Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings to all! Merry Christmas from Houston!! What a year it has been!!! It’s been a year of milestones, for sure – a wedding and new daughter-in-law, a new Ph.D., kids getting their first jobs, and surviving a direct hit of a hurricane!! Richard, our oldest, was awarded his Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering and got his first job in July. Our middle son, Robert, was married to Laura Grosch, also a Georgia Tech “Yellowjacket” and Harvard Business School graduate. Robert also earned his Masters in Mechanical Engineering and got his first job. David, our youngest, is now in his senior year at Georgia Tech in Mechanical Engineering and now finds his passion is Finance. As for John and me, besides making six trips to Atlanta and surviving a hurricane, we had a great summer in Oregon where we tried out living in a motor home and volunteering at Fort Clatsop, a National Historic Park where Lewis and Clark wintered on their historic trip to the Pacific.
Summer in Oregon Volunteering at Fort Clatsop
John had wanted to volunteer at a National Park for some time. This year, he started surfing the Internet for volunteer opportunities at the parks. To apply, you put in an on-line application and specify if you want a particular park. Since I would rather have cool weather, Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark spent their 1805-1806 winter, was my first choice. This park is near Astoria, Oregon, and besides the nice weather, the trees and the Oregon coast, there is a lot of history associated with the Lewis and Clark expedition that we could learn and share. John and I were accepted and he did most of the volunteering. John made up talks about Lewis and Clark and presented them in period costume. He talked about trading with the Indians and had a very exciting program which he topped off by shooting a flintlock musket. He also led the 6-mile “Fort to Sea” trail numerous times. For me, I came to the Fort after work and on weekends to meet and greet people and conduct park service surveys. It was really a lot of fun. The people and the site were wonderful. To work or volunteer at this park meant providing your own housing. Since we had none, we asked Mom and Dad if we could borrow their motor home. They agreed, even though, it was only hours away from being sold. So the grand adventure of living in the motor home began. Fort Clatsop had arranged that we could stay at the KOA, which was about 10 miles from the Fort and right across from Fort Stevens. The KOA had great facilities, high speed Internet, and a daily free pancake breakfast (as in how to gain 10 pounds without really trying). I brought a laptop and printer and was able to do my patent work from the motor home. We made multiple trips back and forth to my folks in Hillsboro to see them and eat fresh raspberries, blackberries and blueberries from their farm and garden. Since we were so close to the beach, we were also able to do one of my favorite things - go clam digging - in the morning for about a week when the tides were low. On one weekend, we also took a road trip to southern Oregon to see Crater Lake and the Oregon Caves. Even though I had lived in Oregon through college, I still hadn’t been to these premier Oregon places. All in all, John was in Oregon for 3 months, returning to Houston after Labor Day, and I was there for 6 weeks, ending after my 40th Hilhi reunion in early August. It was indeed a spectacular summer.
After 25 years, since Hurricane Alicia in 1983, Houston was again in the direct path of a hurricane this September. To be exact, Hurricane Ike started coming on shore on Friday, Sept. 12th. In Clear Lake, we were under mandatory evacuation, but since we were higher than most, we boarded up and hunkered down. One of our friends even evacuated to our house. On Friday night, we ate dinner and waited. The wind came and the power went out. About 4 am in the morning of Saturday, Sept. 13th, the eye came overhead. Everything was dead calm. John said he had always wanted to go out into the eye of a hurricane - which I thought was crazy, but we all did it anyway. We took pictures when the eye was overhead and looked around at the debris, which was about up to our waists. After surveying the damage thus far, we went back in the house and the rain and wind picked up tremendously. The second half of the storm was definitely worse than the first. In the morning, we could see the extent of the damage. We lost a tree, a fence and some shingles, which was light damage compared to those in Galveston or near water, as you probably saw in the news. Our neighborhood lost a lot of trees and a good number went on houses and blocked streets. The cleanup was a lot of work and there are still trees to be removed from our neighborhood, but most of our area is getting back to normal. We thank God for our physical safety and for sparing us from significant damage.
Thanksgiving with the Family in Atlanta
Again this year, we made a Thanksgiving pilgrimage to Atlanta – since all the kids are still there - a situation that will not last too much longer. This time we loaded up the car with a huge frozen 19-pound Texas turkey, (Like there are still no turkeys in Atlanta?), presents, a cheesecake and enough clothes for a month. With Christiane, our daughter-in-law, we took in the King Tut exhibit which is now in Atlanta, and with all the kids, tried out several new restaurants. For Thanksgiving, Robert and Laura hosted the dinner at their new apartment and cooked a designer turkey – topped with bacon, maple syrup and herbs. David, our youngest son, and Laura’s folks also joined the festivities. We had a great time and ate a grand dinner with all the fixings followed by a lively game of Trivial Pursuit.
After Thanksgiving, we headed back to Houston and watched Georgia Tech finally beat Georgia in football, which hasn’t happened in 7 years - before any of our guys were at Georgia Tech.
John Continues Tutoring, Flying and Photography
John continues to enjoy taking pictures and you can view them and his personal views on life at http://www.pbase.com/johncrossphotography. In the “What I did today” section, he posts a daily photo and “interesting,” i.e. not always politically correct, commentary, with reader comments. ☺
John continues to tutor math, chemistry and physics to about 40, mostly high school, students. He’s become very popular – especially around test times. After several years of 5 days/week, he cut back to 4 days/week so that he can spend more time with his photography and at the airport with his planes.
Home Improvement Hotline – The Clutter Removal Project that Didn’t Happen
Every year, I think of something to fix up around the house. This year I thought it would be nice to clean up the clutter in the upstairs bedrooms – you know, where the boys used to live. I wanted to make the house “Martha Stewart beautiful.” You know, get new carpeting and have the rooms all coordinated and everything. Well, I have to confess, it didn’t happen. I can give you a bunch of excuses. Here they are: 1) It was too big of a project. 2) I looked at every piece of paper – more than once. 3) I got distracted easily (maybe I have Adult ADD). 4) I found it easier to read the paper and watch “Dancing with the Stars.” 5) I thought I should get some exercise mowing the lawn or swimming. 6) I procrastinated on the project so long that it couldn’t get done this year. Don’t get me wrong, I really would like the end result, it’s just the process to get there that is in my way. So maybe it’ll be on my “New Year’s Resolutions” for next year. I’ll keep you posted.
Richard, 27, now with Job!!! and Christiane soon to be a Ph.D. - also with Job!!!
In April, Richard was awarded his Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering from Georgia Tech. After a post-doc in Aero, he landed a job with McKinsey, a management consulting firm, and started in July. Before starting the job, Richard came to Oregon and spent a couple weeks having fun with John doing “guy” things - as in anything that goes with beer. They went to AA baseball games and dirt track races, hiked along the coast and visited multiple breweries, distilleries and vineyards.
Christiane is completing her Ph.D. this year in Biomedical Engineering - a joint program between Georgia Tech and Emory University - and will get the degree awarded next April. When not working on her Ph.D., Christiane continues to play tennis and competes on a US Tennis Association team. She has also been successful at landing a job at W.L. Gore in Elkton, MD where she will be a product specialist. So, Richard and Christiane will probably be moving to Wilmington, DE in January or February. Richard will continue to work with McKinsey, but transfer to their Philadelphia office.
Robert, 25, and Laura Married, earned his Master’s and also got a Job!!!
Robert’s big news is his marriage to Laura Grosch on May 31, 2008, in Alpharetta. The bride was beautiful, the groom handsome, and the wedding awesome. After the wedding, they honeymooned in Hawaii.
Laura, a graduate of Georgia Tech and Harvard Business School, is now the Multi-Channel Marketing Manager for the InterContinental Hotel Group in Atlanta. In May, Robert finished his research on carbon nanotubes at Georgia Tech and completed the requirements for his Masters in Mechanical Engineering in August, which will be awarded in mid-December. He also landed a job in his major at EMS Technologies, a company in Norcross, GA, and his division, Defense and Space Systems, works on antennas and satellites that coordinate with the B-2 bomber and F-22 fighter.
Dave, 22, Mechanical Engineering Senior at Georgia Tech and Looking for Job in Finance
David turned 22 and is finishing his senior year at Georgia Tech. Although his major is Mechanical Engineering, he has found his passion to be finance. As you might remember, last fall his internship involved mainly CAD-CAM work, which he found boring. But, this past summer, through Richard’s MIT friends, he landed an internship at a hedge fund in New York City. The pace was frantic. To me, it was like playing video games with other people’s money. Dave loved it. So, now he wants a job in finance. What timing? So if you know of any extra finance jobs lying around, just let us know.
David was the Treasurer of Theta Chi fraternity this year. Like the last two years (and I cringe again), he went on a very quick weight-loss regimen to lose enough weight to arm wrestle in the light weight division. This year he got 2nd in the arm wrestling and his fraternity again went on to win Greek Week.
Well, that's it from us! Hope to hear from you, too!! And all the best for a very Merry Christmas and a Great New Year!
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