Sunday, November 27, 2011


What a wonderful holiday to spend with family! We had a great time running around town and gorging on anything that was edible. It really whetted our appetites for holiday and home though, so now we're counting down the days until Christmas.
Enjoying the Meal
Avey was quite the character during the big meal. She didn't want to try any of the fancy foods, so we practically had to force feed her. She was quite impressed with the centerpiece and the large table. She announced to everybody during the meal that we could pass something all the way around the table, so she picked out a plastic green pepper from the centerpiece and passed it counter clockwise, calling on each diner to tell us all what he or she was thankful for. It was spontaneous and cute, and may have sparked a new tradition of the "Thanksgiving Pepper".
Avey with the Thanksgiving Pepper
The unfortunate news is that we are now in the final semester stretch for me, meaning finals! What this also means is that most of the students in the statistics class (for which I am a teaching assistant) are beginning to realize that they have not understood anything from Day One and their only chance at passing the class is to finally start coming to my office hours. So my week is booked with homework and tutoring appointments. Yippee.

Luckily, we have a lot to be thankful for as always.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


This was a pretty rough week. Avey was sick last week and was good enough to share it with me for all of this week. It hit me hardest Tuesday night, when I could not seem to get comfortable or get enough oxygen through my nose to sleep. I made my way to campus the next morning, feeling like death, when the truck died. Of course it died right then and there - why wouldn't it die right then and there? The symptoms rose suspicion of a faulty fuel pump (which wear out eventually anyway), so I had it towed to a nearby shop who confirmed the diagnosis. I slowly pushed through the rest of the day, mostly fantasizing about a warm, cozy bed. I picked up the truck about 10 minutes before my evening class was to start, but made it barely in time, only to learn that we were having our work load doubled for the last two weeks of the semester for a "bonus" exam. Yeehaw!
Avey's Interpretation of My Local Aunt
I'm still in recovery from my illness, the shock of the bill for the fuel pump, and the increasingly bothersome preparations for the end of the semester. I suppose that if I were to look on the bright side, and I mean if, I could be thankful, hence the season, that at least I got sick before my family came to town or during finals, at least we've got a shiny new fuel pump that should last another decade or two, at least the truck didn't break down on the highway when I needed to be at some important meeting, at least we got the free towing option on our insurance, and at least I'll get a chance to learn a lot more about behavioral neuropsychology than I ever wanted to.

And most importantly, at least I can spend some time searching for solutions to all these problems at the bottom of a pie dish this week.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Big Three-Oh-My

I turned 3 decades old this week. I normally do not like very big parties or much fuss about my birthday, but this year in particular I think I was trying to forget the whole thing. There's something pretty weird about that 2 turning into a 3 on the old odometer. I've gone through some experiences recently that have put my age into perspective. The juveniles I interview at the probation office often have birth dates in 1995 or thereabouts. I was in High School when they were born. We spent most of yesterday purchasing a washer and dryer - something I never thought I'd spend my weekend doing when I was younger. And the really sad thing is that I was kind of excited about it. 
Avey's Card to Me
It's strange how our priorities change or don't change as we age. At the top of my list most of my life has been the obtaining of sweets, then having cool toys. Those have not really shifted at all; I always keep a nice stash of baked goods around the house, and my big present this year was a sound bar for our TV (unless you count the truck, and I count the truck).
Modeling My Spiffy New Hat
Kira and Avey (and the rest of the family) made a very nice attempt to pass this tragic time off as a celebration. I got a lot of nice phone calls and cards, got to sleep in, got to binge on take-out from my favorite Chinese place in town, and Avey even sincerely attempted to tone down her demands for a few minutes.
My Aunt Made Me This Snicker Doodle Cake with Pics of a Younger Me.
One cannot help but reflect back over the years at times like this. I think of what I've accomplished and what I have left to do, and even though the road ahead seems too short and scary sometimes, I'm just glad that I have great people by my side to nudge me along. Let's see if the next 30 are as good to me as the first.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Out With the Old...

Seven years ago I purchased a 1976 Chevy Vega, which I named "Lucille". I went through a lot with that car; a drunk driver hit it while it was parked, I installed a new fuel pump with my own two hands, had the carburetor rebuilt, drove it 550 miles to Utah to attend school where a neighbor vandalized it on two separate occasions, and I spent hours cleaning and waxing it. 
Sadly, I finally realized in the last month or two that we just weren't the best match anymore. The Vega was a fun car, but it just wasn't much of a family car; no AC, two doors, and not very highway friendly. I had intended to hang on to it until I got some money to put into it, but that time still had not come. What finally got me thinking of selling it was a coworker in Colorado offering to buy it before we moved. I declined, but then found a note on it here in Texas from another gentleman interested in buying it. Eventually, I decided that it was indeed time to give it up to someone who had the time and money to give it the attention it needs. I put it on the market, and last Sunday sold it to a nice guy for $400 more than I had paid for it all those years ago.
It's strange how emotionally attached we get to things sometimes. As the man drove away in my little blue car, I couldn't help but feel like I was losing a family member. Avey was saddened too, so we helped each other through the parting, and began making plans for a new set of wheels.
After a lot of searching, we went the very next day to find a '95 Dodge Ram in good condition, and at a price we couldn't ignore. After a lot of shuttling around with our other car, trying to get the seller to be where we could make the transaction, we finally made the exchange.
Even though I still miss my Lucille, I'm very excited about the truck. The V8 Magnum engine is a whole lot more power than I'm used to with the little 4 cylinder engine from the Vega. Most importantly, we can now fit in with the other Texans (one risks ostracism without a truck).
Now we need to come up with a name for the new addition. Maybe this little exercise will get us warmed up for picking names for the new baby too.