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