Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy holidays, 2016

Well, that sucked.  Initially, that's all we were going to write about 2016, but then we thought we'd better elaborate.

Alex's Ankle

Alex twisted his ankle in late May.  Despite there being no break in the skin, his joint somehow became infected.  Not sure how that happens. It took a while to correctly diagnose since "infected joint" is one of the last things you look at for a twisted ankle.  In the few days before he was diagnosed, his health rapidly declined.  He was eventually transferred to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston where they operated on his ankle at 10 pm on a Friday night to clean out the infected tissue.

Not caused by any bad parental decisions!
After the operation, he quickly got better.  Luckily, the strain of staph that had infected his joint was a common one that responded well to antibiotics, but he nevertheless stayed in the hospital for a week.  He was then on antibiotics for a month and was not allowed to play any sports for 6 months.  

Alex and Michael relax in the hospital
It was, overall, a legitimately frightening experience.  He's now back to his old self and everyone is very glad that we have health insurance.  In case you're wondering, this all started when he slipped on a floor that had just been mopped.  So the price tag of that clean floor was just shy of $70,000; there's a lesson there somewhere, but we can't quite figure out what it is.

Alex being transported to Houston
Otherwise, the kids are doing well.  They're in 6th grade now and the main challenge for Susan and Andy is keeping them from spending all of their time playing video games.

Here they are playing Empire at War:  

Here they are playing Minecraft:

Watch these videos on repeat and you get an idea of what their 2016 looked like.  They're getting really good with computers (esp. compared to this)

Kasper 2005-2016

Better times: June 2005
Another sad event in 2016 was that Kasper, our beloved Weimaraner, passed away.  He was old and his health was rapidly declining, but it was still a shock.  He was a loyal and valued member of the family and we miss him every day.

Tagger and Bullet

So we were down to one dog and planned to keep it that way.  But when Alex was in the hospital, Susan agreed to let him get another dog when he got out (yes, we're blaming Susan for this).  So when Alex got out, we found some puppies through friends and got one.  Meet our new boy, Bullet:
Bullet immediately found the best place in the house to sleep.
Bullet's parents were both AKC-registered pure bred dogs, but of different breeds: his mom was a border collie and his dad was a blue lacy — their romance was a West Side Story kinda thing.  Here's some video of Tagger and Bullet playing in July:

Bullet is now considerably larger, but Tagger is still the queen bee.  

Andy and Susan

Andy and Susan are still in the tactical laser tag business with their business AggielandWarGames.  Check out one of our latest promo videos here.  Turns out starting a business is really hard, but the business continues to grow and we're looking forward to a great 2017.  Susan spends her time keeping the business up and running.

Andy is still working at Texas A&M in the Atmospheric Sciences Dept.  He's also now the Earl F. Cook Professor of Geosciences there.  We're not sure what that means, other than Earl F. Cook was a rich dude with money to burn.

Surprisingly, climate change has not gone away. In fact, it just keeps getting warmer. If only some people had been saying for 100 years that this would happen ...
GISTEMP temperature anomalies (relative to 1951-1980); annual average (black) and 5-year running mean (read).
It appears the incoming U.S. administration is full of people doubtful (to put it mildly) of climate science. This will give us an excellent opportunity to see which is more powerful: strongly held political beliefs or the laws of physics.  If you're a betting person, always bet on physics.

Andy was on faculty development leave in the Fall and spent a month at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany.  In addition to having lots of Gl├╝hwein mit Schuss, he actually got a lot of work done.  He was helped by the lack of sunlight and constant rain/snow of Northern Germany in November.  Pro tip: don't go to Hamburg in November.

Well, that's it for 2016.  Here's hoping y'all have a great 2017!

Michael, Alex, Susan, Andy, Tagger, and Bullet