Thursday, September 27, 2007

Happy Birthday to Dave!

Today is Dave’s 30th Birthday and many of us are paying him tribute on our blogs. Dave is the coolest, the cleverest, the most eclectic, skilled, creative, and fun person in the world, so to honor him and his many hats, here is a Dave Younce Trivia crossword puzzle. Some will be easy of course, and some may only be known to me and Dave, but give it a try and see how much you know (or can learn) about the best brother in the world.

Now with answers!
I'm sorry some people thought there were too many private jokes, but I wanted it to be challenging for even those who know him well, so we couldn't expect every dave, david and davey to get them!
5. Our sister Tona’s kids have a favorite story about Uncle Dave. When he was just a crawler, my parents were working with a harvest from the garden at the kitchen table. Dave crawled under the table, reached into a paper bag, pulled something out, and took a big bite. What was it? HOT PEPPER - and I am told much shrieking ensued.
7. What technological advancement does Dave insist will vastly improve my (and
maybe your) quality of life? TIVO - I didn't even check if I spelled it right! We are working our way up to it, starting out with DVR from the cable company.
9. Where did Dave serve his
mission? LOS ANGELES, Spanish-speaking
10. When Dave had just learned to speak, my parents taught him a joke. They would ask, “How far can a dog run into the woods?” What is the answer he was trained to give? HALFWAY - You see, after he has gone halfway, he is then running out of the woods. Very typical Younce humor.
What did I give Dave for his birthday this year? SPICY COOKIES - Sparx Spicy Cookies, but the crossword generator didn't like that.
15. Where was Dave's first job? DOMINOS - At University Mall.
16. What movie did Dave & Michelle get their daughter's name from? HIS GIRL FRIDAY - a Carey Grant film (girl's name is Hilde).
17. Twice a year (or so) Dave organizes a gaming weekend retreat, and people from all over the country attend. What's it called? CAMP NERDLY

18. What is Dave's middle name? GEARY, after our Dad, after his grandmother's maiden name.
22. When we were teenagers, and I would drive us from seminary to school in the morning, I would sometimes slip my hands around the steering wheel as if turning but only as a fake-out, and we would continue to go straight. What warning did I give Dave about this maneuver? NEVER DO THIS, followed by "Very dangerous!" but that was too long for the crossword. We must have done that interchange every day for two years.

1. What is Dave's favorite chocolate cake? DARN GOOD (Chocolate Cake), from The Cake Mix Doctor, mmmm.... We had that at our house in honor of the birthday and also the cake's deliciousness. I will post the recipe if anyone wants.
2. What is Dave's preferred casual shirt? GUAYABERA - I think I actually did spell this wrong in the crossword, so sorry, I think I left out the first A. Anyway our Grandpa Cummings made these shirts famous in our family - he was always in one unless he was in a shirt and tie. Now the grandsons are carrying on the comfortable legacy.
3. What college did Dave graduate from? GEORGE MASON
4. What fruit did Dave only learn to like as an adult, while on his mission? WATERMELON - I believe the story goes that he was so hot from biking and working in the LA summer that they were in someone's home and were offered pureed watermelon, and it sounded and tasted so refreshing that he liked it.

6. If you are ever honored enough to be a guest in Dave's home, he is sure to favor you with one of his original non-alcoholic mixed drinks. What is the key ingredient in these? SELTZER, duh.
8. Our Mom has a special name for Dave's current occupation: Professional HACKER.
11. What did Dave recently tell me is "the perfect meal"? APPLE TART, Mom's apple tart to be specific. We just went apple picking and I told Dave I was making it, and we discussed how great it is for snack, breakfast, dessert, or anytime - "the perfect meal", he concluded.
12. In elementary school, what country was Dave very interested in? EGYPT
13. What is Dave's favorite SUV (make and model)? NISSAN MURANO
18. When Dave was about 2, what animal did he claim he wanted to be when he grew up? GORILLA
19. Dave is a very accomplished connoisseur of specialty sodas. What is his favorite brand of
ginger beer? BLENHEIM
20. What did Dave's daughter Hilde tell me is her favorite thing to do with her dad? HIDE AND SEEK, isn't that cute?
21. What is Dave's favorite non-chocolate cake? SNICKERDOODLE, also from The Cake Mix Doctor. It's a moist cinnamon white cake with cinnamon frosting, really delicious.

Congratulations! You made it to the end of the trivia puzzle! How'd you do? Aw, all tuckered out? Go ahead, take a nap. Dave says it's OK.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Investment Banking: from the Trenches

After two grueling years, and especially since returning from vacation, we're really hating the demands of Ed's job on a whole new level. Occasionally quit notices and other pieces of "humor" get forwarded and emailed around "the street" (=Wall Street). Here are some of the latest:

Here is one creative way an analyst quit, in the case study format he was no doubt sick of:
And here is the text of an email Ed forwarded to me, a first-year analyst who saw the light only a few months after starting (I deleted names just in case):

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sun Sep 16 07:02:32 2007
Subject: Sorry everyone

I'm leaving the bank now.

I'm not made to do this. If I put my mind to something as much as I do here to mindless text editing, copy and pasting, and getting yelled at for stuff other people can't/won't/don't do, I would be much better off. It's 6:43 a.m. on a Sunday, and I have at least 14 more hours of work to do today that will not be fulfilling, useful, appreciated, recognized, or paid for.

Sorry this is last minute, but it's just not worth doing more

My blackberry is on my desk

Apparently that failed staffing request was fatal (no, not as in I'm
going to kill myself, hehe, I'm just going to go enjoy life). There is
no happiness here.

I took all my personal stuff. No one needs to contact me for anything
(except for a drink for those of you with my personal number). I will
only be at my New York address a few days longer.

Good luck y'all,


P.S. I'll be waiting for some smart-ass associate to send a
"best-practice e-mail for how to quit properly".

Well isn't that encouraging? Just in case you needed more dissuading from going into IB.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Home Is...

Something strange is happening.

We returned last Sunday from an 11-day driving tour of New England, and as we pulled off the parkway into our neighborhood, I had a feeling that was both distinct and shocking: It's good to be home. I caught myself before saying it out loud to Ed. Home? Yes, this is where we live, but home? But the autumn sun was shining on the water, and the tree leaves were rustling in the breeze. Neighbors were out for afternoon walks, and the entire surroundings were so familiar that they offered a comforting welcome, a welcome home. I came out of this surprising thought and told it to Ed. I never thought I'd say it about New York, but I guess if you live anywhere long enough it can become home.

I thought about this some more this afternoon as I drove around a curve on the Belt Parkway and the majestic Verrazano Bridge loomed above me. I love seeing that bridge, I feel an ownership in it. In fact, this week as I've returned to regular daily life, I feel ownership of the whole neighborhood, of my place in it, earned through endurance.

I thought of the places I've lived - Fairfax, Provo, Boston, Toronto, Boulder and now New York. And sure enough, if I lived there long enough, it had become home, and often hard to leave. We've been in New York over two years, with one more to go. And while my feelings toward the city in general have been no secret on this blog or in any conversation, I'm softening to the idea that it's a matter of perspective, of point of reference. Yes, life here is an infuriating hassle, but only if you compare it to other places. I've spent much of my time here comparing it to places I came from or places I want to go next. That makes it a terrible place to live. But when I just let it be New York, it's so special and unique that I feel special just being part of it (not special enough to stay longer, but still.)

These thoughts reminded me of a poem I'd heard, a section of Essay on Man by Alexander Pope:
Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
Embrace - that word connotes tenderness, affection, possibly romance and maybe even dependence. Amazingly, we may still see the day when I join the masses and proclaim:

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Water Survey

Hi there. We were on vacation for 2 weeks but back now. Don't worry, I have many posts regarding the trip and other things I thought about while on the trip in the works, but in the meantime here's a quick survey for you. This is from my friend who's a Civil Engineering professor in the middle east, with a special interest in water (supply, treatment, etc.)

Here's what he says:

Now that I live in a place where water is so scarce, I’m doing some preliminary research on people’s perception of water quality, and how that impacts the amount of water they use. One specific area of interest is in whether (and why) people prefer bottled water vs. tap water. If you have a few moments, I’d appreciate it if you could complete the survey. Here it is.

It takes about 7 minutes and there are no trick questions. He's trying to get a wide range of respondents so pass it along.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Reunion of Firsts

Last weekend we traveled to Cedar City, Utah, for a Smith family reunion. That's Ed's mom's family - her brothers and sisters and their kids and grandkids. The picture below is just the Hickman clan, and while we were the most represented, there were plenty of other relatives there as well - it was a hefty crowd.In just two days of traveling and two days of reuniting I collected enough observations to fill many pages, but since we are leaving again tomorrow for another trip, if I don't post a little about the reunion now, I'm afraid I'll never catch up.One thing I noticed was how many "firsts" took place this weekend. It was Ginger's first plane ride, and ours with two kids. Also Hazel's first with her own seat. It was both kids' first time in Utah, and my first in Cedar City. It was the first time anyone besides Grandma Marsha met Ginger in person, and also our first meeting with several new nieces, not to mention second cousins. Ginger with 6-wk-younger cousin Talia

We flew from NYC to Salt Lake to St. George, UT, and then rented a car to drive to Cedar. But first we grabbed some lunch in St. George and went to visit the temple there. Hazel loves the pictures of temples, but has never been to one, plus the St. George Temple is where Ed's parents were married, so we wanted to see it. As you probably know, it was stunning and majestic, and Hazel proclaimed it "a castle!" She kept repeating that Grandma Marsha and Grandpa Mike were married there, and she wants to get married. She wanted to go in, but settled for checking out the fountain outside, and getting a small picture of Jesus from one of the sister missionaries in the visitor center. Hazel at the St. George Temple

Marsha's sister Georgia lives in Cedar so her house was home base for most meals - thanks, Georgia!!! - though we all stayed in a nearby hotel. Because there are so many little kids in the family, the agenda was relaxed and mostly revolved around mingling in Georgia's backyard over meals, and swimming in the hotel pool (Ginger's first.) On Saturday we took all the kids to a fun Discovery Park, and on Saturday night we got the Hickman boys to watch the kids while the girls went out for serious sundaes.

Sunday was probably my favorite. We drove about 50 miles to Milford, UT, where Marsha and her siblings grew up on a farm. We attended church and then had a picnic lunch at a park next to the cemetery where Ed's grandparents and many other Smith relatives are buried. It was Hazel's first time going barefoot outside. My camera batteries died or else I would have gotten a picture of the farmhouse, which we stopped by on the way back. Marsha rode in our car for that drive, so I grilled her about growing up on a farm, a concept so foreign to me as to be almost comical. I learned all about crops, cattle, railroads, and other industries of southern Utah.
It felt so surreal to come back to Brooklyn, having been gone only four days, and having been to a place so distant and different. But it was good for all of us to take a step away from busy city life and learn about our heritage. I guess it's not mine exactly, but it is Hazel's, Ginger's and Ed's, and my suspicions were confirmed that it's one to be proud of.
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