Episode 233 - Young Man’s Job: Interviewing World War II Combat Vets Every Day

podcast episode Apr 22, 2018

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.  Fisher begins with his personal story of another brick wall coming down thanks to a pair of family DNA kits. And this one goes back quite a ways! David then shares the story of a woman who took a DNA test and learned, in her 30s, that Dad was not her father!  You’ll be as shocked as she and her parents were to learn who he really was. (Yes, you CAN get REALLY unexpected results!) Then, David has suggestions for creating a tree tracking physical traits. It could be a fascinating new element to your family story. David next talks about a remarkable artist who is colorizing historic photos. The man’s work changes everything about how you perceive the subject. Finally, a couple who was married in 1955 and divorced in 1968 is getting married again! Catch up with their story a half century later. David then spotlights blogger Elizabeth Handler on her blog FromMaineToKentucky.blogspot.com.  Elizabeth is picking up on Amy Johnson Crow’s idea of blogging about 52 ancestors in 52 weeks.

Next, in two parts, Fisher visits with Rishi Sharma. Rishi is twenty-one years old and spends every day interviewing World War II combat veterans. All of those that are left are now in their 90s. Find out how Rishi started down this path as a high school boy and what spurred on his interest. He’ll also share some of the compelling first hand stories he has learned.

Then, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, the Preservation Authority, talks about the recent National Association of Broadcasters convention and new ideas demonstrated there that could make a major impact on your preservation efforts just a few years from now.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 233

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 233

Fisher: Hello Genies and welcome to America’s Family History Show! It’s Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. This segment of the show is brought to you by FamilySearch.org. And we have another good one today, a great guest coming up in about 9 or 10 minutes. His name is Rishi Sharma and you may have seen him on CBS Sunday morning not too long ago. This guy is 21 years old and as a teenager he got real excited about World War II and started skipping classes to go interview World War II combat vets. And now he does this pretty much full time seeking to do this several times a day and he drives all over the country. So you’re going to want to hear what motivates Rishi, some of the stories he’s gathered, the reaction of some of these veterans who are now in their 90s by the way. It’s going to be a great couple of segments with Rishi Sharma coming right up. Hey, if you haven’t signed up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter” it is absolutely free, get on it. You can sign up at ExtremeGenes.com. And no, we don’t do anything with the list. We are not Facebook around here, okay?! Hey, let’s check in now with Boston and David Allen Lambert the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogy Society and AmericanAncestors.org. How are you David?

David: I’m doing great. How about yourself Fish?

Fisher: I’ve got to tell you, I’m a little tired because it’s been…you know how it goes where you get onto something and you stay up till like one in the morning working on genealogical stuff?

David: Best discoveries are at 2 am in the morning.

Fisher: [Laughs] They really are. Well, recently we did some DNA on my wife’s uncle and her mother and we had a breakthrough on their name line. And we finally were able to get back to a revolutionary soldier that was the common ancestor to all these people with the DNA match. And now we had a second DNA match for another associated line, and the family name was really interesting. We’ve been looking for this family Reath like “death” with an “R” for decades and haven’t had a lot of luck. And now we’ve determined because of DNA, it’s not only Reath but the name also came up as Ralph, Wreath, Rath and Rief from Cecil County, Maryland!

David: [Laughs] Wow.

Fisher: So you know, kind of complicated, but we have figured out the common ancestor and it’s been pretty fun, and that’s what DNA can do for you, right?!

David: I know DNA Painter is still occupying a lot of my time.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: In fact, I’m very excited that one of my cousins got her aunt, she was my mother’s last living first cousin, to do a mitochondrial DNA, so soon I will have the MTDNA of my great grandmother who died in 1920.

Fisher: Nice! Wow, that could be helpful.  Then there’s the other side of DNA and that kind of leads to our first story today in Family Histoire News.

David: Ooh, yeah. Yeah, a young lady named Kelli Rowlette had done some DNA and got surprising results. Apparently her dad is not her dad. She was conceived by artificial insemination. However, the doctor was her dad. 

Fisher: Oh, the fertility doctor. Oh, and she had no idea, right?

David: Absolutely, and now they’re suing for $10 million. I remember not long ago there was another story of this going on and apparently the person fathered hundreds of children.

Fisher: Yeah. Yeah it happened and apparently it’s happened a lot. So, yeah congratulations it’s a girl, “daddy doctor.”

David: Exactly.

Fisher: That’s unbelievably bad.

David: It really is, but you know DNA is one thing but there’s another thing you can do about characteristics that we inherit. It’s just by asking a question. So, I put out on my Twitter feed @DLGenealogist, “Have you ever recorded the physical characteristics of your ancestors, hair color, eye color, for your immediate family?” It’s a good start and it’s a great way to record history that may be forgotten. I mean, in history, you know the World War I, World War II draft gave you physical descriptions and I know that you’ve used records in the past that catch on early.

Fisher: Oh sure. Well, yeah just a few weeks ago discovered that newspaper clipping from a paper in London about a third great grandfather who abandoned the family in 1818 and it gave a full description, eye color, hair color, shape of his face, his complexion, what he was wearing, how tall he was. You know, it was unbelievable. So yes, you can get those from quite a ways back and it would be a really interesting thing to do and compare it to, say your 23AndMe/DNA profile.

David: Exactly. Well, you know, if you have a black and white photo, obviously you don’t want to take a crayon and color it in, but now in the digital age people like the Danish artist Mads Madson has been working to colorize history and bring it back to life in a different way. And we talked about just a couple of weeks ago, I believe, the young lady that died in Auschwitz during World War II where they colorized the picture and brought it back to life. But the pictures from the Civil War from the great dust bowl that they’ve been using and the one of Lincoln….

Fisher: It’s like he’s right there!

David: Absolutely. It’s a wonderful thing and I think that, you know, a lot of people back twenty or so years ago were upset with Ted Turner with colorizing movies, but I think this is great technology.

Fisher: [Laughs] 

David: I’d go to a class to learn how to colorize some of the black and white photographs.

Fisher: Absolutely. Yes.

David: Well, sometimes your marriage pictures are in black and white, but how about if that same marriage can occur again in color, in digital even? A couple in Kentucky who was divorced 50 years ago are getting remarried next week. And so happy new anniversary for Harry Holland and Lillian Barnes who were teenagers when they first met and fell in love. They got divorced in 1968 but they’re getting married this month. They are now 83 and 79.

Fisher: They got married originally in 1955 so they’ll have two sets of wedding pictures that would look quite a bit different.

David: Yes and so they could colorize the old one. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

David: Well, you know, each week I like to throw out a blogger so the blogger spotlight this week goes to Elizabeth Handler who has an interesting blog titled FromMainetoKentucky.blogspot.com. And what she’s been doing is what a lot of people have done with my friend and colleague Amy Johnson Crow’s idea of 52 ancestors in 52 weeks. So this latest blog from Elizabeth is her great aunt Margie, the maiden aunt. So, it’s a great way to kind of go out and talk about your ancestors through your blog. And this might give our listeners an example of maybe starting one of their own on the same idea.

Fisher: Absolutely

David: And don’t forget, if you want to join NEHGS you can become a member and save $20 by using the checkout code “Extreme” on AmericanAncestors.org.

Fisher: Alright David, thank you so much and we’ll talk to you next week. Good stuff!

David: Pleasure to talk to you as always.

Fisher: And coming up next I am going to talk to Rishi Sharma. He’s 21 years old and he spends all of his days interviewing World War II combat vets. Wait till you hear his story. Wait till you hear some of their stories and what he’s going to do with those. It’s all coming up for you next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 233

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Rishi Sharma

Fisher: You know, it wasn’t that long ago just a few weeks back my wife and I were hanging out one Sunday morning watching CBS Sunday Morning which often features interesting people doing unique things, involved in arts and history, and we saw the story of Rishi Sharma, a Californian who is just twenty years old and started as a teenager collecting the stories of World War II combat veterans. Hi, it’s Fisher and this is Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com and this segment is brought to you by MyHeritage.com. And I am pleased to have Rishi on the phone with me right now. Rishi welcome to Extreme Genes. It’s great to have you!

Rishi: Hi sir. I hope you’re doing well. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about the heroes of the Second World War.

Fisher: Well, you are an amazing guy because I’m thinking where I was at twenty years old and some of the things that I was doing and well, I was always fascinated by meeting some of the World War II vets that I came across very routinely when I was young. I don’t know that I dug too much into their stories other than an uncle, and you started at this at what age?

Rishi: I started interviewing World War II combat veterans when I was about sixteen and a half.

Fisher: Sixteen. So, you were in high school at the time in California, your family is from India initially, they came in the 1970s, and so you are the first generation American in your family. At what point did you say, “I’ve got to talk to these people. I got to get to meet them and know their stories” and what has taken place over the last four years since you started this?

Rishi: So, ever since I was a little kid I’ve always wanted to be a Marine. But when I thought of a Marine, I thought of an eighteen year old with nothing but the shirt on his back and a rifle in his hand fighting in the jungles of Guadalcanal on the sands of Iwo Jima, fighting this really pure good versus evil fight. And as I got older, I lost interest in the military but I never lost interest in the World War II veterans. And so I would read as much as I could about the war and I started reaching out to some of the veterans that I would read about. I would just look up their names on the computer, and if I didn’t see an obituary I found them online in the phone book and it was the most amazing feeling to talk to a real life hero, someone who really went through hell so that I could have a chance at life today. And it’s so easy to talk to them. You know, if I wanted to talk to a useless celebrity like the Kardashians, I’d have to go through a million people.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Rishi: But to talk to a real-life super hero, I could just call them. And that’s what really inspired me to start riding my bike to local nursing homes and meeting with the veterans face-to-face. I mean, every single retirement community has World War II veterans. And by the time I interviewed all the veterans in one home, I would go to the next. And then, the local paper did a story about what I was doing and people started calling me and reaching out to me and saying, “I know a World War II veteran” “My dad’s a World War II vet” “My grandpa’s a World War II veteran, you should interview them.” And so I started ditching class to go do interviews. I was learning more from someone who’s been for ninety plus years than I was in class.

Fisher: Sure.

Rishi: And at that point, the Associated Press did a story about my mission and that went national and that’s how the folks at CBS picked it up. And now thousands and thousands of people have reached out to me across the country telling me about World War II veterans that they know. And a lot of people were very generous and supported me through an online fundraiser. And ever since I graduated high school I’ve been driving across the United States on a mission to meet and interview two to three World War II combat veterans every day until the last one passes away.

Fisher: Wow! That’s incredible. So this is your fulltime job now and you’re basically funded by people who support your mission. Is that still going on?

Rishi: Yes sir, but in all honesty I was very fortunate that a lot of folk donated and at this point it wouldn’t be right if I was trying to take people’s money if I wasn’t necessarily going to use it while I still have a lot of fun.

Fisher: Sure.

Rishi: So the biggest help people can provide is telling me about World War II combat veterans that they know about and even you know getting off their butts and visiting these veterans at their local community, you know?

Fisher: Sure.

Rishi: Because on my website HeroesoftheSecondWorldWar.org there’s a step-by-step guide I made for people telling them how they can do their own interviews and how easy it is. And I don’t want my generation to be the generation that when the last World War II veterans passes away it suddenly dawns on people, “Wow, I wish I spoke to my grandpa more.”

Fisher: Sure.

Rishi: “Gosh you know, I wish I listened to what my elderly neighbour had to say and didn’t just shrug off what they were telling me and the advice that they were giving me.” “Oh man, I wish I went to that retirement community and recorded the lives of people who grew up in the Great Depression and fought in World War II.” You know, it’s a lot of “woulda, shoulda, could have.”

Fisher: Yeah.

Rishi: Now is the time because we have all the technology. Everyone has a camera because everyone has a smart phone, we have the transportation to get to get to a veteran, we have the means to find out who they are and where they live, there’s really no excuse why we shouldn’t get all these veterans interviewed.

Fisher: [Laughs] Amen and amen Rishi! So, let’s go back again. I want to talk about the school thing. You started cutting classes, how did your teachers feel about what you were doing at the time and how did you go about graduating?

Rishi: Oh you know, all I can say on that note is that school was never the biggest things for me. I mean, I’m not dumb.

Fisher: No, obviously not. [Laughs]

Rishi: I should say that basically cutting class just wasn’t that big of an issue. The stuff that they give you is a lot of busy work and it’s really not stimulating for the mind. And the stuff that they were teaching was not something that it was necessary for me to be present in the classroom learning.

Fisher: I see.

Rishi: It’s not like I ditched every day.

Fisher: Sure, yeah. It was just now and again. Did some of the teachers appreciate what you were doing?

Rishi: You know, I didn’t really publicize it too much in the school. The principle was really behind me and he helped out. He was really supportive because his grandpa was a World War II veteran.

Fisher: Okay.

Rishi: They were supportive in the sense that they were helping connect the dots. The school superintendent stepped in and wanted to help to get some more publicity. He reached out to the local news affiliates and they did stories about my mission. For me, it just wasn’t as big of a deal as I think it would be for some people.

Fisher: Tell me about your folks. Obviously they’ve been watching you through this. Have they been supportive?

Rishi: Not really. My father, he was very verbally and physically abusive growing up, you know in the family.

Fisher: Okay. Yep.

Rishi: And so, it wasn’t the best household growing up. My mother is a very lovely person. But you know, with arranged marriages you’re kind of stuck in that situation, which is what they had. And I would be lying to you if I said that they were very supportive and helped me because it’s not really true.

Fisher: Right.

Rishi: But I can say that it’s pretty hard to be upset at your kid when they’re on CBS Sunday Morning.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs] Doing good things and helping remember the people who helped keep this country free.

Rishi: Yeah. I’ve met so many families on the journey. Moms that have said that, “I wish I could have adopted you. I wish you were my son.” And that’s really nice to hear from people because I never felt that at home.

Fisher: Sure.

Rishi: And I just know that if I grew up in a different household I would have got started a lot earlier.

Fisher: So let me ask you this Rishi, when you go to visit a combat veteran from World War II, they’re typically in their 90s now right?

Rishi: No, no every single World War II combat veteran in the United States is 92 and older.

Fisher: Okay. So, they’re 92 and older, they’re not necessarily used to the technology being put in their face and all that, let’s just talk about your technique a little bit. How do you get them relaxed and how do you get them to open up because let’s face it, a lot of people who have been through these experiences are typically pretty quiet about things.

Rishi: So, the interviews I conduct, it’s not like 60 Minutes. It’s not a police interrogation. It’s really just a conversation I’m having. I have three things in my court that really supports what I’m doing. I’m the same age the veterans were when they were in combat. I do a lot of research about the war so when you’re a combat veteran it’s hard enough to talk about your experiences but it’s even harder when you’re trying to explain it to a civilian. But if I already go in with an understanding of the different between a platoon and a company, or what D-Day was versus the Invasion of Tarawa in the Pacific, it really puts them at ease. But the most important thing I’m not related to any of the World War II veterans. So there’s no emotional attachment and they can talk to me like I’m one of the guys in a censor free environment.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Rishi: And usually the way the interviews play out, I get there, I set up, we have a little bit of small talk and I find a nice quiet area with nice lighting, and I don’t have a fancy setup with lights and everything because that’s like shining headlights at a deer.

Fisher: Yeah, right.

Rishi: I use natural light and I make the veteran comfortable in the usual chair that they sit in, and we just start talking and I kind of prod them through their life. That’s just really what the interview is. We start off talking about where they were born and how they grew up in the Great Depression, what they wanted to do with their lives before the war broke out, and how they heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor, and then at a certain point I’m really just prodding them along and filling in the gaps while they’re really giving the meat of the story. So I’ll say after Pearl Harbor, take me through, how did you end up in the service?

Fisher: Sure.

Rishi: And then they’ll take me through how they enlisted and they drafted, then we go through the training. But the interviews tend to be notable hours and the majority of that time is focused on combat. If you’re willing to listen and you show that you care, and you find it important that people understand what they went through during the war, a lot of them are more than willing to talk about it. It’s a tough thing to talk about killing people and seeing your best friends getting killed. But it happened and they know that more than anyone. And if we don’t want it to happen again they’re going to have to speak up and people are going to have to listen.

Fisher: All right Rishi, great point. And you know what, those are all the things professionals do in interviews too, is to try to make people feel comfortable. All right, we’re going to continue with Rishi Sharma. He’s a 20 year old from California going around the country interviewing World War II combat vets. We’ll get more from him coming up next in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.       

Segment 3 Episode 233

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Rishi Sharma

Fisher: We are back! It’s America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by FamilySearch.org and I’m talking to Rishi Sharma. He’s a 20 year old Californian who spends every day out visiting and interviewing World War II combat veterans. He’s in Denver, Colorado as we speak today. Rishi, let’s just get an idea, who have you been talking to today? What stories are you hearing?

Rishi: Oh, today was a great interview. I interviewed a World War II hero who is 103 years old. He was born in 1915 and he was some of the first guys drafted in the state of Nebraska and he saw a lot of combat. He fought all the way from North Africa to Sicily up the boot of Italy and he was a platoon sergeant which means he’s in charge of about 42 men’s lives. And he was in a famous division called the 3rd Infantry Division where Audie Murphy served. And Audie Murphy is the most decorated soldier from World War II.

Fisher: Right.

Rishi: And this man, he was wounded twice. He had multiple bullet wounds and he is still alive and he is still active. At 103 he drove to South Dakota from Denver just a couple of days ago. It’s amazing. They’re amazing.

Fisher: [Laughs] How did these people receive you?

Rishi: You know, for a lot of the veterans this is the first time they’re talking about it in 75 years. So, at first they’re kind of timid, but once they kind of get to know me and know that I’m not there to judge them and I’m just there to learn, they are the most welcoming, humble, amazing and heroic people anyone will ever come across in their lives. They‘re so generous, you’ll never meet another generation who every single day of their lives has been about other people, you know. From quitting school in the Great Depression to put food on the table to lying about their age to get into service, it’s always been about how to help other people. And I used to think that every single day I get to spend and look one of these heroes in their eyes. It’s such a blessing.

Fisher: So tell me Rishi do any of these people, you say it’s the first time they’ve spoken about their experience in some cases. Do any of them get emotional in the course of sharing their story? 

Rishi: So, a lot of veterans, as you mentioned, I focus on World War II combat veterans and I tend to focus a lot on the infantry soldiers you know which were the dogfaced soldiers who actually saw the enemy and lived in a foxhole. And for a lot of them they told me things that they never told anyone else, and it’s an opportunity to get some things off their chest before they passed away. You know, killing people, and I thought that was a really big thing and it is a big thing, but it seems that what affect the veterans more is to see their friends killed. A lot of them talk about guys who they trained with for years and guys who they became really close to only to get out of combat and see them get blown apart or shot right in front of them. That’s what really tears them apart. When people are shooting at you, it’s a lot easier to shoot back. But when you know someone and you know their family and you know the kind of person they are, and to see them getting killed, that’s what really tears them apart. And a lot of them, they feel that they can finally share that.

Fisher: Do they cry when they talk about these things sometimes?

Rishi: Oh yes, even the toughest World War II veterans sometimes tear up and I’ve had a few veterans break down when talking about losing their friends or having to kill people.

Fisher: Yeah. So, what was some of the most amazing things that you have been shown, you know, items that were memorabilia from their experiences?

Rishi: Well, in all honesty I just go there really for the interview. I take pictures of the veterans with some of their belongings. A lot of them picked up souvenirs off of the dead soldiers whether it be dead Germans or dead Japanese. They would have pictures. One very sad story, can I share that story?

Fisher: Sure, please.

Rishi: I interviewed this paratrooper up in Erie, Pennsylvania, very nice man and he talked to me about his experiences. He jumped in during the Normandy invasion and he also made a later jump in Holland called Market Garden and he was 18 years old when he was in combat. He was a paratrooper so he volunteered to put himself in that position, but he talked to me about a patrol that he went on. And he and his squad, about twelve guys were walking along and a group of Germans ambushed them, came out of the woods to their right. And he did instinctively, he saw a German, he fired. He hit the German in the chest and he killed him and that was the first time he had to kill someone. He’s such a friendly person, he wouldn’t hurt a fly, you know, this man. But the fact that he had to do that it really tore him up, but the story goes on that some of his buddies went through that dead German’s pockets and you know they were just looking for cigarettes and things like that. And they came across some pictures and one of the pictures landed at his feet and it was a picture of this German soldier, the one who he had just killed and he told me the German soldier was about his age, about 17 or 18, a young kid.

Fisher: Yeah.

Rishi: And the picture it was a picture of the German soldier with his mother and his little sister. And at that point the veteran looks up to me and says, “I know I didn’t just kill an enemy, I killed a person you know, someone’s kid.” A lot of veterans have souvenirs that they picked up like the Samurai swords of the dead Japanese or rifles. The Luger pistol was a really highly sought after item when you fighting the Germans, but really, the things that I’m there for are the veterans’ memories. And another veteran who’s really been impactful came with a twin brother, served together. They were in a rifle company and usually brothers were not allowed to stay in the service.

Fisher: That’s right.

Rishi: And they were separated during training but they were so upset because they were so close that they begged their mother to write a letter to their commanding officer at their base and asked if they could be put in the same unit and that she gave her permission. And they did that. And they go overseas and they fight together and they were a dynamic duo is what I like to think of them as. The two of them received the Silver Star which was the nation’s third highest award for valour. They knocked out four German tanks, three machine gun nests, four German mortar positions, all by themselves in a matter of about half an hour during the Battle of the Bulge.

Fisher: [Laughs] Wow.

Rishi: It was truly amazing and they were both 18 when they were doing this. And the story goes on. The veteran who I interviewed his name is James Krebs and he talked to me about his brother Jake and they were running in the field and they came under machine gun fire, and his twin brother, identical twin, was shot right in front of him. And he talked to me about what it was like to hold your best friend and your twin brother in your arms and see him dying. He was telling me about the kind of things his brother was telling him and they both were and are very religious. And the veteran who I interviewed was able to give his last rites for his brother but right as he finished a German sniper shot and killed his brother instantly. And to think that, you know, this man had to go through all that. He talked to me about how he had lost in faith for a while after that experience and how upset he was at the world but he eventually regained his faith. And it was just such an inspirational story how you can truly persevere through anything. And if you think you’re having a bad day because you are stuck in traffic or your phone died you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

Fisher: [Laughs] You’re right.

Rishi: And we’re so fortunate to have the problems that we have in this country versus problems that they have elsewhere that we really need to wake up.

Fisher: Well, you are absolutely amazing. And if you know someone who’s a World War II II hero that you’d like Rishi to interview you can reach him at area code 202-813-0992. That’s 202-813-0992. Rishi, thank you for your time. Go get another interview.

Rishi: Yes, thank you for the opportunity!

Fisher: Tom Perry is next to talk preservation on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 233

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Hey, welcome back, its America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here. Tom Perry is in the house from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority, always answering your questions about preservation. And Tom, I don't know why we're going to talk about the National Association of Broadcasters, but there's been some stuff coming out of there that affects apparently our world when it comes to preservation.

Tom: Oh, it really does. I got my teeth in this kind of thing, in the old broadcasting business. And I still love it. I love going to NAB, seeing all the new whistles and bells. But the neat thing about it and a good way to relate it to our listeners is, if you have like an Acura car, the car's really cool, there's all kinds of neat stuff on them. They didn't invent it for Acura. It came out of Formula 1. And you're probably totally uninterested in Formula 1, you might not even know what Formula 1 is, you've probably never seen a race, but that's where they try and test things. And once they get all the bugs out of it and they're $30,000 for this piece of equipment, by the time they get all this done and it ends up in your Acura, it’s like a $500 option.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: Like the cars that drive automatically, the ones that keep you from drifting into the wrong lane, the ones that stop because you forgot to hit your brakes when the deer jumped out in front of you or you're getting too close to the car in front of you.

Fisher: Yeah, we see the ads.

Tom: Yeah, all this technology came from Formula 1. But now they've got it perfected, they can put it in our cars, because they've already expensed it out in Formula 1, so to speak, in Formula 1. So we go to NAB and they're got some of the coolest things. In fact, Dwayne Brown, who is the director of Creative Technology as Rogers Media, came up with something that is absolutely the smartest thing I think I've ever heard. He said it’s not about the tech, it’s about the people using the tech.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: Which is so true. The technology is out there, and whether I'm using it, a place down the street is using it, some place in Dothan, Alabama in using it, whoever's using it, that same technology is going to be used in different ways. That's why on this show, we always tell you when you're getting your videotapes transferred and your audio tapes, do them in real time, not through a computer.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: But in a machine that's made specifically to go real time from your tape to a disk or an MP4, whatever kind of format you want, because it’s made for that. Any time you go and speed it up, it’s going to harm it. So it’s the same thing. All these different people have the same technology, why is it so much better to go to us or one of the people that we recommend? Because we know how to take this technology and use it the best. In fact, I've kind of adapted it his thing a little bit and said, it’s not about the technology, it’s about the technician using the technology.

Fisher: Yep. So whether that's you or whether that's a professional.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Yeah, yeah.

Tom: So when a lot of this comes from these professionals that are used to making literally hundreds of dollars an hour for the cheap guys and thousands of dollars an hour for the big guys, but then it drops down. Like the DaVinci program we tell people about that you can download for free. When that first came out, it was used only in motion picture production studios and it was like $3,000 for what they call a one seat license. But now that stuff's come down to us and it’s made it more possible for us to use it. And one of the neatest things that I've seen that's on the horizon is, there's artificial technology and you think, "Oh, yeah, it’s Steven Spielberg’s AI movie" and all this kind of stuff.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: But they wrote that when this stuff was first happening. You're going to have scanners, we talked about last week that you're going to be able to have artificial technology. It’s not just algorithms. It’s actually looking at your photo, looking at your negatives. It knows what it’s supposed to look like and it takes your scans and takes a lot of the Photoshopping afterwards out of your hands.

Fisher: Oh!

Tom: You don't even have to do it anymore.

Fisher: Wow!

Tom: And with a Photoshop, you can go and write algorithms and say, "Okay, on all these photos that are like this, I want you to do this, I want you to do this." With this artificial technology, it’s going to automatically figure that out itself and go make these things look crazy. And if somebody were to have told me this about five years ago, I would have said, "Oh, okay, yeah, right. You know, I've got some beachfront property in Utah I'd love to sell to you" but it’s really, really true. This artificial technology is getting so fast and so cheap now as costs of microchips and things are coming down and the things that they can put on the chips. Like my son asked me specifically about this the other day and I told him, it’s not that we didn't know how to do it ten years ago, we didn't have the technology to make a chip small enough that we could put all that stuff on that chip to make it work.

Fisher: It’s unbelievable where we're going. All right, I want to hear more about this and the NAB and what it means to us, coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 233

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: All right, back at it, talking preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. It is Fisher here on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. And Tom's kind of giving us a little vision of the future.

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: From the National Association of Broadcasters Convention, the NAB. And you're basically telling us that all this new software is coming down the pipe that it’s just going to change everything about how we preserve and I love the sound of it. You know, not long ago, I was moderating the DNA panel at RootsTech with some of the top DNA specialists in the world, and they were all saying, it could be that in five years, we spit in a cup, we send it in and we get our lines. [Laughs]

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: And they weren't kidding. And it’s like, I personally really struggled with that idea, because you would really need to know who everybody was, you'd have to understand who was what from non-paternal events. I struggle if that's true. But nonetheless, they're the experts and I'll take their word for it now with a big grain of salt.

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: But what you're saying to me sounds very reasonable.

Tom: Oh it is. And just like you're talking about, its artificial intelligence again. So you're going to have this DNA sample that comes back. And this artificial intelligence, which is not just an algorithm, like I said, this is truly things that think that are going to take this information and they're going to look at all these different lines, they're going to see where they come together and it’s almost like magic. You open your little box there and all the beautiful roses pop out and give you your line!

Fisher: [Laughs] Wouldn't that be something!

Tom: Oh, it’s crazy, it’s amazing! And like this technology just with the scanners, one of the hottest movies out right now it’s called Black Panther.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: They had a demonstration there called "telling a superhero story like no other." And so, what they've done is, they've gone on like the visual effects supervisor and the rerecording people that work at like Skywalker Sound, they have come out and showed how they're taking this kind of technology and this artificial technology and being able to adapt it to other things. And so you think, "Well, what's this movie got to do with my home stuff?" Well, your home movies, your 8mm, your super8, your videos, all these kinds of things, with this artificial technology, you'll be able to run it through one of these machines that's going to be able to take all this kind of stuff and automatically fix it. And it’s also going to be able to go and categorize it, which is what our friend, Marlo Schwartz, the mad engineer and scientist is working on something.

Fisher: Yes, “The Mad Scientist.”

Tom: Oh yeah! Some of the software that he's working on right now is kind of based on this, where you're going to be able to take all your pictures and not say, "Okay, tie all these keywords." Put a keyword here, a keyword here, a keyword here, so when they search for David, they can find all these different things. This artificial technology Marlo's working on is going to do it for you automatically. So when you're scanning the photos, its automatically putting the tag lines on them, its automatically putting GPS coordinates on it, it’s doing all this kind of stuff.

Fisher: Wow!

Tom: And my head wants to explode, because it’s artificial technology and it’s hard to wrap your head around.

Fisher: All right though, but you're frightening me a little, because I know somebody's going to be listening and thinking, "Oh, well I'm not going to do anything to preserve my pictures for another five to ten years," and it’s like, "No, you don't want to do that."[Laughs] Because obviously you're going to have more deterioration every day your picture or your film sits out or your audio or whatever, it’s going to deteriorate.

Tom: Oh absolutely! You have to digitize today, because there is no tomorrow. Because when you're running through the scanners we just mentioned that does this stuff, it does the same thing. If you've already got jpegs or TIFFs or whatever, it does the same thing. You get the software and it'll be a lot faster now that it’s scanned, because it can go and read these jpegs and TIFFs faster than you can even blink your eye and it will go and tell you all this kind of stuff. It will tie all the stuff together. You push a button and all of a sudden, the whole tree pops up on your screen with all these faces of all these pictures that you took that all your line and its all tied in your DNA and your head will explode.

Fisher: I think yours just did, Tom.

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: Thanks so much. We'll see you next week.

Tom: My pleasure.

Fisher: All right, that's our show for this week. Wow, that's a note to leave you on! Be sure to sign up for our Weekly Genie newsletter, absolutely free! We give you a blog each week, a couple of links to some great shows, new and old, plus links to stories that you as a genealogist will fully appreciate. Thanks once again to Rishi Sharma for coming on the show. The 21 year old who is spending every day interviewing World War II combat veterans around the country. If you missed that part of the show or you want to hear it again, of course catch the podcast at ExtremeGenes.com, iTunes, iHeart Radio or TuneIn Radio. Once again, thanks for joining us. Talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!


Subscribe now to find out why hundreds of thousands of family researchers listen to Extreme Genes every week!

Email me new episodes