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Preaching to Choirs

One of my old youth group buddies spurned an interesting discussion on her facebook status. Basically, she was upset with the extended tax cuts for the uber-2%-richest Americans. Not really news to disagree with on my own FB side of things, or in the blue town I live in. But, she’s a staunch and unfaltering Christian. and Democrat. In North Texas. In fact, she’s been a Christian Democrat for as long as I’ve known her (25 years now?!). And she got a little heat for her comment. Because, in her community, Christian Democrats are as rare as gay republicans or hippie conservatives or Intelligent Palins or ‘real housewives of…’ (you get the point). A few of her Christian FB friends, and family, were setting up some thoughtful (yet predictable) arguments; one was a little meaner, but overall, it was a good discussion. Nobody’s minds were changed, but it was kind of nice to observe. I don’t see Christians fussing with each other often (usually most lean right and republican in north Texas so preach to their own choir), so I was curious. I naturally put in my 2 cents, basically agreeing with her sentiments, and maybe got a little of the heat too, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected – because I’ve spent the last many years assuming all Christian Republicans Hate Me And My Kind (this is what Fox taught me). Dumb, right?

So, I thought I’d share my final thoughts that I posted on her FB wall conversation. Yes, long-winded and took up too much of her space, but I felt like Jane Goodall! I had to write my field observations to them.

“*sigh* I miss the Roosevelts.

But seriously folks, Steph, thank you for starting this conversation! I have enjoyed reading your friend’s thoughtful responses. For real, I mean, on FB and here in blue insular hippie Austin, I say some politico-social-leftie-sciencey stuff, but am kind of preaching to the choir with my friends (bleeding hearts, gays, lefties, straights, non-believers, scientists, believers but progressives, alt families, trad families, smarty pants, people who wear plaid, etc etc.), ya know? and so I build up this unwarranted anti-trust and anger and head-scratchiness to the ‘other’ side: “the big bad hard-right Christian repubs.”

What I’m saying is, I don’t see/hear the right-leaning ‘everyday’ believers anymore who are not in the media, (i.e., extremist, non-logical-right-wingy-tea-baggy-Palin-Becky, haters) so forget that the average (in a normal bell curve kind of sense) church folks out there are still nice, thinking people who do have valid input about their life choices and are not necessary out to get the democrats, or gays, or scientists, or who they assume are non-believers or evil-doers or something crazy like that. I mean, duh, right? And that’s on me: to stop and hear the other side occasionally, but not the side from Fox news pundits – they are just louder and more obnoxious and incite fear/hate daily; I want to hear from the side that used to sit in the pews with me on sundays or are my red-state neighbors that I shared a lab table with in college. we may be different with how we live our lives day-to-day, but that doesn’t mean we gotta fear/hate/be suspicious of each other.

But these days, it seems people are so very, very divided, that democratic Christians like Steph get spewed at by her own. Back in the day (remember pastor Mahaffey? and all that love and stuff and support for all of humanity said in church?), we actually had dems and repubs in the pews, and in fact, we didn’t even know who voted for who, and it seemed so non-divisive. Like, gasp, you could be religious AND political on either side. now, it’s so dichotomized, or, lobotomized, that Stephanie’s breed seems rare (oxymorons, not spectrums. I love spectrums. rainbows to be exact – spectrums of humans make things interesting in life).

Anyway, my point, and I may have had one (thanks Ellen), I like this discussion. Especially the ones who say their piece thoughtfully, and then say, ‘even though we disagree on this issue, I love you!’ That’s the old school Christian (and humanist mind you) values I like to see!

And, um, I’m still waiting on evidence of how the upper 2% richies have “helped” our economy in the last 7 years; enough so to be rewarded with extended tax breaks for the next 2 years….uh oh, no I di’int!

the end.


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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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Learning to blog

I’m new to this, and as with most things that interest me, I like to observe and learn from others. Today, I learned a tasty little something about blogging from Austin Kleon (officially my first favorite personal blogger) and others’ comments on the topic. Nice.


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Hello world!

Well, this is our first venture into the blogosphere…hopefully we’ll have interesting things to say!

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