Thursday, 25 September 2014

WANTED: RootsTech 2015 Roomie

I am dying to attend RootsTech 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah on Feb 11-14 next year.


(Fitting for a zombie, no?)

At first I was feeling a bit intimidated by this huge conference. Okay, I'll admit it - I've been SKERRED of it! All the classes, all the professionals... all the PEOPLE in general! I'm not much into crowds and I'm not a great one for small talk which makes networking a tad difficult. And on top of all that Salt Lake City itself is like the genealogist's Mecca. I don't know if I'm ready for the library of all libraries!!!

I have also been leery to the point of despondent because of the sheer cost of attendance. Registration fee, any extra events or classes... then whatever you buy in the marketplace (and you WILL buy something in the marketplace no matter how hard you try not to)... and hotel costs, food and FLIGHT on top of that (cuz I'm not driving for 24+ hours in the winter)... YIKE! No one ever said genealogy was an inexpensive pursuit but SHEESH!

So I'd pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I won't be putting in an appearance at RootsTech for a while. And then registration opened this morning...

When I have many other genealogical things I could be doing with my time, of course I found myself browsing the classes they're offering... perusing the events schedule... taking a quick peek at the price list... Annnnnd I got my hopes up.

*face palm*

The student rate for registration is $39 for the 4 full days as opposed to $159 (or $139 if you take advantage of the coupon code on the RootsTech Facebook page: That's quite the difference, Batman!!!

Annnnnd technically I'm a student. Not even just technically - officially. I am currently enrolled at the National Institute for Genealogical Studies in the Canadian Records, English Records and Professional Development certificate programs. I am hoping to graduate in the spring of 2016. However, although NIGS used to be affiliated with St. Michael's College of the University of Toronto, they are not anymore and so NIGS is an online only, distance-education type of school. My point is: NIGS is not a traditional university; therefore, I wasn't sure if the RootsTech student rate would apply to me since a Student ID will be requested upon arrival.

Curious, I emailed RootsTech Information at with my inquiry and was pleasantly surprised with a response in  less than 10 minutes. Their verdict is that if I can provide an official letter confirming my enrollment or a current transcript upon arrival, they will give me the student registration rate!

WOOHOO!!! *happy dance*

But wait... wait, wait, wait!

Can I really afford this? Really?

Thanks to a quick google, I estimate about $500 for a round trip flight from Ottawa to Salt Lake City. (I will have to tell hubby to stay home LOL). Then I have to factor in a hotel room that is not too far from the conference so that I can walk there - for four nights, this will probably be around $400 plus tax. Then there is food to consider... and anything I absolutely NEED to purchase at the marketplace... So at least $1000 to get there and acquire shelter and sustenance.

That's a lot...


At the student rate, I can attend the full four days of the conference (even though I don't think I will go to the Developer's Day), three lunch events, the evening dinner thingy and a couple of computer labs for pretty much the same price as a regular registration! That's really a very hard opportunity to pass up - I won't be a student forever, afterall! If I had to pay the full rate, I probably would not go to any of the extra events.

It's a gut-wrenching decision...

So, I'm looking for a RootsTech 2015 Roomie! Anyone interested??? Non-smoker please.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Ottawa Restaurant REVIEW: The Golden Palace

No concern for customer service anymore. It's sad. I guess they think they're "famous" in Ottawa so they can afford to treat some customers like utter crap. Clearly they don't value every customer when they are really busy or an individual staff member is feeling overwhelmed. It should never be okay for staff to treat customers with anything but decorum and respect. Unfortunately, we will never be going back after the way we were treated this time.

And, to be clear, this was their second chance in our mind. The last time we were there they were way over-crowded, condescending to the point of rudeness, took way too long to deliver our orders and the food (yes, even the eggrolls) were just awful.

Come to think of it, we even went in once on our way past just to get an eggroll each and the person behind the counter laughed at us for only buying two. "Only two? Ha!"

I think their food quality has slowly been declining over the past little while. Even the eggrolls at Scotiabank Place / Canadian Tire Centre have been off. It seems to be very hit-or-miss among our friends who have been patrons. We might be willing to deal with the poor service if the food was what it was once.

Good luck to any who decide to chance it.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Toronto CityPASS Review: Recommended but Time Limit Could Pose a Problem For Some

We purchased the Toronto CityPASS well in advance of our late August 2014 trip which was a convenience greatly appreciated. We intended to visit at least the Zoo and the CN Tower on this trip, just the two of us (adults). It is a good price for multiple attractions.

We did get into the zoo without much of a wait thanks to the pass - only two people ahead of us. We enjoyed the zoo thoroughly even though we only got to see a fraction of it. It would be nice to see a discount for cityPASS holders for parking ($10 per car) or the Zoomobile (regularly $8 per person) as we were not interested in nor able to use the discounts for the carousel or climbing attractions.

Picking up the pass was no problem and keeping it for each attraction's agent to remove the appropriate pass is simple enough; however, I would really appreciate the pass being valid for a whole year or at least longer than 9 days (maybe 30 days/ a month?). We were in town for 13 days but had other commitments for many of the days, leaving only a few to choose from on which to visit the cityPASS attractions. The Zoo and the CN Tower are largely reliant on good weather, too, which makes scheduling difficult. Additionally, if you have personal health issues (ie, chronic pain, allergies, etc) which can dictate how you feel and what you can do from day to day sometimes randomly and sometimes according to the weather, getting to enough attractions within the 9 day limit to make the pass a worthwhile expense could be a problem.

So, yeah, we did not make it to any other attraction for an amalgamation of these reasons and ended up spending approximately $60 each to JUST see the Zoo. Now, obviously, we knew these risks ahead of time and chose to purchase the pass anyway so I'm not complaining. I simply want to point out to other purchasers some potential problems they might not have thought to consider. And it can't hurt to pass on the same to the cityPASS company.


-- you're someone who knows that you will not need to stray from a strict vacation schedule or timeline for health reasons and/or weather

-- you're mostly interested in the attractions that don't rely on good weather