Posted: December 23, 2021
Not feeling comfortable with the whole “Mark Zuckerberg profiting off the destruction of modern civil society” thing, I’ve mostly withdrawn from Facebook – which is how I’ve kept in touch with so many of my friends and relations. So I thought this year, I’d do the dreaded holiday letter.
Juliette and I are doing well – other than the common stresses of pandemic life. We’ve been healthy and working remotely the entire time. Some of you know that I was involved in the local effort to bring Google Fiber to Austin over a decade ago (biggigaustin.org). That work finally is paying off. These days, we work and play almost entirely over the Internet – thanks Google.
Over two years ago, we started planning to remodel our house. A house remodel shouldn’t take that long, but COVID had other plans. Once it hit and we were disinfecting our groceries and avoiding people the whole project went on hiatus.
Until now. As of August this year, we finally got moving and demolition (see photo) began. As I write this, the drywall is complete and the floor is prepped for the new tile.
We’re currently living in a rental house in South Austin. With all due respect to Portlandia, the dream of the 90s is alive in South Austin. The houses and neighbors are delightful and funky. The house next door to us has a life-sized cement statue of a buffalo in the front yard (see photo).
Unfortunately, the character of this neighborhood is changing rapidly, and the cute little bungalows are being torn down and replaced with large – sometimes multi-unit – construction. I’m ambivalent about this. Austin has a significant housing shortage and needs more housing, but the natives are being pushed out. To make matters worse, our rental house is going to be torn down as soon as we vacate, so I feel like a carpetbagger contributing to gentrification.
You may know I was involved in local civics for many years, serving on a city advisory commission and running an organization advocating local tech policy and doing community hackathons and the like. I stepped away from that a few years back, around the time of my transition. This year, I re-engaged a bit. I was appointed to serve on the City of Austin Library Commission. If you ever visit Austin, definitely check out the new(ish, opened 2017) central library – it’s a marvel, with a rooftop garden and cafe and lots of local art.
I was able to squeeze in a couple of trips late Summer – my first travel in nearly two years – before the Delta variant came crashing down.
In July, Juliette and I spent a week in upstate New York, doing the Rochester → Corning → Ithaca circuit. The photo is the morning view from our B&B outside Rochester.
This was my first trip back to Cornell since leaving school. I was not surprised at how much Collegetown and the engineering quad changed. I was surprised by how little downtown and the Commons changed. I got to show Juliette all the places I lived during my college years – including the “lake house” in Lansing that had the trains from the salt mines going through the front yard. (The tracks are still there but the trains are gone.)
There also was a quick weekend trip in August to Massachusetts to see family, but, unfortunately, not enough time to visit with my New England friends.
I hope you and your families are doing well, and wish to express comfort to those who may be carrying burdens at this time. I’d love to hear from you. Here’s my current contact information:
1-512-573-5174 (mobile, text ok, Signal messenger too)
@OhThatCourtney (on Twitter)
Peace and love,
top photo: our house during Winter Storm URI, Feb 2021