Sayonara 302

When I discuss with someone all of the places I have lived or visited the next question is typically, “What, was your dad in the military?”  When I combine that my parents now live in Saudi Arabia the question typically lends itself to “What, are your parents spies?”

Yes. My parents are spies.

Actually, as a kid we didn’t move all that much.  Born in Austin Texas, my parents moved to Houston around two years later.  There we lived in a duplex.  As I strain to remember that house, a few memories come to mind.  The hole in the fence my brother and I would climb through to visit our neighbors.  The red glitter stickers and the Rock 101 Jukebox sticker on one of the windows.  I remember the kitchen and my mom going out the door to work while I ate breakfast and my dad took care of us when he wasn’t at the station.

How my parents managed to work as hard as they did and do such an amazing jobs as parents I will never know.

After a few years there we moved to the first house my parents ever purchased.  It was on Lively Lane.  It was a big two story house with an amazing back yard, a treehouse we built and a curious sensibility.  It seemed like the American Dream.  We lived in that house for around six years before the neighborhood started going downhill.  In fact the entire area of Houston was showing its unfortunate true colors.

So we move to Bellville, a small town about an hour outside of Houston.  We buy a fixer-upper on five acres.  For the next six years we convince ourselves we’re country folk.  We have a truck, a tractor that didn’t run from the day my dad purchased it, a collection of chainsaws, a giant chicken coop, two horses and a sandy driveway that was more reminiscent of a New Mexico sand dune race track than anything else.

Growing up in a small town was great.  I loved the lifestyle, the friends, the culture, the quaintness of the Fair, that the hangout was the Shell station and that you never had to worry about locking your doors.

In 2001 we discovered we had outgrown Bellville so we headed back to Houston.  We bought a serious fixer-upper this time.  A pretty huge house with mold damage.  By the time my parents were done fixing this place up… well, it was amazing.  I loved, loved that house.

Then I went to college.

Dorm number one, Wolpers, the Engineering dormitory.  Awesome roommate, awesome neighbor.  Well, one of my neighbors was awesome, the other one threatened to kill me. Soooo, off to dorm number two.

Graham.  New roommate.  He was a Catholic choir boy slash sleep eater slash compulsive masturbator. NEW ROOMMATE PLEASE!!!

Graham again, only this time with my best friend, Geoffrey.  We lived together there until I got an apartment, aka The Brothel.  (Parents move to Tulsa)

Around a year later I move to Forestville California.  Bet you’re wondering what happened in between huh? Too bad! 😛

So I’m in California staying in my family’s cottage/river house/vacation home/construction zone.  I quickly meet Seth in Santa Rosa and more or less move in with him.  It is closer to my job and to school.  That is, until Seth moves to San Francisco, I follow along but spend about half my time back in Forestville, until the rainy season comes.  I’m forced to move in with some friends for a few months.  Mike and Kevin.  Awesome friends.  I lived there for a few months and then stupidly moved in with this guy I met at Starbucks.  He needed a roommate and I felt I needed to give Mike and Kevin their place back.

My new roommate turned out to be a total psycho.  So off to San Francisco.

I’m in love. Amazing apartment five blocks from Union Square.  A seriously amazing experience and one that I have never forgotten.

I move back to Columbia, my parents move back to Houston. (I love omitting segues)

Move into the Fredrick with my friend Kevin for the summer.  Then to Sterling with Jim and David and then back to the Fredrick a year later.

And that leads me to the entire point of this post.  I think I just set a record for burying the lead, behind 700 words.

The moment I stepped foot into Apartment 302 I knew it was for me.  From the foyer I told the leaser that I’d take it.  Turns out the place was a hot mess.  But with the expert help of my parents we turned it into the best apartment I’ve ever lived in, the closest thing to home-away-from-home you can get.

Apartment 302 was the epicenter of change for me.  New job, new major, new passion in photography, new friends and most importantly, where Ryan came into my life.

In May I graduated and with the closing of my academic life so closed the door to 302.  I moved out of the Fredrick and into Ryan’s home.  Never have I felt so attached to an apartment, not since my place in San Francisco.  Seeing the apartment empty of all that made it mine was heartbreaking.  I felt like I had just lost a best friend.

The empty space where my bed once rested now bare.  I can remember the creaks of the floorboards, how the closet door never really closed and how loud radiator was in the winter.

This is where Cake and a Movie Night originated.  Dozens of movies, dozens of cakes and over a hundred strangers passed through.

Definitely the best part of his apartment was the living room.  I can’t put into words all of the magic spelled in this space.

Happiness and heartbreak.  Discovery and discouragement.

Many of you reading this have been in my apartment.  That’s one of the crazy things to me.  It’s not just that this place meant so much to me it’s that it affected so many other people.  I imagine it as a nucleus circled by these collected memories.

But as the story goes, all things must come to an end and now I’m working on a new life in a new home where new memories will be made, new obstacles conquered and all that comes along with it.

Why not leave a comment with your favorite memory at this apartment? I know a lot of you have many to share 😀

I Graduated, For Real

Obligatory Family Graduation Portrait

Now, I know it seems like was in school forever.  If it didn’t seem that way to you, it certainly did to me.  Here’s how it worked out…

Graduated high school and should have had around 30 college credit hours including English, Algebra, Calculus, Physics, Government, Statistics, Foreign Language, Psychology, Computer Networking, Computer Information Systems and a few others.  Sadly, for reasons I still don’t understand, zero of those hours transferred to Mizzou.

I went to MU for two years and then left for California where I went to school for one year.  Leaving California for Columbia (again) I finished school with a bizarre collection of degrees (?) and minors (?), something we’re still trying to add up haha.  General Studies? Photography? Political Science? Women and Gender Studies? Fine Arts? A combination of some or all of the above? Probably.

What really matters is that on May 15th I walked across a stage. No seriously I did.  I even got a kiss from my Russian professor!

Walking the Stage and Getting a Kiss

After the graduation, seven years in the making, we had a blast celebrating the graduation itself as well as the closing of my first gallery show, which, by the way, sold three of the nine prints on the wall! That’s a pretty darn good debut!

I was honored to have some of my favorite people at my graduation party.

Eric, Laura and Ryan Hale

From my parents, brother, sister-in-law, grandmother, grandfather, Jenny and her boyfriend, Micheal, Corey, Josh, Akiko, Ben and Ryan Hale, Eric and Laura, Ryan, Sam, David… who else? KorrieMaggie, Emily, Justin Rodier, Nicole and more that I know I’m missing. Looks like my graduation party was one of the bigger Tweetups Columbia has ever seen haha.

Perhaps the best part of the weekend though was my family seeing my photography shown in the gallery.  They have been so supportive of my art and encourage me to continue to explore my passion.  Seeing my photos on a computer screen or even printed 11×17 is one thing.  Seeing them 20×30 in a 28×38 frame with gallery lighting? Something else entirely.

My Brother Enjoying Some Art

In the end, it was a wonderful evening. Worth the seven years? Maybe… But definitely a wonderfully memorable night.

Out Country

My friend Stacy bought this photo at an antique store and shared it with me last night.  It is an amazing photo of a gay couple in the late 1800s in America.  These two guys, presumably, paid a photographer to set them down in front of a tintype camera and shoot a photo of their love and intimacy.

Yes, an out, gay couple in America over one hundred years ago.  Incredible. It definitely gives me hope and the strength to be out and proud in a modern America.  Yes, I can’t get married, share employment benefits or adopt (easily) a child, but if these two guys were able to live their lives together, in America, two hundred years ago, I sure can!

It should be inspiration for anyone, not just in the LGBT community but anyone who faces adversity, bigotry and challenges in this modern day America.  Which I’m pretty sure is all of us.

I hope this aside from my usual blog post has given you a little hope to overcome whatever obstacle finds its way into your path.

UPDATE: Since so many people have claimed this to be a fake, which is first offensive to me and second offensive to the purpose of this post, here is the original scan, untouched by Photoshop. The original image above was cleaned up in Photoshop to repair some of the damage 100+ years can have on a photo, I ran a “remove dust and scratches”, adjusted curves and uploaded that photo to Flickr. I personally scanned this file in using an Epson Perfection Scan V750 Pro at 4800dpi.  It’s a 1.27gb scan at well over 12000 pixels wide when at 300dpi.   I have downscaled it to 4800 pixels wide at 300dpi for this post but have done nothing else to it.

Photo links to 1920px version

You are more than welcome to download the large file here (7.2mb, 4800x7016px)

I’m not sure why so many people on Twitter and Facebook, especially one from an equality group would cast aspersions, call this a fake.

My professor who dated, preserved and revived photos like these for museums looked at my scan and said he has no reason to believe it isn’t the real deal, that the problems with the photo, the eyes, the focus, the peeling and deterioration all are elements of proof it is a legitimate image.  Hopefully we will have it in class on Monday for him to examine in person. Meanwhile, here are 12 tintype images I found on the Internet all ranging from 1860-1920. Notice the similar wear, the oxidation, corrosion, rust, scratches, peeling, the backgrounds, the density, the gradations of light, the compression of the lens and the varying clarity and focus.

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A Day at the Beach

I spent the day at Ra’s Tannura today, right on Saudi Arabia’s coastline.  The weather was, as usual, wonderful and the views, stunning.  Whenever someone from my family gives my parents a hard time for moving to Saudi Arabia, I’ll just have them show this picture.

Yeah, I’ll take Saudi Arabia over Houston, any day.  Can you believe I’m actually saying that?  I freaking LOVE Saudi Arabia!

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Cash for Clunkers Return on Investment

Most of my family is pretty extreme right-wing, conservatives that seem to refuse to open their minds to reality.  I’m not someone that is extreme left or right.  I feel I’m center-left.  I vote for who I think is best for my country, no my party.

That being said, I get a few emails, every single day, from a family member illustrating their blind following of the talking heads of the right wing.  Sometimes it’s racist, sometimes it’s anti-healthcare, anti-environment, anti-human rights… it’s really upsetting for me.  I wonder how someone I love so much can be so against the things I believe in and against me.  I want to get married some day, most in my family think I should be able to marry but that gay marriage shouldn’t be legal.

Conflict much?

The latest email came in today regarding the Cash for Clunkers program.  Here’s how it went.

Subject: Did anyone do the math?

A vehicle at 15 mpg and 12,000 miles per year uses 800 gallons a year of gasoline.

A vehicle at 25 mpg and 12,000 miles per year uses 480 gallons a year.

So, the average “Cash for Clunkers” transaction will reduce US gasoline consumption by 320 gallons per year.

They claim 700,000 vehicles – so that’s 224 million gallons / year.

That equates to a bit over 5 million barrels of oil.

5 million barrels of oil is about ¼ of one day’s US consumption.

And, 5 million barrels of oil costs about $350 million dollars at $70/bbl.

So, we all contributed to spending $3 billion to save $350 million.

How good a deal was that ???

They’ll probably do a great job with health care though!!

I’m sure you’ve already figured out what’s wrong with this email.

  1. The return on investment is expected after and calculated only for a single year
  2. Cost of ownership for these new vehicles is not considered
  3. Constantly increasing cost of oil is ignored
  4. Longer life of these vehicles ignored
  5. Environmental benefit overlooked
  6. etc

So, in my response, I decided to calculate in some of these oversights.


Howdy! Hope all is well in Kerrville. School and work has me burning the wick from both ends but I think it will be worth it in the end.  Remind me again why I chose Physics as an elective?!  Probably should have rethought that one haha.

Anyways, I thought I’d go ahead and do the math for that email.  The original math is flawed, big time.  Here’s the real deal.

At crude’s highest,  June 2008, we were paying $126 per barrel.  October 2008, crude was at $68 barrel, after the election it dropped to $49, then into the low $30s before heading back up in the last months towards $72.

Over the last 18 months, the average price of crude has been $73.36 barrel.

73.36 * 5,333,333 barrels = $391,253,308.88

By rounding down 333,333 barrels, and ignoring the oil trends, the email is misleading by $41,000,000.

While that might seem like a drop in the bucket of $3,000,000, this price benefit lasts for over one year.  Cars from this program don’t stop working after one year.

The most popular cars from the Cash for Clunkers program were Toyota and Honda cars.  These cars have an expected life expectancy of over 200,000 miles and a cost-of-ownership that sits significantly lower than the most popular cars turned in.  Ford trucks, Jeeps and Chevrolet SUVs and Pickups, which have a significantly shorter life expectancy.

Using the average distance traveled per year format the email, we can figure how long these cars should be on the road, and thus calculate the long term costs.

Using the 18 month average of oil, ignoring inflation, depletion of oil reserves and the lower cost of ownership, here’s how it works out.

200,000 / 12,000 = 16.667 years of use

16.667 * $391,253,308.88 = $6,520,888,481.33

We have more than doubled our money.

Looking at the attached graph, the idea that crude would stay at its current value is comical.

Cost of a Barrel of Gas from 1946 to 2008

Since 1972, crude has gone up over 2441%

Again, ignoring the fact that oil goes up in price every year, on average, by quite a bit, we still more than double our money back.

So yeah, making back the money in one year is ridiculous and I haven’t heard a single person behind the Cash for Clunkers program claim in a single year $3billion would be recouped.

But over 16 years, we’ll double it.  In just over 7.5 years, if crude oil doesn’t go up in price, contrary to historical data, we would pay off this program, dollar for dollar.

And then, there’s the environmental benefits.  Not only do these cars use less gas, they put out fewer emissions.  The Honda and Toyota cars, which made of the vast majority of Cash for Clunkers cars are Zero or Partial Zero vehicles.  The amount of emissions released is substantially lower.

I’d have to spend a good bit of time to calculate the total, speculative return on investment for this program.  I would have to include a reliable futures for the price of oil, calculate the cost of ownership for the cars new and old and compare the life expectancy of these new cars to the ones they replaced.  However, this information would only INCREASE the measured effectiveness of the program.

So, yes, someone did do the math and the original math was terribly misleading.



If anyone wants to do the stats on this and give me the true numbers of return on investment over 16 years (the life of the car) including cost of ownership and likely oil futures, I’d love to forward it on.

It sure felt good to get all that off my chest, though responding to these emails all the time is tiring. Do you find yourself doing the same thing with your family?
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It’s My Birthday, Now What?

My Birthday CakeToday I turned 25 and am now officially a 20-something.  Yikes.  Pretty soon I’ll be approaching the 30-something genre of life.  Which I’m pretty sure means, complaining about work, looking at which stroller to buy and determining the weather cycles through joint pain.

So many wonderful things to look forward to.

Meanwhile, here in Houston, we celebrated my birthday for 48 hours, though I am going to push for another 24 for an even 72, thoughts?  Last night was the pre-birthday party.

Dad made his famous shrimp linguine, it’s freaking delish, this time around he changed up his technique adding a white wine reduction to the mix.  After dinner was the cake, a Hummingbird cake, sans nuts (I’m allergic to nuts and yes, I am aware at how ironic that is thankyouverymuch.)

The cake was created by our favorite cake shop here in Texas, Take the Cake, you really should check them out. Annabel Trudeau makes the most amazing cakes.

Today, my actual birthday I got to hang out with mom and dad, went through some of my old keepsakes which was hilarious and fun… Gotta post some of those pictures.  Then sushi for dinner, my favorite.

Once again, my birthday passes without Ryan! It’s crazy to think that I have not been with Ryan for my birthday, ever.  I’ve been in California or he’s in Tennessee or I’m in Texas… next birthday, it sure better happen!

So I’m 25, now what?  I can rent a car.

That’s about it.

Yawn, to be 17 again…

Cake and a Movie Night

Each week I have friends over for a cake and a movie.  Most of those who come over are from my wonderful group of Twitter friends.

We watch movies, all sorts really but normally not the ones you’ve already seen. Independent films, foreign films, sha know, good movies.

We’ve had a few different cakes, traditional, fudge, frozen, mousse… I think the next one will be Crème brûlée. Yeah yeah. It’s not a cake, I get that. Whatever, it’s delicious.

This is what we had last night for Cake and a Movie night, or #CaaM on the Twitters.

I made the same thing for the previous movie, Happy Together by Wong Kar-wai, but this time I didn’t rush anything and it came out even better.

Last night we watched Ghostown. It was an awesome movie and the first feature film for #CaaM.  Of course, it wasn’t a usual #CaaM night, instead of Twitter peeps, it was my grandmother, our client and Ryan.

Want the recipe for the cake? I’ll give that to you later. 😉

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