DNA Pie…Charts That Is

I’m obviously really excited to have been able to do my DNA.  My problem now is that I really want to understand more about my DNA, not just take the pie chart Ancestry provided and be happy about it.  I know I have DNA that didn’t show up on the Ancestry pie chart and I’ve heard other genealogists raving about what a great tool GEDMatch is.  So I decided to try my results at GEDMatch and see what happened.  Wow, am I ever overwhelmed right now!  There are so many tools at GEDMatch and uploading my raw data has provided tons of information that I neither understand right now nor do I know what to do with it, LOL.  So it’s time for me to look around and see what information I can find about using GEDMatch.

It must be my lucky month because among the many blog posts that appeared in my Feedly feed and I had tagged in Pocket to read later was a post from Randy Seaver at Genea-musings called My First Look at GedMatch Autosomal DNA Analysis.  It was totally perfect timing.  I still don’t understand a lot of what I’m seeing but it was great to find someone who was stepping through the process of uploading to GEDMatch at the same time I was.  Randy’s post inspired me to start clicking on links in GEDMatch to see what I could find.  And what I found was pretty interesting stuff.  In my post Surprisingly…No Surprises! I shared a clip of my Ethnicity Estimate from AncestryDNA.  I knew the AncestryDNA test tools weren’t the best out there and that the estimates weren’t necessarily the most accurate but it was a good place to start.  Now that I’ve completed the upload of the raw data and a GEDCOM file to GEDMatch I have quite a few more tools at my disposal.

One of the items I clicked on was the MDLP Ancient Roots K18 Admixture Proportions.  My first reaction on seeing the title was “Whaaaa????”  So, I did what any researcher would do and I Googled it.  What I found was a great blog post and presentation by Kitty Cooper about GEDMatch Tools which helped me understand the functionality of some of the tools at GEDMatch.  The MDLP Ancient Roots K18 Admixture Proportions basically just tells you your ancestral composition.  Each of the different Admixture calculators gives you a different breakdown of your ancestral composition.  On her presentation Kitty explains that “…the number at the end of each name is the number of reference populations the result is divided among.”  Okay, so that helps me understand the pie charts that are presented with each calculator I select.  So back to the calculator I clicked on, this is the chart I was presented when I clicked on the MDLP Ancient Roots K18 Admixture Proportions calculator:

MDLP Ancient Roots K18 Admixture Proportions
GEDMatch MDLP Ancient Roots K18 Admixture Proportion

Well that’s really interesting!  My Ethnicity Estimate on AncestryDNA said I was 97% European (36% Europe West; 23% Europe East; 17% Great Britain; 8% Scandinavian and 7% Ireland) which, according to my maternal grandparents and what I know of my paternal family is correct.  But, oh ho!  Look at how much more specific the GEDMatch data set is.  According to GEDMatch I’ve got something called Melano-Austronesian and Volga-Uralic in my DNA…whatever THAT is!  I really wanted to know what these terms meant but I haven’t had much luck finding any definitions online.  I was excited to see the teeny tiny bit of Native America I was rumored to have had shown up.  I haven’t been able to prove or disprove the stories about the Native American heritage that my Grandda told until now and while this isn’t 100% written-in-stone proof, it does give me a reason to keep looking for that heritage.

I kept playing around with the different calculators on the GEDMatch site and got some pretty interesting results…maybe one of these days I’ll actually figure out what all these terms mean!

MDLP World-22
MDLP World-22


MDLP World
MDLP World



That was my fun for this evening.  Kitty mentioned some calculators in her presentation that either currently aren’t available on GEDMatch or have been discontinued.  I’m a little disappointed about that because a couple of them looked like fun but maybe GEDMatch will bring them back.  So far I’ve been very happy with the tools I’ve tried at GEDMatch.  I just wish there was more information out there on how to use the tools and what everything meant.  I’m sure the information is there somewhere, I just haven’t looked in the right place yet.  If you have any suggestions, dear readers, throw them my way because I’m very curious now!

Genetic Genealogy…First Contact

I’ve been on such a genealogy-high since getting my DNA results back.  I honestly didn’t think I could get much more excited until…first contact!!!!!  I had pages of hints to review from AncestryDNA and as I was beginning to review each match on my DNA profile I received an email through Ancestry from one of my matches!  And…poof!  Just like that I was conversing with a fourth cousin through a branch of the family I hadn’t done hardly any work on because most of the line had already been traced.  And if that wasn’t exciting enough I learned that he was located only about an hour away from where I live (near where some of that family branch were buried) and some of his family actually lived in my area as well.

Until I received first contact I’d been a little hesitant to contact anyone.  Once first contact had been established I started going to town sending Ancestry messages to close matches.  And now it’s a waiting game to see if anyone responds back to any of the messages I sent out.  Meanwhile I’ll continue to explore the DNA profile to see what additional information I can gain from the DNA test.  Not one to remain idle, I’ve been working to get my raw data and GEDCOM file uploaded to GedMatch.  I’m still in the early learning stages of GedMatch and how to use it but I’ve heard it’s a very good resource.  And, of course, I’m also starting to explore the DNA, Genetics & Family Health section of Cyndi’s List, which has a dedicated section for GEDmatch & Other Analyzing Tools.  There is so much information on Cyndi’s List alone I’ll be occupied for a good, long while.

On a slightly different note, I’m also very excited to have been accepted into one of the upcoming Gen Proof Groups!  For those who don’t know the Gen Proof groups are small study groups who meet in an online forum and study the book Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones, PhD, GG, CGL, FASG, FNGS.  I’m looking forward to fine tuning my current genealogical skills as well as adding new skills.


Surprisingly…No Surprises!

I had a few minutes today to take a look at my AncestryDNA results and surprisingly…there were NO SURPRISES! Between my grandparents’ knowledge and stories and the work the family has done on the genealogy already I was well prepared for what Ancestry told me. Which, I have to say, was almost disappointing, LOL. I’d heard of so many people being surprised by their DNA tests I was almost hoping for something really out of the ordinary.

I was a little sad that the DNA test didn’t show any Native American ancestry. I know that the little tiny bit of that genetic material that I might possess is so small that current DNA tests probably wouldn’t pick it up but I was really hoping for a definitive answer on the question of whether we really do have Native American ancestry or if those stories were simply incorrect. I’ll just keep plugging along on my attempt to prove or disprove that history.


I’m looking forward to diving into the DNA a little deeper when I get home. I’m like a little kid at Christmas right now 🙂

Around the Town Thursday: Kansas City Livestock Exchange Building

Happy Friday eve everyone and welcome to another edition of Around the Town Thursday!  Today we’re back to exploring Kansas City and we’re highlighting the Kansas City Livestock Exchange Building.

Front of Kansas City Livestock Exchange Building


Entrance to the Kansas City Livestock Exchange Building

Originally built in 1910, the Livestock Exchange Building was the headquarters of the Kansas City stockyards.  According to the National Register of Historic Places application: “At the turn of the century the stock yards covered 207 acres with accommodations for 70,000 cattle, 40,000 hogs, 45,000 sheep and 5,000 horses and mules daily. By 1871 seven railroads were operating in the stock yards; today there are over ten miles of track inside the yards excluding acres and acres of track to the east and west.”

The stockyards themselves were originally established in 1871 in Kansas City, Kansas along the Kansas River and Missouri Pacific railroad tracks.  According to the Kansas City Kansan newspaper article “How KC became 1 of great stock markets of world”: “In the heyday year of 1923, 2,631,808 cattle were received at the Kansas City yards.”  The stockyards originally contained five acres and by 1883 another 125 acres had been added.  While there were earlier buildings erected on the grounds of the stockyards, the brick building that currently stands is considered the highlight of the period from 1871 to 1909.

Currently (after a thirteen million dollar renovation in 1991) the building serves as an office building, containing everything from restaurant facilities to a post office to a health club.  While not ornate in decor the building has beautiful original oak woodwork and a simple, yet beautiful Grecian key floor border.

This important piece of Kansas City history has withstood time, floods and the closing of the Livestock Exchange.  It’s now a part of the National Register of Historic Places, which will provide the opportunity for future generations to actually see this beautiful building.

Around the Town Thursday: Machu Picchu

In my last post I left you with a little teaser for my next Around the Town Thursday post.  I promised you something special so here it is:

Machu Picchu

Okay, so it’s not exactly around THIS town but my intention was to expand my Around the Town radius, although the original plan was to expand little by little.  So, um…yeah, that brings us to this week’s post on my travels to Machu Picchu!

Me (and Jack, who is located in my belt, haha) in front of the Central Plaza at Machu Picchu

In case you’re wondering about the buffalo in my belt in the picture above, the buffalo’s name is Buffalo Jack and he’s my traveling companion.  Jack was adopted in Fort Hays, Kansas.  D1 and I were there for one of my son’s band performances and I thought Jack was kind of cute.  D1 purchased him for me and we started taking pictures of him in different locations in Fort Hays.  It expanded from there and now he travels with me whenever I go.

Buffalo Jack at Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu was built by the Incan people about 7,000 feet above sea level in the fifteenth century.  According to UNESCO, “The approximately 200 structures making up this outstanding religious, ceremonial, astronomical and agricultural centre are set on a steep ridge, crisscrossed by stone terraces.”  According to the tour guide I had, Machu Picchu was never actually considered to be “finished”.  There was always ongoing work.  It was called a “Lost City” because when the Incans carved the city out of the surrounding landscape they used the landscape to their advantage and carved WITH the mountain, never destroying what they didn’t have to in order to build this beautiful place.  There are many theories as to what Machu Picchu was used for and no one has yet to learn the real purpose of it.

Terraces at Machu Picchu

Most people, when they decide to go to Machu Picchu, plan for months.  They make preparations well in advance and usually go during the good weather season.  That’s not what I did at all, haha!  I was scheduled to travel to Peru for a work meeting and whenever I travel for work I always try to see at least one interesting site in the locality I’m going to be in.  That’s how I’ve managed to see Tikal, climb Pacaya Volcano, walk the grounds of Chichen Itza, stand on the cliffs of Tulu’um, watch flamingos in Celestun and, now, climb the terraces of Machu Picchu and ascend the stairs of Huayna Picchu (okay, okay, so it was more like crawl up the stairs of Waynapicchu…no judging, LOL).

Machu Picchu – November 2013

Due to some indecision no arrangements for Machu Picchu were made prior to leaving the States.  D1 worked hard to help me make a tentative itinerary, since I’m a person that prefers to have a plan in place when I travel.  For anyone thinking about going to MP this is NOT my recommended course of action.  I strongly recommend you make your arrangements prior to leaving and definitely with a reputable tour company.  You may pay a little more on the front end but you’ll be more likely to get exactly what you want.  If you like a little adventure, go with a tentative itinerary and wing it.  It wasn’t awful but a little pre-planning on our part would have allowed us more time to enjoy MP.

As popular of an attraction as MP is, there is no direct way to get to MP.  From Lima (where my meeting was) I had to take a plane to Cusco, where a car picked us up and took us to a train station in Ollantaytambo (pronounced Oy-an-tay-tahm-bo).

Waiting in Ollantaytambo to take a train to Aguas Calientes!


A better picture of the street leading to the train station in Ollantaytambo

From Ollantaytambo we took a train (I highly recommend taking the Vistadome either going or coming back if you can, it’s really neat) to Aguas Calientes (known now as Machu Picchu Pueblo).  We used Peru Rail because I really wanted to ride the Vistadome train.  The picture of the Vistadome on Peru Rail’s website is pretty misleading (it shows an almost fully glass train car but the actual train cars simply have windows in the ceiling of the car) but it’s still neat to be able to look up and see the tops of the mountains.

Our chariot…I mean train…awaits!


Upper windows of the Vistadome train

The train ride takes about an hour and a half to get from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes and the scenery was beautiful.  I was able to mark another item off my bucket list in addition to going to MP…my first train ride!

On the train to Aguas Calientes!

We were served a nice little snack on the train, complete with a llama tablecloth!


When we arrived in Aguas Calientes, we located our hostel and checked in.  I was pleasantly surprised with how nice the hostel was (considering it’s remote location).  They really worked hard to make sure we were as comfortable as possible.  The only issue I had was the toilet was clogged in my room but the staff at the hostel immediately fixed it.  They also offered a baggage hold for guests after check out while the guests toured MP.

We spent a little time shopping in Aguas Calientes, grabbed some dinner and went to bed early since we planned to get up before sunrise so we could (hopefully) watch the sunrise in MP.  It was pretty questionable whether we would actually get to see the sunrise in MP however, because November is the rainy season and MP is so high it tends to be pretty foggy.  But we took the first bus up to MP where we met our tour guide the next morning.  I discovered the joys of having next to no lung capacity at all in Aguas Calientes and it wasn’t getting any better in MP.  What can I say, I’m a Midwest gal thru and thru.  But I kept pushing onward and upward with our tour guide cheering me on until we reached our sunrise viewing location.

A very foggy Machu Picchu

Unfortunately we did not get to see the sunrise.  But as I said, with it being November it was pretty questionable.  Our tour guide went out of his way to make sure we knew this in advance so, while I was a little disappointed, it wasn’t unexpected.  After the sun rose and the fog began to burn off, the tour guide took us on a two hour tour of the ruins explaining what different parts of the ruins were and how the residents of MP might have lived, worked and even celebrated.  Interestingly enough, the tour guide told us that nowhere in the Incan language (that had been discovered at this point) was there a word for war or warfare and that the Incan people were known as peaceful, highly intelligent scholars and workers.  The tour was great.  Well worth every minute and every penny spent on the guide.

Considering we barely had a plan for our trip to MP we managed to hit the jackpot and got tickets to climb Waynapicchu, a massive mountain about 1100 feet above MP that the Incas built a trail up the side of and temples and terraces on top of.  The climb up Waynapicchu is a restricted activity.  There are only 400 people a day allowed to climb WP and it’s done in two groups.  The first group must begin their climb between 8:00am and 9:00am while the second group must begin their climb between 10:00am and 11:00am.  If you don’t arrive to begin your climb within the specified start time you’re not allowed onto WP.

Entrance to Waynapicchu with a map showing different routes you can take,
some longer and some shorter.


Waynapicchu, if you look closely you can see the terraces and temples on top

And for good reason.  The trail up WP (and I use the term trail very loosely) is narrow and steep at times.  It was a difficult climb for someone like me who hadn’t make any advanced preparations physically and had little-to-no lung capacity.

Look very closely and you’ll see the train (close to the middle of the picture)


Coming down the train…WHOA that’s steep!


That’s me in the orange shirt at the turn in the trail

Despite the lack of planning going to MP was well worth the time, money and effort.  Here’s some recommendations I have if you’re thinking about going:

  • Make a plan in advance.  Even if you don’t stick to that plan, this is a location you really do want some type of itinerary to refer to simply because of all the different modes of travel you have to take to get there.
  • Use a tour company when at all possible.  It’s possible to maneuver through MP by yourself but it’s so much more enjoyable when you have someone explaining things to you.  It’s also worth the money to let someone else worry about the logistics of transportation 🙂
  • Everyone tells you to stay in Cusco.  I preferred Aguas Calientes to Cusco, even though there was less to do in Aguas Calientes.  Aguas Calientes was not only closer to MP so we were able to get up to MP to possibly see the sunrise but we were also able to relax the night before going to MP.
  • Get tickets for WP.  The 8:00am time slot would have been my preferred time slot because we could have had time to rest afterwards somewhere and then tour the rest of MP but even if you go at the 10:00am time slot it’s well worth the climb.
  • Take your time climbing around the ruins (and if you go) WP.  Enjoy the sights and views, take lots of pictures, and don’t push yourself past your limit.
  • Drink lots of bottled water.  Avoid the tap water at all costs.  Don’t overdo the alcohol.
  • Spend the FULL DAY at MP and return to Aguas Calientes that night.  Don’t go back to Cusco the day you tour MP.  There are tour companies that will sell you what they call a full day tour but before you purchase make sure that tour doesn’t send you to Cusco immediately after touring MP.  Returning to Aguas Calientes instead of Cusco will allow you more time at MP and will allow you to simply return to your hostel after exhausting yourself at MP.  And you will be exhausted.
  • See the Sun Gate and the Incan Bridge if you can.  I missed these sites at MP because we actually ended up with only a 3/4 day tour with the WP climb.
  • Stop to see the llamas (or alpacas)

A local Machu Picchu llama (or alpaca, I can’t remember which has the longer neck!)
  • Take time to acclimate to the altitude.  If you’re not used to the altitude it will take its toll on you.
  • There is ONE bank and ATM in Aguas Calientes.  And merchants charge an additional 10% to use your credit card there.  Plan accordingly.
  • When shopping plan to negotiate with the local merchants
  • Pay attention to your surroundings.  I didn’t have any issues but I’ve heard that pickpockets work in teams and catch their victims unaware by using distractions you might not think of as pickpocketing distractions.
  • Try a pisco sour, the national drink of Peru (and Chile).  I’m not saying their great but if you go to Peru you have to try the national drink, LOL

Above all else enjoy yourself.  Machu Picchu is an UNESCO World Heritage Centre and is absolutely worth the time and effort to see.  I enjoyed the time I was able to spend there and hope to go with D1 one of these days!

View of the terraces of Machu Picchu from the trail of Waynapicchu