Friday, June 15, 2012

Genes Day Friday - Swamped

Hard to believe it's already been a week since I was at Jamboree. Things haven't slowed down an inch since then, and have actually gotten crazier. I may not have time today for a full update on my genetic genealogy journey, but here are some quick highlights:

1. I got to attend a whole bunch of DNA-related classes at Jamboree, including Megan Smolenyak's forensic genealogy, Drew Smith's DNA 102, and my personal favorite, the ISOGG meeting. Megan didn't really touch on DNA a whole lot in her class, but in my mind it's so connected to working with the living that I just automatically assume it's part of the toolbox a forensic genealogist would use. Drew Smith's class was great because he actually showed us his Y-DNA test results, and how he used and interpreted them (which is something I'm still struggling with on my Y-DNA results). The ISOGG meeting was the best in my mind, because it was more like a forum - there were four panelists, CeCe Moore, Katherine Borges, Michael MacPherson, and Bennett Greenspan. All of them are experts in various parts of the DNA/genetic genealogy field, and it was a treat to be able to meet them and ask them questions. I realized that one of my goals in doing genetic genealogy is to take the data 23andMe and FTDNA give me, and to be able to assign specific DNA segments to my ancestors, from my parents on back as far as I can work it out. I'd like to be able to start this process with my maternal grandfather, who passed away before I was born. I've had my grandma and mom both take autosomal DNA tests, so by comparing their DNA, I should be able to work out which parts of mom's DNA came from her dad. Of course, I still need to test my aunt and uncle to get a truer picture of what his DNA looked like. I'd love to be able to upload a family tree and assign that data to him, and from there (as I find connections and cousins) to assign those segments to his ancestors. Maybe it's a pipe dream, but it's MY pipe dream, and I WILL get there!

2. While I was at Jamboree, I got to talk to CeCe Moore and a bunch of folks from 23andMe, including Michael MacPherson, who designed a lot of the web features 23andMe uses. It was great to just sit there and pick their brains and get answers to the questions I've had over the last couple months. CeCe was so nice, introducing me to everyone at the 23andMe booth, and making sure I signed up for 23andMe's beta test of their new website features.

3. That's the next cool thing - 23andMe is upgrading their website, adding some seriously awesome features. The Ancestry Painting is going to be more detailed, you can see a map of where your Relative Finder matches are located, and you'll be able to sort your Relative Finder matches by haplogroup, predicted relationship, and lots of other categories. Plus you'll be able to upload a gedcom file of your pedigree! I specifically asked Mike MacPherson about this in the ISOGG meeting, about whether we'll eventually be able to link specific DNA segments to people in our pedigree, and he said that's the direction it's moving. I'm sure there's tons of programming hurdles to overcome before we get to that point, but knowing that it's going to eventually be possible is awesome.

4. You may have noticed the 23andMe banner off to the right there. That's there because - I'm now a 23andMe affiliate! Having used their services for a few months, and especially after getting to meet some of their staff, I'm happy to encourage people to go to them for DNA testing. I'll get a small commission off every sale that's done through my link, so please - help support a poor wannabe genetic genealogist and buy from me! Guess I'll have to start paying attention to how bloggers have to make disclosures about stuff like that from now on. But affiliate status aside, I'm not a fan of hyping one DNA testing company over another. I've had tests done at FTDNA as well, and they've been super helpful in responding to my emails and answering questions. Plus it was great hearing from FTDNA's founder Bennett Greenspan himself about how and why he started FTDNA. Hearing about his passion for genealogy, I'm a bigger fan than ever of testing at more than one company. To me, it's like using and FamilySearch. They each have their own strengths, and resources that the other doesn't. Why would you choose to not use just because they aren't FamilySearch?

5. A cousin of my maternal grandma has agreed to take a DNA test as well, to see if we can't find any American Indian DNA on her side of the family. I really appreciate her being willing to do that, and look forward to seeing what her test reveals about our common ancestry.

6. My Joseph cousin's test has been received at 23andMe and is in processing. Just a couple more weeks, and I'll (hopefully) have some big ole chunks of Joseph DNA identified!

7. I still need to buckle down and really go through the GedMatch results for the four tests I have so far. If I could only find that elusive 25th hour of the day...

I think that about sums up all the DNA news for the week. If I was only doing DNA, that'd be enough to keep me busy. But, of course, it's not all I'm doing. I'm still trying to slog my way through my old family files, download the church records for my Zitzmann ancestors in Rosshaupt and analyze and organize the details so I can show my grandma all about her grandma's family, get some records on my Joseph relatives transcribed and translated (just got these this week from some microfilms I ordered from the FHL, and they're in Polish), and find a useful place (hopefully NOT the garage) for all the genealogy-related books I bought at Jamboree, and maybe even finish reading DNA and Social Networking (only 25 pages to go!). WHEW! Now that's what I call a to-do list!

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