Friday, November 28, 2014

2014 Online Red Kettle and other ways to help out

I had to force myself to get through the farewell-to-Austin post after weeks of no motivation to do so, partially so that I could get to this post.  Those of you who have read this blog before will recognize it, as I rarely change the wording year to year.

As has been my wont for the past six years, I am once again hosting an Online Red Kettle for the Salvation Army, for those who have either already finished their shopping or want to plan out their donations in advance.  (If you've finished your shopping already--I'm posting this about two weeks earlier this year than last--I don't really want to hear about it given my own habit of procrastination.)

If you would like to donate through my virtual kettle, you can do so by clicking the kettle below (unlike last year, the kettle is clickable now).

(Image courtesy The Salvation Army)

A couple of other ways to help out this holiday season (and, really, any time) are as follows:

If you are in the Austin area (even though I no longer am), the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, where, according to what they have said, your monetary donation can go about five times as far as a food donation, as they can buy in bulk and save money.  They do a lot of good work, and we've supported them before.

And as I have mentioned previously, my friends Ryan and Ashley Beard have created an organization, 48 Lives, which will assist with international adoptions.  Ryan completed a 48-hour run to raise money for this (in which he ran over 140 miles) and has helped place at least one child with a family who loves her very much.

All of these options are well worth your support.  This holiday season, let's all help someone out who needs it.

On leaving Austin

I knew something would come along to help break my writer's block.  I just never expected it would be moving 1000 miles away.

Yes, my day job has taken me to another state, and I have left Austin behind after living there for over 15 years.  That, by far, is the longest I have ever lived in any one city.  Saying goodbye is both difficult and easy, as there are many things I will miss, but also many things I won't.

I will miss:

  • The generally friendly manner of folks around here.  (This is not to say people won't be friendly elsewhere, of course.)
  • The sunrises and sunsets in Texas.  If you haven't stopped and simply viewed one in a while, let me encourage you to do so.
  • The many, many friends I have made in my time here.
  • The church families who have made us feel welcome these many years.
  • The generally conservative populace and the business-friendly environment of Texas.
  • The food.  Yes, some Austin chains have branched out to other cities and states (Rudy's, for example, will still be within about an hour's drive of my new home, and I hear rumors that Chuy's will also be within that distance in the next year or so), but obviously some places are exclusive to Austin.
  • Those at my places of employment who have supported my career development (which, thankfully, has never depended on timely blog entries).
  • H-E-B.  We've been spoiled to have a grocery chain as good as that, and I already know the prices are higher at my new supermarket of choice.

But--let's be honest--there are quite a few things that I won't miss:

  • The traffic, as exacerbated by years of the "if we don't build it, maybe they won't come" mindset that dominated the Austin City Council for a good portion of the past three decades.  It's not for nothing that Austin is ranked fourth in the nation for traffic congestion.  (Added bonus:  my new home didn't make the top ten.  So there.)
  • The mindset, particularly among local elected officials, that Republicans are some combination of evil and stupid. 
  • Hand-in-hand with the previous entry is that fact that some city councilpersons have often used their official social media accounts to be overtly partisan.  Mike Martinez has been known to block constituents who even mildly challenge him on his Twitter statements.  Way to represent, Mr. Martinez.  (If the City of Austin votes him in as mayor in the runoff, you deserve the dysfunctional council you've given yourselves.)
  • The humidity.  There is never a circumstance in which temperatures above 80° after 10:00 at night are acceptable.
  • The mold.  With the humidity comes a scourge that Mrs. Snowed hates above all else in this town.
  • Cedar fever.  If it lasted all year, it might knock mold from the top of Mrs. Snowed's list.
  • The Chronicle (referred to as the "worthless weekly", when I've referred to it at all).  I don't think I picked one up in the past year anyway, so, really, I wouldn't have any reason to miss it at this point anyway.
  • The thankfully few people who talk of A&M graduates the way some local officials (hello again, Mr. Martinez) talk of Republicans.
  • The mindset that Austin is the coolest place on earth and that all other places are lame.  Some pride in one's hometown is expected, but Austin has earned its reputation for having arrogant residents.  I would point the reader to an example column illustrating this, but there's a pretty good chance you've seen one of them already...and my guess is that you, like me, have no desire to read it again.
With all that said, the good of Austin would outweigh the bad if not for the fact that my family is not healthy in this town.  And so it is that we have uprooted ourselves and gone away.  I'm sure I will be checking in to see how things are going in Austin without us (please vote against Mike Martinez!), but it's time to move on.

Best wishes, Austin.  You were good to me for many years.  You won't be forgotten.