10.27.2005

We're back in business! After a delay that was entirely too long (due to apathy more than anything else), I revamped the site a bit. We made a collective decision to move the blog off the main page, mainly because I know we'll probably still have long periods where it won't get updated.

Our big news at the moment is the fact I am starting a new gig in just over a week's time. It's within the same company, so I won't be going far - across the street to a new desk and new co-workers, but still the same campus (and I'll be working with some of the same cool people I worked with several years ago). The new job encompasses more responsibility, and will present some exciting challenges.

Emaroo is plugging along with her art education this year, despite larger classes and the problems that result. She also has an upcoming gig shooting a wedding in Austin, which will give her yet another set of amazing photos to add to her portfolio.

More to come...

7.16.2005

Goodness...didn’t they say summer for teachers was supposed to be relaxing? No such luck for me. Summer school ended with a police escort of my bus back to it's home elementary school because of multiple threats on me, my car and another student...but the good part...it's over! That lovely paycheck next week will pay for our trip to London and Paris next spring. Other than that I have been doing little household projects here and there. I call it "phase 2" of our home improvements. It started with the carpet getting torn up and painting the hallway, then painting out that ugly built in desk. We still have to refinish the hardwoods in the bedroom and paint the baseboards for phase 2 to be complete. I threw in another little project for kicks which we have enjoyed the most. My mosaic table top! Click HERE for a complete photo diary of the process. We have lovely dinners and quiet, cool July nights out there now!

Just after I finished that table Alan and I needed to get the heck outta Dodge so we drove to the humidity capital of TX. Yes, kids, I mean Houston. It turned out to be a very random, but fun trip. Our friend Scott spent most of it with us. We drove around a lot (Alan seems to like that). We also took a spin through the MFA Houston, Contemporary Art museum and Taco Cabana. Never made it to the HCP because we opted to go check out the Orange Show that Alan had heard about and mentioned on this here blog recently. Very random photos can also be found of this trip.

We headed back on Sunday the 3rd only after spending several hours in the Ikea. I knew Alan wouldn’t want to go to the one opening on August 3rd in Frisco for quite some time, so I took him there to get the full experience without all the people. We only bought red folding chairs, but they have served us well at our outdoor dining table.

July 4th we had a lovely cookout in our back yard with the in-laws. Very nice time.

Since then I have tried to sleep a lot...workout some and plan for our next shin-dig that is happening this evening. What was supposed to be a surprise 30th anniversary party for Alan's parents has turned into a party that they are learning more and more about every day. Family members are giving things away...we had to tell them a little because Alan's father was insisting on going out of town etc etc. So, it should be fun...I am sure there are still some surprises to be had. It is scheduled to be in our backyard, but with the ominous threat of rain...we just might have to move furniture out of the way and have our "Backyard BBQ" in the living room. It will be cozy and fun, I am sure! BTW, I am also sick with no voice...so that should add to the fun!

2 more weeks of vacation...no other jobs panned out over the summer, so it looks like this will be another year at the lovely middle school...although I will say, my last for sure. I have a wedding gig in November in Austin, so that should help the process of getting me out of there.

I'll keep you posted.

7.13.2005

I'm now officially on vacation. It's nearly midnight, and I'm sitting outside on the patio with a beer and Sirius Chill on the box (old Massive Attack right now, actually).

I don't have to think about work for an entire week. Lord knows I could use the break.

We've got some big stuff coming up this weekend - I promise I'll tell you all about it soon (or if not, then Emily will)...

7.01.2005

Howdy, kids. It's July, and it's blisteringly hot in D-town (or at least was, until the storms today cooled things off a bit).

Both of my bosses are on vacation for the next week, so even though I'm off until Tuesday I'm still kind of in charge. Funny how that works. We did get our new employee hired and trained, and so far she seems to be working out quite well. There's a tremendous learning curve to the job, but so far she has absorbed a lot of detail in a short amount of time.

Em and I are headed to Houston in the morning for a couple days of sightseeing (yeah, I know, it's just Houston, but I've never really seen much of the city). Our agenda includes the Museum District, Ikea, the Orange Show and basic driving around - oh, and a visit with our old friend Scott who is stuck in the humidity capital of the world getting his law degree.

Em finished teaching summer school today, so we celebrated with dinner and drinks at Juan's (nothing special, but the buy-one-get-one-free coupon can't be beat). She's been busy with projects around the house, including a complete re-do of the built-in desk in our living room (now a lovely bar) and another big project which I'm sure she will tell you about soon.

We've decided to do a refinance on the house. The appraisal value has jumped so in the past year that we can get rid of PMI and lower the monthly payment, and our original lender has worked out a good deal that won't cost anything up front. It won't be a huge difference, but enough to save us some money each month (and therefore it's worth the trouble).

Finally, a recommendation: I don't listen to much hip-hop, but the new Common album 'Be' is outstanding, and takes me back to the great chill-out-vibe records of that genre I listened to as a wee lad (Tribe's 'Low End Theory', most notably). Check it out.

6.15.2005

Summer in Texas...how refreshing. For those of you that dont know...Alan and I are staying put in Dallas for now. The internal candidate in Austin was hired. We are both relieved and a little dissapointed. We have a great life here, so there is nothing lost.

I have been teaching summer school. I was slated to teach reading and now and teaching math...you have got to be kidding...me, math. Only 12 more days. I think I can muddle through for 12 more days. All for London and Paris, it is all worth it!

I have a laundry list of things I want to get done around the house this summer and it is growing. I have a mosaic table top to create for this fabulous iron base that Alan found for free on the side of the road...SCORE! It will serve as our outdoor table. I want to paint my kitchen cabinets, paint a newly acquired daybed for our guestroom to replace the much too large full size bed. We are having a garage sale on June 25th to get rid of a bunch of crap and hopefully raise some money to pay for all the fun projects I want to do. We also have this built in desk in the livingroom that to make it more tolerable until we can afford to tear it out to add another closet to the master, I am going to paint as well. Also a lot of touch up painting around the house from normal wear and tear from our first year here. I guess now that I know I am staying I want to make my house as perfect as possible. June 18th will be one year since we closed. We are amazed and how much the value of our house has gone up in the past year. It says a lot about what we will be able to get for it when we sell...but also what we will have to pay for a new house in the area in several years when we want to upgrade. But, I love this neighborhood and don't see wanting to move out of it anytime soon. Everday I love it more and more. I have moments where I really feel like I am living in a small town...then I get on 75 and it is all ruined.

I started working out again...and my knees are starting to flare up again. I am really worried that something is really wrong with them. I am trying to take it easy and slow...but they are really hurting. grr.

All for now...loves ya bunches...

6.07.2005

Em summed up our current conundrum quite nicely in her last post. There's nothing new to report on that front since then, but I'm hoping to get a call sometime in the next 48 hours from our new friend three hours to the south about a possible on-site interview. At this point, I'm just ready to hear one way or the other; if it doesn't happen then it won't be the end of the world, as we've got plenty to keep us happy here (other than the lure of more responsibility and a moderate increase in income to help pay off debt and start building up some savings).

This past Sunday concluded the big stewardship drive at our church, which aims to retire the church's debt incurred during a building expansion several years ago. As new members, we wanted to make a pledge, so we did, though it's far less than I would have liked to give. It's funny, I never liked thinking much about money and religion, perhaps because it conjured up all the negative stereotypes about moneygrubbing televangelists and fundamentalist zealots that corrupted my views on Christianity in college and only recently have I been able to get past in my quest for a deeper spiritual life. However, I really am feeling a desire to get more involved, partially because the all-are-welcome approach at our church is so comforting and partially because of the emphasis on outreach in the community challenges members to do more for others without expecting anything in return. Time-wise, we're hoping to do at least one service project every month or two as a Sunday school class, and money-wise our eventual goal is the Biblical tithing standard (though we're not quite to that point yet).

In other news, I read an interesting article today about the retailer everyone loves to hate, Wal-Mart. It seems a documentarian is about to release a film that continues the string of PR nightmares for the chain regarding its predatory pricing actions, poor employee treatment and complete lack of interest in community involvement. Sure, they're underwriting NPR programming now, but to me that seems little more than a tiny Band-Aid on a giant, gaping wound. The small part of me that's an activist is giddy about this, but the bottom line remains that most people don't give a crap about any of that stuff - they just want their Charmin, Doritos and Coca-Cola at the cheapest price. Oh well...

We did spend a little dough this week on a new printer/scanner/copier thingy to replace the gimpy inkjet I have had and Em's old scanner that now leaves a line on every scanned image. I found an incredible deal via FatWallet that ended up getting us $70 off the original price, so I think it was definitely worth it. So far it's
working very, very well.

Another tidbit of technological news: Since I'm still awaiting our new laptops at work, I ran across an old one sitting in a corner that hadn't been used in several years, so I took it home and tried it out. As it turns out, this thing is a 1995-era Dell Pentium 133 with 32MB of RAM and a tiny hard drive that is (languidly) running Windows 98. However, after getting the drivers for my Orinoco wi-fi card installed via floppy, and adding Intranet and VNC clients, I can just connect to my box at work and use this as a glorified terminal. With the broadband connection it is able to refresh at near-normal speed (even when playing back streaming video), so I am finally able to get some work done while sitting on the couch or out on the patio. It ain't perfect, but it'll do nicely until we get the new machines in a few more months.

My film selections for this week were inspired by a mini-Kevin Spacey festival they were having on IFC the other night: The Usual Suspects and Glengarry Glen Ross. The former is a near-perfect noirish thriller that is well-written and constructed without being too cloying or derivative; the latter is a great adaptation of a stageplay by David Mamet that features a stellar cast (Pacino, Lemmon, Spacey, Harris, Arkin and Alec Baldwin in a brief cameo that just kills) and the most frequent, creative use of the word "fuck" I've ever seen in a film. Go rent 'em if you haven't seen 'em.

That's all for now - it's 1:40am and I *really* need to get to bed. Besides, Morrissey's "November Spawned a Monster" just came on the Sirius college station, so I need to go oscillate wildly around the room in a slightly effeminate manner for a few minutes.

Or maybe not.

6.02.2005

We haven't posted in a long time for several reasons, mostly lazy ones. Lately...this has been the biggest change. I am just going to post the emails I have been sending out to friends and family instead of trying to recreate all of it.

5/31/05
You all now how easily I freak out...but I am in panic mode. Many of you know that last week Alan noticed a job opening for {a job in Austin which I will not mention on the blog to protect the innocent} This would be a big promotion for him and a great step to make in the company. It was the last day of school and I told him I was not capable of thinking about it clearly or even understanding what it all means, so he needed to just send in his resume and see if he even got a response. So Friday morning he mailed his resume priority mail (for a web site job...I know, strange, but they wanted it mailed). Because of the holiday it arrived today.

1pm today...they called. The news director called. I am freaking out.
We need lots of prayers. Most of all prayers that God will put us where we NEED to be. Prayers that I will be there for Alan and support him in his career moves and not let my fear get in the way of this move. Then of course, prayers that if this is meant to happen that they will offer him a package that will make it possible to adjust to the higher cost of living (and a probable pay cut for me). Prayers that I will find a good job. Prayers that we will be able to sell our home and find a new one...even though we have no money to do so. Prayers that we will find another church that we love as much as the one we JUST joined a couple of months ago. Prayers that we will figure out a way to leave everything we have ever known in the world (I know it is only 3 hours away...but I have never lived more than 30 minutes from my family, nor has Alan) We both trust that God is working here...but it is still hard to not fight Him right now. I told someone the other day that I really pray that we will end up where God wants us, but I am scared to death that He wants us to move. Finally, prayers that if Alan doesn't get the job, he will not be too hurt and understand that it just wasn't his time. He is so excited, just to have the opportunity to interview.
Thank you...you are great friends. I will keep you posted.

6/2/05
Alan had his phone interview this morning and it seemed to go very well. The salary they talked about was not as much as we had hoped, but more than Alan expected they would offer being a smaller market. They also said they would help with relocation costs, which is HUGE for us right now.
As a teacher in N. Austin I would take a HUGE pay cut from where I am now, and taking into account my raise for next year...even bigger. I didn't know this until Kari told me, but she thinks CFB is the second highest paying district in the state. So, will Alan's raise and my pay cut still make it worth it to give up so much here in Dallas to advance his career?

The fun part is Alan will go into his boss' office today and tell them that he has been talking to Austin and see what they say. They really love Alan there, so we will see how far they will go to keep him.

Seeing as Alan and I are so much alike, he is now in panic mode and I am as relaxed as could be. I guess I needed the freak out to see that this isn't all that bad.
Thank you for your continued prayers. No matter what happens, we have a good life and it will work out.

I will keep you posted...


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