Wednesday, September 27, 2017

23andMe and You

Several weeks ago it dawned on me that the house would soon be empty again. My youngest daughter would have returned to Boulder where she had found herself living in a "janky" house and near people who were very "chewgy."

And my other daughter, having safely returned from her malaria-adjacent adventures in Kenya and Tanzania, would be going back to Seattle for her senior year at UDUB.

In this moment of susceptibility I found myself watching another one of those commercials for 23andMe. Within 3 business days, the DNA collection kit had arrived and I was salivating and spitting all that good Siegel juice into a tiny vial.

The results came back. And there were not that many surprises.

The lab properly deduced that my paternal line is dominated by Ashkenazi Jews who lived somewhere between Poland and Latvia and some god-forsaken border on the eastern front, where I suspect it got too damn cold and one of my great bubbies turned to one of my great zetas and said...

"Oy Chaim, I'm cold and I'm not taking another step. This is where we shtettle."

The science people also got my mother's line of ancestors correct, that is in the more localized areas of England, Scotland and Ireland. Here, they had determined my predecessors had been getting soused on warm flat beer since the early 1800's.

I also learned I have 261 Neanderthal variants, which is surprisingly fewer than most respondents to the 23andme project. Meaning I'm more evolved than your average Homo Sapien. Or Advertising Account Planner.

This was shocking too consider the copious amount of hair emerging from my ears, ankles and shoulders. As well as my obvious disdain for cutlery and preference for eating with my hands.

But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the results was a section entitled Your DNA Relatives.

Turns out they enter all the chromosome readings into a data base and through matching and signature reading can determine a list of possible relatives based on telltale genetic similarities.

My list was over 1000 people long.
Moreover, the report gives their names.

Being of great curiosity I scanned the list and actually found a name that corresponds to one of my Facebook friends. Don't worry no names will be used. But it turns out this woman's uncle could also be my second or third cousin.

Can you imagine getting an email from Rich Siegel to the effect of, "Hey, I think we might be cousins or should join us for Thanksgiving....can you bring some bourbon? And those spicy hot blue tortilla chips, we love those?"

I'd be hitting that Unfriend button as fast as I could.

Who knows, maybe she already has.

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