Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Email Prompts and Emerging Projects

If you are like me, you have probably gotten far more email communication from anxious corporate executives in the past two weeks than you recall ever having done business with. I've since learned how just about every airlines I've ever flown has instituted nearly the exact same cleaning procedures so I won't worry when I can't board my cancelled flight to Oklahoma or Florida. I've also been party to offers from every hotel I've ever visited, assuring me my bonus points with their system won't expire yet, even though I still can't stay at their hotel during the trip that just got cancelled.

Emails from every restaurant chain, nearly imploring me to please consider take-out service from their kitchen (safely wrapped, of course) compete with the latest emails to show up in my inbox from now-shuttered department stores. If I could patronize each of these desperate entities, I would have enough new clothes to wear for years to come, but in sizes too small to accommodate my brand-new expanded figure from eating all those take-out meals.

So today, I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear I got yet another pay-attention-to-me plea from an e-business entrepreneur. Only this one was different. Instead of begging me to buy their food, drinks, clothes, gadgets, or online classes, this one took another approach. Already an online business, this company found another way to make me look at their website: provide a different way to offer me their services.

The company—you just knew this would be genealogy-oriented—was Family Tree DNA, a service I rely on to help build out my family trees. Because I have several family members tested at that company and have used all three of their DNA test types—not only autosomal, but Y-DNA and mtDNA—I've been accustomed to FTDNA's infrequent emails alerting me to new matches on my matriline or my husband's or brother's patriline. Most of those alerts, since they lead me to very distant matches, have been almost annoying; I crave information that can help me now. For some reason, though, the options for what to switch on or switch off don't seem to zero in on exactly what I want.

This time, though, was different—and for that, I'm glad. It's the autosomal test—FTDNA calls that their "family finder" test—which usually can yield the most information for my research purposes, but up to this point, hadn't been included in their automatic alerts. Hence, the reason I initiated my own system to checking all my test results at five different DNA companies on a biweekly basis.

Yesterday, I saw an email in my inbox with the straightforward subject line, "We found a new Family Finder relative!" Of course, my snide, snarky mind was thinking, "It's about time," but I do have to admit I was grateful to see the results. The message went on to say FTDNA had found one new "Close Family Finder" match for a specific relative whose account I administer.

Though I already was aware of this matching individual on my husband's family tree (I'd connected with researchers from that surname on those online forums back during the nineties), it was nice to see the company is now flagging customers when these matches of interest show up. Apparently, this individual had just tested at FTDNA—checking the website, I could see the match was posted with yesterday's date, so the note was immediately generated.

Perhaps that is FTDNA's soft approach to the entrepreneurial angst in the face of this coronavirus crisis, but I'm sure glad they didn't just send yet another letter explaining how they've heightened their cleaning procedure in the office. Yes, I'm glad everyone is taking care to prevent the spread of this new disease, but after a while, customers get weary of hearing these corporations continue to toot their own horns. On the other hand, customers will be interested in receiving something like this, if it makes things more convenient for them. It's a way to encourage further connection with test results and matches, which is a plus in my mind.

With that said, it looks like the DNA arena is my latest way to find projects to do while I'm distracted by all the ongoing uncertainty and difficulties of homebound operations. Believe me, three people trying to run three facets of a business from the same small house can be challenging, especially when all three get tied up on calls and video conferencing to separate entities all at the same time. In this hurry-up-and-wait environment, it's nice to take some down time here and there to chip away at that family tree. It sure can take one's mind off the uncertainty of the moment.


  1. Sounds like you are keeping the business up and running! Yes I get emails from everything I have an app for...several times a day :(

    1. Well, I know there is a silver lining to all the angst over this crisis, but right now, we are just thankful to be flexible enough to keep working. It does feel like we are running a three ring circus right now, though.


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