About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Monday, June 29, 2009

SCGS Jamboree 2009, Bloggers, & Networking, oh my!

Having just partially recovered from the experiences of the weekend in Burbank, CA, where I attended the 40th Annual Southern Calif. Gen. Soc. Jamboree, I decided I had better get down a few thoughts before it's old news (if it's not too late). It was an amazing experience. The people I met for the first time (ones I knew only through Internet contact) were as pleasant and friendly as their blogs and Facebook communication has led me to believe. The people I re-connected with (folks I see at Expos and conventions across the country) were enthusiastic about coming to *my* home turf (i.e., So. Cal.) and it was fun to visit and talk about this unique environment (esp. with those who were in the area for the first time - talk of smog, distance driving, "local" places to see, etc. reminded me that I live in a truly *alive* environment). And the people that I see frequently (members of the Corona Gen. Soc., SCCAPG, and other local societies) allowed me a chance to brainstorm about ideas for our local groups. It was a constant feed of creative ideas and sometimes the brain felt distinctly overloaded.

I arrived with my travel companion and roadie, Diane Wright, on Thurs. afternoon and we were ready for whatever might happen on Fri. morning at the Kids Camp. Amazingly adept Mike Melendez was the camp organizer and he had things prepared for about 80 boyscouts who were working on genealogy merit badges. I did some story-telling with the non-scouts and then did a musical program on Songs of the American West. It was fun to see the kids clapping and singing along with songs I learned when I was very young. Some things just may last forever! I signed some CDs in the afternoon and spent much of the day working at the SCCAPG (Southern Calif. Chapter of the Assoc. of Professional Genealogists) table, networking, visiting, and signing up new members.

Fri. night was a real treat as we attended a banquet with the guest speaker Tukufu Zuberi - one of the History Detectives. I met him earlier at the book signing and he is a very pleasant person to visit with. In his banquet speech he shared some genealogy-related experiences from some of the Detective "cases" he had a chance to work on.

On Sat. morning I attended the Blogger Summit program - 2-1/2 hours of blogging advice, discussion, and humor from some of the most knowledgeable bloggers (I am still learning, but they gave me a lot of ideas that, hopefully, will start to be manifested here). More about them can be found on the Geneablogger site. I joined with many of these good people for the Geneabloggers dinner that evening and I had a very interesting revelation. A number of years ago, when I first got involved in Internet chatting (on ICQ), I became acquainted with a number of folks through a particular television show we all admired. Over the years, situations arose where I had chances to meet, in person, people with whom I had "ICQed" and I discovered that a great many of them were quite shy, reserved individuals, while in the ICQ chat environment they were outspoken and, dare I say, boisterous (as much as one can be in a written medium)! I had sort of suspected a similar phenomenon with my fellow bloggers. Well, I couldn't have been more wrong! I have never heard such a cacophony! It was hard to communicate on any level, so some of us took to writing on the table cloths (oh, don't get upset ... the restaurant probably saw us coming & covered the linen cloths with paper - almost like butcher paper - ones). Pat Richley (Dear Myrtle), who is actually my 8th cousin, and I sat next to each other & had a race: who could complete her 4-generation pedigree chart first. I won! (Much to my surprise.) Getting to meet Thomas MacEntee, *the* Geneablogger, as well as others I knew only from thumbnail photographs on their blogs, was a true thrill and I won't even try to list them all here as I know I will forget someone.

Anyway, between the 2 blogging events I presented a class on "Clue to Clue: Tracking a Family Across Time and Miles." It was a full room (at least 100 people) with SRO (and a number of folks lined up along the walls). I have small cards that folks can fill out & drop in a "doggie bowl" (I stole from my puppy when he got a new one ... I washed it first) to be added to my mailing list and I ran out of them! I have so many names to add to the list now that I will be busy for quite a few days doing that transcription! We had a lot of laughs during the presentation and it was a rewarding experience. From there I had a chance to sign more CDs and then work the SCCAPG table more, followed by a short SCCAPG meeting for our general membership and guests. We had more guests than members attend, signed up some more for the group, and had a good time getting to know each other while also taking care of organization business.

Sun. was anything but a day of rest! I had to present my class on "Deduction vs. Induction: Applying Logic Theory to Genealogical Research." I was amazed at how many people had managed to pull themselves out of bed at that early hour (8am) to learn about *logic*! But they did and we had some fun looking at fallacies and how people can argue for almost anything to be true without looking at the facts of the events. Unfortunately, I had plugged my laptop into a "dead" power strip so, unbeknownst to me, I was powering my computer on its own, very inadequate battery. About 4 slides from the end, when I reached the fallacy of "Hasty Conclusion," we had one: my laptop turned itself off & refused to consider returning to operating mode, even after I got it into a live outlet. Well, we had a big laugh over my "hasty conclusion," and everyone was a good sport about it.

I spent the rest of the day working at the NGS and SCCAPG booths, meeting a lot of people, and, it appears, making contacts that just might get me some more bookings. What a weekend. And here I want to thank some of the folks who really put together some remarkable events during it: Mike Melendez, Thomas MacEntee, Randy Seaver, Charlotte Bocage, Leo Myer, all the volunteers throughout the hotel and conference center, and the many I don't have space or memory to include here. Above all, I think Paula Hinkel, who coordinated the entire event, deserves kudos for a well-advertised, well-constructed weekend of education, entertainment, and opportunity. Thanks, Paula!


  1. I am so glad you had as good a time as I did at Jamboree! I can't wait for your appearance here in Chicago in September and I hope you are making plans for Jamboree in June 2010!

    Thomas MacEntee

  2. I "feel" as though we met up at Jamboree, but we were always a few steps apart. I think we even sat at adjacent tables for Friday night's banquet, and again Saturday night. NEXT TIME, I'm looking for you to say "Hi."


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