Monthly Archives: July 2011

Jack’s Blog: Andrea Loves Animals


My wife loves animals.  She loves seeing them in the wild and she loves being close to domesticated animals or animals in the zoo.  She also loves saving them from the inside of our house or her classroom and taking them outside to be free again.  Animals seem to really like being close to Andrea too.  It seems like every vacation we go on, I end up taking a picture of her touching, or almost touching, an animal.

On our honeymoon, it was the giraffe and baby wallaby at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

On our trip to Europe, it was this slug.

And on our trip to the Davis Mountains, it was this horse.

Whenever I try to get close to animals, they always shy away, so I get pictures that look like this.  There’s just something about Andrea that makes animals feel at ease around her.  I don’t blame them, I like being near her too!

My wife also gets incredibly excited when we see an animal by the side of the road.  Usually it goes something like “Jack! Stop! Stop! Pull over!  I just saw two mule deer!”  Over the past year, I’ve gotten pretty good at stopping and pulling into the shoulder of road very quickly.

Sometimes I’m quick enough, and we end up with wonderful photos like this one of a moose in Colorado.

Other times I hesitate a little too much and we end up missing the opportunity to take a picture of a javelina.  This can be very discouraging for my wife, but I think she’ll keep me around.  Hopefully after another couple years of practice, I’ll be a pro at stopping quickly in the shoulder.


I Love Looking at Pictures


For most people, pictures are a way to document life so that when you’re too decrepit to remember, you’ll have some record.  For me, they are a source of limitless entertainment.  If I see a photo album out at anyones house, I will open it up and pore over the pictures.  Even if they are hidden, I might still be able to find them, and then lovingly look through all of them.

Jack does not like this, because if there is ever a lull in the entertainment, and he asks what I want to do, he has a fear that I’ll say, “Let’s look at pictures.”  When we first began dating, I found his baby scrapbooks and looked through them.  He probably thought this was normal behavior; I wanted to see what he was like before we met.  Then I took out his brother’s scrapbooks, and his parents’ wedding album, and their college album (I was shocked to find out that my dashing future father-in-law used to have a mustache).  However, once I went through all those albums, he thought I was done.  No.  I looked at them on many occasions, until I found: the secret treasure.  Hidden in a corner of a musty cabinet (just for dramatic effect; my mother-in-law is a good housekeeper) I found boxes and boxes of photos.

You’re not going to look through all of these are you?

I am

And I did. It was glorious! I do the same thing at my parents’ house.  Poor Jack, he’s so tolerant.  Here are some pictures I like to look at:

Viva La Viva Lo Viva La La La Mexico!

I’m going to college with my best friend!

I’m getting married to my best friend!

I picked out a nice dress and flowers!

I’m in a fairy tale!

It looks so pretty and innocent…


…like a green pea that had a bad hair day. But it’s not! It’s what could potentially put a monkey wrench into my lovely mini-cation: a rhinovirus, the cause of a cold.  I went to work today, and there he was: my arch enemy living inside a little eight-year-old.  We were working on -mp, -nk, -ld, and -lt blends and playing a little matching game with colored chips.

But, during our seemingly innocent game, the virus was invading one of his pitiable host’s cells and sabotaging the cells natural mitosis process to replicate until the cells bursts, spewing thousands of virus clones, who immediately find new cells to co-opt.  Then, all of a sudden, my student’s body decided to get rid of a bunch of germs, and…”AAAAAA *Andrea, cat-like reflexes, is able to  snatch a tissue and fling it into her students face* CHOOOO!!!”

I dodged a bullet.

From that point, I kept trying to distract my student with a task in order to surreptitiously use the instant hand sanitizer.   After he left, I picked up his materials with a tissue, and cleaned the table with Clorox. The other instructors probably thought I had developed an obsessive compulsive disorder.  Oh well, as long as I’m well on my trip.

Start at 3 o’clock, go through the lysogenic cycle to implant viral DNA into host DNA sequence (sneaky, huh?) then go through lytic cycle to replicate viruses, burst the cell and invade a new cell!

Drivers I See in Austin


I’ve been a passenger in many cars/buses/trains in Europe, so I feel pretty qualified to say that most drivers in Austin are NOT crazy.  However, many are exceedingly annoying. These are some common drivers I see in Austin:

The “They must be rushing to the emergency room”- You’re on a one-lane road with a marked speed limit of 35 mph. You are going 38, and this car is flashing his lights, darting back and forth trying to find a millisecond in which to claim the front of the car procession, and maybe giving polite little honks that stop being polite very quickly.  Their cars should be red to alert people that there is an impatient driver in the car. And better throw in some flashing lights, just for good measure.

The Stroller– If a driver could mosey, this is how they would do it.  These drivers just go at their own speed, watch the world go by, and consider speed limits to be something that should not be neared, except in a life-threatening emergency.  This is the sort of driver that you sort of admire. Wouldn’t it be nice to have nowhere that you have to be until Sunday? Then you realize that you’re about to be late for your appointment that you definitely left ample time for and start making un-ladylike remarks.  These cars should be sky blue with a little lawn chair and margarita painted on the back.

The Saint– These drivers let every car into the lane in front of them.  They are generous to a fault.  And I really mean a fault.  Now, letting merging traffic in is the courteous and right thing to do.  But it should be a 1:1 trade off.  Saints are in no hurry to get home, are enjoying the break from having their foot on the gas, or just don’t have guts.  Their cars should be the color of the pearly gates.

The Cheater Cheater Pumpkin Eater– This is the driver that, although it is plain that the lane is ending and all previous cars have merged lanes some while back, will race to the front and then just sit stock still until a Saint lets them in. They are obviously more important than everyone else and do not have the ability to wait in traffic like us little people. These cars should be orange.

The Space Cadet– The space cadet is the person who, by personality or use of a mobile device, is completely oblivious to the world around him.  You’ve got your turn signal on and they are in an exit lane?  Wait? What? You wanted to get over? Oh… sorry. You can take the next exit. They would be a celestial purple color. But they don’t really need a color do they? They can easily be spotted as the ones who have had their turn signal on for miles, with no apparent interest in turning, changing lanes, or pulling over.

The Waverer– The waverer has good intentions.   She wants to let you in.  She just doesn’t know whether to speed up or slow down in order to give you the best chance of getting over. So you end up playing this silly game in which you both speed up, realize that you’re both speeding up, and then both independently slow down, and then… goes on and on.  These cars should be painted two different colors.

Now, the colors on these cars could be put on in several ways. 1) When people go to buy a new car, they would have to take a driving test and get assigned a color if need be.  BUT, this allows them to fake it on the driving exam, and carry on as usual after the have their car.  2) Give drivers black cars and paint ball guns.  When they see one of these drivers, they merely shoot the car with the color designated.  If you see someone with a bunch of red dots, you know…

Any other ideas for how to put on the alert paint or drivers that I missed?

A step in the green direction…


Everyone around here is pretty sick and tired of hearing about how hot it is here, and how it’s not getting cooler anytime soon, so there’s a new story clogging the airwaves and cyberwaves of Austin: Mayor Lee Leffingwell wants to ban plastic bags in Austin stores.  I think this is great news, especially since I already use reusable bags, and…

A January report from the city’s Solid Waste Services Department said Austinites use 263 million plastic bags a year, and the bags cost the city $850,000 a year to put in landfills and to clean up as litter. -

…Gross!  Apparently, plastic bags aren’t recyclable, and actually clog up recycling machinery. So, Lee wants to ban it.  Now, you might say that this is a bit hasty.  Maybe we should give stores time to voluntarily diminish the use of plastic bags in their stores? You would be right, and in 2008, when Mayor Leffingwell first wanted to do this, six retain giants got together and said that if he would hold off the ban, they would cut bag use by 50%. He let them try. It’s been 3 years, and it still hasn’t happened.  The retailers say that they’ve done a great job, and have reduced bag use by 20%. However, by my own gauge, most stores are doing a lousy job. How do I judge?  The grocery stores are the only places that don’t bat an eye when I say I have my own bags.  The lady at Gap looked as if she didn’t know if she was allowed to put my clothes into my cloth bag!  The man at JCPenney’s heard me, but still pulled out a plastic bag.  I had to explain that I didn’t want a disposable bag.

The fact of the matter is that plastic bags are wasteful to our environment and not as sturdy as reusable bags.  It takes 12 dinky plastic bags to hold all of my groceries, when I could use 4, maybe 5, reusable bags.  And for those, like me, who thought, “Hey! I use reusable bags, but I want my meat in a disposable bag so that it doesn’t cross contaminate!”  Lee has thought of that too; retailers would be able to continue using the little plastic bags for meats and other hazardous things (for instance, wasp spray).

If you would like to read more about the city council’s plan, written by someone with much more talent than myself:

***Kudos to Target; they give you a $.05 discount each time you use a reusable bag***

Say Hello to my Little Friend…


Lately, I’ve had some trouble taking a good breath.  Most of the time I feel fine and don’t even notice I’m breathing (thank you brainstem!). But, sometimes, it feels downright difficult . I’ll be cooking or singing in church, or watering my flowers and all of a sudden, it feels like the surface tension on the inside of my lungs has increased ten fold. This isn’t the first time I’ve had problems. I never really liked running, because it just felt so hard. I couldn’t get enough air in by breathing through my nose, and when I started breathing through my mouth, I would begin to wheeze. And if it was cold outside, I would start coughing up mucous.  I solved this problem by NOT RUNNING, especially when it was cold.  But I sort of got to the point when more and more things were triggering it, and they were less and less avoidable.

So I went to the doctor.

And he was very nice. And he told me that I needed a rescue inhaler for whenever these things happened.

So now I have a new BFF, and I looove her!

Beginner Exercise Videos are NOT for Beginners


I used to exercise in an exercise room with exercise machines.  Then we moved to a house and the exercise room stayed at the apartment complex.  So now I do workouts with the friendly workout people inside of the T.V.  They call these workouts “Beginner Pilates” or “Beginner Cardio” or “Beginner Knot Tying Yoga” but let me tell you, the people in these videos are NOT beginners. I guess I can kind of understand the necessity of having advanced teachers. But their friends in the background who are doing this along with me don’t need to be Cirque de Soleil performers.  Why can’t they have bad posture?  Why can’t they cuss at the instructor when she says “Let’s do 5 more!”  Why can’t they only reach to their mid calf rather than behind their foot?  And why do they have that smug little grin on their faces during the last few reps of each exercise? It’s like they know you’re cheating.  That or they know that they are in Aspen, doing yoga by a babbling brook surrounded by snowcapped mountains and picturesque wildlife, while you’re trying to do the sun salutation without crashing your head into the coffee table.