The Brundages and New Republic Brewing: A Saga in Many Parts

This year marked the 7th anniversary of New Republic Brewing—the company that had been percolating (brewing? Would that be a better term for this particular business?) in the back of Dean’s mind for a very, very long time. Over the past few months Dean and I have been asked over and over again what is going on with NRB, and what is going on with us. I’ve been giving the politic answer most of the time—we still have good friends at the brewery, and I didn’t want to jeopardize them or anything Dean might be doing next; there are times I don’t censor myself when I really should (I don’t know exactly *when* those times are, but it usually involves someone crying at the end, so you know).

 

Anyhow, I figured it was time to tell our side of the story, because I’m becoming less and less careful with my words. Might as well spell check along the way, I say! So, for those of you who have been asking, here’s the story of how we started and then left New Republic Brewing Co.

You’ve Been Warned!

Mandatory disclaimer: I’m going to be writing the version of events from my perspective (a super-informed perspective, containing only the correct facts and opinions based on reality, of course. I do observe and report facts for a living, after all). You can ask Dean about his. You can also ask anyone else involved in the brewery…that should be fun for them. Anyway, here we go

Setting the scene: 

There’s a special type of anger that comes with watching your favorite person on earth cry—especially when those tears are caused by someone being a right asshole. And ESPECIALLY when the person experiencing the pain is Dean; even tempered, fantastically wonderful, perfectly loving to all, Dean. I’ve never been great at hiding my anger (some people say that comes with being a red head, I say that comes from dealing with stupid people). This is one of the reasons I find Dean so amazing—he has near alien (at least to me) ability to control his emotions, and has on many occasions kept me out of prison by preventing certain murder. So when this man is overcome with sadness at the loss of a business, one he built from the ground up, one we sacrificed everything for, I get angry.

Dean making a happy face at two large ice cream cones
I mean, just look at that face! Who could hurt that face?!?

The phrase “it’s not personal, it’s just business” is one I have never agreed with.I have found those who use that phrase are invariably attempting to screw someone over, and are trying to distance themselves from their actions. I have learned to take this as a warning about their character in general—how can you think a business someone built isn’t personal? You can’t get more personal than that.

Dean smiling in front of a store display of Astrolabe beer by New Republic Brewing
Look at him! Nary a gray hair in sight, and the biggest smile in the world. That is someone who takes his business personally.

Over a year ago Dean left New Republic Brewing, the brewery he and I started back in 2010 (although we tend to count from 2011 when we were all official and made our first sale). We’ve been asked many times what happened, and Dean, in his calm and collected way simply says “I moved on.” I’m not so gracious…see that paragraph about my angry side. It’s taken me awhile to think about what to say about this chapter of our lives coming to a close, and this is it.

The Beginning

 

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Way back in 2000 I was a master’s student at San Jose State, Dean and I were newly married, and a professor of microbiology was giving a talk on home brewing for the weekly seminar. Dean came with me to that talk and sat entranced. He had just started exploring the world of beer, having spent most of his life not drinking alcohol at all (for those of you that know Dean now…crazy, right?!? But he didn’t even drink on his 21st birthday, so there’s that). Anyhow, between the lecture on beer making and mentioning this possible new hobby to our families, Dean acquired a nice set of home brewing equipment and a passion for the craft. We were lucky enough to live in an area where home brewing was especially common and almost immediately found a group of like-minded individuals who shared the hobby. Ask us sometime about beer camping and how we came up with Coco Puff Porter—that beer club was the best.

Smiling Dean at a table in front of a beer judging scoring sheet
Dean was a beer judge for Sam Adam’s annual competition.
Adrienne sitting on the floor surrounded by beer judging sheets, trying to make a choice
I was the head steward at that same competition. This meant I made sure it was a blind tasting for everyone, tallied the scores at the end, and made sure the beers were properly served. I also didn’t have to taste the gross stuff

Fast forward to 2008. I had graduated and accepted a position at TAMU. Dean packed up his brewing equipment (along with the rest of the house) and we moved to Texas. This same year Dean purchased his first real brewing sculpture—a monstrosity of chrome and fire that launched him from making mediocre home brew to brewing consistently good beer. He also built a fermentation chamber that took up most of our living room for a bit…have I mentioned my endless patience yet? It should be obvious.

A metal stand with two brewing pots and a burner for home brewing
Ah, the thing that started it all, and what Dean needed to make his home brew great.

Hurricane season gave Dean some time to brew while we were stuck at home experiencing our first real Texas storm.Thus Rye of the Hurricane was born, and you could practically see the idea of an actual brewery grow in Dean’s head. Over the next year or so, Dean did a lot of fun beer-related things: he started the home brew club (Texas Aggieland Brew Club, or TABC) so we could have brew-ins with other beer lovers; he gave talks on brewing; he was interviewed by the local news on home brewing as a money saving measure (it was a recession, after all); and he was asked by restaurants to do special beer-food pairings.

A group of people gathered around a counter drinking homebrew and eating
Just look at that crew! The club is still going strong

That voice in his head got louder, and his recipes got better. There came a point where we had a “so, do you want to start a brewery or what?” talk. With that out in the universe, Dean began making beer and taking it to local businesses,asking if they would sell it. The wonderful staff at Village Cafe was the first support this crazy-ass dream, going so far as to sign an agreement stating they would carry our beer.

This was to be our first real business  (apart from dabbling in some web hosting and other online ventures—but then it was the 90s and who wasn’t doing online stuff then?!?) and we knew we needed not only money, but help.

A bit about Dean

One thing I have learned about Dean throughout the years is that he is able to do absolutely anything, mostly because he’s willing to admit what he doesn’t know and will get help when he needs it. This quality came in to play here, and we started looking for partners in the brewery who had business experience—someone who knew the things we didn’t know. We actually ended subtly “interviewing” several potential partners (there was one disastrous road trip that ended with an angry Adrienne in the back seat vowing to murder these people if we went into business with them. That was a fun day).

Let’s get this thing started!

Dean was asked to give a talk at Christopher’s World Grill for their Oktoberfest—he consulted on the types of beer to pair with various dishes, and spoke to a gathered group of foodies between each course. It was during this dinner that we met our eventual brewery partners—let’s call them Mr. and Mrs. Thing #1 (in deference to sweetie, I am doing the bare minimum to keep them anonymous. Luckily, anyone who knows us will know the names. Did I mention I’m not great at hiding my anger?) This couple had business experience, wanted to open a brewery, and seemed like the perfect fit. We went out several times, I never once wanted to kill them, they knew about the business side of things, and all seemed well. On one warm evening we sat on the deck at Ozonas and signed a contract to open the brewery, toasting with margaritas (there wasn’t much good beer on tap at the time, hence the need for a new brewery!)

Things moved pretty quickly after that. We worked up a business plan with Dean and Mr. Thing #1 taking the lead, while Mrs. Thing #1 and I stayed doing our respective careers (mine was grad school, so I guess “career” should be in quotes at that moment), and worked with the boys in the evenings and on weekends.

A walk in temperature chamber filled with fly cages
This is where I was living at the time, rearing maggots and testing them for stuff.

The boys spent a lot of time running numbers, meeting with business consultants, talking to lawyers, being all official and stuff. After a few months we boiled it down to two major needs:

  1. We needed money. We decided to start very small, building a “proof of concept” brewery of sorts, and then use that to get bigger investments.
  2. We needed recipes.

The money part was actually not that bad. We decided on starting with the paltry sum of $30,000 (if you were to ask us now, we would say never, never, never start a brewery with $30,000…it’s a nightmare of duct tape and expanda-foam, but we were young and naive then). Dean, as he always does, put set his mind to this goal, and got it done in a matter of weeks. Most of the money came from our friends and family.

Dean, Dean's dad, and Adrienne posing with beer behind the bar
Part of that family, and Dean’s namesake, Dean’s dad.

(I want to take a moment and thank all these people that believed in this crazy brewery idea from the beginning. Dean made phone calls, and would almost immediately get a “where do I send the check?” As an answer. This amount of support is amazing, and it means we are never alone in the world. You know what that feels like? That feels like we can do anything. It feels perfect. Thank you for that. Know we love you all).

 

OK, back to the long-winded story. Dean raised $30,000 from friends and family who wanted to support us. (Dare I say that Thing #1 didn’t contribute anything to this part? Yep, I’m gonna say it. Call me bitter if you want, but whatever. Sweetie did the work, sweetie had the contacts, sweetie is the best. Fight me). With this money and that fancy brew sculpture and fermentation chamber (yay for getting it out of my living room!) we went on the hunt for a brew space. Eventually, after many false starts, we landed in an empty warehouse space just outside of College Station.

Adrienne standing in a small warehouse with five plastic fermenters and nothing else
This was it. This was the start to the brewery

Once we got that warehouse space is when we could apply for the various permits it takes to brew beer for production in Texas. Fun game: ask any brewer about the TABC and current permits, and watch them quietly cry into their inevitable beer. Yeah, it’s bad. In order to apply for permits, we had to have our brewing space and equipment all ready to go, but we couldn’t actually *brew* in that space. Fun times.

Brewing at Home

So, we moved to our house. For MONTHS the boys worked on recipes. Once they got to a point where they liked the brew, they wanted people to try it. And thus was born the Wednesday Night Drinking at the Brundage’s tradition. Every Wednesday evening, we would open up our courtyard and our guest bathroom to whomever wished to come by. We had the brew sculpture out front, brewed some new recipes, and served free beer to our friends and neighbors. This became a rather popular event, with 30 or 40 people cramming into our front yard on busy nights and giving us feedback on the beer.

(Quick aside, this all happened during the fall semester I was studying for and sitting for my oral and written exams for my PhD. It was a blessing and a curse to come home from 12 hours of study or exams to a houseful of people. Some days it was a great break. Other days, it was more of me bitching that someone had taken my parking space and a swear to god if anyone talks to me on the way in the house I’m gonna scream. I apologize to anyone who got caught in the wake of that time. I don’t recommend it).

Two bunches of fly eggs next to a micrometer
I was spending a lot of time dissecting flies. You’re looking at clutches of fly eggs dissected out of a gravid female. I did so many of these.

These months allowed us to really refine our recipes through good, honest, slightly drunk feedback. Like that time we were working on the coffee beer, and someone told us the buzz from the coffee was fighting with the high alcohol, and he felt weird and wanted to go for a run but also sleep. Ah, the wonders of chemistry.

During this time, Dean still had his other job—he worked remotely for a large computer company, and was doing all of this stuff while keeping us afloat. I’m not sure when he remembered to sleep, but it wasn’t often. It was also pretty hard trying to talk about the brewery without alerting his bosses that he *might* have a side gig that just *might* become a full time thing eventually. That’s a thin line to walk.

The Brewery Begins!

Eventually (after approximately one million years) our permits came through, and we could move to the brewery proper. Have I mentioned how much of the equipment was stored at our house?!? It was like getting two new rooms once we were able to move. Complete spacious joy!

Look at it! Marvel at it’s beauty!!

On the down side, that Christmas Dean got laid off from his job. He had the opportunity to apply for other positions in the company, but decided to freelance while he got the brewery up and running. I can’t tell you how brave he was for doing that, how scary it was to think about, and how little money we made that year. I was still a graduate student, getting paid the tiniest stipend (and I ended up losing that when I went to work for Baylor for a semester, because I was given an ultimatum. I don’t do well with ultimatums).

 

(Ok, another aside: I REALLY don’t do well with ultimatums. You tell me that I better not do something I want to do or else something bad is going to happen? I will choose that bad thing EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. There comes a point I don’t give a shit about what happens to me, just as long as you don’t get your way because of an ultimatum. Some say it’s a flaw. I say it’s the perfect way to deal with that bullshit. Also, if you want me to do something, this is the perfect way—just give me the ultimatum not to do it, and it’s pretty much guaranteed. The more you know. Don’t worry, this will come into play later).

 

Anyhow, I was given the ultimate to not teach at Baylor for a semester or else I would lose my stipend, I worked at Baylor. Dean worked to get freelance jobs. We earned right around $12,000 that year. That sucked.

 

However! It did give Dean the time and focus he needed to start the brewery proper. He was working many, many hours a day getting this set and going, and go they did. It was nerve wracking for a bit (actually, it was nerve wracking a lot of the time, but whatever), and we didn’t end up getting our license to sell beer until just a day or so before our first big planned event. Exiting! (I lie—it’s was terrifying).

A booth at a festival. Adrienne is inside selling beer
And here is that festival. Everything went so right and so wrong. It was awesome.

But we did it, and things started moving. We had what we like to call a nano brewery, and we started to get a really great following. We started with that hard core group that came every week to our yard to try new beers, and now came every weekend to our taproom. That’s a good crew to have on your side.

A man reclining in a chair at a cafe after buying a pint of beer
Our very first sale! Thanks Darrel! He’s been with us since the front porch days

Moving on up

After a few years of a million hour a week work (with the ladies in the couples helping out on evenings and weekends again), we realized we needed to expand and get some help. We started with interns.

Three interns asleep in the back of a car
Look at these interns! All tuckered out from a long day. Adorable

Interns are the best, and we really couldn’t have grown the brewery without money without these heroes. Ask any one of them what it was like sitting in the cold box, shaking kegs for a prescribed amount of time (we didn’t have a carbonation set up, you see, so to get the kegs carbonated, we had to attach them to a CO2 line and shake them for a long time. Seriously. Interns are heroes).

An intern asleep under a table on a pile of 50 pound bags of grain
One of our interns taking a nap on a pile of grain bags. They worked their butts off

We also relied on the kindness of our very own MacGyver—Mr. Ryan Passarelli. Let me tell you about Ryan. He’s one of those guys that can look at a problem, and come back within a day with a solution using only bubblegum and floss. He used to visit the young brewery a few times a week, and just stare at things that needed to be fixed. I remember him returning one day with a contraption made of pallets and the motor from a windshield wiper that would shake the kegs for us so our interns could do other work. He also fixed more things with duct tape and a surprising number of salad bowls. He’s a wizard, I tell you.

Ryan holding a hose to the bottom of a piece of equipment with an intern in a forklift next to him.
Ryan fixing something with magic and spit.

Anyhow, through a group of really talented, really dedicated, and all around beautiful people, we kept the brewery going. It came to the point where we needed to expand, and we needed money to do so. This was going to take more than just a friends and family this time—we needed to reach out.

Dean on a ladder at the brewery talking to a group of people
Dean giving a tour of the tiny brewery.

 

More Investments

Our goal was $300,000. Big, yes, but we had the beer and the data to back it up. Again, it didn’t take long. We had people coming out of the woodwork to invest. It was fantastic. We made the jump to a bigger facility next door, and started making even more beer. We went back and forth between if we should go with a distributor or not, how we should organize our team, who we should hire, all that jazz. Eventually, things got on solid ground.

 

Let me take a moment, here, and discuss working with partners. Having a business partner is very much like being married. You are going to spend countless hours with someone who has different views, different opinions, a different background, and different life experiences from you.

Adrienne standing on a beach looking down at her hand and looking mildly angry.
Me, on our honeymoon, right in the middle of a fight with Dean. Over peanut butter. Shut up.

This will inform their choices and responses to everything that happens in that business, and this can cause some friction. Let me tell you, friction was there from the beginning between Dean and Mr. Thing #1.

 

However, some friction is good. When you have two people with different views, this means that each side has to argue for what they think is right; they have to articulate their reasoning, they have to understand why they think the way they do, and they have to communicate well. This inevitably results in a better company, and a pair of people willing to work together towards a common goal. This was something Dean kept in mind the whole time working at the brewery, because man, there was some friction.

Story Time!

Story time again! The first real big blow up between the partners happened one night before tap room. Apparently the boys were disagreeing on some future direction for the brewery, and it came to a head. Each of the boys has very VERY different communication styles, and each was taking the other’s communication style in the wrong way. It’s like those first few years of marriage, where the honeymoon period has worn off and now you have permission to fight. And fight they did.

A large group of people waiting for beer at the brewery
Look at all those people! Now imagine a fight amongst that. Fun for all

Anyhow, this one evening, I walk into the taproom to see the interns in various clusters around the brewery, all talking urgently. Dean was no where to be seen. Mr. Thing #1 was in the backyard puttering about. I was mobbed by our interns the second I walked in, and got a frantic and garbled version of the days events. Apparently, Dean and YELLED at Mr. Thing, and Mr. Thing had YELLED back. It was over! Everything was awful! Also, if you know Dean, he’s not a yeller. This was definitely strange.

What happened was problems in communication. Mr. Thing #1 is a lot like me—he processed stuff by talking it out. Dean was his partner in the business and therefore the best sounding board for this type of processing. Dean, on the other hand, processes things by getting very quiet and thinking it through. He doesn’t talk about the subject until he has thoroughly digested it, and is ready to state his solution.

Dean was taking Mr. Thing’s talking as if it were Mr. Thing’s final stance on the issue after long rumination. Mr. Thing was taking Dean’s silence as not caring about the issue at all. See the problem?

Well, they blew up at each other, had a screaming fight in the brewery, and then went off to calm down alone, leaving the interns to wonder “why are dad and dad fighting?!?” When I got there, it was kind of like “mom! Dads are fighting!! Are we getting divorced?” It was adorable. That evening was a long discussion with me and Mrs. Thing #1 as mediators, explaining to the boys how our respective husbands communicated, and the boys coming to an understanding. They decided that they needed to check in with each other at least once a week, away from the brewery, to figure out what was happening. A business date night, if you will. This worked beautifully, as you might imagine. Happy days for all!

Communication at its Finest

Going forward, there was lots of tension over how to run things, but the partners were pretty good at talking it all out. Compromises had to be made, but that’s the nature of working with a partner. The big thing they had was trust–trust that each would listen to the other, trust that they could say what they thought and know they were safe with each other. They both trusted that the other had the business’s best interest at heart, and they were in it together until the end.

The boys learned how to communicate better, with only one or two major blow ups happening.

One notable fight involved the communication issue again. Dean and Mr. Thing were stuck on a major decision, and each had very, very different ideologies. Mr. Thing, in his typical fashion, used Dean as a sounding board to air out his thought process. One of those thoughts was “well, if you don’t like it, we will buy you and Adrienne out!” Ah, ultimatums. You remember how I respond to those? Welp, apparently Dean has the same reaction, but not as sever.

When Mr. Thing said those words, Dean stopped and very quietly said “If you ever say that to me again, I will take you up on that offer. Don’t put the words out there if you don’t mean them.” Dean’s a little scary when he gets that serious that fast.

The second notable fight was about the same basic idea. The brewery wasn’t making enough money fast enough, and we needed to grow. In arguing on how to handle this problem, Mr. Thing one said that maybe we should sell the brewery. Again, scary quiet Dean answered with “the next time you say that, we will buy you out.” I guess you shouldn’t threaten this brewery with sweetie around!

It keeps going….

Dean put everything into this brewery. He spent all of his nights and weekends there. Once we expanded, we negotiated taking a salary so he could actually get *paid* for the 100 hour work weeks. (Of course, that only lasted 18 months, and then after that no more salary. We put the money into hiring more people. Good times). We spent most of our free time doing brewery stuff.

There was that time that he called me in a panic because the barcodes on the beer labels weren’t scanning, and we had a delivery set for early the next morning. Dean refused to let the delivery driver help fix this, since delivering to Houston was a HUGE job and this guy got paid next to nothing. So there we were, Dean and I, printing new barcodes and hand labeling cans at 1 am on a work night, just so the rest of the staff could go home. That cold box is cold! At least we were laughing.

There was that time that we got an infection in the beer, and Dean and Mr. Thing couldn’t quite figure out where it was coming from. I got to help by designing a very, very cheap testing protocol and running it (the upside of microbiology training!). This had to happen on the day when a university group was touring the brewery…so Dean was giving a talk, while keeping one worried eye on me while I tried to find the infection. He’s damn good at multitasking.

There was that time that, after many rounds of cleaning and an implemented testing protocol, Dean found evidence of a bacterium in the beer. He wouldn’t stop talking about it during date night, so on the way home from a late-night party, we stopped at the brewery to run some tests and see if we could find the infection. (Spoiler alert—the testing equipment was contaminated).

There was that time that instead of an anniversary present, Dean asked that I research how to make the hefeweizen yeast produce more of the banana flavors desirable for the beer in order to make Skylight better. I basically gave him a PowerPoint presentation as a gift. He loved it.

 

Some More About Dean (aka Sweetie)

Dean lived that brewery. He loved that brewery. Watching him work at this labor of love, I learned a whole lot about my husband (go go gadget bullet point mode!)

Dean and Adrienne holding hands and talking on a corner in San Francisco
This was taken by Dean’s mom when the three of us were walking around San Francisco. She’s an awesome photographer
  • Dean really, really cares about people. He spent a lot of time worrying about keeping the staff happy. Since we didn’t have a lot of money, we couldn’t pay high salaries (even once we stopped taking a salary for ourselves). Dean tried to compensate by doing things like handing over the beer pilot program to the employees, encouraging them to create their own beers, taking them to networking events, teaching them how to judge beer, and being sad yet supportive if they decided to get a job elsewhere. 
  • Dean is a damn good brewer. I watched him spend HOURS tweaking a recipe until it was just right. He refused to put out a beer that he didn’t enjoy, and would happily dump a beer (and whatever profits) to ensure the highest quality of product got sent to our retailers. Dean’s got this special smile for good beer. Watch him the next time he takes his first swig of a really good brew…it’s like he holds it in his mouth for a moment, and does this pursed-lipped, joyful smile. He eyes crinkle up all cute, and then he just whispers “damn, that’s good.” Happens every time. 
  • Dean put everything he has into his work. He was once told “it’s not personal, it’s only business” and he retreated into his mind for a good few hours until I could get out of him what was wrong. He then said “But, it is personal. It’s MY business.” That is how he sees what he does. He put his all into what he does, and that comes with some personal risk. It also comes with great reward, so it’s worth it. 
  • Dean is a damn good boss. He worries about his employees. He wants the best for the business and his people. He willing to reprimand when necessary, willing to complement and reward when deserved. If he doesn’t know how to handle something he will work to find the best way. He can take an angry employee in stride and protect everyone else. He’s happy to have someone hate him if it’s the right thing to do. That’s hard. Dean makes it look easy. 
  • Dean doesn’t scare easily, nor does he anger easily. He can take on the world, and do it in a quiet, and even tempered way. He does this thing where if something bad happens at work he responds with “Well, let’s not have that happen again.” When something good happens, he says “Well, let’s do that again.” He’s measured and calm and thoughtful in the face of extreme stress. I want whatever he’s got going on in his brain. 
  • Dean is extremely giving. In the business world, it’s very easy to fall prey to having it out for the competition. I’ve seen other business owners be down right rude when talking to someone who *might* be a competitor, let alone someone who is in direct competition. Dean is just the opposite. He did everything in his power to ensure that the brewing business was welcoming. We had an untold number of potential brewers come into the brewery just to see how it all worked. (Southern Star Brewery did the same for us…they are rock stars!). Dean spent hours talking to people who wanted to open breweries in town, giving them advice, helping them learn the ropes, and letting them practice in our space. He hates the animosity that competition brings out, and refuses to participate. 
  • I love him.
Dean and Adrienne snuggling on a bench in front of a river
I really, really do.

 

The part where Adrienne gets rude

Welp, things went on. Now, I’m going to get a bit rude here—fair warning. Keep in mind I was watching from the outside (or partially inside when needed). Here is where I’m going to admit I don’t know the whole story. Remember how I told you that Dean tends to keep things to himself? This holds true for us as a couple. I ask him everyday “Anything good happen today? Anything bad happen today?” And invariably his answer to both questions is “Nope.” Come to find out he had oral surgery, got three new accounts, a plane crashed into the parking lot, and he got interviewed by the press. He just doesn’t consider those “day-to-day” things important enough to talk about.

Dean walking away from a small aircraft crashed in the parking lot of the brewery.
Seriously…a plane actually crashed at the brewery.

So, this information is what I got from him at moments when I pried it out of him. Also remember that Dean sees the best in everyone and everything, so his version of events tends to err on the side of positive. I, on the other hand, am going to go on a bit of a rant that’s been building up for years. You’ve been warned.

Look! A List!

Here are problems I noticed with the brewery partnership from the beginning. Let’s get into bullet format again, shall we?

  • Mr. Thing #1 believed “it’s not personal, it’s only business.” Dean is the exact opposite. While differences of opinion are good (great at times, even) this fundamental view informs EVERYTHING, and caused a lot of problems. 
  • Mr. Thing wasn’t great with people who thought/felt different than himself. Dean spent a lot of time working through this and being frustrated by it, but eventually coming to terms. Other people, like our vendors, were not so understanding. It came to the point Mr. Thing was not allowed to talk to our designers because he had no clue how and artist’s mind works, and was so rude to them they almost quit. 
  • Mr. Thing could not brew well. When we were trying to figure out how to break up the duties at the brewery, some brew days fell to Dean, the others to Mr. Thing. Every time Mr. Thing brewed, he just couldn’t hit the correct numbers. The volume was off. The sugars were off. Everything was off. It got so bad, that Dean refused to let Mr. Thing brew any more. 
  • The books were a right mess. Dean had very little accounting experience, which he readily admitted at the beginning of this whole venture. This is why we needed someone else. Little did we know that Mr. Thing was someone who would say he knew how to do something, then go fake it until he makes it. That works for some stuff, but books? And taxes? And legal forms? Not so much. 
  • When you have investors, every year you have to send certain tax documents to those investors by a certain date so they can get their taxes ready to go. Remember that our early investors were friends and family. Mr. Thing would spend months not doing the books correctly and not getting the tax forms out. Then Dean and I would start to get angry phone calls from various family members and close friends, complaining that Mr. Thing was ignoring their calls. That was not awesome. 
  • Mr. Thing was very, very debt adverse, even when it came to getting lines of credit for the business. While having someone who doesn’t want to overspend is fantastic in a business, there’s also concessions that sometimes need to be made. 
  • Mr. Thing was easily swayed by people he thought of as knowledgeable. If he heard a podcast or audio book that sounded plausible, there was no changing his mind about it (until the next podcast/audio book with a charismatic speaker came along). I used to joke that if I wanted him to do something, I’d just have to have a strong-voiced guy record a podcast, and boom! Mr. Thing would be doing the thing. The down side of this was that there was no critical thinking to go along with this belief system, so whatever the last strong idea given to him was what Mr. Thing went with. Again, not awesome. 
  • Deliveries are a problem with a brewery. We were burning out our delivery person. Mr. Thing was against going with a distributor for various reasons, some of which we agreed with (like we wanted to keep ownership of our territory, and often time distributors didn’t give the little breweries a lot of attention). Dean felt the upsides out weighed the downsides. Mr. Thing thought the opposite, and just would not budge. Our delivery person became angrier and angrier. It was awful. 

    An old, gray delivery van that needs help
    Our van. Eventually it got painted…but not until after many, many months of driving it around
  • This is a personal one: Mr. Thing had a VERY hard time believing facts that I would state. I can’t tell you how many times I had to say “Do you want me to show you my PhD in THIS EXACT SUBJECT?” This sort of thing pisses me off. I gotta take a walk. I’ll be back in a minute.

    Adrienne smiling in line waiting to graduate with a PhD
    Me. PhD.
  • Mr. Thing had a lot of stuff that would take him away from the brewery. I understand that life happens, and you need to have a work-life balance. However, when starting a business, there’s an important trade off that needs to happen at the beginning. You don’t get to come in at 9 and leave at 5. You don’t get weekends. You work yourself to death for a bit with the idea that you will create something that eventually won’t need you. At least, that’s my take on it. Mr. Thing has kids, and is constantly sick, and has various other issues. I understand when kids need to be picked up and dropped off. I understand when you have a sinus infection. What I don’t understand is when these things happen so often that my husband has to work twice as much and twice as hard to make everything up, all without a salary. 
  • Mr. Thing decided we shouldn’t get paid, because we didn’t have enough money. Dean had different ideas on how to overcome this. It ended up we only took a salary for 18 months or so. I worked two or three jobs. Dean works the equivalent of three jobs. I’m a little bitter. 
  • Dean only took one vacation a year: Christmas time. The week between Christmas and New Years was dead for the business anyhow, so we usually shut down and opened again in January. Again, this was the ONLY time Dean took time off (he doesn’t have kids to take care of, he doesn’t get sick, he never left the brewery). Mr. Thing HATED it when Dean would leave for vacation in December. We always went to visit family, and Mr. Thing felt that Dean was leaving all the work to Mr. Thing (forgetting, of course, the many, many, MANY times Dean took over everything during the year). This pisses me off to do this day.

OK, that’s enough ranting. There were a lot of other things, but this has gone on long enough, I think. Let’s get on to the next bit.

2016: The beginning of the end

The brewery was growing. It was always on the verge of breaking through. What we needed was an influx of cash to make it to that next step. During 2016 that became our mission: more money for the brewery.

The year began with a possible new partner—let’s call him Mr. New. Mr. New had wanted to start his own brewery, but that didn’t work out. He opted for buying into ours. Fantastic! More money, another partner mean more people to help out, Mrs. New was super helpful, it was great. Mr. New took on the books (he had massive experience in accounting, and worked to get our accounting mess in order. This is when I learned exactly how bad it was, and how long it had been since we had pay our taxes. This was news to both me and Dean, and did not go over well. Mr. Thing was in lots of trouble, and we took that duty away from him). Now we have a new partner, doing the books, working around the brewery, and it was great.

A group of tables with people eating thanksgiving dinner among brewery equipment.
Thanksgiving at the brewery. Look how big and shiny everything is!

After a few months, however, things went to shit. Apparently, Mr. and Mrs. New had an agreement that Mr. New had a certain amount of time to start his brewery and get paid before he had to get a real job. Mr. New did not tell us that he was on his last 6 months of this agreed time. When it came out that we were not getting paid, and probably wouldn’t until we could get the new system purchased and online, and lots of new accounts set up, Mr. New decided to take his money and walk. On his way out, Mr. New STRONGLY suggested that we not let Mr. Thing touch the books again. We were just getting out of the taxes debt we had incurred, and we didn’t want to go down that road again. Dean took over the books. Great.

 

At this same time, we lost our Houston sales rep. He went on to greener pastures where money was better. We supported him in his decision, but this left us without anyone selling beer in Houston, a very big market.

We didn’t have a lot of money to hire a new sales person, so discussions began. In our stupid wisdom, we decided to go with Mr. Things plan: Dean would become the Houston sales rep, Mr. Thing would become the local sales rep, and our current, tired delivery person would continue delivering to Houston while Mr. Thing would deliver locally. Fine.

Recap Time!

Now let’s recap: this leaves Dean as the only person at the brewery actually making the beer. Dean was also driving to Houston three days a week to sell beer and keep our accounts happy. Dean is also in charge of ordering supplies (a job he tried to give to several of our employees, but still had to manage over all). Finally, Dean was in charge of accounting. In my mind, what was there left to running a brewery? Dean was doing EVERYTHING, while Mr. Thing was simply wandering around the local town selling beer and calling in sick once a week. I was angry.

Dean, on the other hand, defended Mr. Thing to the hilt (because Dean is the best person on earth). Dean believed he and Mr. Thing had a fantastic partnership; Mr. Thing deserved the sick time and needed to be with his family; Mr. Thing was a great worker and was an asset to the brewery; Mr. Thing was a great friend and Dean trusted him totally and completely. That’s Dean for ya—he’ll see the best in you no matter what.

Dean looking cute and drinking beer at a resturant
Seriously, just look at that face.

Well, there we were, still out money, and a couple of employees down. We spent the summer entertaining an offer of partnership from an outside group that Dean and Mr. Thing eventually decided wasn’t a good fit—they wanted to own a controlling interest, and given the amount of work both dean and Mr. Thing put into the brewery, no one was going to get a controlling partnership but us, dammit!

By the end of the summer, we were pretty desperate. Dean and Mr. Thing were hardly in the same room at the same time, and tensions were growing. Remember how they promised to check in together at least once a week? With the crazy schedules that became impossible, and a lot of festering anger was bubbling to the surface. But they kept on working…you know how it is.

Someone Steps In

At the end of the summer one of our early supporters, a regular at the tap room, and a guy we felt was a pretty good friend came to us saying he had the money and wanted to buy into the brewery. I’m going to call him Thing #2, just for the bare minimum of anonymity. It was amazing! Having been burned in the past by Mr. New, we jumped at this opportunity and got the papers signed with Thing #2 in record time.

Those first few weeks were FANTASTIC! We bought stuff that we needed! We looked into hiring new people! We planned to build a stage for the tap room! We got new tables! It was glorious. I bet you can guess where this is going, though, right?

 

A month or so into our blissful new partnership, Dean and Mr. Thing #1 were still on the road a lot, and there was still some tension there, but we saw things getting better. We started doing these movie nights at the brewery, and they were doing great. Thing #1 and Thing #2 REALLY wanted to put money into the taproom, and that’s exactly what we were doing.

 

ONe evening at a movie I was sitting with Thing #2, and I got my first taste of something not so great. Remember what I said about ultimatums earlier? Well, Thing #2 didn’t like one of our bartenders. Let me be clear—we didn’t have the money to pay our bartenders very much, so we did everything we could to make their employment worthwhile. This often meant hiring get people with little to no experience and giving them lost of training. It was the least we could do, after all, but it meant we couldn’t attract the best of the best—we had to get them there ourselves.

 

Thing #2 really didn’t like one of our workers. He had had a few drinks, and told me straight up we needed to fire this particular person. I said that I liked the bartender as a person, they tried really hard, and while they were not the perfect bartender yet, they were learning. When they made a mistake, we would correct them and they would do better next time. Besides, we were paying them next-to-nothing, yet this bartender was still very, very loyal to the brewery and to us, and that’s not something you can teach.

 

Thing #2 responded with “No. If we don’t fire the bartender, I’m going to take my money and leave.” Now, let’s think about this for a moment. This new partner, who wanted to be a part of an active brewery, one that was working so well people loved it, this partner was willing to burn those bridges over a part time bartender? And willing to give one of the original owners an ultimatum to that effect? Well, OK. That told me a whole *hell* of a lot about this new partner.

 

On the way home that evening I was FUMING. I told Dean about it, and said that there was no way in hell we were going to bend to this type of ultimatum, and that we needed a meeting with all the partners to figure out some things. Dean, in his characteristic way, went quiet and started ruminating on the problem. I started ranting about the problem. During the (mostly one sided) conversation, I said that I would rather burn the brewery to the ground that bend to this stupid request. Dean quietly asked that I not burn his brewery down, please. Fine. I won’t. This time. Dean spent the rest of the evening wondering on how to deal with this.

 

Two days later I find out that we fired the bartender. Thing #1 agreed with Thing #2, and overruled Dean. We lost a potentially great worker and burned a bridge with a really great person for no real reason I can see. It sucked.

After that, things got worse. We started getting lots of reports that Thing #2 was drinking a lot at taproom. On evenings we were there, we spent quite a bit of time talking to irate customers who had been insulted by Thing #2. Those weekends we gave away a lot of free beer, just to keep our customers happy, and hope that they would return despite the bad experience. Given Dean’s love of people, it was rough to watch him have to do this.

Dean kept trying to catch Thing #2 at the brewery to talk about this pattern, but Thing #2 never seemed to be around when Dean was there. Thing #1 was even making himself scarce, so the problem seemed to get worse and worse. Eventually Dean implemented a “no drinking when working the bar” rule that we didn’t have before, just to stop Thing #2 from pissing off our paying customers.

The End

This continued until our annual vacation. This year we were visiting my family in California, and we were going to go for a full two weeks. It would be great! Dean, however, with his overload of work, decided it would be the perfect time to analyze the books. He’d been keeping up with the accounting during the year, but hadn’t had the chance to really delve into the data and see where we could grow.

While visiting my family, Dean spent a good 8 hours a day or so working on accounting. He decided that evenings would be free for vacation, but that this work needed to be finished if the brewery was going to move forward. I’m damn proud of him for that.

A pile of presents in front of a christmas tree
Christmas is the best!

His work yielded some very interesting results. He found that our sales had been flat for a good 18 months or so, despite our best efforts. He brainstormed some ideas, ran some numbers, and came up with a solution: we needed to be a brewpub for a bit.

Some Background

Let me explain. In Texas, there are two classifications for breweries: production brewery and brewpub. Production breweries produce beer to be sold at retailers. In the past few years the laws changed a bit to allow for sales at an on site tap room, but these sales are only by the pint—production breweries cannot sell to go (in cans, growers, or bottles); everything has to be consumed on the premises. The upside of a production brewery is high limit of beer that can be sold into the market, which is why we went with it at the beginning. So we were a production brewery with a taproom that could sell for on site consumption.

A brewpub has a much smaller limit of beer that it can sell into the market. However, it can sell to go from the taproom, so you can fill up a growler or get a 6 pack of cans and take them off premises. A few years ago the laws changed to allow brewpubs to sell more beer into the market…still less than a production brewery, but way more than a tiny brewery makes in a year.

 

Back to the Story

Now that you know the background, back to the story.

Dean found that New Republic was not producing anywhere near the production limit for production breweries; we weren’t even producing near the limit for brewpubs. He also discovered that every time we got a new influx of money, we would pour it into the taproom, since that is what was keeping the lights on and paying the rent in lean months. It made sense.

 

Remember that we didn’t have a distributor—we had decided to self distribute to keep more ownership. The problem was we weren’t putting any money into our self distribution set up. We had one decrepit van, one delivery person, and that’s it. It was doomed to fail.

 

Dean had an idea—every few years we have to renew our license anyhow, and we were up for renewal in a few months. Since we were putting all our money into the taproom anyhow, why didn’t we change from a production brewery to a brewpub? It would be at least two years before we reached the production limits of the brewpub, and in the meantime we could sell to go from the tap room. According to his numbers, this would give us enough cushion to work on our distribution, hire some sales reps, and get the taproom all beautiful. He projected that our sales numbers would begin to rise again, and all would be well.

 

He floated this idea in a group chat with Thing #1 and Thing #2. It did not go well. Thing #2 said that we promised we were a production brewery, and that if we changed he would take his money and leave (it was his go to threat). Thing #1 was apparently totally scared of Thing #2 and just did what he wanted.

 

Dean and his long time partner got into a huge fight. Dean called Thing #1 to talk about Thing #2’s tactics, and instead ended up airing out a huge number of issues that had been bubbling below the surface for both of them. It was like that first major fight years before, except this time we were in California and couldn’t smooth things over as easily. It also came out that Thing #1 was pretty pissed that Dean had decided to go on vacation. Don’t get me started on that.

 

Now, I new little about this at the time. Remember that Dean doesn’t speak until he has really thought something through, so he spent a day or so in near silent contemplation. I got a little out of him, but not much. Later I learned that he spent one sleepless night considering what it would be like to have to leave the brewery. That must have sucked, and I wish I had known. My poor sweetie.

 

At the end of our vacation, we return to Texas. This is a Thursday afternoon. Dean decides to not go into the brewery that day (looking back, this should have been a big red flag for me, but I didn’t yet know the extent of the fight he and Thing #1 had had).

 

Dean heads to work at his normal early hour the next day, and then came home at 10 am. That was weird. I’m surprised to see him, and when he walks in he says “well, Thing #1 asked to buy us out of the brewery. What do you think?”

 

Should we leave?

I was stunned. I had no idea what to think about this. Dean and I spent the rest of the day talking, and he gave me the whole story of what happened over vacation. I was LIVID, but Dean’s damn good at keeping me calm. In our minds we had two options: either take the pay out and walk away, or assume this was just another empty offer from Thing #1 like before. Remember when Dean told Thing #1 that if he ever offered that again, he better mean it? Yep, we did, too.

However, we didn’t want to jump to any conclusions, and decided that Dean should call the original investors, those friends and family that had supported us all those years ago, and see what they thought. Dean took the weekend and made the calls. He spoke to everyone who had given us money to chase this crazy dream, and told them the story. That must have been the hardest thing he had to do. Every single person told Dean that they invested in him, not the brewery, and that if he needed to leave, he should leave.

Looking back, I know Dean’s mind was made up after that sleepless night in California. You can only push him so far, and he will only get angry so many times. Dean had a sound financial plan, backed with data, and a way to move this business he loved forward. He was being thwarted for no apparent reason other than the partner just didn’t want to. You simply don’t do that. Not to Dean.

Dean walked into the brewery that Monday morning and took the buy out. I have no idea if this is what Thing #1 & #2 were expecting or not—I kind of hope this hit them where it hurt.

That afternoon, my husband of 17 years came home and cried, just for a minute, on my shoulder. He had just signed away a huge part of his life, a part that he loved, and a part he was really, really going to miss. Did I mention how much I will hate you if you make the love of my life cry? I’m looking at you Thing #1 and Thing #2.  

 

Over the next few weeks there were a lot of papers to sign, and a lot of things to process. We got the first of the payout right away, with a promise for the rest in July. We met with lawyers, we had thing notarized, we signed stacks of forms, and we got our first check. That part was kind of great. We paid off my student loans, we paid off the debt we had accrued through this whole adventure, and we bought some nice things for ourselves (Dean got a great watch and I got a lap harp. Awesome things for awesome times).

Adrienne playing a red lap harp
Hello beautiful.

Suddenly, Dean had a lot of time on his hands. He decided to take some much needed time off, regroup, and figure out where to go next. This was wonderful for him—he deserved it more than anything. He started discovering hobbies again, he did projects around the house, he cooked. It was great.

Dean with three other people on the back porch using old brewing equipment to cook crabs
Dean with time on his hands cooking crabs

The downside was Dean had had his trust broken. He had spent the majority of a decade working ridiculous hours with Thing #1. They were close…we jokingly called them “Hetero-life-partners” simply because of the amount of time they spent together and how much they loved each other. They really were great friends, despite all the disagreements. We had dinners together a lot; we talked about traveling together; we knew each others’ families. We were all pretty great friends. This is the man that told Dean to leave his own brewery, without discussion, without a thought for the partnership.

What’s Happening Now

Dean still isn’t over this, and I don’t think he will be for a long time. Leaving a business like that is harder than it seems. The old employees still depended on Dean. One asked that Dean come to the next New Republic Anniversary party, because this employee had designed a beer that he was really proud of. We went. I spent the time at the winery next door. Dean went around and greeted all his old friends. We left early.

 

If you ask Dean what he thinks about it now, he will tell you that he hopes the brewery thrives. He started this company, and a big part of him is still there. He doesn’t want to see that die. That’s a hard place to be.

 

In the months after this business divorce, we started new ventures. I’m sure you’ve heard us talking about Blake’s Steaks, our new restaurant. We took the rest of the buy out funds and gave it to our friend Blake to open his dream business. This has been going great. But that’s another blog post for another time.

Dean and Adrienne kissing at the opening of Blake's Steaks
We never learn. 🙂

Every once in a while I will still see Dean get melancholy about the brewery. He still cares for the people there, and I think the betrayal of a trusted friend is something that he will carry for a very, very long time. I don’t blame him. Dean gives all of himself to his relationships. If you are lucky enough to be one of his friends, you know this. He expects nothing but mutual trust in return. It hurts when that trust is broken.

The End?

So, that’s the story. It’s a long one, and now you know my many opinions on the thing. I am angry on Dean’s behalf, and there are days I hope Thing #1 and Thing #2 die in a fire (now, don’t get pissed—you know this is mostly hyperbole, and I usually calm down after a bit, but still).

Bottom line, though, is I’m really glad we did it. We’ve made some amazing friends, and become a part of an amazing community all because of the brewery. Even though it ended pretty badly, the time we had together through this I wouldn’t change for the world.

A small band set up, with a woman singing and a man playing guitar. In front is a bass drum saying the band name "Grifters and Shills"
Just look at these talented musicians! We met them because of the brewery, and we count them as friends. That’s awesome

It’s been over a year now since this happened, and I guess I just need the information out there. I hope this answers everyone’s questions! Good on you for sticking with me to the end…I know I can go on a bit, especially when it comes to sweetie. But here we are, moving forward, as per usual. I’m glad you’re here with us.

 

—Adrienne

 

“`

 

We Might Be Okay Now, Well Better Than Last Year

Fifty-two months ago Adrienne had a hysterectomy. We have seen four Mother’s and Father’s Days since the decision.  Each one is easier than the previous however for some reason this Father’s day was more melancholy for me than the previous.  The first Mother’s Day Adrienne wrote

There is no I-had-my-uterus-and-ovaries-taken-at-32-so-I-will-never-have-children-of-my-own day. If someone makes one, I hope it’s in August. I don’t have anything else to celebrate in August.

The name isn’t catchy, the sentiment too raw, and it risks emphasizing our infertility.  Whatever it is named, we observe that day on August 11th.  I originally posted a request to our friends in this blog in 2010 where I detail objectives of the day. We receive a nice response each year.

Most of the time we are okay. Every once in a while emotion overwhelms us.  2013 has been pretty good, evidenced by the sparse blog updates on the subject. (Read most of the saga there.)  Thank you to all our friends sending Adie well-wishes yesterday.  It really means a lot to the both of us.  We spent the day playing video games then went to a private restaurant industry party, kind of a typical day off for us.

I am thankful that Adie & I survived the crucible.  Through the moments of weakness, flaring rage and years of emotional strife we built an unshakable relationship that continues to broaden and deepen.  With all we have been through I am profoundly grateful for this relationship borne partly from hardship.

To end this post I want to invite curious readers to ask me about the experience.  I feel compelled to talk about it, however the subject rarely surfaces and most people awkwardly change the subject.  Engage me if you are going through something similar and want to talk, or just want to know what it is like.  I may tear up, but I am better than last year – sadness and joy are part of life.

I really thought I’d be ok.

It’s been awhile, and I thought I’d be ok. Really. I mean, it’s been years, right? We live in a new state, with new friends, new jobs, new opportunities, and we’ve worked so very hard on learning to deal with this sort of thing. But for some reason when I went to the mailbox today (incidentally, checking the mail is one of my favorite things–you never know what you’re going to get! It’s like Christmas everyday! So fun!) I got a very nice envelope, address to Dr. Adrienne Brundage (nope, still not tired of the “doctor thing!) and in side was a single square of pink cardstock:

 Please join us for a baby shower!

It’s all pink and embellished with flowers and birds and an adorable stroller and it’s for a good friend and all I could do was stand in the driveway and cry.

I dunno. I thought I was through this part. I thought I had a handle on this sort of thing. Dean and I are at the age where we know lots and lots of families. Many of our friends are having kids. I understand there are babies out there. I’ve even cuddled more than my fair share…but for some reason this one hit me.

I think it’s the baby shower thing. I haven’t been to a baby shower since the “thou shalt not have children” verdict came down. I have been to many showers (and even thrown a few myself) and I know exactly what to expect. It will be a wonderful day…full of happy, giggling women excited about the prospect of a new baby. There will be gifts. There will be games. There will be endless talk of all things child. And I can’t do it.

I love my friend. I love her with all my heart, and I am super excited for her and her husband (seriously! They are going to make amazing parents! And I can’t wait to spoil this kid rotten. Oh, the plans I have!) but the idea of spending an entire afternoon at a party basically checking off a mental list of all the things I’m never going to have or experience…I can’t do that. Not even for a friend.

So I stood in my driveway and cried, while my dog rooted around in the neighbor’s yard. I cried for all the pink or blue or gender-neutral colored presents I’ll never open. I cried for those stupid party games where you drink juice from a baby bottle or pick diaper pins from a bowl of rice. I cried for all the advice from the older generation that I will never get. I cried for all the celebrating that I know I just can’t do for or with my friend. I cried for my family, who even though they say they are ok with us not having kids I’m pretty sure they are not. I cried for Dean who would make the most amazing father in all of the land and I can’t give him this. I cried for me, because I honestly thought I was ok, and apparently I’m still not. I don’t know if I’ll ever be.

I knew this was coming. I had prepared myself for the invite. I even talked it over with another infertile girlfriend and we had a plan. That plant went out the window. Instead I walked to the local liquor store and tried to buy some pumpkin pie schnapps. They didn’t have any. I probably shouldn’t be drinking that stuff anyhow.  Maybe I’ll just be done with today and go to bed.

When is this going to end? I’d like to be a part of peoples’ live, and this whole having a baby thing is a big part of their lives. I’d like to not break down anymore over receiving a silly card in the mail. I’d like to not have to make excuses when I RSVP.

I’d really like to stop crying in my driveway on a Wednesday afternoon over something I cannot change. I really thought I’d be ok. I guess I’m not, yet.

Happy Bragging Day (still not quite right, but getting closer)

Fourty months ago Adrienne had a hysterectomy.   We saw three Mother’s and Father’s Days since the decision.  Each one is easier than the previous.  The first one Adrienne wrote

There is no I-had-my-uterus-and-ovaries-taken-at-32-so-I-will-never-have-children-of-my-own day. If someone makes one, I hope it’s in August. I don’t have anything else to celebrate in August.

Today, August 11th, we observe that day.  The name isn’t catchy, the sentiment too raw, and it risks emphasizing our infertility.  One friend suggested Bragging Day and sometimes we call it Phantom Uterus Day, but I’m not sure either gets the point across.  Adie & I had some decisions, truly life-altering, world-shaking realities, forced on us but we want to make something positive out of our situation.

Let’s try to give today a good name.  Please think about someone that cannot or will not have kids and drop them a note to:

Celebrate the life and happiness they have

We let go of a lifetime of desires and expectations while simultaneously redefining and reorienting ourselves.  This process is not over, but our goal on this day is to be happy with all we have.

Emphasize accomplishments

Birthing and raising children is often quoted as the biggest accomplishment a person can make.  We do not believe it.  Your affirmation drives us on to other altruistic endeavors.

Show that they are whole people

Any -ectomy takes something away from a person.  We felt “broken” and may not get over that.

Today is not about trying or failing to be a parent.  We need neither sympathy nor reminders of our “enviable freedom” and that parenthood is “not all joy“.  At the same time the day’s purpose is not to belittle family.  Reinforce the good things that all of us do.

If you have a good name for today post it in the comments, twitter, facebook or email.

It’s a new year! Let’s check in on those life goals….

So every year, as you may or may not know, instead of making a list of new year’s resolutions, I go through  my goals list and mark of the ones I accomplished over the past year (and add a bunch that I thought of at some point). I don’t take things off the list, even if I don’t want to do them any more…this gives me a great way to look back at where I’ve been in my life. Let’s see what I’ve done!

Adrienne’s Life Goals (List started December, 1996 and updated each year since then) I’ve bolded the ones that I accomplished since I last updated the list last year.

1. Rollerblade in every major city in the world (Don’t know if I want to do this one any more or not. I’m really not all that into rollerblading. Biking might be a more feasible option).
2. Win a Nobel Prize
3. Study insects in the Australian Canopy (I used to get a magazine as a kid that advertised scientist-led trips in the back. One was a trip to the Australian Rainforest where you’d get to help survey the insects. They said you’d probably find several new species. I have to get there).
4. Become fluent in Spanish (took it in high school, remember little)
5. Be written about in some major tabloid
6. Make a major discovery in cancer research
7. Breed some sort of animal (I finished this one in 1998–I bred crane flies, beetles, crickets, and whatever else my boss brought in for a year)
8. Get married and raise a family (Part one–done 9/3/00! So that part two thing won’t work. Anyhow.)
9. Get a PhD in Entomology (Done (ish)! I successfully defended my dissertation in December of 2011, so I’m kinda counting this). 
10. Make a major entomological discovery (I’m really not sure what counts as “major.” I guess I’ll figure that out as I go along)
11. Become a college professor
12. Ear $20,000 a year with my harp (I think I will work on this in 2012)
13. Read the entire works of Shakespeare (did I mention I’m really into Shakespeare?)
14. Learn to ride a bike well (I’ve decided the tandem doesn’t count, but is a hell of a lot less scary than riding alone)
15. Study insects in Madagascar (the first day of my high school freshman geography class the teacher gave us the coordinates for Madagascar. I’ve wanted to go ever since)
16. Visit Kangaroo Island
17. Become the president of something major
18. Be able to give my Alma Mater something big, and have something on campus named after me
19. Rollerblade 10 miles (so, I didn’t have a bike as a kid. I taught myself to rollerblade instead. Don’t do it so much anymore, but for awhile there it was my only means of transportation)
20. Become fluent in sign language
21. Take a major biking or blading trip
22. Become very physically fit
23. Graduate from any higher education institution with a 3.0 or higher (I vote I’m done with school!!)
24. Work at the Smithsonian
25. Lear how to spell “Smithsonian” (Done! 1996. Have I mentioned I’m dyslexic? Oh, man, in 5th grade we had spelling tests every week, and my teacher made anyone who failed go to detention after school on Fridays and copy the dictionary. I got through “C” by the end of the year. She was nice enough not to make me go right before Christmas break and the last week of school. After my year she stopped using that as a punishment for bad spelling. I am a liberator of 5th graders!)
26. Live to be 100 (This one will take me awhile)
27. Own a motorcycle (Done! 1999. It got stolen, but who’s counting?)
28. Fall in love (Done! Valentine’s Day, 1997. Can you guess who?)
29. Write a book
30. Visit Canada (Done! 2005. Our anniversary. We took a ferry from Washington)
31. Take a cruise (Done! Alaska. Awesome). 
32. Become the best in Entomology
33. Be rich enough to buy my parents a cabin or car (Part of this list was written when I was a starving student. I mean, really starving…like ducking the landlord, saving up for Taco Bell starving. I lived on popcorn and oatmeal for most of a year. I was super thin)
34. Own a home in Australia
35. Travel the world
36. Own a large house with my husband (I also wrote a good portion of this list right when I met Dean, so “husband” and “love” are mentioned a bunch) (Done! 7/2008:  4 bedrooms is large, right?)
37. Have a large wedding (Done! 9/3/00)
38. Tour Iceland
39. Visit Greenland (Notice I don’t want to tour Greenland)
40. Know a song on the harp by every major composer (As soon as I define what a “major” composer is, I’ll get started on this one)
41. Meet someone famous (so, who’s gonna be famous so I can check this off? I’ve met a bunch of famous forensic entomologists, but I’m not counting them for some reason.)
42. Begin an Art, science and cultural center
43. Weigh 120-135 as long as it’s healthy (it stopped being healthy a while ago–right around the infertility time)
44. Create a cross stitch tapestry (Working on it!)
45. Learn to draw (Done! Spring 2000. I’m no Ivan, but it’s good enough for government work)
46. Learn to tango (Done! Summer 2000. I hated it)
47. Get a degree in something totally unrelated (Done! June, 2007. I have a degree in Emergency Prehospital Care. If you’re dying, call me! I’ll tell you to go to the hospital)
48. Own a company (Done! 2011. Have ya heard of New Republic Brewing? No? Look it up!)
49. Maintain a very large garden
50. Arrange a musical festival
51. Go on an African safari
52. Be someone’s inspiration
53. Stay in the best hotels in the world
54. Backpack across America
55. Sponsor a Shakespeare festival
56. Throw at least 1 major formal party
57. Tour England
58. Visit every major museum in the world
59. Love wine (Done! I have no idea when this happened exactly….)
60. Become adept at herbal studies
61. Study at least 3 religions other than Methodist (Done! Mormonism, Judaism and Jehovah’s Witness. I ended up with a boyfriend in each religion, which really made the study easy. Mormons wear sacred underwear. Don’t tell them you know!)
62. Watch or be in every Shakespeare play
63. Organize 5 missions (So I grew up in a Methodist church, and Methodists are really into volunteering. All through high school I went on youth missions organized by the church–I’ve been to Mexico 12 or 13 times to work on churches and houses, I went to Yuma, Arizona several times and worked on the Indian reservation there, and I helped organize a huge mission to Alaska, but I couldn’t go. This is the one thing I miss about not going to church anymore. My old church went to Mississippi last spring to rebuild houses destroyed in hurricane Katrina. I wish I could’ve gone)
64. Study scarab beetles (they’re shiny!)
65. Visit Egypt
66. Never have to worry about money (once again, I was a starving student at this point….)
67. Become adept at rock climbing
68. Visit every state in the union (I’m working on it!)
69. Visit Easter Island
70. Perform in a large theater (Done! Christmas 1997 and 1998. I was part of a Christmas show playing in LA. I played the harp–3500 seats in that theater)
71. Visit Morocco (Ah…here comes my travel list….)
72. Visit Sri Lanka
73. Visit the Philippines (Earl? When we going?)
74. Visit Norway
75. Study cancer (When I add to my list each year, I sometimes don’t go back and review everything first, so there are a few duplicates. Apparently I really want to do these things)
76. Visit France
77. Visit the Eiffel Tower (just in case I was gonna miss it while in France….)
78. Visit the Statue of Liberty again (I saw it when my class went there in Jr. High, but I was a bit boy crazy and didn’t really care about the big green woman)
79. Visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa
80. Stay in a small Russian town
81. Go to a health spa (Done! I now do this as regularly as possible)
82. Win a major contest
83. Become a photographer (I don’t think I have much of an eye, but I can try)
84. Visit Dublin
85. Become monetarily comfortable (still hungry!)
86. Own a store
87. Learn to fence (Done! 2004. Hated it!)
88. Learn a martial arts (Done! 2004, black belt in kenjo ki karate–better known as kickboxing)
89. Visit a homeless family
90. Learn massage
91. Write a major research paper (Done! June 2007. It’s going to publication this year W00t!!)
92. Work in a vineyard (Done! Spring 1997, Cal Poly SLO. 1 year. It was fun)
93. Witness a controlled burn (Done! Summer 1998. We had to do several controlled burns in the orchard that summer)
94. Save an insect species
95. Discover an insect species (I like me some insect species)
96. Biologically solve a pest problem (I haven’t decided if I want to do this on a grand scale or not…if not, then done! I’ll leave it unmarked for now, though)
97. Read Moby Dick, A Tale of Two Cities, Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Hans Christian Andersen series, The Metamorphasis, The Fountainhead, It, The Lord of the Rings, and a book by Chaucer. (Some of these are done. The hardest so far is The Lord of the Rings. How do people get through this?!?)
98. Fall asleep in a hammock overlooking a beautiful beach and sea under a full moon (Aw! Aren’t I romantic?)
99. Learn to horseback (Done! Did you know that Dean’s grandfather raised horses?)
100. Take a trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
101. Be interviewed by the press (Done! 2005 FFAS conference. CNN interviewed me about entomology)
102. Go to England to see the Shakespeare Festival
103. Help to solve a crime (Done! I’m a forensic entomologist!)
104. Learn to belly dance (I keep meaning to do this one. Someone help!)
105. Discover the purpose of an insect and use those facts to save it from extinction
106. Write out the entire rocky scrip, block it and use it to get a show started (This is half done–I have the script.)
107. Plan an orchard
108. Read the Bible (This may end up harder than finishing Lord of the Rings)
109. Read the Book of Mormon (And this will be harder than the Bible)
110. Read the entire works of Edgar Allen Poe
111. Build my own harp (You can get kits for not that much and build your own lap harp. Want!)
112. Visit all the National Parks
113. Live in France
114. Design and build a custom lab for my work
115. Have a maid or cleaning service (I don’t do windows! Or any other cleaning, for that matter)
116. Visit all the amusement parks in the U.S.
117. Design a set (Done! Fall 1997. I designed the sets for a performance of Hamlet)
118. Be a main part in a show
119. Picnic on top of a mountain (Wouldn’t this be fun? Hint!)
120. Ride the trolly in San Francisco (Done! Summer 1998)
121. Try Sushi (Done! And I never looked back)
122. See 100 Rocky Horror Picture Shows (I’m at 82)
123. Plan a very romantic trip somewhere and take it with someone I love (Done! We went to Costa Rica for our honeymoon)
124. Help someone in need (I don’t think I’ll ever mark this one off, no matter how many times I do it)
125. Buy my own car (We’ve been given our last several, so I haven’t really had the chance yet. Not that I’m complaining…we’ll happily take anyone’s car off their hands! It’s what we do!)
126. Visit Alaska (Done! Summer 2010)
127. Be loved by someone I’m not related to (Done!)
128. Don’t die lonely
129. Retire
130. Fall asleep in someone’s arms (Done!)
131. Have my own CD
132. Pass Music Theory 1 (Done! I got a B! Stupid class)
133. Figure out how to raise Jerusalem Crickets (Done! Those bastards are a pain in the ass to raise. And they bite super hard!)
134. Finance my education (Done! That was hard, and now I’m in debt forever, but done!)
135. Create a large folder of research on raising insects (Done! 2011)
136. Have something published (Done! July 2008, my very first article. Ask me and I’ll let you read it!)
138. Turn my car into a work of art (Done! You should have seen it….)
139. Get an A in Beekeeping (Done! Easiest A ever. I like bees)
140. Manage my own beehive (Just might happen soon…I have plans)
141. Have a webpage (Done! Ah, remember the early days of the web when webpages were novel and only geeks had them?)
142. Get into grad school (Done! For years and years!)
143. Learn to sew (Done! July 2008. I learned, now I just have to get good at it)
144. Finish the Chaos book (It’s a book about Chaos theory. I really only started reading it because I was dating this super cute math major who told me it was good. It’s sitting on the shelf with a 10 year old bookmark in it. I’ll get back to it eventually. I’ll probably have to start from the beginning, though. That’s gonna suck)
145. Create at least one of my clothing designs (So I took this design class for my minor–I had to design clothes. I based all of them on insects)
146. Get an award from a scientific association
147. Get certified in some aspect of entomology
148. Present an original paper at a scientific meeting (Done! June 2008. Presented “Seasonal Distribution and Abundance of Forensically Important Flies in Santa Clara County. It was well received)
149. Get my masters (Done! June 2007)
150. Save 1 million dollars
151. Buy a house (Done! July 2008, and it’s beautiful. Come and visit! We have cookies)
152. Visit every state in the nation (See what I mean about duplicates?)
153. Start a consulting business (Plans, again. Plans.)
154. Read every book in the library (Wanna watch? Or help? Join me!)
155. Visit every country in the world
156. Learn to ride a motorcycle (Yep, this is gonna be done this year. Someone teach me, please!)
157. Climb a mountain
158. Start a journal (Done! 2006. I now have blogs instead)
159. Volunteer somewhere
160. Write a book (I must really want to write that damn book!)
161. Be on tv
163. Create an intricate treasure hunt
164. See a musical on Broadway
165. Be self employed with an actual income
166. Own a cabin
167. Plant 100 trees
168. Read 1000 books (up to 310 since I started counting)
169. See an iceberg (Done! 2010)
170. Get rid of that dead place inside of me (Done! 2007 or 2008. Ask me about it sometime, if you really want to know)
171. Ride a snowmobile
172. Take a speed reading course (Done! 2009. It was bullshit)
173. Learn to surf
174. Walk across a swingy suspension bridge (Done! Malaysia, 2011)
175. Arrange a harp song
176. Learn Latin
177. Visit Walden pond (Then talk about it all snooty like)
178. Create a hedge maze (How cool is my house gonna be?!?)
179. Be a groomsman (You see, I’ve been every part of a wedding–Bride, bridesmaid, acolyte, harpist, flower girl, officiant, guest on the bride’s side, guest on the groom’s side, but I’ve never been a groomsman. That would complete my takeover of all things wedding!)
180. Have a grand library (With a fireplace and leather chairs and a secret door) (I’m so close!)
181. Have a cabin on a lake
182. Take a gondola ride (Hey! Another great date idea!)
183. Hold a hawk
184. Rehabilitate a wild animal
185. Fire a sniper rifle
186. Fire an automatic weapon
187. Fly first class across the ocean
188. Go hot air ballooning
189. Stay on a houseboat
190. Go hang gliding (But not by myself–with a trained professional so I won’t die. I want to live to be 100, remember?)
191. Do that thing with the parachute hanging off a boat (Doesn’t that sound like fun!?!)
192. visit the Bermuda Triangle (And not get lost)
193. Put $500 a month in my IRA (Up to $350 a month, as of now. See…I’m well on my way to saving 1 million!)
194. Go see the Ice Hotel (I love the Discovery Channel)
195. See Grand Central Station
196. Drive across America, coast to coast
197. Climb the highest mountain in California
198. Renovate a house
199. Cross the Panama Canal
200. Finish the world’s largest crossword puzzle (Don’t really know if I want to do this one any more, but there you are)
201. Go a month without TV (Done! 2008. I was super busy, and TV is the first to go)
202. Buy some aboriginal art in Australia (I blame Chris and Yanira for this–stupid HDTV showing Australia and stuff!)
203. Be married for 60 years (at least!)
204. Make a quilt
205. Go white water rafting
206. Own a sports car (A green RX-7)
207. Buy a house in Costa Rica (Love it there!)
208. Bike 1000 miles in a year
209. Create the perfect, craveable Thanksgiving dinner (I think I’m close! I shall see)
210. Ride the orient express
211. Stay in a haunted hotel (Done! 2009, actually…we stayed in Le Pavllion in New Orleans, and apparently it’s haunted. Who knew?)
212. Be under 30% body fat
213. Be nominated for a teaching award (Done! Fall, 2008, distinguished teaching award at Texas A&M)
214. Visit the poles (The South and North poles you dirty minded people!)
215. Go sailing
216. Go on an Alaskan cruise (Yep, really wanted to, and now we have!)
217. Attend a movie premiere
218. Spend over 2 weeks at a nice hotel just enjoying the grounds (I got this idea from reading The Shining. Maybe that’s where I got the haunted hotel idea, too)
219. Attend the Rockettes Christmas Show (I hear this is great!)
220. Celebrate Day of the Dead in Mexico (you know, after they figure out all the drug killings and kidnappings. Still wanna live to 100)
221. Adopt a toddler or baby (Decided this year we will not adopt. Gonna leave this one on the list just to remember, though)
222. Visit the Louvre (I wonder if that’s even close to how it’s spelled)
223. Kiss Dean in Paris
224. Do a food tour of the USA: Pizza in Chicago, Blue Crabs in Maryland, Cheese Steak in Philly, (and a bunch of other stuff I haven’t come up with yet)
225. Learn how to write my name in Japanese
226. Celebrate Christmas in New York and London
227. Air Boat the Everglades
228. Pay off my student loans ($32,000 and counting….)
229. Become known for great Thanksgivings
230. Have an art show (Maggot art, baby!)
231. Live in the mountains
232. Take a trip in a motor home
233. See the great barrier reef (But there’s no need to scuba dive…I’m morally against going anywhere I have to take my own oxygen. We need it to survive, people!)
234. Create a secret garden (I love that book! And play! And movie!)
235.Drink mint julep in the French Quarter (Done! June 2009. It was super fun. We bought art).
236.Enter a cooking contest
237. Have a pool
238. Put all my photos/mementos in scrapbooks (Done! It’ll be an on going process from this point on, but most of it is computerized now)
239. See all the movies on AFI’s top 100 list (30 down, 70 to go)
240. Visit Alcatraz
241. Try real absinthe (Done! 2007. It tastes like licorice, and has no hallucinogenic effects)
242. volunteer at a homeless shelter or food bank
243. Look good in a 2 piece
244. Have $100,000 in my IRA
245. Paint a really big painting
246. Get certified with a handgun
247.Ride all the rollercoasters in the US (30 down, 602 to go!)
248. Work at Quantico
249. Get 5 articles published
250. Go back to London, at least once
251. Have a real office that I don’t have to move out of every semester
252. Pass my quals (Done!!!!)
253. Write my lab manual
254. Own some art by someone famous
255. Become a consultant (a final duplicate!)
256: Win a teaching award (Done! December 2009. I won the Vice Chancellor’s award for graduate student teaching. Woo!)
257: Build three projects for the house
258: Build a deck
259: Sew a dress that looks good on me
260: Learn how to tailor clothes and tailor some of my own.
261: Learn to fold a fitted sheet

Just a few done this year, but gearing up for another great 365 days. What are your goals?

–Adie

Infertility Checkup

It has been twenty-eight months since Adrienne’s hysterectomy.  Last year I made a request to our friends to help us celebrate our post-infertility life.  August 11th is this week and we still don’t have a name for I-had-my-uterus-and-ovaries-taken-at-32-so-I-will-never-have-children-of-my-own day (someone call Hallmark).  At any rate, here’s what we are going to do on Thursday.

Celebrate the life and happiness we have

We celebrated our 10 year anniversary last September with an Alaskan cruise.  We stay out late and listen to live music and her migraines due to hormone replacement are far more infrequent.  Adrienne spent ten days in Malaysia.  We continue to thrive despite my layoff eight months ago.

Emphasize accomplishments

Adie passed her PhD qualifying exams and is nearly finished!  I founded a brewery and a freelance software company.   These things are not impossible with children in tow, but I would feel much more pressure to stabilize our income and she to stay home if there was more responsibility over our heads.

Show that we are whole people

Any -ectomy takes something beyond guts & viscera away from a person.  As time goes on this feeling fades.  You’ll have to take it from Adrienne, because I don’t really know what it’s like.

I’ll close the same way I did last year: we are not the only ones.

So many couples and singles struggle with their sense of childless self worth.
Think of them on this day.  If you would like to help, it is simple as a phone call, email, tweet or Facebook post just to say “hi” or to remind someone of the good they do.

This day is not about trying or failing to be a parent.  We need neither sympathy nor reminders of our “enviable freedom” and that parenthood is “not all joy“.  At the same time the day’s purpose is not to belittle family.  Remember, Adrienne and I still make a family.  Reinforce the good things that all of do.

Exclusivity Does Not Promote Competition

Duh.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code is not a comedic document yet I laughed aloud after reading Subchapter C Section 102.51.  It goes something like this:

SUBCHAPTER C. TERRITORIAL LIMITS ON SALE OF BEER

Sec. 102.51. SETTING OF TERRITORIAL LIMITS. (a) Each holder of a manufacturer’s or nonresident manufacturer’s license shall designate territorial limits in this state within which the brands of beer the licensee manufactures may be sold by general, local, or branch distributor’s licensees.
(b)    Each holder of a general, local, or branch distributor’s license shall enter into a written agreement with each manufacturer from which the distributor purchases beer for distribution and sale in this state setting forth the sales territory within which each brand of beer purchased by that distributor may be distributed and sold. No holder of a general, local, or branch distributor’s license shall make any sales of any brand of beer outside the sales territory specified in the written agreement. No such agreement shall interfere with the rights of retailers to purchase beer as provided in Section 102.53. A manufacturer may not assign all or any part of the same sales territory to more than one distributor. A copy of the agreement and any amendments to it shall be filed with the administrator.

(c)    This Act is promulgated pursuant to the authority of the state under the provisions of the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution to promote the public interest in the fair, efficient, and competitive distribution of beer, to increase competition in such areas, and to assure product quality control and accountability by allowing manufacturers to assign sales territories within this state.

Seriously?  Allowing only exclusive distribution rights is intended to promote competition.  This is the sort of legislation the distributor’s lobby fights for and what small brewers are up against.  Increase competition indeed!

How To Edit Friends and Not Look Dumb to People

At first I was going to detail how to make a friend list, put people in it and edit your privacy settings all in that little box.  Instead you get a blog post with pretty images.

An Allegory

LinkedIn is the “social network” for your co-workers. I keep track of a lot of people there.  Sometimes you like a person you work with enough to go to a Judas Priest concert with and you totally have to share that picture of you two with K.K. Downing.   So now you and Judas Co-worker are friends and she’s friends with that annoying guy in accounting who sees her tagged in a photo with a Grammy award winning guitarist and you.  That leads to Ned McNedly pressing the + Add as Friend button on your profile and you don’t really want the boss’s son to see how much you play Dumbo Racer.  Sometimes the network works against you.

If you can’t send Ned to you clinically app-free LinkedIn profile you can friend him without giving away too many personal details.  Time for some pretty pictures!

Go to that giant time-waster (that’s not the way I really feel about you Facebook, don’t be mad) and click on the Account button, then Edit Friends (where is this functionality IRL? JK I <3 u just the way you r).

Press the + Create a List button.  Call it something that would burn the soulless zombies you work with to their very core if they knew they were on your list.

Lists are a great tool for categorizing your friends.

Now to shut out the unworthy.  Click Account again and choose Privacy Settings.  You should see a giant field titled Sharing on Facebook.  Change to Custom, then click Customize Settings.

On the next screen you can “control” all the privacy leakages social networking enables.  Try it out.  Pull down the control next to Posts by Me and choose Customize.

Type the name of your new list in the Hide this From box and you can safely play Dumbo Racer all day long.

How Do You Know It’s Working?

Facebook gives you a way to check what your profile looks like to other people.  Click on Account then Privacy Settings.  You get the Sharing on Facebook screen pictured above.  Choose Customize Settings again.  In the upper right there will be a button labeled Preview my Profile.  Try that.

Profile Preview

Do like it says and start typing a friend’s name to see the world in their eyes.

Things Adrienne & Dean Do, Think and Write