HowardRoark, known to friends and Datasnooper as "Dave," is the 3rd runner-up in the 2001 Feste Award voting. Living in Atlanta, Dave, who "lives the life of a graduate student without the classes or debt but with a slightly more nutritional diet," is older than Tom Brady and younger than Vinny Testaverde. He also claims to look like Alan Greenspan, though we're not sure how to feel about that.
Like our 4th runner-up, GoofyHoofy, HowardRoark is one of the most loved folks in the Fool Community. Well respected for his qualitative and quantitative approach to business analysis, HowardRoark has made significant contributions to many, many discussions, but most notably our Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon.com, and 3Dfx discussions. Like all of our Feste finalists, it will be well worth your time to read through some of Dave's past postings. Enjoy our interview with HowardRoark below, and tune in tomorrow for our 2nd runner-up.
What kind of work do you do? I run my own Resume Gap business. If you'd have asked me six months ago, I'd have been an attorney. Ask six months from now and I'll be a management consultant. In between I'm alternating between freelance investment consulting and writing a book tentatively called "Snappy responses to Stupid Quips About Your Chosen Professions."
What's your quick bio? I was born during a particularly sensitive moment in Datasnooper's life, when, upon being unexpectedly accosted by one of Air Supply's more poignant Musak adaptations, he was overcome with the compulsion to create a less irascible doppel to express his newfound optimism that he could beat the market and a strange desire to suck up to TMF and maybe get a shot at the Feste. He sent fictional me to a smallish University in upstate New York that, were it actually a figment of Snoop's optimistic id, would have been better funded and adorned with an at least tolerable climate. He eventually bored of me and sent me to law school with the intent to kill me off and resume using his Goofyhoofy doppel, which almost worked but for the greatly improved weather and the lifelong lessons it taught about the advantages of a graduate student lifestyle.
Do you remember what brought you to the Fool for the first time? I think -- and this is six or so years ago -- it was the hats. Like the good sheep that I am, I hypnotically grabbed for the Jester caps instead of the44th edition of A Random Walk Down Wall Street, and the writing was interesting and accessible enough to keep me flipping through The Moley Fool Investment Guide on Borders' dime (sorry, didn't buy it back then). But, it left an impression, and I remembered a few weeks later and hunted down Fool.com on the web.
What made you stick around? I remember being fascinating by the daily, real-time portfolios at first. Dale Wettlaufer also used to write some great in-depth but accessible columns on the Evening News feature and then in the Boring Portfolio on topics not easily available from other sources, like his real-time analyses and valuation of bank stocks with attached spreadsheets. The long-term hook, of course, has been the discussion boards.
Do you have a favorite Foolish moment? I was flying for business a year or so ago when the TMF border atop the paperwork of a guy sitting two seats away caught my eye. He was reading what I think was this Post of the Day by the TheSandman.
A few minutes later, I almost fell over the lady between us when I saw he had turned to another page, this one littered with the spewings of "howardroark" that I'm pretty sure is this post.
He saw me looking over and sort of shuffled his papers to hide them, as if maybe I'd caught him with a Playboy inside his GAAP handbook. That was pretty strange, even if it wasn't quite fifteen minutes.
What are the best and worst things about the Fool Community as it exists now? I've participated in a fair number of online communities in various forms over the years, and none of them have matched the overall breadth and depth of the TMF boards. While there are plenty of great little pseudo-intellectual niches tucked away in cyber-space with fantastically high signal to noise ratios, the Fool community offers a combination of both quality and diversity that I haven't seen elsewhere. TMF message board technology is also outstanding, and limits the amount of time I have to waste pointing and clicking so I can maximize the amount of time I waste posting and reading.
Big or small, everyone has some things they've done that they're proud of. Tell us about them. I once read an entire Thomas Pynchon sentence in one sitting.
Perhaps more impressively, I deftly drafted Kelly Gruber in my Fantasy baseball league before anyone believed, and years later traded him when everyone believed.
Being that I'm already out of answers, perhaps this would be a good time to cut this interview short and reevaluate my life. Were those big or small?
Life Goals? After said reevaluation, I think I've pretty much done all I've set out to do. Actually, the Kelly Gruber thing was gravy. I also have had a lifelong, burning desire to place exactly third for some sort of award that finally gives me the formal recognition I deserve for my near infinite capacity to string together words so excruciatingly circumlocutory as to be of little use for anything except winning said award and curing the occasional insomniac.
[Editor's Note: If you'd like to read more about HowardRoark, check out the remainder of his interview on the Fool site. If you're not already a member of the Fool Community, please consider joining us today.]