• Jul19

    Hello! Yes, I realize I have let this genealogy blog languish a bit, because, you know, LIFE. I do have some ideas for new posts and tools, so stay tuned.

    Cindy's CastleBut, Now for something completely different, and non-genealogy-ly: One of the other interests in my bag of, well, interests, is Disney.

    I love the history of it, the creativity, theming, Imagi-engin-coolstuff-ineering. As such, I am a frequent flyer on the forums and chat over on the super-useful Touring Plans site, app, and community.

    (I wish I were a more frequent visitor to Walt Disney World, but you know: MONEY, and I’m kinda attached to living in a house and eating food the rest of the year.)



    If you haven’t heard of Touring Plans before, I highly suggest subscribing to their site if you are planning a trip to Disney World. For a measly $12 or so you can set up plans to very much minimize your waits in the park and provide all sorts of useful info.


    Because, in case you haven’t been to Disney World in awhile: if you don’t want to live the Attack on Aqaba scene from Lawrence of Arabia on your trip, you gotta plan, man.

    Perhaps as useful as all of TP’s tools is the community in their forums and chat: you will not find a group more dedicated to helping others with the ins and outs of touring the parks. I have learned so much from everyone over the years. An even plus-ier plus is that the chat is often a hilarious place to be.

    Are We There Yeti?So, the reason for this post: in my years as a member of that community, I have put together spreadsheets for figuring out if it is Worth It To Upgrade To A WDW Annual Pass (how is it NOT?), the best discount reseller tickets to buy for Maximum Discount if you plan to upgrade them to an AP

    (PRO TIP: When it comes to ticket values and upgrades, Disney does a thing called “bridging”, so you get to save the discount during the upgrade, thus making the overall AP a bit cost lower.)

    I have also published maps for urgent care centers near WDW, outlet shops, and a tactic to get a good spot for watching the Happily Ever After fireworks in the Magic Kingdom without the complete inevitability of shoulder-based tiny humans blocking your view.

    I have written stream of consciousness posts that ask such eternal questions as how a cast member (read: Disney employee) cleared a problem when we were Stuck at Tapstile and I use that post to add links to interesting articles on Disney-related tech.

    Teacups!At this point I think I need to launch my own Disney fan site. But until then I have created a page here to make things easier to find: “JJT’s Touring Plans Forum Posts and Maps Reference” has a compilation of links to all of my most frequently referenced posts. You can also find a link to said page by hovering your mouse over the Tools & Downloads menu above.

    May The Mouse Be With You.

  • Jan30

    Average request on Facebook photo restoration group.

    Family Photo Request

  • Dec10

    UPDATE 12/11/2017: I’m updated to this older post again since I found that the Ancestry – New York partnership page on the NYS Archives site has once again changed: The old URL now is “not found.” However with some more searching on the site I was able to find another page that contains the zip code form so that New Yorkers can search these record sets at Ancestry without the “become a member” page.

    First, a TL;DR: Use the NYS Archives link I have listed below, enter a zip code, go to Ancestry New York page and search the records that are free to NYers with impunity.

    It is probably not news to genealogy folks who research that, as the New York State Archives site says, “Several New York repositories have formed a partnership with Ancestry.com to digitize family history records and make them available on line for free.”

    For several months I have accessed those records on Ancestry, probably most often the 1915 and 1925 NY State censuses, plus some more fun ones like the Sing Sing Prison admittance records. The only trick was that these records are officially free to New York State residents, and once logged into Ancestry, so I would visit the URL http://www.ancestry.com/newyork, enter my NY zip code, and thus would get in.

    However, back in 2014, after a year or two of use I found that the Ancestry page no longer contained the NY zip code field. While it is still a search page titled “New York State Records”, i you use that search form, and try to view the images without the old zip code field submission, it brings you to the ubiquitous “Choose a membership to get started” sign up page.

    Annoyed by that at the time, a little follow up Googling brought me to a NYSED.gov Archives page that outlined the partnership. Thankfully, on that page the zip code form field existed and using it brought you to Ancestry’s “New York: Where History Goes on Record” page, where you can again search the records and click through the results to view the images. (You are still required to have at a free Ancestry login to view images.)

    However, now in 2017 I found that the original NYS Archives page that contained the zip code form is gone – although I have found another different page that still contains the form.

    So, once again: Here is the URL for the NYS Archives site:

    I think it is disappointing that this change occurred, since it makes original NY State landing page more of a funnel to the subscription page.

    While the Ancestry page now says “For free access to New York records, start your search then click on your results. You will be prompted to “Create a Free Account.” DO NOT click on the “Subscribe” button or the “14-day Free Trial Offer” unless you are interested in access to all of Ancestry…” I don’t see any way to actually GET TO the free records. And I don’t really feel like creating a new free account to test it out.

    More than a bit confusing.

    For later reference – the old, now UNWORKING URL as of 11DEC2017 is: http://www.archives.nysed.gov/research/res_ancestry.shtml

  • Oct3

    All righty now, two posts in a row focusing on a DNA question!

    I’ve posed this question in one of the Facebook groups dedicated to DNA and genealogy to see if anyone there had an opinion.

    While looking at my latest GEDmatch results, I found a new match near the top of my results with an estimated distance of 3.9 generations between us. Still exciting to see that after all these years swimming in the genetic genealogy ponds. I have a few others of the same distance, but haven’t gotten anywhere with figuring out the shared ancestors with most. (Due to either lack of info far enough back, or just the usual non-response to any reaching out.)

    Gedmatch single segment match of 68.3 centimorgansBut, something caught my eye on this match: the “Total cM” and “Largest cM” are both 68.3, so it is all in a single segment! Over 8,341 SNPs. Count ’em.

    (By the way: this is using default search settings.)

    So, I am now wondering: At what amount of shared cM does it become unusual for the entire match to be in a single segment?

    Looking at all of my matches, I have:

    • 1,301 matches that are in a single segment.
    • 1,300 of those are at 32cM or below.

    After that, way up at 68.3cM is my last single segment match.

    Is the fact that it is one segment with that many cMs just chance, or is something else going on? It is more striking when you see a chart of all of my single segment matches.

    Anyone have any ideas?

    chart: Count of Single Segment DNA Matches by Match Length

  • Sep20

    Hello out there in Genealogy Land! I have been running silent these last few months here on the blog, but continue to march yet unto that elusive tree of perfection. I have a quick item that I wanted to post today and file in Things That Make You Go, “Huh?”

    When checking my matches over on MyHeritage DNA, I found one recently that is estimated at the 3rd – 5th cousin level.

    DNA Match Summary
    OK, I says, that’s not a bad match – although I strongly suspect that MyHeritage’s cousin-relatedness are overestimated by at least 1 or 2 levels. That would make me feel like this is really at the very best a 4th – 6th match and perhaps further. In fact, another factor feeds this assumption for me:

    This match is from Norway. I am 50/50 Czech and Irish. While I understand those country-centric terms don’t accurately represent the mishmash of DNA we all carry, I have found that this match along with other matches from Norway have trees that go many generations back with clearly Norwegian names in them. (Go figure.)

    So, OK, perhaps 5 or 6 generations ago someone from one of “my” countries headed up that way, or vice-versa and now I need to welcome my new Norwegian cousins and brush up on learning how to cook Kjøttkaker and Gravlaks. (Mmm, Gravlaks.) But, a couple of these Norwegian matches are in the 3rd to 5th cousin range, so you’d at least think we’d see some slightly similar locations on the map start to appear around the time our common ancestor would be. Nope.

    But forget about all that – let’s look at the next thing that MyHeritage gives us for matches: Shared Ethnicities.

    Now, I also understand that there is some algorithmic voodoo at play in mapping ethnicities. (By the way Algorithmic VooDoo is now my new band name.) Can one really attribute a particular snippet of DNA to a location absolutely? Eh, maybe in some cases, but overall I think they are smearing the lipstick a little broadly. In the case of this match, I found something else surprising.

    Shared Ethnicities Chart

    I pasted our “Shared DNA” numbers on this chart for reference – so assuming we share enough DNA to be in the 3rd – 5th cousin range, would we not also have at least one category of ethnicity that we are both a member of? I realize our total shared is only 0.4%, but even so, if they can estimate her Scandinavian ethnicity down to a 10th of a percentage, there shouldn’t really be any rounding error going on.

    Yet, there is not a single ethnicity that we share.
    And now I am left wondering what I should do with all of these Gravlaks?

    (By the way: That Iberian % doesn’t show up at all in my 23andme results, and on AncestryDNA I have 3% Iberian in the Low Confidence Region. One of my favorite regions, doncha know.)