Archive for January, 2010

Looking back over the last year, we realized a lot has happened, and we’ve done A LOT.  Remembering is a good mental and emotional exercise.  We are so grateful to have such wonderful family, friends, and colleagues, who make our lives so rich and fun.  The paragraphs below include many highlights from 2009 – we know we didn’t get everything, but this gives a pretty good overview of our year.

On the Home Front, we made lots of improvements inside and out.  Outside work included painting of trim, fascia, and doors (goodbye country blue!); backyard landscaping to address erosion and improve drought tolerance including a retaining wall and fill dirt to level out the walkway to the side gate, crushed granite to line the walkways and reduce the amount of water-needy grass, experimental swaths of native prairie grasses, and a rainbarrel installation.  Inside, we had roller shades installed on livingroom and kitchen windows, put up new stylish curtains on pantries, got a new microwave (glue wouldn’t keep the old one together – believe me, I tried), and a new credenza in the living room.

Between the two of us, we’ve enjoyed many professional accomplishments:  Amo was elected to the ISEA board, received a hefty University Continuing Fellowship Award, and attended four professional conferences: ASTE in Connecticut, AERA in San Diego, CAST in Galveston, and an NSF P.I. conference in D.C..  Mel attended the OR09 conference at GA Tech in Atlanta (conveniently also visiting with family & friends).  At the Library, Mel initiated a web committee and introduced the use of several Web 2.0 tools (a library news blog, internal Sharepoint wikis, LibGuides); coordinated completion of a Library website refresh (including a major facelift on the homepage); agreed to chair a professional committee; and hired/managed her first full-time supervisee (this list helps me assuage the nagging feeling of getting nothing done at work).

Even though much of 2009 was hotter than hell (literally), we still played outside alot:

  • Palmetto State Park camping with friends, twice, for birding, hiking, lounging, eating, drinking, laughing, eating, drinking, napping, storytelling, acoustical music playing, burning things, sharing.  Best campfire food experiment:  toasted marshmallows stuffed with homemade lemon curd.  yum!
  • Neighborhood park volunteer cleanup
  • Birding hike in Balcones Canyonland with neighbor friends
  • Water play – Barton Springing & pontoon boat play day out on Lake Travis with the posse
  • ~5 months of group training with friends, culminating in Mel biking on a relay team in the Danskin Triathlon
  • sweating it out at the Blanco Lavender Festival volunteering at our Juniper Hills Farms friends’ product tent, cured by blissful evening dips in their infinity pool
  • wandering streets and beaches of Galveston
  • hiking and picnicking with the posse at Reimer’s Ranch
  • riding our bikes as much as we could, to see free show at SxSW, explore the East Austin Studio Tour, and take weekend morning rides with our friends followed by diner breakfast grub-outs.

We have had much fun on the musical front:  we saw Amy Ray @ Stubbs, and Flight of the Conchords at Bass Hall (Amo won free tickets on KUT radio!); our West Lake Bitches garage band practiced for the first time in January and gave our first live performance for an audience (including strangers) on New Year’s Eve;  Amo’s bluegrass duo project the Honeytones (where she gets to vamp on her treasured Collings mandolin, newly acquired this year) has been gearing up for their first public performance;  Amo taught upcoming tweenage rockers at Girls Rock Camp; DNN news: the never-say-die band found a new best drummer Karl, celebrated the release of their second full-length self-produced album ROCKET, and played raucous fun show in San Antonio (among many other local shows at new venues like Club DeVille, Lambert’s, the Moose Lodge, etc.).

We celebrated well on the holidays: Valentine’s Day traditional dinner date at Little Thailand in Garfield (last time we would see the gregarious host/proprietor Mr. Dick Simcoe, RIP); Easter Brunch at Juniper Hills Farm; 4th of July swimmin’ & eating at Phe’s house in Arlington (mini-flag decorations included); Halloween candy give-out followed by backyard firepit fun with friends; Thanksgiving and Christmas in Arlington with family; New Year’s Eve WLB performance followed by dance party with unexpected drunk neighbors in attendance.

The family news bag was mixed this year:  In chronological order – Amo’s dad passed away unexpectedly (our friends planted a memorial tree in our backyard);  Phe turned 65 (we dined well and got cultured at the Dallas Museum of Art to mark the occasion); my brother-in-law enlisted in the Army, and shortly thereafter, he and my sister announced they were expecting their first child; my grandfather passed away.

Notable milestones: Inauguration of Barack Obama (hallelujah);  Amo’s birthday (swimming at Barton Springs, Paramount Marilyn Monroe movie, Tex-Mex at Polvo’s); new (ish) car – we love our Toyota Rav4; our 6 year anniversary (we got rings!); my birthday (Galveston b & b, beach-walking, seafood-eating).

Other travels and random fun: Amo went on family vacation to the Disney-parks in Orlando; Mel visited good friends in L.A.  We saw David Sedaris read; we put on costumes for our friend’s 40th birthday-Yacht Rock party and a pre-Christmas Wig party.  We dance a lot – it is good for the soul.


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One Year Ago today

One year ago today, I lost my dad. He passed away in his sleep, probably due to a massive heart attack or another, would be 3rd, stroke. As I’m sure we all were, I was shocked to get the phone call, around 8am that my mom found him already passed, in his room, the next morning. But, I know he would have so much preferred to go that way, in his bed, in his sleep, than to have another stroke/heart crisis and end up hospitalized. I always thought there’d be that small window of time; time for me to get up to Arlington in 3 hours, and say my goodbyes at a hospital. But, that was my wish, not his. He would have never wanted a final hospital goodbye. Not in a million years.

The last time I saw him was Dec. 28, exactly one month earlier, after Christmas, before New Years, and before his magical 2 week trip back to Hawaii with mom. He was helping me pack Christmas-loot into the trunk of my car, a few minutes before I headed back to Austin, and handing me off yet another one of his beautiful lanterns for my own collection, which is really his collection transferred. I talked to him a couple of times while he was in Hawaii and I was in snowy Connecticut on a conference trip. He sounded fantastic and was punnily joking on the phone, I’m sure. He sounded better than he had all year, more life-like. We thought he was improving and so did he.

I was able to talk to him the night before he died, on the phone. He was eating a fantastic suth’n meal, home-cooked by the best chef I know, and was overall, chipper. I was asking him about drug expiration dates for my upcoming wisdom teeth surgery. Nothing more than a 4-minute shooting the breeze, giving the day’s reports, getting some medical advice, and then a “OK, love you too, here’s mom.”  And that was it.

I’m remembering him today. I’m walking, writing, and at noon, will go eat some Tex Mex and drink a margarita in his honor. Tex Mex and ‘Ritas, probably 2 of his favorite things.  Tonight, I will light a lantern.


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Let’s imagine the mass of scientific evidence that points to climate change due to anthropogenic causes is a big warm fuzzy sweater. It fits, you can wear it anywhere.  You’ve had it for years. It’s tried and true. But over time there have been a few threads that have come loose or have entirely been pulled out of the sweater. Do you throw it away? Of course not, as you can still wear this sweater, and it continues to function as one. Logic would say, it would be silly to throw away the entire sweater over a few loose threads.

However, big oil, big industry, big business, big finance, big glenn beck gullibles, would all say, ‘throw it away! it’s useless! here, buy another one from Walmart.’ Manufacturing big doubt is all they got.

Healthy dispute is good for the advancement of science, denial is not….After all, the principal climate change deniers are in the US, the UK and Australia — the big polluters. – chandra bhushan, new delhi

As soon as the scientific community began to come together on the science of climate change, the pushback began. – Naomi Oreskes, U.C. San Diego


p.s. for added fun, read this whole post again but replace “climate change” with “evolution.”

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