California Family History Expo is Great Success

But Our Hero has some Personal Travails!

The California Family History Expo at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton wrapped up Saturday evening with a lesson on breaking through brick walls by FHE President and founder Holly Hansen.   Although figures were not yet available, the conference appeared to have been well attended on both days.

California Genealogical Society communications coordinator Kathryn Doyle said that CGS had gained at least 22 new members during its Expo promotion.

A number of well-known genealogical bloggers and writers participated, including Lisa Alzo, Amy Coffin, Ron Arons, Arlene Eakle, Leland Mietzler, Elizabeth O’Neal, Sheri Fenley, Thomas MacEntee, Becky Wiseman, A.C. Ivory, Lisa Louise Cooke, Jean Wilcox Hibben, and Janet Hovorka, to name  a few. Staff from and were on hand as were Bruce Buzbee of RootsMagic and Geoffrey Rasmussen of Legacy Family Tree.

For me, the event that was the most fun was Lisa Louise Cooke’s podcast, recorded live on Friday, with dessert served.  The topic was Internet magazines, in particular, footnoteMaven’s Shades of the Departed.  Maven couldn’t be there. so Sheri Fenley and I discussed the magazine and some of out favorite articles in it.   Pages from the March issue were displayed on a screen behind us.   One could tell that the audience was extremely impressed with this high concept, visually rich publication.

Of the presentations that I attended, clearly the best was Lisa  Louise Cooke’s class on using Google Earth in genealogy.  I had wanted to attend the presentation on other occasions, but had never been able to.  I should say that I was blown away both by the substantive information and the manner of presentation.   This is a must-do for any conference you may attend where Lisa is presenting it. (The information is available on DVDs; see Lisa’s site here.)  You may think you known something about  Google Earth, but if you haven’t seen the ways Lisa can use it, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

My Personal Travails

The conference and all the presenters and attendee were great.   But for some reason, the whole thing was one challenge after another for me.  First, Photo Grrl, the GeneaBlogie staff photographer and chauffeur arrived a bit late to pick me up and on top of that, wasn’t feeling very well.  When we were about 20 miles from our hotel, she was hunched over the steering wheel as if she were about to pass out.   We made it to the hotel, and then made it just in time for my presentation on Breaking Down Brick Walls in African-American Research.

But when we got to the space whee the  class  was to be, there was no projector for the PowerPoint presentation.   I tried calling Kathryn Doyle, only to discover a grumpy man at the number, the incorrect number, I had in my cell,phone for her.  Meantime, Kathryn had been trying to find me!

In any event, Beau Sharpeau to the rescue!  He turned up with a projector which we promptly connected to the computer.  But where was the PowerPoint presentation?  It had been there (on the mobile Bloggcast center hard drive) that morning, but now seemed to be missing.  Photo Grrl entertained the crowd as only she can, while I searched for the presentation.   We decided eventually that I would start with what I could remember while Photo Grrl with the help of an attendee would try to find the presentation.   They never found it.

When  the presentation was over, Photo Grrl announced that she was too tired to go on, and went back to the hotel.   I proceeded on my brand-new (two days in my possession) electric wheel chair to the building where the podcast was to be    recorded.   But when I got there, the electric wheel chair experienced a malfunction and would no longer travel in a straight line.  To get to the place I had to rely upon A.C. Ivory and Thomas MacEntee to push me and the chair.

And things didn’t get better from there.   One person offered to take me and the malfunctioning chair back to the hotel, and I had accepted.  She went to bring her car around to where I was.  While she was gone, I experienced a Parkinson’s episode of the worst social, if not medical, sort.  When it was over and the damage done, I was loathe to get into someone else’s vehicle.     So I phoned and awakened the drowsy and nearly drugged Photo Grrl to come get me, which she promptly did.

We examined the electric wheel, chair and acting on a tip from Thomas MacEntee, isolated what we thought our problem  was.   And the chair seemed to  respond to the correction.

The next day, Saturday, we took the electric wheelchair with us to the Fairgrounds.   The parking lot was packed and finding a place to park was a Herculean tasks.  Finally Photo Grrl parked illegally while she re-assembled the chair. Off I went, headed to the bloggers’ area. About half way there, the electric wheelchair mal;functioned again.  By the time Photo Grrl arrived from re-parking the car, the wheelchair had acquired a mind of its own and no longer would obey my commands as transmitted by the joystick.   So,  Photo Grrl ended up pushing me around again.

But things ended well.    We went  to a Walgreen’s in Pleasanton, and bought an ultralight transportable manual wheelchair.  And it is terrific.   About that same time,  my legs began functioning again, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the evening.


4 Responses to “California Family History Expo is Great Success”

  • Denise L says:

    It was great to see you this weekend, Craig. Adversity? Just another form of Adventure and you conquered them with Style. I will be looking for you at the next event.

  • Amy Coffin says:

    Craig, it was great to see you and meet your wonderful wife. Sorry you had all those hurdles along the way, but I enjoyed our visit time!

  • Apple says:

    I’m so sorry that the FHE was such a trial for you. I learned this summer just how hard it is to have to rely on others to get around – even when those others are happy to help. I hope your chair is now fixed and affording you some independence. It’s wonderful that you stay upbeat and determined to make the best of what ever life throws at you!

  • jasia says:

    It’s a true testament to your character that you could give such a glowing review of the conference after all you went through. How awful for you Craig. I’m sorry to learn that you are relying on wheels to get around these days but glad that you have them available and can still get about… even if the new motorized one has you going in circles. (That is a hilariously funny image though I’m sure it wasn’t funny at the time.)

    All the best,

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