Congress Preparations: 2

Some time ago, it was recommended that those of us from interstate should look at getting an OPAL card if we were intending to travel on public transport whilst in Sydney for Congress2018.

Being a Victorian, I was quite used to having a MYKI for public transport use, so the idea of being able to organise an OPAL before getting to Sydney was very appealing.  The last time I had traveled on public transport in Sydney, I was still able to purchase a ticket with cash and this also predated my elevation to SENIOR status.

Obtaining an interstate SENIORS OPAL Card online was a relatively straight forward process as long as you had access to both a printer and a scanner and a bit of time.  It was necessary to complete the application form, download it to sign it, scan it and also scan the front and rear of the appropriate pensioners or Seniors Card. Then all those scans are attached to an email to Transport for NSW.

The card is then mailed to your home address. My email was sent on 15 Feb and I received the card yesterday (27 Feb) I was pleasantly surprised at the speediness of the service considering that I am way out of a capital city and postal deliveries here can take every bit of the requisite four days (and then some) for standard letters.

So now its off to the website to register the card and load some dollars onto it so I can train it from the airport and light rail it around to the conference venue!



Countdown to Congress 2018

This morning, my Facebook feed informed me that there were just two weeks to go to the start of Congress 2018. Two weeks and I haven’t really started to think about how I can make the best of this event’s offerings.  I’ve been caught up in the rush of organising a trip overseas in 12 weeks time and had put Congress on the back burner, thinking I had plenty of time to ensure everything was in place. Silly me!

There’s a list being compiled regarding names  people are researching  – do I need to add any of my names to the list? Which line would benefit most from some in depth research?  Which is the most pressing brick wall? Should I consider seeking help/connections/references that will enhance my overseas trip? Which lectures and presentations should I see?

There are almost too many questions to answer!

Faced with all this, I decided that I should apply some of the skills I use every day when researching family and local histories – and start a Congress 2018 equivalent of a Research Log.  So what would this entail?

  • Preparing my questions
  • Consider the resources available through the Congress 2018 programme
  • Contact fellow researchers ahead of time and make appropriate appointments
  • Prepare a Congress 2018 timeline
  • Check I have all my bookings in place, appropriate equipment packed including my Blogger Beads
  • Check my diary for times I have committed to attend social engagements, meets and appointments
  • Breathe. Breathe. Smile and last of all, breathe.

Jill (GeniAus) reminded us recently about those who posted blog reports on Congress 2015 – there wasn’t a great deal to be seen on my site.  My resolutions about posting daily went out the window as there was so much to do and see, there seemed little time to reflect.  I admit to being a little busier on Twitter throughout the event but even that interaction fell short of my self imposed expectations.

Events like these can be overwhelming – there is so much to take in, so many people to meet and so much information to absorb – that all you want to do at the end of the day is to give your brain a rest before the next day’s onslaught.

In the past, I have felt that I have not been a good attendee if I didn’t attend every available session in the event’s timetable. I’ve sat through some less than adequate presentations and come away feeling cheated of time I could have spent more productively elsewhere.  I’ve enjoyed some amazing speakers yet felt rushed to get to the next place and consequently not able to fully absorb, reflect and respond to a brilliant presentation. This Congress will be different – I plan to be selective and to give myself time to really enjoy the material/speakers/presentations that are relevant to me which means I am likely to sit out a few sessions.

Why would I do this?

The filing cabinet of my brain is full to bursting – something has to give.  I want to make best use of the time and the expertise on offer so I am going to be choosy and what I will choose will reflect Point 1 up above – the questions to which I want to try and find answers will guide my lecture/presentation choices. If there’s not something offered in a particular time slot that may answer any of my questions, then I’l do one of two things. I’ll find a quiet spot, grab something to eat or drink and reflect on what I have done so far or perhaps chat with someone who’s also sitting out a session.  Otherwise I’ll follow up what I have just learned with a bit of connected research or writing up of notes or discussing my particular question with a likely helper.

Attending any sort of conference is not just about sitting and listening to experts as much as we appreciate their skill and time.  For me, its about where it can take you during the conference and after those experts have shared their wisdom. There are times I have found where you need to make immediate steps in your own research as a result of something you have learned as its all too easy to lose that great hint or other light bulb moment if you don’t attend to it straight away.

For me, during this Congress, there will be the equivalent of play breaks where I spend some time exploring leads, crashing through those brick walls and discovering some of those answers.




Back to Study time…

Its hard to believe that today is February 1st and that we are already one month into the new year. All my resolutions to spend the summer break finessing some of the lines of research I had pursued over the last year have disappeared in the heat haze.

Next week I begin a short course offered as MOOC through FutureLearn and the University of Glasgow:

Early Modern Scottish Palaeography

So – what’s Palaeography?

According to Wikipedia, its the study of ancient and historical handwriting – see their entry here.

What does this mean for a family historian? Let’s face it, the typewriter, printer, computer etc are all relatively modern inventions.  Not everything we might wish to examine appears neatly completed in Times New Roman and easily read.  If we have been successful in tracing our family’s line back to a time where all documents were handwritten in a variety of styles and on a variety of surfaces, we will find ourselves challenged to interpret them even if they are in a language we are supposed to understand.

Being able to interpret historic writing styles in handwritten documents will give us much better access to the content of original material which we should hopefully decode with enhanced skill thus reducing the risks of errors in our research.

It’s an additional skill in our repetoire as researchers and historians, and continually building that investigative skill set can only serve to broaden our knowledge and understanding resulting in better quality research results.

There is still time to enroll in this course – follow this link to the information page: While you’re at it and on the FutureLearn site, you might like to consider the University of Strathclyde’s short “Introduction to Genealogy” course as well.