Thursday, 25 September 2014

WANTED: RootsTech 2015 Roomie

I am dying to attend RootsTech 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah on Feb 11-14 next year.


(Fitting for a zombie, no?)

At first I was feeling a bit intimidated by this huge conference. Okay, I'll admit it - I've been SKERRED of it! All the classes, all the professionals... all the PEOPLE in general! I'm not much into crowds and I'm not a great one for small talk which makes networking a tad difficult. And on top of all that Salt Lake City itself is like the genealogist's Mecca. I don't know if I'm ready for the library of all libraries!!!

I have also been leery to the point of despondent because of the sheer cost of attendance. Registration fee, any extra events or classes... then whatever you buy in the marketplace (and you WILL buy something in the marketplace no matter how hard you try not to)... and hotel costs, food and FLIGHT on top of that (cuz I'm not driving for 24+ hours in the winter)... YIKE! No one ever said genealogy was an inexpensive pursuit but SHEESH!

So I'd pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I won't be putting in an appearance at RootsTech for a while. And then registration opened this morning...

When I have many other genealogical things I could be doing with my time, of course I found myself browsing the classes they're offering... perusing the events schedule... taking a quick peek at the price list... Annnnnd I got my hopes up.

*face palm*

The student rate for registration is $39 for the 4 full days as opposed to $159 (or $139 if you take advantage of the coupon code on the RootsTech Facebook page: That's quite the difference, Batman!!!

Annnnnd technically I'm a student. Not even just technically - officially. I am currently enrolled at the National Institute for Genealogical Studies in the Canadian Records, English Records and Professional Development certificate programs. I am hoping to graduate in the spring of 2016. However, although NIGS used to be affiliated with St. Michael's College of the University of Toronto, they are not anymore and so NIGS is an online only, distance-education type of school. My point is: NIGS is not a traditional university; therefore, I wasn't sure if the RootsTech student rate would apply to me since a Student ID will be requested upon arrival.

Curious, I emailed RootsTech Information at with my inquiry and was pleasantly surprised with a response in  less than 10 minutes. Their verdict is that if I can provide an official letter confirming my enrollment or a current transcript upon arrival, they will give me the student registration rate!

WOOHOO!!! *happy dance*

But wait... wait, wait, wait!

Can I really afford this? Really?

Thanks to a quick google, I estimate about $500 for a round trip flight from Ottawa to Salt Lake City. (I will have to tell hubby to stay home LOL). Then I have to factor in a hotel room that is not too far from the conference so that I can walk there - for four nights, this will probably be around $400 plus tax. Then there is food to consider... and anything I absolutely NEED to purchase at the marketplace... So at least $1000 to get there and acquire shelter and sustenance.

That's a lot...


At the student rate, I can attend the full four days of the conference (even though I don't think I will go to the Developer's Day), three lunch events, the evening dinner thingy and a couple of computer labs for pretty much the same price as a regular registration! That's really a very hard opportunity to pass up - I won't be a student forever, afterall! If I had to pay the full rate, I probably would not go to any of the extra events.

It's a gut-wrenching decision...

So, I'm looking for a RootsTech 2015 Roomie! Anyone interested??? Non-smoker please.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Ottawa Restaurant REVIEW: The Golden Palace

No concern for customer service anymore. It's sad. I guess they think they're "famous" in Ottawa so they can afford to treat some customers like utter crap. Clearly they don't value every customer when they are really busy or an individual staff member is feeling overwhelmed. It should never be okay for staff to treat customers with anything but decorum and respect. Unfortunately, we will never be going back after the way we were treated this time.

And, to be clear, this was their second chance in our mind. The last time we were there they were way over-crowded, condescending to the point of rudeness, took way too long to deliver our orders and the food (yes, even the eggrolls) were just awful.

Come to think of it, we even went in once on our way past just to get an eggroll each and the person behind the counter laughed at us for only buying two. "Only two? Ha!"

I think their food quality has slowly been declining over the past little while. Even the eggrolls at Scotiabank Place / Canadian Tire Centre have been off. It seems to be very hit-or-miss among our friends who have been patrons. We might be willing to deal with the poor service if the food was what it was once.

Good luck to any who decide to chance it.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Toronto CityPASS Review: Recommended but Time Limit Could Pose a Problem For Some

We purchased the Toronto CityPASS well in advance of our late August 2014 trip which was a convenience greatly appreciated. We intended to visit at least the Zoo and the CN Tower on this trip, just the two of us (adults). It is a good price for multiple attractions.

We did get into the zoo without much of a wait thanks to the pass - only two people ahead of us. We enjoyed the zoo thoroughly even though we only got to see a fraction of it. It would be nice to see a discount for cityPASS holders for parking ($10 per car) or the Zoomobile (regularly $8 per person) as we were not interested in nor able to use the discounts for the carousel or climbing attractions.

Picking up the pass was no problem and keeping it for each attraction's agent to remove the appropriate pass is simple enough; however, I would really appreciate the pass being valid for a whole year or at least longer than 9 days (maybe 30 days/ a month?). We were in town for 13 days but had other commitments for many of the days, leaving only a few to choose from on which to visit the cityPASS attractions. The Zoo and the CN Tower are largely reliant on good weather, too, which makes scheduling difficult. Additionally, if you have personal health issues (ie, chronic pain, allergies, etc) which can dictate how you feel and what you can do from day to day sometimes randomly and sometimes according to the weather, getting to enough attractions within the 9 day limit to make the pass a worthwhile expense could be a problem.

So, yeah, we did not make it to any other attraction for an amalgamation of these reasons and ended up spending approximately $60 each to JUST see the Zoo. Now, obviously, we knew these risks ahead of time and chose to purchase the pass anyway so I'm not complaining. I simply want to point out to other purchasers some potential problems they might not have thought to consider. And it can't hurt to pass on the same to the cityPASS company.


-- you're someone who knows that you will not need to stray from a strict vacation schedule or timeline for health reasons and/or weather

-- you're mostly interested in the attractions that don't rely on good weather

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

FGS Goes to Texas while I get dragged around FanExpo

To be honest, I'm not being dragged tooth and nail to FanExpo Canada. I kinda wanna go. Kinda. The hesitation stems mostly from the hoards of people surely to be present and ... well, annoying. That, and the fact that the miles of walking and hours of waiting in lines are sure to do my poor body a grave disservice. But ya can't let Fibromyalgia ruin your life, right? I don't want to stay at home in bed forever! [Don't I? No. I don't. I really don't... Really! You hear that Legs?? Listen up!]

But, even with three days in my very recent past devoted to lovely genealogy learning, I am jealous of all those gathering in Texas for the upcoming FGS conference. As much fun as I'm sure to have stalking Norman Reedus, canoodling with celebrities and cavorting with like-minded fan people, it is still going to be difficult. Unlike Jamboree, there will be no tweeting for me. No hashtag following. No virtual attendance. I will be gobbled up by geekery.

On the bright side, every conference attended, regardless of theme, is more experience under my belt. I will be better prepared for the US national conferences I hope to attend in the not-too-distant future. Travel tips and techniques for refining my conference-attending skills should be forthcoming. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Preparing for my First Trip to the Archives of Ontario

I'm crazy excited to be in Toronto this August for not one but TWO genealogy conferences before hubby drags me along to four days of geekery and shenanigans at FanExpo!* IMO, that much of a trip alone is cause for some serious SQUEE but imagine my surprise when I realized we're going to be staying at a hotel not 10 minutes from the Archives of Ontario.


Let the preparations begin!!! HUZZAH!!!

First on the list: reorganize trip schedule so that visit to the zoo takes place on the only day the Archives is CLOSED, rendering all free and clear to drag hubby to a FULL day of research on a day on which it is OPEN! [Shhh!! Don't tell hubby!! lol]**

Next, determine what records they have that A) I want to see in person, B) I can't get anywhere else and C) I'm ready to look up and, frankly, understand. After all, there's much info out there, lying in wait beneath the surface of the "regular" sea of records, that I still have no clue about -- and I only have 1.5 months to be organized enough to make this one, lonely little day [sigh, I always wish there could be more TIME! ...more hours in the day, more money in the bank... ] as productive as humanly possible.

Thus began the Spreadsheet of Death -


otherwise known as a comprehensive list of all the estate files and wills in the province that I still require. Which is a lot. I think I have my father's, both my grandmothers' and that someone in my family has a copy of my biological grandfather's and hubby's great grandfather's... but that's it. So my list is pretty long.

Then I have to go through the list and, according to county at time of death and date, discern whether or not the record of each person will be available to me at the archives. For many of them - those less than 40 years old - I have to contact the local courthouse. [P.I.T.A.]. For the rest... there's a mess of microfilm indices and inter-library loans to work through so that I can obtain the correct file numbers for each record. I'm not sure if I can view the indices at the archives AND see the stuff I want to look at on the same day. It's all kinda complicated... at least for someone relatively new to it all and especially for a zombie, like me, whose brain is akin to mush at times.

So, in the interim, as I make additions to the Spreadsheet of Death [DUHN-DUHN-DUHHHHNN!] and further investigate the AO website I have a plan. I'm going to start going through the printed materials for the course on Canadian Archival Centres for which I'm registered through the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS). It will likely help me as I prepare for this EPIC JOURNEY in August.

Yes, The Asterisks Mean Something

*Technically, he's not dragging me. I even brought it all on myself when I bought him the Premium tix for Christmas (what a good spouse I am, eh?). I'm actually looking forward to going - though I'm not so thrilled with the lineup so far... but that's another post for different blog.

**Actually, I've already told him and he's fine with it. Really! For now anyway. LOL His tune may well change around the fourth hour of forced labour as my little zombie research gopher... [ha!] But, in all honesty, he is very supportive and didn't bat one eyelash at my exclamation of glee upon discovering our pending proximity to the repository into which I've been dying to dig my grubby little- erm, I mean, my gentle and cautious white-gloved paws.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

International Children's Book Day

Today, April 2nd, is International Children's Book Day.

My favourite "toys" as a child were BOOKS, period. I had a bookcase chock-a-block full of books. I had a library card and knew how to use it. I won contests in elementary school for reading "the most" books... a Read-A-Thon for a Mutiple Sclerosis charity, I think. (I won a book, of all things! Specifically, an Empire Strikes Back photo book. For posterity's sake, I should mention that TJ Kaminski came in second). My favourite part of the school year was the annual Book Fair. So, for me, this is a difficult choice. As it stands, I could only partially narrow it down; therefore, in no particular order...

I enjoyed:

i) Judy Blume's "Super Fudge" series.
I'm pretty sure I first enjoyed this book courtesy of my fabulous grade two teacher, Mrs. Morton. I quickly read all the Judy Blume books I could get my grubby little paws on.

ii) any stories starring Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish, illustration by Lynn Sweat.
I remember  my mom reading these to me as we snuggled together, chuckling along at poor Amelia's klutzy though well-meant antics.

iii) and Polly's Christmas Present (aka The Christmas Puppy) by Irma Wilde.
I checked this out of the Mayerthorpe Public Library over and over again. I was Kindergarten age or younger. I believe it's even where I got the idea to ask Santa for a puppy. He eventually bestowed upon us Holly Berry Crawley... an ugly-but-oh-so-cute little black and white terrier-slash-chihuahua, complete with big red bow who, immediately upon being "found" in the porch (boot room) by my father who claimed he had heard her whining where Santa must have left her, crawled under the toy box in my bedroom and peed on the floor.

iv) The Toothpaste Genie by Sandy Frances Duncan.
I fell in love with this story in elementary school (grade two, I think, but it could have been three) and spread the love one day when I was babysitting my cousin, Jessica, one summer.

v) the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene
old, yellow hardcovers... new paperbacks bought here in Canada and overseas... Nancy and the gang teamed up in "double issues" with Hardy Boys... all of them! I still have my collection neatly stored away, in fact! My auntie Sheila gave me my first three Nancy Drews. I remember that I must have been slightly too young for them, even though I was a pretty advanced reader for my age, because I tried to read them and had difficulties. I actually remember thinking "these must be too old for me; I'll just put them away for later". 

vi) The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
In grade three, from a stool at the front of the room Ms. Emons read my class a chapter from this novel once a week from a stool and I officially fell in love with the strange and wonderful world of Narnia. Years (and years and years...) later, my now-husband purchased the entire series for me for Christmas one year.

In general, I remember that I loved any and all books with unicorns in them - even better if they had stickers! The Elves and the Shoemaker also captivated me, although I cannot recall which version or author. I had memorized Sleeping Beauty from my mom reading it to me out of my book of fairy tales before the age of two - my mom thought she had a genius on her hands for a brief minute until she realized I skipped a few words here and there. Before kindergarten, I recall getting in serious trouble when I used my scissors to cut up my Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Piglet book. I can actually recall thinking "this is going to be really good when I'm done" but, somehow, it didn't quite work out and my next memory is mom yelling at me in the car on the way to the library with the book carefully taped back together. I had made tiny pieces of it so that craft work was to be commended. As I grew older, I enjoyed the scary novels of Christopher Pike. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'engle was a classic. Anyway, I could go on for ages reminiscing about the books of my childhood... I will spare you more. For now.

Hubby's all-time fave kid's book was "What Ernie and Bert Did on Summer Vacation" by Patricia Thackray. I have been instructed to purchase immediately if I ever come across a copy for sale.

So... All of this begs the question:

What was YOUR favourite children's book and/or series growing up?