Go West

I know it has been a long time since my last post. And I am sorry that my three readers have had to wait so long to see what was taking place. The truth is, a great deal has happened since the last post.

It started last March when we realized it was time to aggressively look for a new job. With Stephen L. pushing I looked at job opening and applied at various institutions. In May I had a phone interview for the Dean of Students position at New Mexico State University. In June I flew to Las Cruces, NM for a full days worth of interviews. Each interview let me know this is where I wanted to be. It felt right for me. Then I waited. It seemed like for months when in reality it was a few weeks. Then the phone call came with the offer. After some discussion with Mikey I accepted the offer. The one catch was I would need to start August 16. Let’s do this!

In late July I flew back out to Las Cruces for a leadership retreat with the division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services. I did not know what to expect. I would be in a room full of people who I did not know and who did not know me. I was 1,400 miles from Mikey. How would I make it? WHY DID I WORRY? The retreat was amazing. I was made to feel like I had been part of the group for years. We gathered at the end of the day and I met many of the individual’s spouses. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. We talked and we laughed. I called Mikey excited about the experience. His stated, “I can hear how happy your are in your voice. I have not heard that in a long time when it comes to your job.” And he was right. I did not want to leave Las Cruces and return to the current job. But we had three weeks to go.

In three weeks we got the house ready to put on the market, packed up our belongings into  PODS, attended our moving away party hosted by our friends, and began the drive out west. On

Wednesday night, August 8 Tilly got sick. I mean real sick! She vomited several time, could barely stand up and walk, and you could tell she was having a hard time focusing with her eyes. Thursday morning Mikey took her to the Vet. She was kept for observations. The diagnosis was: Tilly had a small stroke. The Vet gave us some medicine and we were to keep he resting. The big concern was how she would handle the stress of the car trip.

On August 10 the PODS were loaded and gone. On August 11 we loaded the Mini on a trailer and pulled it with the Jeep. Thank you Gentry for your help on this one! Early Mariana and Mike surprised us with a visit to send us off. After a few set back and little bumps in the road, we left Pensacola. Yes, it was raining when we drove out of town. We figured a 20 hour car trip. However, due to the trailer and stops for the girls it ended up being closer to 30.

The first half of the trip was from Pensacola to San Antonio. We left Pensacola by 9:00 am and arrived in San Antonio at 1:00 am. When we arrived at the hotel, a La Quinta in the heart of downtown San Antonio the valets said they may not have parking for the car and trailer. Mikey, being wise, looked at me and said, “I’ll go talk to them.” When he returned there was a solution. We checked in and were in bed by 1:45.

The next morning we got up at 7:00. Chris and Cindy drove down from Austin to meet us for breakfast. We had a great time. We were able to catch up, have a good breakfast, and enjoy a nice visit. Then it was back in the car. Okay, as you leave the west side of San  Antonio you begin to come out of an area of Texas known as the Hill Country. If we were just in the Jeep or the Mini this would have been a beautiful drive. However, driving the Jeep and towing the Mini presented some challenges. When going up hill the Jeep could barely go above 30 mph. But going down hill, and with the trailer pushing on the Jeep, created quite a stress. After about three hours we were out of the hills and into the FLAT plains of Texas. There was nothing. Once the Jeep hit half a tank we pulled over at the next gas station and refilled. The reason for this, you never knew just how long it was until the next gas station. One the second day we were on the road by 8:30 am and leaving San Antonio. We pulled into the driveway of the new house at about 11:00 pm central time. We unloaded the cars and got the girls in the house. We took the trailer to the drop off point (a location that had no signage). By 1:00 am we were laying on our air mattress in the rental home. We fell asleep and when we woke up, a new chapter in our lives had begun. We had moved west. To a place I had never thought of before.

Side note, Tilly and Corri are doing fine. Tilly is laying in the bed beside me as I type this out. I will work to catch you up on what has taken place over the next week. It feels good to be back.Until next time.


The Dune Sea Express

I was going through some old ST stuff that I’ve had in storage, and came across this newsletter from May of 1991 that I got while waiting in line to see one of the ST movies. (ST IV maybe?). I’ve scanned it and attached it here. It’s been many years since I’ve lived in San Angelo, but thought members of the existing “The Enterprise TARDIS Connection” might find it interesting…

The Dune Sea Express #9 May 1991

We’re moving to Las Cruces, New Mexico!!!

Hi Everyone,

Michael has accepted the position of Dean of Students with New Mexico State University located in Las Cruces, NM. We’re both very excited, stressed, scared, and all the other emotions that come with a move like this.

Michael’s first day is August 16th, 2012, so we have to move quickly. Our plan is to be on the road to Las Cruces on the morning of August 11th. So, with such a SMALL window, we need to have a garage sale (a BIG one!), pack our belongings, get a moving company, find a place to live, sell our house and (most importantly) say goodbye to our wonderful northwest Florida family.

I’ll try to post more information here as we figure it out.

OH, and if you know anyone in the Las Cruces area that is looking for a seasoned professional network engineer with 28 years in the business, please send them my name.

Love to all of you!

…and if you want to donate time, money, boxes or anything else to the cause, please hit us up!!!

The Laramie Project at The University of West Florida

We saw the opening night performance of The Laramie Project at the UWF Center for Fine and Performing Arts tonight. It was beautifully done. The performances, sets, costumes, direction and even the audience were great. This is my 3rd time to see the show, and it was really well done. I highly recommend seeing it.

In addition to the story and performance, there was one additional thing that really struck a chord with me. The director, Sam Osheroff, wrote a beautiful “Director’s Notes” in the program, and I want to share it with you. What follows is an exact quote from the program.

“The boldness of asking deep questions may require unforeseen flexibility if we are to accept the answers.”  Physicist Brian Greene

The Laramie Project is the story of Matthew Shepard but it’s also the story of Emmett Till. It’s the story of James Bird, Sandra Fluke, Brandon Teena, Harvey Milk and every kid who’s ever been bullied for being fat, slow, gay, different. It’s the story of 6 millions Jews and 800,000 Tutsis, 40,000 Bosnian Muslims, and 3,000 World Trade Center Employees. It’s the story of the power of story telling, of loss and grief and fury, and of the consequences of rigid thinking. Most of all, it’s the story of a community shattered and lives ruined by a single act of intolerance.

Every generation has it’s bogeymen; Jews, blacks, women, homosexuals, communists, Muslims, Christians. The list goes on. As a species, we seem determined to fear and loathe the unknown, the strange, the OTHER. This is what happens when we allow ourselves to treat each other as anything less than human.

As I write this, a national furor is growing over the February shooting of a young African American man named Trayvon Martin. Like Matthew Shepard’s death, Martin’s has captured the attention of the media, and like Matthew Shepard, the story has grown from a local incident to a national debate on civil rights. As Trayvon Martin is becoming the emblem of the current conversation on race, so too is Matthew Shepard emblematic of the struggle for gay rights and the need for hate crime legislation. But Matthew Shepard was only one of thousands of victims of anti-gay hate crimes in 1998 and Trayvon Martin is only one of thousands of racially biased attacks in 2012.

The Laramie Project is the story of people who refused to collapse in the face of the unthinkable and of how grief and anger can lead to activism and debate. The debate isn’t always pretty and it isn’t always civil but it is always progress because debate shines a light on those things we’d prefer to sweep under the rug. In the midst of all the ugliness that surrounds the issue of hate, I see a lot of lights being shone. And that a pretty good reason for hope. H‑O‑P‑E.

Sam Osheroff

I think this states it perfectly and so eloquently.

Be sure to catch a performance of The Laramie Project at UWF. You can get more information at their website.

Be sure to see the stage reading of the follow up piece to this show called, The Laramie Project 10 Years Later. The theatre group that originally wrote and performed the show, went back to Laramie Wyoming 10 years after Matthew Shepard’s death, and re-interviewed the people they could find. It’s a VERY eye opening view on how the story changed and what people think of the event now. There are only 2 performances on April 15th and 18th. The reading will follow that days performance of The Laramie Project. It’s free for all, but you have to get a ticket to get in.

And for more information on the story behind The Laramie Project, check this website. Learn about The Matthew Shepard Foundation.

The Phone Call I Could Not Make

There was a phone call I could not make today. Several times I picked up my phone to dial the number only to realize I could not or I would come to my senses and put the phone down. It was not my pride which stopped me. It was purely nature. This was a phone call I have made each year on this day for at least 35 years. And this year I could not do it. A connection has been broken and for the first time in 40 years a tradition was not conducted. And tonight I am sad.

Today is my Aunt’s birthday. Two days from today is mine. And today was the first time since I can remember I was not able to say, “Happy Birthday, Aunt Billie.” We have always celebrated our birthdays together. As I was growing up, I can not remember celebrating my birthday without celebrating hers. That is just the way it was. The first year I was away at college and we did not celebrate together was difficult. However, I picked up the phone and called her on March 20. Two days later, my phone rang and it was her on the other line returning the gesture.That became the new version of our old tradition. To me we still celebrated our birthdays together.

Eleven months ago my Aunt passed away. She had been in the hospital and just as things seem to be getting better she let go. I would not say my Aunt gave up. But I know she let go. I believe she was tired of trying and she felt it was time. She stop fighting and let what happened happen. She passed on April 20, 2011.

She was more than an Aunt to me. She was a mother.She may have been an aunt by blood (she was my mother’s older sister) but she was a mother to me. She played an important part in my life. She was there for every important step of my life. Hell, out of the five parents between Mikey and I she was the only one at our marriage ceremony. She was also the first to stand up when the guest were allowed to speak at the event. AMAZING!

Aunt Billie was an amazing women. She was a true SCW (Southern Christian Woman). She loved her God and she loved her family. I am not sure which one she would have picked if she had to choose. She maintained this stance all her life and trust me it was challenged many times. Some of those challenges even came from me. When I came out to her she said, “I know and nothing has changed.” She had integrity for her actions matched her words. And although I feel I let her down many times in my life she still made me feel like I was number one. Even if I wasn’t, she always made me feel as if I was her favorite among all five children. There was a bond between us that no one else shared.

Because of that bond, she was able to teach me a few things. First of all, she taught me that being unique was special and a gift. Instead of a burden. Second, she taught me to hold true to what I believed in. No matter what others say or do; stay true to your beliefs. Third, she taught me being strong does not mean you have to be loud. You can be a whisper but still blow down a house. Most importantly, she taught me to be myself and embrace it.

I have many memories of my Aunt. I remember a train trip she took my brother and I on from Rust to Palestine, Texas. I remember making gallons of home made eggnog one holiday season. I remember her giving me a cigarette to smoke when I was in the eighth grade (she had a few beers just before). I remember just the two of us singing Ben as she played the piano. “Ben, the two of us shall look more. We both found what we are looking for…” Today, I realize that song is a great symbol of our relationship. I remember her vacuuming the house at 4 in the morning because she could not sleep.

One memory that sticks out in my mind was on the day of my graduation with my doctorate in December 2009. She called my phone and I was not able to answer it. She left a message. She said, “Mike, this is your Aunt Billie. I wish I could be there with you but I want you to know how proud I am of you! You are a special person and I am proud of the man you have become. I love you!” She was proud of me.

Out of all the holidays since her passing, this has been the hardest for me to get through. Our birthdays have always been connected. And today, I could not pick up the phone and dial her number. I miss her more than I can say. She was, and still is, a very prominent figure in my life. So today I leave her a message.

Aunt Billie, thank you for being the person you are and the role you play in my life. Today is YOUR day and always will be. I wish you the happiest birthday and I love you! Love always, Mike.

REJECT DISCRIMINATION Tell the President to Support Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

Send a Valentine to President Obama

Our Right to Love Doesn’t Evolve, We’re Born With It.

This has been a big couple of weeks in the fight for the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. Yesterday, Washington became the seventh state to stand up for the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry. And last week, a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

We know where the GOP frontrunners stand on marriage for gay couples—it’s not pretty—that’s why we need the support of a critical player: President Obama.

As the leader of the most LGBT friendly administration in history, we need him to lead on this issue too.

This Valentine’s Day, let’s help President Obama “evolve” his views on marriage for same-sex couples by sending him a valentine. ACLU Liberty Watch will deliver your Valentine to the White House.

The hundreds of thousands of same-sex families living in states that deny them their fundamental right to marry need the support of their president. This Valentine’s Day, tell the president that the right to love doesn’t evolve, we’re born with it.

Send a Valentine to President Obama


Earlier this week, I spoke to the orientation staff about the difference between a mentor and a role model. This week on Top Chief, the contestants had to cook for their mentors. The sound bits were about how these people impacted their lives and shaped the way they cook. This connection got me thinking about those who have served as mentors in my life. I have had four mentors in my life. Two of them guided me into my profession and two guided me through the process of receiving my doctorate. I want to talk about the two who guided me into this profession: Ann G. and Andy J.

While I was an undergraduate student at Texas A&M University I participated as an active member in an organization known as Off Campus Aggies (OCA). Ann and Andy served as advisors to the organization. Like most times, I never thought about the impact these two would play in my life. They sat on the perimeter and observed a great deal. When they thought we could do better they challenged us. When university administrators thought we should keep to the status quo they supported us. I had the benefit of working with these two amazing people for multiple years.

Over time, the two of them taught me so much. I learned how to work with other individuals. I also began to develop skills which would eventually shape the way I work with my students. They taught me the value of being there for students and the joy in seeing individuals grow. I learned sometimes saying nothing says so much and a simple, “I’m proud of you,” makes a great impact. I learned I can hear so much if I just listen. I also learned the value of simply being present. They taught me to be a role model. Today, my success is a reflection of them and ALL that I learned from them.

They both played a role in me being the professional I am today. They saw something in me and pointed me in the right direction. Today, I have an amazing job where I get to work with college students. I know I am successful because I have two great mentors. Something makes me smile is knowing the students I impact and guide into this profession also carry apart of Ann and Andy with them.

Thank you both for all you did and continue to do. I am the professional I am today because you saw something in me which I could not even see. I hope I do the same for others.

Until next time, cheers!

Money Money Money

Mikey and I spent a portion of our night looking at our finances. It is easy to say this is not comfortable for either one of us to do. Isn’t that funny, the things that we should do we seem to avoid the most. We looked at our various debt and talked about ways we can work to lower the overall impact.

Finances are one of those things that I need to make myself look at and be mindful of all the time. I would much rather know that money goes into the account and hope that more money goes in than goes out. As most people know, that is not a smart way to live. I am going to try to be much better at being aware of the cash flow as it relates to our personal accounts. We have made a commitment to create a budget for our living and be more intentional about how we spend our money. We will see if this happens. We have talked about this in the past but failed to do much about it. Maybe this time we will do better. I will let you know what comes about in the weeks to follow. If all goes well we will have a better understanding of where our money is going and in six months to a year we should see that impact on the debt. Only time will tell.

Until then, cheers!