December 2008 President's Letter

Recently, the HGS completed an audit of our books. I am pleased to be able to say that the HGS is fiscally sound. As a 501-c3 organization, we are classified as a non-profit, but it is still a good idea to stay in the black, particularly in financial timessuch as these. The good news is that this year we can expect a substantial income from the proceeds of the joint meeting of GCAGS/GSA, the Africa Conference, and the Mudstone Conference (scheduled for February 2009). The bad news is that the audit turned up a substantial number of unpaid accounts receivable, most of which comes from advertising in the Bulletin which was not paid to us, and that the Shrimp Peel, usually held in the late fall, was cancelled because of Hurricane Ike damage and use of the racetrack facility as a staging ground for incoming electrical service vehicles. Another issue has been an ongoing dispute with Schwab, by whose counsel the HGS placed some of our cash cushion in an investment which was billed as a conservative, safe vehicle, but turned out to be much more risky than we were aware. After a great deal of negotiation with them, we have decided to settle with the recovery of about half of our loss on the investment.
On the whole, though, HGS is doing very well. We tend to run in a cycle of about 3-4 years; when we host the AAPG annual meeting, we earn a cash influx, and on years when we do not have that meeting, we break even or sometimes run a bit into the red. As a non-profit, that’s okay, as long as we are providing the services we want to provide to our members. We do have a substantial cash cushion, so that if the industry falters, we can still continue our programs through the hard times. We are looking into rescheduling the Shrimp Peel in the late spring, and the conferences and continuing education courses we offer this year should provide enough income to comfortably finish the year.
We are grateful to the companies that sponsor many of our events. I was invited recently to accept a donation of over $5000 to the HGS Foundation from the TGS Charity Golf Tournament, which will be used to provide undergraduate scholarships for geology students. TGS/A2D has been a long-term sponsor and donor to the Foundation, and we would like to thank them and
companies like them that provide ongoing funding for our events and scholarship programs.
December brings us two talks and a party. Dr. Hans Nelson will speak at the General Dinner about modern turbidites and mini-basin pathways in the northern Gulf of Mexico and their use as Miocene depositional analogs. At the Engineering and Environmental meeting, Richard Howe will be showing some spectacular photos of the Daisetta sinkhole. The International Explorationists have organized a holiday party December 15, with live music and a prime rib buffet. That sounds like a great way to finish the year!
For anyone who missed it last month, I will buy a drink ticket for use at any HGS dinner or lunch event for the person who comes closest without going over in predicting the price of oil at the close of business on March 31, 2009. Last day to enter will be December 31, 2008. Email your picks to me at
Do not forget the Public Comment period for input to the new earth science 4th year high school science curriculum. This is our opportunity to show the Texas State School Board that earth science is an important part of the education of high school students in our state. Only three public comments had been received as of the November HGS board meeting! Since then, I have sent my comments by email to (put “SCIENCE FEEDBACK” in the subject line). You can find the proposed curriculum at scienceTEKS.html. It’s easy, takes only a few minutes, and it is very important for our kids, both for general education, and to introduce them to the geosciences as a profession.
May you have a wonderful holiday season. _

December 2008 HGS Bulletin
Monday, December 1, 2008
From the President