Saturday, July 29, 2006

The fastest way to get from Austin to Albuquerque

No joke! This route is scientifically tested and confirmed to be the very fastest!
1) First, drive from Austin to Fort Stockton Texas. This should take about six hours. You'll pass a big wind farm just as you should start thinking about turning north in the next hour or so.
2) Then head north on US 285. This will take you through Carlsbad and Roswell. Carlsbad Caverns are out of your way, but there is a lot of fun UFO kitsch in Roswell to make up for this. Also, if you stop somewhere north of Roswell, think about picking up some Carizozo Orchards Cherry Cider. So good!
3) At Clines Corners, turn left/ west. It's easy to get impatient at this point, because you're so close. But be careful! It's named Tijeras Canyon for a reason, and there are lots of scary trucks on I-40!

The total distance is 750 miles, or so. I find this trip to be kind of restful and nice, and when I drive it in the winter, at night it seems like I am driving straight into the Perseids meteor shower. So this drive is another thing that I will miss about Austin.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Moving Update

Well, I'm hitting that despair point in the move. I've packed up so many books, clothes, and dishes, and still the house looks completely chaotic. I'm so scared that I won't finish everything that I need to do. Part of me wants to just stay put forever, but I look around me and I know that I've made too big a mess of things to go back now.
On the upside, I have finally found a use for old software manuals: shred them to make packing material!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Book Cataloging Update

Twenty boxes, 540 individual references in EndNote.

I have to stop.

I have cataloged all the books that have nothing to do with my dissertation, since those are saved in a different EndNote Library. Including those, and the still uncatologed books in my office cube, I'll probably come out with over 700 books.
Double that with all of Pete's books.

Do we have a problem?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

In which one girlish dream comes true.

Thank you, Tracy!

Pete and I threw a little going away party last night, and Pete's union colleague Tracy brought us this wonder of modern cute technology. I will toast with great joy from this day forth!

The party itself was so lovely-- I will miss our friends in Austin so much. Leaving my last place was so much easier, since I really hated the place and couldn't imagine wanting to go back. But now, every time I see a reference to Austin, I will get all misty and nostalgic for all of the wonderful people that I know here. Can't you all come with me?

The commentor from the previous post's news that our favorite doctor is now home has been confirmed by the office staff at his practice. My appointment (regular follow up) has been rescheduled for this week. I was unaware when Pete posted that the good doctor's name would bring up our blog in a google search: when I google my own name, I don't actually show up until a few pages in, but our little post was there at the top of the list. Should I edit his name off here?

Looking at the headlines today, I'm starting to wonder if there isn't a September 1, 1939 kind of feeling around my own personal celebrations. Am I just revealing my gift for fretting myself out of enjoying myself?

At any rate, I'm so relieved that at least a few people are getting out of the line of the fire, and I will continue to worry about our friends who are still there. I can't help it. Keep safe, y'all.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Evacuation Update

Today we got a note from a friend in Syria who said nothing much is happening there, and conditions are fine for now. That was a relief, but we're still worried about Dr. Abikhaled and family. I had been seeing headlines to the effect that the U.S. was evacuating its nationals from Lebanon, and these had made me hopeful. The latest news, however, suggests that the government is doing "a heck of a job" as usual. Those effete French have already evacuated 800 of their citizens, while the U.S. embassy is saying "I told you so," as in, "The State Department warned people not to travel to Lebanon" and thinking they may get a destroyer that's on maneuvers in the area over to a port in Lebanon some time in the near future. Imagine a night you spent in an airport with the airline not telling you why the plane was grounded and why you coudn't get on the next one, add bombs falling, and you'll have an idea of what those people must feel like.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Two words: DR LAURA!!!!

At least half of our readership has already celebrated the big news with us, so we've been slow to blog about it. For you folks in northeast Kansas, New York, Dayton, and elsewhere, in case you haven't heard already, Laura passed her Final Oral Exam with flying colors on Friday afternoon. The picture above, which my mom took at Chez Zee that evening, after friends and admirers presented "Dr. Laura" with a lovely and delicious lemon cake, says it all. Everybody who attended the defense remarked on how engaged and interested Laura's committee members were, how constructive their suggestions were, and how well they seemed to get along. Laura had a hard time forming a committee early on--many faculty members she took classes with and hoped to work with left the University. It was a relief, then, to have everything go so smoothly at the final hour. After she writes the acknowledgements, cleans up some typos, and gets the signature page back from a committee member in California, she should be able to submit. Laura's committee members are to be thanked and commended for their enthusiasm, professionalism, and support.

Both sets of parents--Haneys and Padillas came to Austin for the defense and stayed for a beautiful bridal shower that included Austin T-shirts along with the more traditional lingerie items. At right is the shirt of the deceptively simple Daniel Jonhston mural that we have all come to know so well over the years. I think I've said this before, but Laura and I are lucky to have such a great group of friends here in Austin, and we'll miss you all.

Today, after we guided my parents to the airport and flopped down on the couch, exhausted from a long, eventful family weekend, we got a call from the office of Dr. Abikhaled, the surgeon who removed Laura's tumor three years ago. She had a routine appointment with him on Wednesday, but his secretary informed us that he is now trapped in Lebanon with his entire family. We can only hope they're not in the middle of the kind of devastation shown in the newspaper Al-Safir today (via Juan Cole). During Laura's cancer year, we had dealings with a number of doctors. Some acted like used car salesmen. Others like nervous, demanding divas. Dr. Abikhaled was always calm, forthright, and compassionate, explaining clearly what was going on and what decisions had to be made and showing genuine respect for his patient and for the rest of us. We are eternally grateful to him, and we desperately hope that he and his family are able to return safely. Seeing the pictures and reading the headlines, I think of all of our friends and all the noble things people we know are doing, and all the effort we put into building things and solving problems. And then I think about how easy it is for criminals like Nasrallah and Ohlmert (to name only two) to sow destruction and chaos in the world. It's hard to know where to go from there.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tomorrow is the Big Day!

Tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., the chairs pictured at the left, which now stand empty in ACE 2.404B will lend their support to four members Laura's committee as they conduct her Final Oral Examination. A fifth member of the committee will be present by phone. Come what may, we will be having dinner at Chez Zee Friday evening. Thanks to Virginia for making the reservations. Wish us luck!!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Solidarity from Local 6186

Our readers should know by now that Laura and I are eternally grateful to have the Maid of Honor, the Mother of the Bride, and others working so hard on wedding preparations while Laura prepares to become Dr. Padilla and as we get ready to pick up our lives and move them to Colorado.

We'll be leaving behind some wonderful folks here, and some of these include the good people at the Texas State Employees Union. As many of you know, I worked as an organizer for over two years there, and leaving the position to look for an academic job was a tough decision for me. Recently Laura and I were touched to receive this lovely card with a picture of the 'pink dome' of the Texas Capital and a field of bluebonnets. Now what a pink capitol building is doing in a state like Texas is worth thinking about frequently, secretly... but it's nice to have this memento of Austin. The card came with a generous present that organizers from Houston, San Antonio, the Valley, Dallas, Lubbock, and Austin chipped in for, and Laura and I are deeply grateful for that. Thanks to Claire, Mimi, Mike, Katie, Ron, John, Tracy, Jim, Anne, Will, Chris, Debbie, Judy, Willie Mae, Myko, Phil, Terrysa, Santos, Maria, Johnny, and everybody else who contributed. I'll miss you all.

Our readers who enjoy political blogs might want to check out former organizer and eternal stalwart Samm Almaguer's online chronicle of the human services privatization fight here in Texas. It looks like most of the TSEU folks will be unable to attend--although one former UT organizer might make it. In any case, we (except for one of our most faithful Austin readers who--ahem--never joined) can all be comfortable knowing they're fighting the good fight for quality state services and justice on the job for state workers.

As Lazlo Toth always says, "Keep it up!"

Apparently my lividness was premature...

So the sculpture is so not the size of a moving van. I'd say about half that. Still, a huge sculpture, but not the size of a moving van (ahem, Mom).
I just had a meeting with Lucia Garcia (how do you do accents in blogger?). The museum will be letting us use, free of charge, the sculpture garden for the ceremony. So it'll be pretty, but logistically I'd advise everyone out there to dress for 100 degree weather, but also be prepared for a monsoonal downpour (August in NM is like that). The dinner and dancing are still slated for indoors, so once the sweltering or torrential ceremony is complete you can head indoors and have a lime rickey (or a hot toddy) on the Padilla tab.

Friday, July 07, 2006


For those of you who have BBC America, I highly recommend watching the 1990's comedy Spaced, if not to better understand the bond between Pete and Lo, then to marvel at how much Pete looks like Tim (without the bleach job).

An Enormous, Uninvited Wedding Guest

Those of you who have sent your RSVP's already should pat yourselves on the back. We're looking forward to seeing all of you, but we're afraid that you may have to share the Albuqueque Museum with an uninvited guest who looks something like the animal in front of the sodbuster above. How did this happen?

Almost a month ago, I was sitting with Laura at our neighborhood coffee shop, looking over a draft of one of her chapters while she nervously wrote on another one. Turning away from the chapter for a moment, I idly glanced at the previous day’s newspaper and discovered that sculptor Luis Jiménez had died in a freak accident. Jiménez, as some of you may know, was a fellow Texas Ex, born in El Paso, who was known for monumental fiberglass and plastic sculptures on Chicano and Southwestern themes. You could say that he did for all the sculptures out there of galloping horses and Indians shooting buffalo and cowboys shooting Indians what Cervantes did for Amadis of Gaul. Like Cervantes, Jimenez drew on powerful schlock to create thoughtful works of art that are both parodies of and tributes to their subject matter. Unfortunately, his last such sculpture, a piece he had been working on for ten years, fell on top of him and pinned him to a steel beam in his studio at Hondo, New Mexico.

Laura and I were shocked and saddened by the news, but we had no idea that it would affect our lives. Today, however, we received word that the lobby of the Albuquerque Museum, which we reserved last summer for our wedding, is now home to a fiberglass buffalo about the size of a moving van, with little red light bulbs in the eyes. We’d put a picture up, but the Museum staff wouldn’t let the Mother of the Bride take one. At the very least this will mean we will have to rethink the way we were planning to use the space.

Now personally, I appreciate the tribute to Jiménez’s life and work, and though I’d rather have the alligators (above) or maybe “Hunky” the working class hero (right), this piece will do just fine. After all, I am a boy from where the buffalo roamed, right? Besides, lots of people get married underneath big bloody sculptures of a man nailed to a cross. Ever heard anybody complain about that or say it was in bad taste? No ma’am, and it's a proven fact that the great buffalo herds died for my sins. But my bride plans to be blushing, and she doesn’t want the light from that big honkin’ bison’s eyes to hide the rosy glow of her cheeks. Or maybe there’s another reason, but the long and the short of it is that Lola doesn’t want the photographs of our wedding to be dominated by a fiberglass ungulate.

So what to do? We don't know yet. We could have there ceremony outside in the August heat of Albuquerque. It’s “dry” heat, but that sun can get fierce. Perhaps the auditorium might be an option. We know the galleries can’t be rented out, and it would certainly be difficult to change the venue entirely at this late date. Any thoughts? Suggestions? Leave a comment for a change!! And thanks to the Mother of the Bride for her last-minute negotiations.

* * *
For more information about Jiménez, here’s a guided tour of "Vaquero" (left) one of his works at the Smithsonian. Here too is the Washington Post’s obit, which refers to the artist as “controversial,” but doesn’t say why. The London Telegraph is less timid. Perhaps Jiménez’s most famous and controversial sculpture is “Man on fire,” (below) which was inspired by the Buddhist monks who immolated themselves to protest the Vietnam War. Good thing we have a free press in the United States. Our readers in northeast Kansas can go see his sculpture “Howl” at the Spencer Art Museum. Our Austin friends can see "Fire Man," a more recent piece (below) at the Blanton.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Boring but Useful Logistical Post

Happy fourth of July to our potential wedding guests. As Argus Hamilton likes to say, "God bless America, and how's everybody?"

Laura and I thought we'd put up some useful information on logistics for our out-of-Alburquerque guests. First of all, we'd like to draw your attention to the fact that we have placed links to driving directions to ABQ from popular points of origin on the right hand column of this blog, along with links to some Hotels near the Museum. For more such hotels, here are search results from switchboard.

Some have asked about appropriate attire. We'd say semi-formal. Look nice. Don't knock yourself out or spend lots of money.

We have gotten a couple of questions about where we are registered for gifts. It appears that the Maid of Honor's earlier post on this subject was a little cryptic for some. Follow the links in that post to our online registries at Target, Linens-N-Things, Powell's (books) and Macy's/Foley's. We chose Target not because they are angels but because there is no organized campaign against them (as there is with Wal-Mart).

Finally, we wanted to thank Jennifer and Olga for the lovely belated birthday presents, and for the opportunity to lose at chicken sh*t bingo! Thanks are also due from both Laura and the Maid of Honor to Virginia for the lovely birthday ponchos.

Thanks are also due to several of you who have commented favorably on the announcements. Yes we do know how to use capital letters. So let's get those RSVP's in so we can plan the big meal!!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Book Catologing, day 2

I own way too many books published by Penguin and subsidiaries of Penguin.
I've made my way through Victorian novels to Henry James.