August 2005 Newsletter 
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Wendy

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August has turned out to be an incredibly busy month for us between doctor visits (yes, we’re up to twice a month now), work, and family events. First, an update on Baby Isaac. He is doing well and is active as ever. Wendy passed her glucose challenge test with flying colors and even passed the blood count test which the doctor told her most women fail. So, all is well. Ten weeks to go and counting. We visited his pediatrician’s office last Friday and took a hospital tour on Tuesday. We finally settled on a Kiddush  cup and kippah for his bris after much shopping. The kippah was a little challenging. “Baby kippah” equals corny and costly. Craig thought a regular size kippah would do if we bought a small. This led to a series of calculations on how many kippot it would take to go around Craig’s head versus how many kippot it would take to go around Isaac’s head (assuming the average baby head diameter of 33 to 38 cm). Well, if you come to Isaac’s bris and his kippah covers his ears, you’ll know that either he has a really small head or we mis-calculated.

We both had significant research accomplishments this month. Wendy finally got the paper submitted that she has been working on all summer. Craig’s newest submission to Green Chemistry was accepted. Since over 70% of manuscripts are rejected, either his work is more useful or he is less dumb than he claims.

As many of you may know, last winter there was a significant accident in Craig’s office. Construction workers were ripping a roof off of the stairwell adjoining the office, but hadn’t bothered to notify anyone working in the offices. They knocked a concrete beam down onto Craig’s office. It broke through the roof, through the ceiling and sheared off the front of one guy’s desk. Fortunately, that student happened to be out that day on an interview. Otherwise, he would have almost certainly been killed. Other pieces of smaller debris hit one of Craig’s other officemates on the back. The construction boss ordered the workers to hurry into the office and remove evidence before anyone could take pictures or call the police. We, being good patriotic citizens, hooked-up the injured party with a good ambulance chaser, and Craig stepped him (he is from China) through the American legal process. The case was finally settled out of court for a sizeable sum. Sadly, no real changes in the safety practices of the construction company are evident. They continue to get lots of U of M money while risking the lives of U of M staff and students (we’ll just say this was not the first incident of gross negligence). Craig’s injured but victorious officemate treated everyone to lunch at a local Chinese restaurant.

Craig's office post crash. Craig's desk is in the right foreground.

  Late in July Wendy’s great-aunt Ruth passed away, may her memory be a blessing, after suffering from Alzheimers for many years. The first weekend in August, we attended her memorial service in Beaver, PA. We decided to make a weekend of it and stayed with Wendy’s Grandma and Grandpa Steele at Sherwood Oaks retirement community. During dinner, Wendy’s teenaged cousins caught site of two very attractive young men across the room. With the average age in the room around 80, these two high school guys definitely stood out. Grandma Steele rushed over to their table to speak to their grandfather and set-up a rendez-vous on the Wimbledon court (like croquet) after dinner. Either the boys were bored out of their skulls or were genuinely bowled-over by the young ladies’ attentions, because after several games of Wimbledon, there was discussion about their joining us all back at the Steele condo for games. The boys’ grandfather thought it was a general invitation including him, but their mother corrected his mis-conception. (Personally, we kind of liked the old guy best. He kept suggesting in a very proper British accent that his wife would play a better game of Wimbledon if she would take off her skirt.) We went back to the condo before the Wimbledon match was over. Craig was in the kitchen when the girls got back. He couldn’t see around the corner to where the boys had followed the girls inside. Craig asked, in his Craig in-door voice, “Are the hottie boys coming?” Wendy replied, “Yes dear, they are standing right here in the hall.” The boys laughed, but the girls were absolutely mortified. Way to go Craig. Wendy’s Grandpa Steele was being heavily recruited for the Wimbledon tournament after our evening on the court. To get out of playing, he fell and broke his leg two days later. One would think a simple “No” would have been sufficient?

The third weekend in August was the going away party for Wendy’s cousin Josh who is shipping out to Iraq to do oil transportation for the army. We got to see the family again, this time just outside Columbus, OH. Craig got to eat his fill of pork, since Josh’s mom, Wendy’s Aunt Brenda, is a terrific cook and included many non-kosher items on the buffet. We also got to meet Josh’s fiancée Sarah who seems like quite a catch to us. Also during the party we got to meet Kim (Ankrom)’s new boyfriend Troy. He is a big improvement over the last guy Norbert. This goes to prove that Wendy didn’t like Norbert because he was no good not because “she hadn’t picked him” as was claimed by the Ankrom family. Kim picked Troy herself and Wendy definitely approved. 

We finally found a home for our fish tanks. While living in Cincinnati, we purchased two saltwater aquariums. One was 46 gallons, the other was 125 gallons. These tanks were our pride and joy. They also consumed most of our time and money. We could regale you for hours with stories about Piedmont the crab who had a penchant for changing shells and who frequently rearranged the rocks in the tank to suit his tastes, or about our cow fish Dr. Mooly Kao who would only eat out of your hand. Moving the tanks to Michigan was no easy feat, requiring all of our engineering skills. Because the filtration system was a biological one, all of the water had to be transported to Michigan. (170 gallons of saltwater is A LOT of wate.) We first transferred all of the live rock and fish to large Rubbermaid storage boxes. Certain fish had to be kept separate and none of the containers could be very full. Next, battery-powered aerators had to be affixed to each Rubbermaid box. These boxes had to be transported in a climate-controlled vehicle (i.e. the Ankrom’s minivan minus the back seat). Then all of the water had to be siphoned out of the tanks and filters. (Norbert the Terrible decided to use Wendy’s vacuum attachment hose as an extra siphon—much to Wendy’s distress.) Then the sand had to be removed and stored in buckets. The water was loaded into the back of the moving van and the tanks were loaded into the Comisar’s pick-up. Kim and Norbert followed the moving van in Kim’s car. By the time everyone reached Michigan, enough saltwater had spilled that a steady spray of saltwater was emanating from the rear of the moving van. Kim’s car was covered with salt. Linda made it with the fish. Becky made it with the tanks, and we made it in our two cars with about a dozen large houseplants and five unhappy cats. The tanks had to be set-up immediately. The large tank was to go in our family room in the basement. This required that it be carried down our basement stairs and 180 degrees around the landing. It is very important that fish tanks not be torqued at all, or they can spring a leak. Even empty, the glass of the large tank is enormously heavy, so this move was no mean feat.  After we’d been in Michigan for a year, we realized that the water quality was too poor for the fish and the higher cost of living in Michigan meant we could barely afford to feed ourselves and our fish (whose diet is far pricier than steak or caviar). So, we dismantled our tanks and took the surviving fish to a fish store. This left us with a mountain of fish tank paraphernalia in the basement that would be worth a lot if we ever put in the time and effort to sell it. Recently, Wendy had a brainstorm: offer the equipment to a sea urchin breading lab on campus. Labs are notorious for taking ANYTHING that is free. And so was the case. Ten graduate students and one very big, very burly, very bossy, and very gay black mover showed up at our condo to take the tanks off of our hands. Now, if we ever get the paper work taken care of, we can write them off on our taxes as a charitable contribution.

 Dr. Mooley Kao in our "small" fish tank. Mooley died while we were on vacation a few years ago. His pump supercavitated and quit pumping water.