Saturday, March 9, 2019

A Scrumptious Sandwich

When reflecting on my week at Rootstech I though of a sandwich, a scrumptious sandwich full of delicious ingredients. 

Image - Pexels 
The bready outer layers of my sandwich represent unofficial pre and post Rootstech activities that have become traditions for my genimates and me. The filling has been the amazing Rootstech Conference and associated events hosted by Familysearch and vendors.

Of course as with all generously filled sandwiches I found some of the ingredients more appealing than others.  Rootstech provides so much variety so that each attendee can customise his or her own sandwich. Some sandwiches were packed with a smorgasbord of ingredients while some were more manageable but from what I could see each attendee enjoyed his or her custom made Rootstech sandwich.

So you ask - how did GeniAus customise her sandwich?

The first bready bit was laid down on the Monday prior to Rootstech with  Mondays with Myrt (watch it here in the Family History Library followed by The Annual Commonwealth Dinner in the evening.

With DearMYRTLE (left) on Mondays with Myrt
There was one ingredient that many attendees added to their sandwich on Tuesday, that was registration in a far corner of the Salt Palace. This was a painless experience.

There were no queues at Registration
On Tuesday I added the Rootstech Media Dinner, a by invitation event for major sponsors, media, Rootstech Ambassadors, Familysearch employees and friends of Rootstech. One of the first people I met was DNA hero, Blaine Bettinger.

Sharn White, Blaine Bettinger and GeniAus
On the table I chatted with  Sharn White and Ruth Blair and I enjoyed catching up with Bronze Sponsor Kirsty Gray and crew from Familywise, We were entertained by one of the films from the Rootstech film fest and got advance notice of  new Familysearch initiatives. I was sitting at the lucky seat on our table so I left as the winner of a Google Home Mini.

Alex Cox from FindMyPast  (centre) was one of my tablemates
Late Tuesday night came through the news that I was selected as an Ambassador for RootstechLondon. I am excited to be joined by my good friends Fran Kitto (TravelGenee) and Sharn White as Aussie Ambassadors. As someone with 31/32 of my ancestors from the British Isles I am thrilled to be an Ambassador in the Old Country.

On my way to #RootstechLondon
The Ancestry breakfast on Wednesday morning was an interesting and informal event. I was surprised to find myself included in the small group of prominent genies gathered for the event. On the day before the breakfast we received an email outlining the initiatives that Ancestry would be announcing at Rootstech so, at the breakfast there was no need for a formal presentation giving us this news. There were some short introductions from key people and then the Ancestry team moved around chatting with their guests. It was hard to respect the embargo and not share the exciting news until 9am. Now that I have tested the tools I can say Bravo, in just a few hours I have confirmed 19 new cousins.

The Expo Hall wasn't open on Wednesday so I opted for a full day of learning. The talks I attended ranged from mediocre to magnificent. My vote for the best talk of the day goes to The Dapper Historian, Myko Clelland ,from FindMyPast for his talk on Newspapers.Watch it here

Myko mesmerised a full house
In the opening keynote at 4:30pm there was exciting news announced for the African-American Community. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a donation of  2 Million Dollars to the International African American Museum Center for Family History. Following the announcement a surprise guest, Martin Luther King III came to the stage. I tweeted "Martin Luther King III on stage at #RootsTech speaking powerfully of his father's vision of a fully integrated society. A world in which all men will live together as brothers."

Martin Luther King III at Rootstech
After the keynote the Expo Hall was declared open so strolled over to the Media Hub to connect with my genimates and see if there were any interview opportunities. Mr King was not giving an interview but as he walked by with his minders he stopped and chatted with me for a few minutes, I was so dumbfounded that I didn't take a picture of the meeting.

Dianna Fulton from Ontario Ancestors in the Expo Hall
As I had to stay in the Expo Hall until 8pm for a photo shoot with other Board Members of THE Genealogy Show I took the opportunity to visit some of the stands and chat with the exhibitors. I could have given my Amex card a good workout but I exercised restraint. I was tired so I decided to dine solo in the Marriott restaurant, I was thrilled when old friends Pat Richley-Erickson and her husband Gordon joined me. Shortly afterwards fellow Australian genie, Michelle Patient joined us.

It was an early start on Friday for the MyHeritage breakfast at the Marriott. Thankfully it was only a short elevator ride from my room in the Marriott to the function room. I had a very interesting conversation with Tabea Naeder from the customer support team. I was so impressed with what Tabea had to say that I sought her out for a video interview which will appear on my Youtube Rootstech Collection in the coming days.

Since I interviewed him at Rootstech 2018 (see below) I have followed Jonny Perl with interest. I attended Jonny's talk on Chromosome matching and was most impressed with his performance, my husband who knew nothing about chromosome mapping came away with a good understanding. I tweeted " reSuch a balanced presentation from @jonnyperl @RootsTechConf . He is showing a whole range of #DNA tools and not just focusing on his brilliant #DNAPainter tool #genealogy . Such a refreshing approach."


Lunchtime Friday my geneablogging mates gathered for our annual group photo. Thanks to Mr GeniAus for risking life and limb on a very high stool to take the photo for us.

Geneabloggers at Rootstech 2019
Having read his book and seen Lion, the movie of his story, I was so looking forward to Friday's keynote with Australian Saroo Brierley.  I could hardly contain my excitement. I was bursting with pride as this young Aussie told his story to a spellbound audience. But that's not all. The wonderful Familysearch team of Paul Nauta and Tyler Stahle arranged for me to have a private backstage interview with Saroo. I invited fellow Australian Ambassador Sharn White along and took Mr GeniAus as my cameraman. As we were chatting there was so much noise from the sessions that were in progress that the audio on the recording is of poor quality. My next job is to transcribe the recording and share Saroo's words in a blog post. I could have packed up and gone home after this experience it was so good.

Backstage with Saroo
All this excitement was too much for an old girl. There was no way I had the energy to walk the couple of blocks downhill to meet up with fellow members of the Virtual Genealogy Association. Our relationship will have to stay virtual until another date. Instead I joined a few of my Commonwealth friends including The Novel Guys, Nathan Dylan Goodwin and Robert Bristow at a venue closer to my hotel, thanks to Kirsty Gray for organising this relaxing repast.

After the excitement of Friday I gave myself a sleepin on Saturday and spent the best part of the day in the Media Hub until it closed at 2pm. I have several interviews recorded there that I must process and upload to my Youtube Rootstech Collection. I took time out to hear the day's keynote with Jake Shimabukuro. It was fellow Aussie Ambassador Sharn's day to be excited, as a ukelele player Sharn was keen to hear Jake. I loved Jake's three rules for life:  "Be humble. Be grateful. Be kind."

Jake responding to Sharn's question in the Media interview
Christine Woodcock's presentation on Brickwall Busters for Scottish Genealogy was an excellent talk to finish off a hectic week. I've heard several Scottish experts talk on Scottish subjects and Christine is one of the best. She demonstrated the depth of her knowledge when answering questions from the audience. There was no question that had her stumped. I appreciated Christine giving permission to the audience to take photos of her slides, I was able to engage more fully on her talk as I did not need to take notes.

The final bready bit that sealed the sandwich was the annual Rootstech after party for friends of DearMYRTLE at her and her husband Gordon L. Erickson's home near Salt Lake City. It was lovely being able to kick ones's shoes off, curl up in a comfy chair and share Rootstech tales with fellow geneabloggers plus new and old friends made at previous Rootstech conferences.

Rootstech after party at the Ericksons
Rootstech 2019 delivered a scrumptious sandwichWe now have to plan for RootstechLondon and the different but splendid sandwich awaiting us there.

Rootstech London Ambassadors


Janelle Collins said...

Thanks, Jill. The 2018 interview with Johnny Perl was particularly great.
Your descriptions make me really look forward to RootsTech London in October!

Jennifer Jones said...

I’ve really enjoyed following your RootsTech adventures Jill. This is a lovely wrap up. I love the sandwich analogy

Kylie Willison said...

What a great read Jill, I truly felt like I was following you around at Rootstech.


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