Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy Holidays 2013

Howdy and welcome to our 2013 message.  It's time for your Dessler family update!

Alex and Michael

Alex (L), Kasper (C), and Michael (R)
Alex and Michael are 8, in third grade, and attending Allen Academy in Bryan, TX. They love reading on their Kindles and asking their dad and granddad questions about science.  Their big adventure this year was spending a month in Boulder, Colorado.  The kids finally got to see a mountain ... and even climb one:

Gig 'em!  Michael (L) and Alex (R) on top of Mt. Sanitas, in the Boulder Front Range
They also did some rock climbing:

Spider-boy! Michael at the rock climbing gym
The rock climbing gym was quite interesting.  The body composition of the average Boulder-ite at a rock climbing gym is 4% fat, 6% tattoo ink, and 3% THC.

The kids have also become obsessed with minecraft, a game in which you wander around a virtual world, building stuff.  You can actually build some pretty cool stuff in game, like the Starship Enterprise.  Alex and Michael spent many hours in 2013 working together to build elaborate structures in the minecraft universe.

Alex (L) and Michael (R), in their Minecraft persona, DesslerKids and MikeKdog.  If you see them in-game, run.
Unfortunately, they can also fight in Minecraft.  Here's what happens when Andy gets into a fight with Michael.  This video is from dad's point of view.



And, finally, in "I guess it was bound to happen" news, they are now at the age where Andy and Susan are beginning to irritate them.  Check this out:


Susan and Andy

Andy spent the summer at the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, which is why the rest of the family spent the summer there.  Everyone agrees that Boulder is nicer in summer than College Station.  We rented out a basement on Grape St. in North Boulder, a great location near Iris and Broadway.  But, in the end, it was still a basement.  Susan says never again.  Nevertheless, our new hope is to never spend the summer in Texas again.  In 2014, we are planning to spend the summer in the Washington, D.C. area.

Andy is still a professor in the Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M and he continues to work on climate change.  No matter how much he studies the problem, though, it doesn't seem to get any better. Andy's also twittering and you can follow him at @AndrewDessler if you want pithy 140-character statements about climate, like this one about this article:


In our annual gadget update, Andy's 2013 gadget was a Chevy Volt.  The Volt is an electric car, but it also carries a gas-powered onboard generator in case the batteries run low.  The car is absurdly complicated — just the section on locking and unlocking the car covers 11 pages.  As an example, here's the section on "passive locking":



Did you get that?  Now imagine this going on for 300 pages and you know what owning a Volt is like.  Andy actually enjoys a car that's as complicated as Adobe Photoshop, so he's very happy with it.

Susan has now moved to the top of everyone's suckers list because she's willing to volunteer to do the thankless jobs that no one else wants to do: Cub Scout den leader, room mom at Allen Academy (insert joke about marrying Andy and/or raising Alex & Michael here).  And she still works in Dr. Lorene Henry's office taking care of the many crazy people in College Station.

As den leader, Susan recently had to camp out with the boys.  Normally, Andy gets the fun of sleeping on the ground (it's on his Murtaugh list, see last year's letter), but he found out just before that he was about 2,000 miles short of the next United elite level.  So he scheduled a mileage run from IAH to EWR to BDL to CLE and back to IAH in one day.  It does not sound like a fun trip, and indeed, it was even less fun than it sounds.  Maintenance issues arose in BDL and, after a 7-hour delay there, he got routed back to IAH via IAD.  This delay made him miss the campout.  Darn!  But he did get his mileage.

Our dogs, Kasper and Winston are doing well. Kasper is getting old and was recently diagnosed with a heart murmur.  So now he's spending his days working on his bucket list.  He also had a cracked tooth that had to be removed.  Still, he thinks that 2013 sucked less than 2012 (cf. last year's letter), but he's hoping 2014 is even better.  Winston is in fine health, although that could change at any minute if he keeps up his aggressive begging at the table.  It's making Susan very angry.

Have a great 2014!

Here's hoping you and your family have a great 2014 and beyond!

Andy, Susan, Michael, Alex (and Kasper and Winston)