D’aroma’s book follows four generations of women in Galveston whose lives are molded by one of nature’s most destructive forces from the great hurricane of 1900 (the deadliest in U.S. history, taking between 6,000-12,000 lives) to Ike in 2008 (the second costliest in U.S. history).
An excerpt from the interview:
How did you develop such a strong love for Galveston and hurricane culture?
When I was younger, my grandparents had a vacation house on the West end of Galveston and we spent a lot of time there. It was way less developed back then. I think Galveston is a really fascinating place because it has an interesting mix of characteristics that make for strange bedmates — a Victorian aesthetic mixed with an existential, end-of-the-world feeling.
I was also fascinated just how much the island lives in the shadow of the 1900 Storm. In that way it is almost polar opposite of its neighbor Houston, where I come from. We take pleasure in tearing down any signs of our history and starting over while Galveston at some point made a decision that it was better to be defined by a tragedy than to risk having no identity at all.
The Longhorn Innovation Fund for Technology (LIFT) is a fund of approximately $500,000 that is awarded by the Research & Educational Technology Committee (R&E) to innovative academic technology projects that leverage technology to improve quality of instruction, create a differentiator for attracting higher caliber students to the University, or to create a competitive advantage to the University in attracting sponsored research.
The R&E Committee recently announced the call for proposals for funding in fiscal year 2012-2013. LIFT funding is intended to provide one-time seed money for innovative academic technology projects that leverage information technology in order to improve quality of instruction, create a differentiator for attracting higher caliber students to the University, or result in a competitive advantage to the University in attracting sponsored research. Awards are generally in the range of $75,000 – $125,000.
Discounts are now based on the total annual volume of UT Austin purchases rather than the number of units being purchased on an individual order, making prices lower regardless of the number of units ordered or the time of year of the purchase.
Given the large installed base of Dell computers at the Libraries, this agreement will be very helpful as we manage the life cycle of our technology resources.
On April 2, Information Technology Services (ITS) launched their new “bulk storage” offering to our campus. This service is significant because it represents the first occurrence of a service that has been designed for campus departments and specifically architected for “high availability” and recoverability within a UT Austin data center.
ITS purchased a little over 1 pedabyte (PB) of storage – that’s 1,000 terabytes (TB) for use by departments and it is sure to become an essential resource for the library.
The Libraries is already one of the largest customers in the ITS data center and this service will be one that we evaluate carefully before making substantial storage purchases in the future.
Ricardo Domínguez is a co-founder of the Electronic Disturbance Theater, a group who developed Virtual-Sit-In technologies in 1998 in solidarity with the Zapatista communities in Chiapas, Mexico. His recent projects include the Transborder Immigrant Tool, a GPS cellphone safety net tool for crossing the Mexico/U.S border and “Drones at Home,” an exhibition on drones, drone economies and art. Domínguez is also an associate professor in the Visual Arts Department at Univeristy of California-San Diego.
The University of Texas Libraries remembers an important scientist, insatiable library user and the source of the above quote — Gerhard Werner.
Gerhard’s first retirement was in 1989 when he left an extensive academic career as a medical doctor, dean, professor and researcher. Gerhard then began his second phase where is spent the next 5 years as Chief of Staff at Veterans Hospital in Pittsburg. His third retirement phase was as Research Scientists with Motorola here in Austin. This is where we all first met Gerhard and as if this wasn’t enough, soon he was also an adjunct professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Until his recent death at 90 he studied complex adaptive systems, nonlinear dynamics and the conceptual foundation of neuroscience.
Gerhard’s wide ranging interests meant that he could regularly be seen in almost all of the libraries on campus at one time or another. His most likely venues were Life Science, Engineering, Physics Math Astronomy and PCL.
Gerhard was known and loved as a heavy libraries user. At the time of his death he had over 21 books checked out and 9 items on hold. What’s even more amazing is that he had requested over the last few years he requested that we purchase over 70 titles. We never denied him. Best of all he came to check them all out. What a feat. He was an intellectually and physically active man—he’d walk to any library on campus, carrying a stack of books and he’d always stop to chat.
His wonderful smile is evidenced in all his photos but particularly in the one taken at his 90th birthday.
Here are a few specific memories of Gerhard:
From Nancy Elder—Life Science Librarian
“Probably my favorite memory is of Gerhard popping in with a stack of books, saying he had to stock up for the weekend. I used to tease him about how much he could carry. I think Christmas was his least favorite time, because it would be “too many days” with no library to go to. He would really stock up before the holidays! The most remarkable thing was all of us thought he was “our” library user. Wherever I went on campus, there he would be: at PCL, at PMA, at Engineering and, seemingly, every day at Life Science. Not a week went by that he didn’t have a request for one of our New Books. The lack of a new book shelf at PCL was one of his longtime frustrations.
When it came to requesting books, Gerhard was unfailingly polite and appreciative. Never demanding, always asking with a please, for my birthday, for Christmas or “just one more request”. Once the book came in, he was always here first thing to check it out, sometimes commenting on the quality at return. His interests were so wide-ranging and his appetite so unquenchable, I could never pigeonhole what he would be interested in. As he said himself “I am insatiable when it comes to books.”
I’ve grown accustomed to Gerhard at my door, just waving or stopping by for a comment, several times a week; always cheerful, just happy to find yet another book to read. We will miss him at the door, at the desk to check out books, sharing tales of his conference travel, always on the track of a new author, new book or new idea.
From Susan Ardis—Engineering Librarian
“Gerhard was a wonderful library user. His impish delight in getting a book from the collections or one that we’d ordered specifically for him will always be remembered. What I liked best about Gerhard is that he always recognized library staff on campus–even if we were “out of our uniform location.” We all knew, just from what he borrowed that he had wide ranging interests and epitomized a lifelong learner who values libraries and books.
His smile, jaunty wave and enjoyment of libraries and books will forever remain with me. I saw him on campus two weeks ago getting a book on hold and he smiled and waved. He was one of a kind; he was one of the best.
From Larayne Dallas—Engineering Librarian
Several years ago he called one morning to apologize because he wouldn’t be able to return an overnight book he had checked out 9am. He wanted to explain why “ I had to take my wife to the emergency room.” My response was “Oh Gerhard—don’t worry about it. Return it when you can.” He was in later that morning to return the book and report all was well with his wife and say “you have to be very tough to be old.”
From Molly White —PMA
Molly shares with us two emails from Gerhard that aptly demonstrate why he was so loved by the Libraries.
I received an email from him requesting a book purchase on a Saturday, and replied that I would rush order it on Monday. Here is his reply:
Working on weekends is not good for your health !!!
This is what the Doctor says –
And here is another email:
On account of the libraries being closed today (Sunday), I suffer from withdrawal symptoms…
To alleviate my suffering would you please consider the following:
We do have in PMA the 2000 edition of the book by Didier Sornette, Critical Phenomena in Nature.
There is now a new edition available (2003) of which I currently have a copy on loan through ILL.
The new edition is significantly expanded and has also some new chapters.
Would you consider ordering a copy ? (published by Springer) It would be very helpful.
Susan Ardis is Head Librarian at the McKinney Engineering Library.