This photo was taken when Alex and Michael were ring bearers at their Uncle Todd and Aunt Peggy's wedding. They were supposed to walk side-by-side, but as they started walking down the aisle, Michael noticed everyone was looking at them and dived behind Alex for cover. Michael's instinct for survival will serve him well if he ever happens to get into a hostage situation and/or gunfight.
The kids are 4 (about to turn 5) and in preschool, and will be going to kindergarten next fall. While they are both right handed, Andy is working on teaching them to bat left handed in order to confer this huge advantage when they start playing little league.
When asked what they want to do, they've moved past "garbagemen" and are now planning to be "ambulance driver" and "fireman", and will work together in the same firehouse saving people.
If you want to know what it's like to spend a day with Michael and Alex, watch the following 36-second video over and over about 2400 times:
Trips to the emergency room during 2009: two
Alex: broken elbow
Michael: stitches in tongue
Alex broke his arm while riding his bike with Andy, which put Andy’s parental credibility at risk. Luckily (for Andy), a few months later Michael was with his mother when he tried to vault a bench in the kid’s section at Barnes and Noble and most decidedly did not stick the landing. His face plant caused him to bite his tongue --- this required 4 stitches.
Alex with cast on his arm
(Michael's tongue stitches thankfully not shown)
Max and Kasper update
Max and Kasper are our two loyal Weimaraners. Besides hating the French, they have most recently been occupying their days tracking mud all over the house. They particularly enjoy getting on clean beds with muddy paws. As they like to point out, everyone needs a hobby.
"Give me a treat. Preferably something made out of a pig."
(Max, bottom, and Kasper, top)
Max had several mass cell tumors removed in June. Now that he’s a “cancer survivor,” he plans to enter the Tour de France and win it 7 times. Kasper is doing great, and is always ready for his constitutionally mandated ascension to alpha dog if Max is incapacitated for any reason.
Andy and Susan update
Andy is still a professor in the department of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M. Despite his best efforts, there are still one or two people in the State that don't believe that climate change is happening or that humans are now the dominant driver of the climate.
Andy has ceased blogging because he decided that it is impossible to change minds in a blog post. Based on his teaching experience, however, it is possible to change someone's mind if you have them 3 hours a week for 15 weeks. With this in mind, he's now working on a textbook for non-science majors tentatively titled Modern Climate Change. In a similar vein, the second edition of his textbook The science and politics of global climate change: A guide to the debate will be out in March. It makes a great St. Patrick's Day gift for that special Irish friend.
If you follow the public debate over climate, you may be interested in an op-ed that Andy wrote about the "climate-gate" e-mails.
Andy has been working on the water vapor feedback for the last few years. This is the process whereby an initial warming of the planet, caused, for example, by an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, leads to an increase in the humidity of the atmosphere. Because water vapor is itself a greenhouse gas, this increase in humidity causes additional warming. As far as he's concerned, this problem is now thoroughly cooked, so he's moved on to another big uncertainty in predictions of future climate: clouds. More on that in next year's letter.
In other good news, Andy was gratified to find out that he's listed on the "living persons" page on wikipedia. This gratification is tempered however by his suspicion that not everything on wikipedia is actually correct.
Susan still works as the entire office staff for a College Station psychiatrist. She (literally) can't go out without seeing someone who's on hardcore psychiatric drugs. The good news is that those people hardly ever want to come up and chat. Her highlight of the year was getting new landscaping in front of the house.
Here’s best wishes for a prosperous and safe 2010. Please keep in touch!
Andy, Susan, Michael, and Alexander (and Max and Kasper)
5110 Congressional Dr.
College Station, TX 77845