Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings to all! Again, what a year! Full big events, the biggest being that, Richard, our oldest is engaged to be married at the end of this year! Christiane will join a wild and crazy family and start to balance the male-female ratio. Since Richard, Christiane and Robert are all at Georgia Tech, we have about half the family in Atlanta. David’s “on final” as a high school senior and has applications in progress. As for John and I, well, never a dull moment and, as Dave Barry would say, “I’m not making this up.”
Ginny – Tripping out to Oregon, Germany and Georgia, More Redecorating, Quiz Bowl and Patents
In March, Dave and I went to Oregon for my Mom’s 80th birthday bash. Besides the big party, Dave and I went skiing with my sister Theresa at Mount Hood Meadows – where we had great weather and snow, minus the crowds, since it wasn’t Oregon’s Spring Break. During the rest of the week, we lucked into some more great weather and low tides at Seaside to do one of my favorite things - clam digging. Dave also got the hang of it pretty fast and soon dug his first clams. With limits of clams, we had lots of great feasting.
One of the highlights of 2004 for David and me was a two-week summer trip to Germany. Dave picked Germany, the land of beer, where the legal beer drinking age is, conveniently, 16. David enjoyed quite a few, with local wursts, of course. We had fantastic clear, and mostly blue sky weather, which is unusual for Germany. We started in Frankfurt, took a trip down the Rhine to Koblenz and then to the Cathedral at Köln, then on to Hamlin of Pied Piper fame, to Berlin to visit the Pergamon Museum, the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, and Potsdam, to Leipzig where Bach’s buried, then down the Romantic Road to Bavaria, taking in the interesting Medieval walled towns of Nuremberg, Nördlingen, and Rothenburg – where we went to the Medieval Torture Museum, and to Munich, where we saw the Glockenspiel- “spiel,” drink liter-size beers at the Hofbräuhaus, Dachau, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Oberammergau, and the opulence of Crazy Ludwig II’s castles - Linderhof, his over-the-top gilded and elegant country palace, the even more over-the-top Neuschwanstein, his latest castle, which I toured over 30 years ago, and is still a treat. However, now, with the crowds, you must take a number. We also climbed around the lovely gardens of Hoenschwangau. Luckily, we didn’t have to climb, but took a cable car up the Zugspitze, the tallest peak in Germany in the lower Alps. The ride was quite incredible (where they filmed some amazing scenes for “Mission: Impossible”). Scarier (for me) however, was when Dave ventured beyond the safety fence and climbed to the top of the mountain. (sans safety gear – yeeesh)
With Dave finally back behind the rail, we returned to a saner elevation, i.e. lake level at Lindau, a gorgeous island in Lake Constance. After visiting some incredible churches and seeing some beautiful yachts in the harbor, we motored along the lush grape-covered slopes in the wine country around the lake, finally heading north to Freiberg and the Black Forest, home of the cuckoo clocks, thousands of which were packaged for sale and shipment with the sweep of a credit card. We resisted the cuckoo’s call and made our way to visit the famous castle at Heidelberg, before heading back to Frankfurt and home. Germany was a great trip with lots of cultural enrichment --- and where David will never forget discovering his drinking limit.
In October, John, Dave and I went to Georgia Tech for Family Weekend. Since Robert and Richard and his fiancé, Christiane, are all there, it really was a family weekend. Dave also got another look at the campus and got to stay with Rob at his fraternity, which is a lot more fun than going to the Botanical Gardens with your parents. We took in a GT game and had a great time partying before, during, and after the game. A good time was had by all!
Home Improvement Hotline: Last year I put in a new slate floor in the entry, dining room and guest bath. I also replaced the carpeted stairs and landing, as well as the railings, sills and trim, with new red oak. This year, I stained and varnished (with 3-7 coats) the stairs, rails and trim. To finish the project, slate was finally put on the stair risers. It looks fabulous and I can’t wait to do more. However, with the impending wedding, the next redos are on hold until next year.
To support the wanderlust and my home remodeling escapades, not to mention John’s “super-sized” hobbies, I’m still doing patent work for Carbon Nanotechnologies, Inc. (CNI) in carbon nanotubes. The company is progressing, as is nanotechnology in general. Soon, you’ll probably hear of carbon nanotubes in such everyday products such as golf clubs, tennis racquets and baseball bats. They’re also in contention in many high tech goods – such as fuel cells, supercapacitors, radio and electromagnetic shielding, and hydrogen storage. There are a slew of companies working on flat panel displays with carbon nanotubes, so in a couple of years, they may be in TVs or computer monitors at your local Best Buy.
At least for one more year, John and I are high school and Scouting volunteers. We both chaperone for the high school’s Academic Quiz Bowl teams, and I’m also a regular chauffeur for matches in and around the Houston area. John and I also continue to help out with David’s Scout troop – John, as an Assistant Scoutmaster, and I, as membership chairman.
John Tutors and “Super-Sizes” His Hobbies – So what’s new?
Although John knows I write about him, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t go out and start new hobbies, just for this newsletter. For many years, I’ve related John’s hobby of the year. This year John just “Super-Sized” last year’s hobby. He recently bought a “humungous” radio-controlled airplane with a 101” wingspan and an engine that could power a weed eater. He told me this was to replace the one that crashed, except that it cost 10x as much. Then he went out and bought another one to replace the smaller one he crashed. I’m not exactly sure how many planes he has now because he has taken them to his hangar where he stays pretty busy rebuilding them. Now, if we could only harness and funnel all that energy into mowing the lawn.
Since 9/11, flight instruction and airplane repairs have been slow. However, John has found that there’s a great demand for math and science tutors. His students are mainly in high school, but some come from local colleges, as well. Recently, he gave a lecture on the physics of flight at the high school. John likes to teach and especially likes tutoring because the hours don’t conflict with his fun time. So most every day, including weekends, he goes to the airport to play with his “toys”, and, whenever he sees his former company colleagues, he lets them know how great retirement is.
Richard, 23, Engaged and Georgia Tech Grad Student
Richard been at Georgia Tech for a little over a year and has made great progress in his Aeronautical Engineering studies. He presented a paper at an aeronautical conference in Palm Springs in April, passed his Ph.D. oral qualifiers in October, and defended his Master’s thesis in November. He’s been enjoying GT and some of the extras, such as being a DJ on WREK, GT’s radio station (www.wrek.com). His current air time is Thursday from midnight to 6 am. (ouch!).
However, the biggest news is that Richard’s soon to be married. The engagement was announced just after the first of the year. The gal – Christiane Gumera – also a MIT graduate, hails from Jacksonville, Florida. She was in the same MIT class as Richard and graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Both of them are now in GT Ph.D. programs. Christiane’s in Biomedical Engineering which is a joint program with Emory University. She’s talented, interesting and very modest. Besides speaking many languages (7, I think), she plays piano beautifully. She plays piano and Richard plays guitar for Mass at the GT Catholic Center on campus. We are very excited to have her join our family. The wedding’s planned for just after Christmas in Jacksonville.
Robert, 21, Mechanical Engineering Junior, Partying on at Georgia Tech
Robert completed a great sophomore year in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech and made it to the legal age of 21 without incident. He’s kept up his grades, but Robert has continued to amaze us with his incredible social schedule. Besides all the partying, before, during, and after every game, he’s also very involved in his fraternity, Theta Chi, and will be next year’s rush chairman.
This year Robert started in the co-op program and spent Spring and Fall semesters doing A/C, heat and vac with an Atlanta company. A full co-op program is 5 semesters, but Rob decided that he would rather study straight through his last 2 years. In order to fit in the required engineering courses, he also decided to drop marching band. He still loves drumming and percussion and was asked to play at several interesting venues, including a set with a few GT band buddies with Shania Twain at her recent concert in Atlanta. Besides being on stage for a while, he and his girlfriend had prime seats for the rest of the concert. Party on!
Dave, 18, Senior at Clear Lake High School, in Scouts and Quiz Bowl
David turned 18 this year and happily voted in his first presidential election. David’s a senior at Clear Lake High School and has college applications in at MIT and GT. He really wishes he could bypass this year and head straight for college now, however, he’s making the best of it – and doing a lot of fun things besides. One of his main after school activities is Quiz Bowl, in which he co-captains the Varsity team. David tried out and got a part (actually 2) in the Senior musical – “Anything Goes”. Although Dave doesn’t sing or dance, that’s what he’s doing. He’s mainly a Sailor, but also has a small part as a drunk -- possibly due to his German experience.
Since there wasn’t a bowling club at Clear Lake High School, David founded one and declared himself president. With another friend, also named Dave, he also started a little business – the “Double-D Shirt Company” – in our garage, where they silk-screen custom tee shirts, mainly for high school bands and clubs.
Besides attaining the rank of Eagle in Scouts, David earned a total of 76 merit badges and 10 palms before turning 18. He’s now an Assistant Scoutmaster with his troop and, this year, was elected into the Vigil Honor in the Order of the Arrow, a Scouting honorary. His Indian name is “Etlawei Anadisvhihi” means “Quiet Competitor.” Such he is.
He’s still taking piano lessons and playing nicely. He’s also continuing in Science Fair and has now finished 12 years. His most recent project was composite aviation structures, which won several special awards at the Greater Houston Science Fair. This year will be his 13th project and I’m sure it will also be aeronautically inclined, since John will assist and they will be sure to undertake a project that can be done at the airport.
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!
From all of the Crosses