30 June 2009

It's what I do / It's what I live for / To help innocent [genealogists] like yourself

I've been formulating a blog post in my head. It is going to be awesome. This blog post is not it, but it is necessary so that my next blog post will make more sense to you.

Telling people that I'm a genealogist elicits almost inevitably the same few standard responses:
  • Oh, do you work for the Church? (This one comes from other LDS people who know that our Church does a lot in the genealogy sphere.)
  • I really need to get going on my own genealogy. (This one comes from LDS people for this reason.)
  • So, what do you do all day? (This one comes from just about anybody who can't fathom the idea of somebody paying me to research dead people all day long.)
Today, I will answer the third question. Primarily, I research and write reports all day. I also format the reports so that the citations and formatting of the reports meet company standards before they are shipped to the clients. Sometimes I help my supervisor work with agents/contractors around the world who help us with research. I also occasionally call potential clients and try to convince them to spend their money on research. (I have called clients in the U.S., Ireland, England, Greece and Israel. I have only made one sale, and that was to a client who called ready to purchase and had to talk to me because my supervisor was out of town.)

But who can afford to pay to hire you for ten or more hours of research? Well, generally the people are independently wealthy. They usually have an interest in genealogy or else a specific need or task within their genealogy that they want us to accomplish.

People who are just generally interested will often have us research and research and research and research until we've told them that we've exhausted all our resources on that branch and suggest to them that we move to another branch. We have a few clients like this.

Usually the tasks are these:
  • Breaking through a genealogical "brick wall." - This means a client is somewhat (or even very) genealogy-savvy but they have gotten to a point where it is too hard to solve the problem, so they ask us for help. This can be finding somebody's birth place, last name, parents' names - whatever.
  • Irish passports. If you have ONE great-grandparent born in Ireland, you can get an Irish passport. Lots of people want Irish passports, but it can often be difficult to prove that your Patrick O'Sullivan in Chicago is the same Patrick O'Sullivan in Limerick, and that's where we come in.
  • Memberships to organizations - To become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, you have to prove that you are directly descended from a man who fought in the Revolution. There are similar organizations as well, and we can help members prove their ancestry and get in.
  • Probate cases - There are a few states that require every single heir to be named before an estate can be settled. I know that Illinois and New York are two such states. Sometimes lawyers hire us to help us track down living heirs who are distantly related to the deceased individual. (For example, a person who died without children, and without nieces or nephews).
  • Find living relatives such as distant cousins.
  • Determining any possible genetic health concerns.
  • Joining a Native American tribe. This is similar to joining an organization, but it is a bit different. Many people have heard from their parents that they are part Native American, and then they seek to prove that lineage so they can get in on the oodles of money that tribes are making these days with their casinos. (This is the topic of my next post).
And so, that's what I do. I use the information we have, search for new information, put it all into easy-to-understand charts, and then write a report. The report usually consists of what we started with, what the goal of the research was, what new information was found, what information wasn't found, and suggested future research.

Any questions?

Does anyone get the reference in the title?

28 June 2009

Review: Kidney Bean Curry

It's Week One of Whip it Up 2009. This week we made kidney bean curry. First, the three questions:
  1. Was the recipe easy to follow? - Yes, although it is a little time consuming because it requires soaking the beans overnight. (Of course, you could use canned beans, and that would save you the trouble. Just be sure to give them a good rinse first.)
  2. Did the dish taste good? - Yes, but it is rather spicy.
  3. Will you make it again? - Yes, and I will cut the curry paste in half. It was very strong for us. I made this meal on a Sunday afternoon, so I had plenty of time to let the beans cook for over an hour. If I ever want to have this meal on a weeknight I will cook the beans one night and then add them to everything else the next night. A little planning like that can really make this meal get on the table quickly.
1 1/4 cups dried red kidney beans
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 fresh green chilli, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1-inch piece fresh ginger root, grated
2 tbsp curry paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
14 oz can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

  1. Place the kidney beans in a large bowl of cold water and then leave them to soak overnight.
  2. Drain the beans and place in a large pan with double the volume of water. Boil vigorously for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse and return the beans to the pan. Add double the volume of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, then cover and cook for 1-1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are soft. This process is essential in order to remove the toxins that are present in dried kidney beans.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok, karahi or large pan and fry the cumin seeds for 2 minutes until they begin to splutter. Add the onion, chilli, garlic and ginger and fry for 5 minutes. Stir in the curry paste, cumin, coriander, chilli powder and salt, and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the beans and fresh coriander, reserving a little for the garnish. Cover and cook for 15 minutes adding a little water if necessary. Serve garnished with the reserved coriander.
It is suggested you serve this meal with plain rice.

The recipe comes from this book:
Baljekar, Mridula. Best-Ever Curry Cookbook. London: Anness Publishing Limited, 2005.
This is an excellent book with a rather presumptuous title. I recommend it, and at the time I wrote this post you could buy a copy from Amazon for as little as $.98. I like this cookbook because every recipe includes a large photo of the final dish along with three or four smaller photos of the process. Actually being able to see the food makes a big difference in whether or not I will give it a try.

25 June 2009

Prizes for good suggestions

Did I mention that I'm participating in the summer reading program at the Provo Library? Oh, well, I am. And I can win prizes for reading books! The thing is, I need suggestions. I need suggestions of books that are not going to take me all summer to get through. If they are take-a-long-time-to-get-through books then you can recommend them to me when the summer is over. I'm not afraid of long books at all; I just want to have my name in the pot for as many times as I can, and that means books that are not too long. Actually, if they are long but really fast reads, (i.e. Harry Potter) then that is just fine. (Did you know that I have read 27 books this year and six of those have been in June? See. I'm on fire.)

Anyway, recommendations, please.

Also, I still need Whip it Up recommendations. I've already picked out my recipe for the first week, but I'm going to need more suggestions because this program lasts eight whole weeks!

Maybe if you make good suggestions you can win a prize.

In fact, yes. I've just decided. You give me all the book suggestions and recipe suggestions you can conjure. If I use anything you've suggested, then your name will go in my bucket. Then there will be a drawing. Then you may win a prize.

What's the prize? I don't know. Whip It Up lasts 8 weeks, so I've still got a while to decide. But, it will probably (read: maybe) be really awesome. I mean, at least it will come to you in the mail, and that in and of itself is pretty darn great.

And while we're making up things off the top of our heads, limit 5 book suggestions and 5 recipe suggestions per person.

24 June 2009

Commuting Misery

This week my carpool buddy is in California for work. She only found out on Friday that she would be gone all week. That meant I only found out on Friday that I would be driving myself to work all week. In a car without air conditioning. Had this work event come up a little less suddenly I would have had Eric take the car in to get the air conditioning working, but it didn't happen that way.

Usually Karina and I leave Provo at about 9. We arrive at our building in downtown Salt Lake City at about 10. Then we leave work at 6:30. Going into Salt Lake and coming back home to Provo we pretty much miss all the traffic by leaving so late. Even if there is a bit of traffic we can usually side-step it by hopping in the HOV lane. Oh, how we both adore the HOV lane.

I find carpooling to work ideal. I have no stress. I read to Karina, I talk to Karina, and I do not worry about which lane is best or why the person in front of us is going 60 mph in the HOV lane.

I miss Karina.

I do not like not being able to drive in the carpool lane.

I do not like my "bright" idea of missing rush hour by going earlier instead of later. I tried that today. It worked quite well on my north-bound trip. I left my flat about about 7:25 and walked in the doors of the Family History Library at about 8:30. Perfect.

But then came the drive home. I left the office at 4:30. I figured that was early enough to miss the worst part of traffic although I'd probably encounter some. It was actually pretty miserable. I arrived at Eric's parents' house at 5:40, and Eric's parents live about 20 minutes north of us, so had I gone all the way home it would have been a 90-minute drive for what can usually be done in 45-60 minutes.

And don't forget that I have no air conditioning in my car and it was 90 degrees (that's 32 degrees celsius). I am not exaggerating when I say that I have never been sweatier in my life.

But anyway, how's your commute?

21 June 2009

Hiking the Narrows

So, here's my beef with hiking: I spend so much time looking at the ground making sure that I do not trip on a rock or root or step on a snake that I rarely get to look around me at the scenery.

Yesterday we hiked in the Narrows in Zion National Park. All national parks had free admission yesterday, so we woke up earlyish (9 a.m.) and drove down to the park. We hiked in the Narrows for a while, turned around when we heard thunder and lightning, headed out of the Narrows and drove home.

I found it to be a very difficult hike. First of all, the wet shoes and socks. That is just very irritating to me. Secondly, the slippery rocks and the lack of a walking stick. When we were headed up the River Walk trail I saw lots of people coming out with walking sticks, and I thought and I mentioned to Eric that I've never really gotten the point of walking sticks. They've never been particularly useful to me. But in that water where you sometimes can't see what's below you and where the rocks are fairly slippery, it would have been awesome to have a walking stick. I wobbled a lot, and I fell twice. I wasn't badly damaged, but the water was a bit chilly, and it comes as quite a shock to slip on a rock and fall with no way to catch yourself. Third, the walking up-stream with water that generally came to my knees. Of course, I thought it would be easier when we turned around and walked down stream, and it wasn't really. So, make that "the walking in water."

We have no pictures because our camera is in Eric's mom's van. Sorry.

And after all that, it dawned on me that I hardly ever looked up at the sheer rock walls rising above us. I was so concerned about not falling on the rocks that I really didn't take the chance to look around me. On the way out I was so anxious to get out of there and nurse my bum knee that I didn't look around me much.

Next time we go to Zion I'm not forgetting my inhaler at home, and we're doing Angels Landing instead. At least then I can rest at the top and enjoy the view for a while.

Has anyone actually gotten a permit and backpacked through the Narrows from end to end? Because after the little bit that I did yesterday, I would never want to do that. (Unless I was given a ridiculous ultimatum like "backpack the Narrows or sacrifice your first-born child.") If you have backpacked the whole thing, how was it?

19 June 2009

Movie premier

Last night I had a conversation with Alli that went like this:
me: i started HP 6 tonight.
in preparation for the movie.
11:42 PM Allison: awwww!
did you buy tix already?
me: ha! no.
but i should.
i've never been to a midnight showing of anything.
and that would be a fun one to see at midnight.

Then I had a conversation with Heather that went like this:
11:46 PM me: come see HP6 at midnight with me!
june 15.
Heather: cills and I already have tickets
I don't know what theater though
me: i've never been to a midnight showing of anything.
Heather: she bought them today
me: i wonder if tickets are already sold out?
11:47 PM Heather: we have 3 extra
come with us
i'm reading the book in preparation.
I don't know if I've ever been this excited to see a movie. Only 24 sleeps to go!

Have you attended any midnight movie premiers? Did they live up to your expectations?

18 June 2009

The Utah Accent

A while back I wrote a post in which I mentioned the peculiarity in Utah speech, and Bart commented that he was curious to know what I meant by that. Finally, the post that has been in my head for months has come to fruition.

And so it begins.

In Utah this:
is pronounced the same as this:
And this:
is pronounced the same as this:
I find this aspect of the accent particularly interesting because it is the opposite in country music. For instance, the place of fire and brimstone is pronounced the same as the weather phenomenon in which balls of ice falls out of the clouds.

Surely I'm not the only one to notice this?

15 June 2009

Tomato plant

My tomato plant has reached the ceiling.

See those four little tomatoes there on the bottom left the plant? I ate two of them today. It was awesome.

11 June 2009

Too hungry for a title

Last year, in what was the North American summer, I participated in a cooking extravaganza and recipe-reviewing party called Whip It Up. I'm doing it again this year. Are you dying of anticipation? Yes? Good. Send me links to recipes you think I should try. (Please note that your suggestion in no way obligates me to actually try the recipe. I'm looking at you pig's-feet-suggester). Any old person is welcome to join the Whip it Up challenge, so join me!


There was this one time I went to Texas to visit the folks and go to my friend's wedding. And then there was this one time when I came home and couldn't find the cord to my camera. Bummer.


I'm on a Texas Detox Diet. No, really. The alphabet letters on my fridge say so. Eric and I have a lot of recovering to do. I ate wonderful barbecue, Mexican food and other such goodness, and I'm paying for it.


Has anyone seen God Grew Tired of Us about Sudanese refugees to the United States? It will knock your socks off, in a good way. Go rent it.


When I asked for recipe suggestions for Whip it Up, what I really meant was what should I eat for dinner right now? It's 8:30, and I haven't eaten yet. I need to fix something. But what?

09 June 2009

Pumpkin Eater

I like to play games. I came from a not-so-often-game-playing family. Eric came from an often-game-playing family. We are in Texas visiting my family right now, and we brought some games to play. We are pleased to report that Liars' Dice was a hit. We played two rounds, and my dad beat Eric in the second. I was pretty impressed, and my dad said, "I don't play games. That doesn't mean I can't play games."

We've also played a lot of games with my little sister, Marissa, and her boyfriend, Stevan. Last night we were playing Rook, L family style, and we were all having a grand time. Until somebody was upset with a misdeal that was called and decided to cheat. He thought he could hide his cheating eyes from his wife, but ha! Dude, I'm your wife. I know everything. Then there was another game in which somebody else cheated to get even and there was much frowning and dismay and then we all just cleaned the kitchen.

Seriously, though, Eric is a cheater. Don't trust him.

04 June 2009

Concerts and such

I'm in Texas right now. Visiting the family.

My sister won tickets to see Bryan Adams. She took me last night. It was awesome.

When she first invited me I was up for it, but I was a little leery. I wondered if I would have to stand the whole time because people in front of me refused to sit on their rears. I wondered if I would be surrounded by drunk people shout-singing along with the actual musician. I wondered if I would recognize any songs besides the few that I could readily attribute to him.

Answers: No, No, Yes. Hooray!

Yes, people sang along, but I could always hear Bryan better than the audience, and I sang along a little bit too! And I did actually know a lot of the songs, and even the ones I didn't know I really liked.

It made me wonder why I don't go to more concerts. And then I remembered - because I don't ever win any free tickets. Sorry, but I would have to like a musician a LOT in order to drop $40 to see them. And to drop another $40 for somebody to go with me. I guess I should put in more of an effort to actually win tickets. And the tickets I don't win I can sell on CraigsList?

This got me thinking even more about who I would actually be willing to spend $40 to see. Maybe U2 because I heard they are phenomenal in concert. Probably the Beatles except they're almost all dead. The more I've thought about it, the less I've been able to come down with an answer. Now, I can handily tell you which musicals I would spend a lot of money to go see, but concerts? Not sure.

Who would you go see in concert?