them. :-) Many asked about the program and if it could do certain things. I already had a lot in mind to add to the program and they gave me so many more ideas.

I went to the showdown finals but just long enough to vote for the People’s Choice. I heard who won a little later. I think it says something when the People’s Choice did not win any other prize. The people and the judges were not judging by the same rules. The questions from most of the judges were about business structures and money, and some really basic things about the genealogy industry that they didn’t understand, but the contest is called Innovator’s Showdown. I think FamilySearch needs more genealogists among the judges and fewer random entrepreneurs who know nothing about what is innovative in genealogy.

I enjoyed the evening events, the Wednesday night party, the Thursday night music event at the Conference Center, the MyHeritage party Friday night, and the blogger dinner hosted by DearMyrtle to finish off the week on Saturday.

All in all, even though I didn’t win, it was a good experience. I got some good exposure for CSI and a lot of people are interested in using it. That said, I have a lot of programming to do.

Introducing CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing

CSIL Crowd Sourced IndexingI’d like to introduce my readers to, well, part of the reason I haven’t been blogging much for the past couple of months. I’ve been programming instead. In fact, this was also my NaNoWriMo project, where I rebelled.

CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing is written for genealogy societies, special interest groups, and other smaller research groups to manage their indexing projects.

It’s great for indexers because anyone can sign up to index and log in any time they feel like indexing. It puts the record image and the fields for indexing in the same window and it’s a pleasure to not have to juggle the image and Excel to get that done. There’s no sending or downloading of images from the project administrator or waiting for the next batch when you’ve completed the last one. Everything is on the web site waiting for the indexers. When they finish an image, they can do the next one. Tired of the project? Try another project instead.

CSI: Crowd Sourced IndexingBut CSI is especially built for project management. The project administrator can set up a project by providing basic information, uploading the files to be indexed, choosing the fields to be indexed, and then they can invite members of their society or group to index. CSI takes care of most of the administrative work of running the project from that point on. Just as the indexers don’t have to wait for new batches, the admin doesn’t have to send them out, track who has which images, keep track of which are yet to be indexed and which are completed, or determine when to give up on an indexer and send the same images to another indexer. Just keeping up with the indexers is most of the work.

CSI is written in UTF-8 so it’s compatible with every language. Right now, there are several projects going on in Hebrew, thanks to my collaborator bringing projects from IGRA. And the entire site is translatable (the code is in place, translations are coming soon).

And to top it off, I submitted CSI to the 2017 RootsTech Innovator Showdown and I have been named a semifinalist! There were 41 entries and only 10 are semifinalists, so I’m honored to be among them.

RootsTech Innovator Showdown 2017

Would you like to try it out? Visit http://csi.idogenealogy.com/ to sign up and index a little. The easiest project is the NYC Staten Island Marriage Index, downloaded from the Internet Archive, provided by Reclaim the Records. The images are easy to read and generally don’t have too many records per page. Similarly the Queens Marriage Index is available, but that one is a little harder to read the handwriting and the pages are generally longer, some with 100 names. For these particular indexes, when they’re complete, they’ll be made available just like the images.

You can read more about CSI on Devpost where the official entry took place, along with watching my commercial. (Check out those older screenshots. It has already changed a little.)

So give it a try because indexing with CSI is fun and easy.

I’m programming more for CSI every day, so there are more features still to come. Let me know what you think of CSI. And don’t forget to vote for me for the People’s Choice award during the Innovator’s Showdown.

The URL of this post is: http://idogenealogy.com/2016/12/16/introducing-csi-crowd-sourced-indexing/.

Dealing with DNA Results

I don’t think I’ve written anything here about DNA testing, so I think it’s time to start. A history first, then my brand new odd find.

I got started with DNA testing on Facebook. FamilyTreeDNA had a contest for a free mtDNA test, which I won! It was the cheapest mtDNA test, I matched every Jewish genealogist that had tested, and it didn’t give a complete haplogroup result. All it told me was: K. So apparently, I’m kosher. ;-)

But it was my start.

I eventually ran the Autosomal test. I was both intrigued and frustrated by the results. I had so many pages of matches, none very close, and I had no way to connect to them genealogically. I couldn’t even know which side of my family to try to search to find a connection. They were from all over Europe.

One rule of DNA testing is to test the oldest people in the family. I convinced my mom to do the test. A test was sent to her and I got results. After a long while, I finally uploaded both of our results into GEDmatch.com. I found a second cousin listed, who had mentioned testing at 23andMe.

A few months before that, I had found a lost branch of our family through research. I soon came across an email from another cousin asking about her matches on 23andMe, where she matched that second cousin and another person. She sent me what that person wrote, but I originally didn’t know who it was.  Reviewing that email a year after it was sent, I knew exactly who she was! And there she was on GEDmatch, along with her father, right at the top of my results.

And that was my first DNA match that brought me to a cousin. Just after that connection, that cousin matched another cousin, closer to her but in that same previous lost branch of the family, who had also tested on 23andMe.

The moral here is, put your DNA results on GEDmatch. Everyone. Now. Your cousins tested on another site.

At the time that I convinced my mom to test, my dad didn’t want to. However, forward a few years and I bought a test for him when it was on sale, and when my parents visited me during a layover, I handed him the test kit and he sent it in.

I’ve been getting a lot of distant cousin matches on FamilyTreeDNA, as expected. Just tonight, I finally uploaded his data to GEDmatch. Their new fast upload worked so fast. In the past, mine took days and my mother’s took weeks (because they had some kind of problem at that time). I can’t run a one-to-many match on him yet, but I can look at my matches on his DNA.

GEDmatch has a feature to separate my DNA by parents, since I had tested one, so I have a code to match just my dad’s side. That’s only half of his DNA, but it’s something. I’m using that until his results are ready. I’ve looked up a few matches, but no one is anywhere very close yet.

And that’s where I am now. With a strange result.Dad and his match

This is the chromosome browser result for this particular match. I use GEDmatch’s 7 centimorgan default lower limit and I found this person, who was given an MRCA (most recent common ancestor) score of 4.0. (So a fourth cousin? Or a fifth cousin? I forget now.) This one chromosome is the only match they share that is more than 7 centimorgans, but that bigger chunk is 41.8 centimorgans. That’s a significant match.

How does someone match one large significant stretch of DNA but nowhere else? What does this even mean?

The URL of this post is: http://idogenealogy.com/2016/11/23/dealing-with-dna/

NaNoWriMo 2016

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_municipalliaisonIt’s that time of year again, National Novel Writing Month. We just had our Launch Party for Salt Lake County. This is my tenth year as Municipal Liaison for the region, and my fourteenth year of participation.

No, I haven’t written fourteen novels. One year, I tried to rewrite one from a previous year because I finally came up with an ending so I had somewhere to take it instead of nowhere, but besides having an ending, it wasn’t much of an improvement. And I’ve rebelled a few years and done things besides write novels. At least one year was genealogy organizing. Did I do that for two years? Maybe. And a Camp NaNo one summer too.

I had a weird dream just a week or two ago that I wrote down and might be able to turn into a story. I’ll have to think about it more. That’s the only idea I have so far, but I’ve gotten ideas from dreams before. I usually have a weird dream near the end of November and wish I’d had that idea all month. I also have a programming project I want to finish and in the next month would be best, so that may be my rebellion plan. And there’s always some genealogy stuff to get done for my own family, which has taken a backseat to clients for a while again.

I still have a few days to decide what to do, and I type fast enough that I can change my mind later. My second year of NaNo, I forgot about it and didn’t come up with anything to write until the tenth day. Yes, I still finished 50k that year. I won’t be breaking my winning streak this year either, I just don’t know yet what I’ll be doing to get there.

IAJGS 2016 Wrap-Up

This year’s IAJGS Conference was held in Seattle. I started blogging a couple times during the week, but those didn’t get posted. Instead, here is one long blog post for the whole week.

This year, I was the webmaster for the conference, but that didn’t involve any work during the week. I was rooming with the app person, so I helped a little with that, and I did have some webmaster duties for the IAJGS site during the week. But mostly the week was my own to do what I wanted. I still didn’t go to a lot of sessions. I knew I’d be taking home the recordings for LIVE! sessions (because I’m webmaster), so I could watch all those later.

I gave three presentations this year. The first was a computer lab on Sunday morning called Publish or Perish about using Publisher for family newsletters. Four people were signed up but only two made it. They both wanted to use Publisher for books instead of newsletters, so I went more in that direction.

That afternoon, I presented Seattle’s Colorful Jewish History (A Course in Basic Methodology). I felt bad later calling it basic, but I was stuck with it. I started out with a few people and ended with two, one of them telling me when I was out of time. I had a great time doing the research and rushing to get it into a PowerPoint in time, when I kept researching instead of prepping. It was an unfortunate class size, because I was looking forward to doing another one each year based on our meeting location, but if people don’t show up, then it’s not going to happen.

Wednesday morning was my third lecture, Search as an Art. I had a full house, standing room only, which felt really good. It was a repeat from Israel, but I had to make it longer, and it ended with many compliments. One person was crazy about it because I made it humorous, but I had a subject that worked for that; I was showing examples of bad indexing and some were kind of nutty.

I went to all three lunches I was invited to, Media, Tech, and NextGen. Marlis started these for the SLC conference and brought them back for Seattle. It’s just a small-ish gathering of folks, sometimes some of them not even fitting the demographic, discussing the topics and how they relate to future conferences and the IAJGS in general. I fit all the categories, plus, free lunch. And we have some interesting conversations sometimes too.

I usually go to a few SIG and BOF meetings as well. Webmasters’ Roundtable was extra fun because we sat around a round table. We discussed some things about society web sites and it looks like IAJGS will soon be hosting the site for another society like we do now for Illiana.

I stopped in for the end of the Newsletter Editors BOF, something I helped to get started, but UJGS doesn’t have a newsletter anymore. I’m glad I did because some of that discussion came up later in the tech lunch.

I was warned to expect drama at the Sub-Carpathia SIG meeting, but there wasn’t all that much. Brooke spoke about some of what our previous leader was doing, which got him booted from the SIG, but some folks had no idea. Mostly, someone new was taking over and we were going to actually make progress like we should have all along.

I went to only a few of the regular sessions, including Reclaim the Records from Brooke Ganz. I already knew what she was doing, but she was a great presenter and her PowerPoint was really creative. I caught the end of Kathy Kirkpatrick’s session about Proving the Jewish Heritage of a Catholic Sicilian Family. I really mostly just heard the question and answer session, but it was interesting too. It was her first IAJGS conference, but I met her in SLC years ago.

I enjoyed Judy Russell presenting Don’t Forget the Ladies at the banquet. I watched social media very little during the week, but I managed to see her blog post about the serendipity in the session, even though I already knew about it. Emily Garber saw her great-grandmother’s death certificate in the presentation; Emily was sitting next to me. And I ended with Ron Arons’s Critical and Creative Thinking for Genealogists.

I also enjoyed the evening play from the Seattle Jewish Theater Company, From Door to Door.

The Annual Meeting was a little more interesting than usual with issues regarding the election. We have an election every year, but this year had some new issues. I had already kept Marlis awake for two hours the night before with my concerns about it, along with other things we discuss like the web site, so I didn’t add to the length of the meeting.

Also at the banquet, I was happy to collect the Volunteer of the Year award on behalf of Marelynn Zipser, a Utah JGS founding member. We’ve been trying to get her an award for a few years. The award mentions the stats we had from 2011, so they’re a little old, but we got her recognized.

MyHeritage had a drawing each day and I wasn’t usually around for it. On the last day, not only did I draw one of the early winners, but I won the big prize. I now possess an iPad. I’m still trying to figure out how to use it. I’ve been an Android for years.

I also went out to see Seattle while I was in town. It was my first visit. I didn’t get to see my cousins, who actually live in Tacoma rather than Seattle. It’s difficult to arrange those visits. On my first day, I saw the Space Needle (and never saw it again beyond the tall buildings) and the Chihuly Garden and Glass. So now I know the name of the artist for the piece in Abravanel Hall. After the conference, I visited the waterfront a couple times, Pike Place Market, and went on the Underground Tour.

All in all, it was a good week. I really enjoy this conference and all the people I get to see. And even some of the genealogy stuff I learn, chatting with other people about our research, and presenting (to the big crowds are the best).

Additional: I almost forgot to mention the blogger breakfast, scheduled one morning at 6:30am. Can you believe I made it to that? It was good to meet Judy Russell in person and have breakfast with several other bloggers at the conference. Our picture was already posted to the official conference blog.

I guess it’s time for some pictures now.

 

I’ve Been Doing Genealogy

What’s been happening at IDoGenealogy.com? I’ve been doing genealogy. I haven’t blogged in a while, so I figured I should say something.

1. I’ve been trying to finish up my Bernie Sanders research. I’m very sad he lost the primary. I think I’ll survive. I was trying to get one last piece of information before finishing up that post, when I realized that there was more for me to do in Polish records. I still have to do that.

2. I wanted to write about WDYTYA. Rather than a blog post for each episode, I had things I felt like I needed to say about the last three episodes of the last season. I still need to write that.

3. I’ve been busy with some client work. I’ve gotten a few clients lately that needed research (as opposed to digitizing or just look-ups) so I’m happy about that, but I don’t blog about their families. I still have one waiting for a report and another waiting until next month for me to get started.

4. I’ve been trying to get a new family newsletter issue put together. I have so much stuff for it, but I haven’t gotten it all neatened up yet. I don’t know if that will happen this week, and then it will have to wait a few more weeks until I can get back to it.

5. I’ve been doing unpaid work for the past few weeks in preparation for the IAJGS Conference. I am quite behind in my prep for the lectures I need to give. One of them needed a whole lot of genealogy research conducted, and I’m still working on it.

6. And next week is IAJGS. Of course I go to that conference every year. I’ve been researching for it (see #5) and I need to get things finished up and my presentations put together in the next three days. I think I can do it.

And that’s where I am now. I expect I’ll be blogging from the conference as I usually do, so my blog will finally be active again. Hopefully that will get me going with the other blog posts I need to get written. But at least now, anyone following my blog knows I’m still here and where I’ve been lately.

Utah Caucus 2016

Getting away from genealogy for this post, I got home a little while ago from voting in my caucus.

What’s a caucus? It’s what happens when the state is to cheap or too lazy to have a proper primary vote, apparently. The caucus is run by volunteers, whereas an actual vote would have the mail-in voting, which I am signed up for. It would have saved me four hours tonight.

In 2012, there was a vote for something by ballot, then we were all in the high school auditorium and chose precinct delegates for the county convention. I was the only person in my precinct, so I got the job.

One hallway. Imagine this kind of crowd filling every hallway of an entire school. And then some.
One hallway. Imagine this kind of crowd filling every hallway of an entire school. And then some.

This time, there was a long line. It started down the block, snaked around the school hallways, passed two other lines, went out the back of the school, and split into those two lines, which then snaked around again. We had to pick a line based on our house district, but the map was at the front door and they rushed us past it.

And the web sites were all crashing while people in the line were trying to verify they were in the right place. I was lucky that I looked up my district before I left home, though I had to count on the lines not moving from four years ago, which they hadn’t.

And then, the other lines didn’t move. They would move in small batches, like they took 10 or 20 people at a time. Then we would stand. And it was cold outside. And then the sun started setting.

Winner of the door decoration contest. I was joking they should have had a contest and we would vote at the end. This was the only decorated door.
Winner of the door decoration contest. I was joking they should have had a contest and we would vote at the end. This was the only decorated door.

Someone said “I have a fireplace,” so I asked, “Did you bring it with you?”

They finally got everyone inside before it was dark. At least, they got my line and many people behind me inside. Our line snaked through two more side hallways that they opened up for us. More people were still outside and they were brought into the gym to sit and wait. We passed them in our last half hour.

With me in line was a 20 year old young woman who was voting for the first time who had been at Bernie’s rally at This is the Place Park last week. Behind her was a couple, one wearing a red U sweatshirt. He left while we were outside and came back to find us inside. He brought back hot chocolate, enough for all four of us.

I had almost arrived at Beehive Elementary school at 6pm when the caucus was supposed to start, but the traffic was mad. After taking a turn through the full parking lot, I picked a street and headed away, finally finding somewhere to park. So I was in line before 6:30pm, and I voted at 10pm. It was supposed to be 6-8:30pm.

After filling out my ballot, I asked about the caucus and was told it was in the gym, but I already knew the gym was just the end of the line, so I was out of there. I participated in the caucus four years ago and didn’t feel the need to wait until probably midnight for this one.

I finally saw this wall about 20 minutes before I voted.
I finally saw this wall about 20 minutes before I voted.

I used to laugh and wonder about the incompetence of places that made people wait for hours, never expecting to be in one.

Here’s what I learned, some after I got home. That part I mentioned earlier about having a caucus instead of a primary, that’s on the state.

The state and county web sites crashed under the weight of people looking up their polling places — or in our case, the district number.

The voting process was stupid. They verify you on the list with your ID and hand you long form to fill out. So everyone stops right there and fills it out, with just the one vote at the bottom after all the identifying information (which they already have) and half a dozen questions about what we would volunteer for. There wasn’t even a ballot “box” to put it in, we just handed it back.

What I think they should have done?

  1. Put that form online and let people fill it out in advance. That would have saved so much trouble. Or ditch the long form and let us vote with less handwriting.
  2. Expect that when a single rally, for just one of five candidates, draws over 14,000 people, that the voter turnout is going to be high.
  3. Do not put multiple districts at the same location. Just trying to figure out what district we were in after trying to figure out the polling place was nuts.
  4. If the 2012 caucus filled the high school auditorium, why was the 2016 in an elementary school? They went from a bigger school to a smaller one on a minor street that was overcrowded with cars like it’s probably never seen before, and a major shortage of parking. Some people suggested they should have had us in the Olympic Oval. There was probably plenty of room there, and parking.

Update: I just read this from the Salt Lake Tribune: “Democrats wanted the state to run a full primary, but the GOP-led Legislature declined when the Republican Party said it preferred a caucus.” Yep, kind of what I figured.

The Genealogy of Bernie Sanders, Part 1.5

As I’m writing this blog post, I am still working on the Glassberg side of Bernie’s genealogy. I had begun writing that blog post as I was working, but I’ve decided to break out a bit of it in a separate entry, because there is so much to write about for the Glassberg side.

Sometimes, even when everything in genealogy research is done well and organized, there are things that are not noticed the first time around. In this case, I originally saw that Henry Sanders was a witness to Elias Sanders’s marriage, and I definitely took note of that. It was only later, when looking at that marriage certificate after I had “completed” that part of the research, that I noticed something else significant. The other witness was Carl Kornreich.

How is that significant? Henry Sanders married Hilda Kornreich. Carl was not her father but I surmised he might be a brother. I left it at that.

Until…

As I researched Dora Glassberg’s family, one of the first batch of records I retrieved from the FHL contained the marriages for her siblings. Her oldest brother, Solomon, married Pearl Kornreich, Hilda’s sister. Also, Carl was a witness to that marriage too.

I didn’t want to spend a lot of time researching a family that was only related by marriage, albeit two marriages, but I did verify that Carl was their brother. (If I were to look into this Kornreich family more, I’d also follow up on the witness to Henry’s marriage, George Wurtzel, as Wurtzel is the Kornreichs’ mother’s maiden name.)

So Dora’s brother-in-law married her sister-in-law’s sister.

And I did find one record that kind of says it all.

Hilda Sanders Obituary, The New York Times, 8 August 1972, ProQuest Historical Newspapers

 


The URL of this blog post is http://idogenealogy.com/2016/03/03/bernie-sanders-1-5/.

This blog post is part of a series.