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Would you believe your Tattler has finally arrived?

You may have thought we were pushing our luck last year with the Groundhog Edition of the Tattler. Well, you clearly didn't give us nearly enough credit! Hope you enjoy our new nadir in timeliness with all the news and tidbits from 2006.

Would you believe we've been married for over 30 years?

2006 marked our 30th year of wedded bliss. [1] Yes, that's right. We've actually been married over 30 years, we're still incredibly fond of each other, [2] and still manage to surprise and delight each other often. We celebrated this milestone a couple months early by taking a cruise in March through the Sea of Cortez for hiking, snorkeling, and whale watching. The water was cold, so we rented wet suits offered on the ship — a first for us. When getting ready for snorkeling, we wedged ourselves into those wetsuits like a couple of sardines and off we went. We did have to help each other zip up because those suckers are TIGHT!

Sunset in the Sea of Cortez
Intrepid Janet at Los Islotes

There was plenty of fun stuff to do when we weren't in the water. At night, there were star-gazing parties up on the Sun Deck, with naturalist Juan helping us pick out constellations using his bazillion candlepower searchlight; a highlight was climbing the ship's fantail two-at-a-time to get enough altitude to spot the low-lying Southern Cross.

We hiked through dry terrain rife with elephant trees and huge cardón cacti, schlepped up a knife-edge ridge to the summit of a tiny island, and joined Juan's infamous expedition in search of tarantulas. [3] We poked through the streets, churches, shops, and museums of a couple of small Mexican towns and watched local artisans hand weave blankets, wall hangings, and rugs [4] on huge wooden looms.

The long voyage to Granville Island
Leapin' dolphins!

To our pleasant surprise, whale watching was a major highlight of the trip. We had hoped we might spot a whale or two if we were lucky; it turns out that the Sea of Cortez is a kind of "neighborhood hang-out" for cetaceans. We saw lots of whales — blue whales, [5] fin whales, [6] gray whales, baby whales, talking whales, tap dancing whales. Often the whales were accompanied by dozens of dolphins frolicking around the ship, sometimes so many that you couldn't figure out where to look first. We saw pods of whales in a feeding frenzy in water that was so laden with microscopic krill that it had turned red. We saw so many whales that when we saw a fluke, it wasn't just a fluke. [7]

The best way to get a sense of the immense size of these creatures was when they sounded; the head would appear briefly above water, then the curve of its back would sliiiiiiiiiiiide by for what seemed like an eternity, then a ridiculously tiny dorsal fin and (if you were lucky!) a fluke and it was gone.

Actually, the best way to get a sense of their size was up close and personal. We crossed the Baja peninsula to Bahia Magdalena, where the gray whales come to overwinter and mate, then hopped into scary-small boats to cruise the bay [8] in the hope that a few moms and calves were procrastinating about leaving for the trip north. While we weren't lucky enough to get as close as our whale-petting shipmates in the photo, we're still glad they're described as "gentle grays"! All in all, extremely cool and awe-inspiring. What a great way to celebrate our anniversary!

Small boat, BIG whale!

Boared at Butchart Gardens

Would you believe our little marching band has gone international?

Believe it! The Get a Life Marching Band made its first international appearance in Victoria, British Columbia. The band made a quickstop at world-famous Butchart Gardens (where Janet went hog-wild), then performed for a big crowd in front of the BC Parliament Building along with a couple dozen other bands who also strutted their stuff. We got a big hand and astonished the kids from the high school bands that we were still playing. The crowd thought it was cool that a band of people our ages (20s through 60s) could put on a great exhibition. Then we marched in the Queen Victoria Days Parade through a pouring rain. The locals told us it was rare to have rain, but we got it in spades. [9] You could say it was raining cats and dogs and it was hard to avoid stepping in a poodle (groan!). [10]

We also played a show on the riverfront, at one point turning around to face the waterfront & play Beer Barrel Polka while a couple danced on the stern of their boat. On the whole, the band had a great time and the folks in BC want us to come back. For the trip back to the U.S., the band was on tenterhooks: getting out of the country was easy, would they let this band of reprobates back in? To our amazement, our rag-tag group of goofy, fun-loving musicians was repatriated without a single strip search. [11]

Want more pix from the Victoria trip? Find 'em right here.

Waiting to play Parliament in Victoria
Ready to rock out in Victoria
Clown car and hot pursuit in Hillsboro

The band had its share of other memorable moments in 2006. On July 4, we needed to play a flag-raising just before the parade step-off, so a small subset of the band was stuffed into golf carts as though they were clown cars and went careening down the parade route chased by radio-controlled toy cars and a runner who pursued us for blocks. In September, we became avante garde artistes, kicking off Portland's Time-Based Art Festival by leading a pick-up parade of citizenry through the streets, sidewalks, and bridges of downtown to TBA's east-side performance space. And in November, we hit the streets of Albany, OR in the largest Veterans Day parade west of the Mississippi. Never a dull moment!

About to burst forth at TBA

Would you believe we made national news?

Every August, the GAL band performs in a local community called Multnomah Village, marching in their parade [12] and doing a stage show, usually to great acclaim from the locals. This year, a free-lance radio journalist decided we'd make a great radio piece. After taping the band and some interviews, she submitted the piece to National Public Radio, where it was picked up for All Things Considered on September 25. We got an amazing five minutes of national radio exposure — which would definitely be outside our normal band budget! If you missed the story, you can find it at NPR's website or on the Awards page at www.getalifemb.org.

The story brought email from all over the U.S with congratulations, wistful queries from other ex-bandies looking for a group in their city, and even a couple of trip offers. [13] And one day, I came home from work to find email that said"I am a producer Now with Katie Couric!with the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric andinterested in speaking with you about possibly working with you on a piece for our broadcast." After picking my jaw up off the floor, I called back to discover that we would be one of three story teasers aired on that Friday's Assignment America; viewers would vote during the weekend, and the top vote-getter would become a story feature the following Friday. Sure enough, we got 6 seconds of airtime on the CBS Evening News with film from our 2005 Disneyland performance and a voice-over. We swiftly mobilized our extensive network [14] and got out the vote. We've been assured that votes came in from parents everywhere, a couple cruising in the Aegean, and all the University of Cincinnati Marching Bearcats and alumni, but it wasn't enough. We were done in by puppies. [15] Do-gooders were rescuing stray puppies from war zones in Lebanon or something like that, and ya can't beat puppies. Oh well — fame is fleeting!

Would you believe we actually quit one of the many bands we were in?

Yup, we did it. Got tired of the politics and got out. But, not to worry. We and some other friends (who also left the 'band that must not be named') started a new group, Easily Amused. We've had one gig so far at a car dealership that went well enough that they want us to play other events for them. We're still getting up to speed and trying to figure out what we are, but we're having a good time doing it. The slogan we're using is "A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants." [16]

Would you believe we now own 37 saxophones?

Ok, it's only 8 — a sopranino, a soprano, 3 altos, and 3 tenors. These are in addition to Steve's clarinets and the conga drums we acquired last fall. Steve just acquired a really spiffy Selmer Reference 54 tenor sax on EBay over the Christmas holiday. It's really fun to play and looks way cool. He even let Janet blow on it once right after he got it. Anybody got a bass sax for sale?

Would you believe we have a city named after us?

No? How about a building? No? How about the first floor of a building? No? Ok. How about a balcony? No? Well, it's true. There's a balcony with our name on it and we're not afraid to use it.
We attended the official opening of the new Richard & Patricia Lawson Computer Science Building at Purdue University last fall. Since we contributed to the construction of the building, we were offered the opportunity to have something in it with our names on it. [17]

Our Purdue namesake

We also headed to Western Kentucky University (where we met as undergrads & fell in love — pretty sappy, huh?) to participate in the 100th anniversary celebration of the founding of our university and play with the alumni band. The best part was that our director from when we were students (Dr. Kent Campbell) conducted the band during the pregame show. That was just soooo cool. Even though he's been retired for a few years, he's still a very effective conductor. We've gotten to know him a little better through our visits to WKU to play with the alumni band and he's just as cool as he was when we were students. Janet feels like she's in the land of the giants when she's with Dr. C. and Steve because both of them are well over 6 ft. tall and she's 5'5" tall.

Would you believe Steve has been at Intel for 25 Years?

And they still haven't given him the boot? [18] He's still in the Systems Technology Lab beavering away on platform infrastructure improvements. He also made a successful debut as emcee for open-mike night at this year's Intel Platform Software Conference and is getting kudos from around the company for a class that he created and taught on writing good self-assessments.

Janet just made it to 12 years at Metro on MLK Day. She was named employee of the quarter for the first quarter of 2006, which was totally unexpected. Bean-counters usually labor in obscurity, hide in their tidy offices, and keep their green eyeshades shiny & polished. We guess after so many years, a tap dancing, sax playing bean-counter who gets involved in departmental issues and manages to get her fingers on more than just 10-keys and sax keys kinda stands out!

At one time she planned to be a professional tennis player!

Would you believe Steve was close enough to Sally Ride to touch her?

Too bad he wasn't on a space shuttle. He was honored to have breakfast with the high-flying astronaut [19] at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing thanks to the work he does with the National Center for Women & Information Technology. Way cool! So he's now met two astronauts in his life — one of the last two people to walk on the moon (Harrison "Jack" Schmitt) and the first American woman in space.

On a sadder note

After a long illness, Janet's mom passed away on January 5, 2007. We are thankful that we made a trip to Ohio to visit her over the Christmas holiday before she passed away. While we are sad about her passing and wish she were still here, we realize that she is no longer suffering. We will miss her a lot and are still trying to adjust to the idea that we can't just go to Ohio and see her anymore.

On January 24, 2007, Steve's mom had a triple bypass. Thankfully, she is doing well after the operation. Steve's brothers (Ken & Dan) traveled to Louisville to be with his Mom & Dad for the surgery, while Steve went later to help out and spell his brothers (and in turn was relieved by sister-in-law Sharon). We're rooting for a swift recovery.

And with that, we are out of here. We hope that your 2007 is off to a fabulous start and that you stay healthy and happy throughout the year.

With love,

Steve & Janet

Time for us to blow this joint!

[1] Yep, a bicentennial wedding.

[2] Steve: Janet told me to say this .

[3] Or as Juan put it with a wild gleam in his eye, "We are hunting tarrrrrrrrrrrr-AHNNNN-tulas!!!"

[4] And anything else that might catch the eye of a tourist!

[5] The largest animal ever to have lived on earth.

[6] Number two but trying harder!

[7] Actually, it was usually on porpoise.

[8] Hmmm given that this is where the whales mate, the concept of "cruising the bay" has some scary connotations!

[9] And hearts, diamonds, & clubs (the whole deck of cards).

[10] Yes, the joke is ancient. Yes, Janet still likes it!

[11] Disappointing our more outrageous members!

[12] Billed as Oregon's Shortest Parade.

[13] We're currently thinking seriously about playing Telluride, CO for July 4, 2008.

[14] Snort!

[15] Steve usually says "D*@!#**! puppies."

[16] It's really "A little funk, a little soul, with a heavy dose of rock 'n' roll." But didn't you Mary Tyler Moore fans enjoy that reminiscence?

[17] The bathrooms were already taken.

[18] They gave him a BBQ grill. Honest!

[19] Among other interests, she now runs Sally Ride Science, an innovative science content company dedicated to supporting girls' and boys' interests in science, math and technology and in changing society's perceptions of girls' roles in technical fields.