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21-MAR-2007 John Cross Photography

Christmas 2002

Christmas 2002AP.jpg

Dear Friends and Family,

Greetings to all! Another incredible and interesting year has passed. I look back at last year and am amazed at all that has happened, as well as how fast it all seemed to speed by. Richard’s going into his last year of college and applying to grad school, Robert picked his college (Georgia Tech) and is just starting (and partying) his freshman year, David became an “only child,” shed his baby fat and grew taller and more manly. Besides all the changes and doings going on at the family level, it seemed that we were also glued to the “tube” cautiously checking out events as they occurred on the world level. With kids, friends and family away from home, it seems important to know what’s happening in the world, as the world can suddenly be close to home. I thank God that everyone’s safe and sound.

Ginny, aka, Agent #50,753

I’m glad to report that the “nano” start-up, Carbon Nanotechnologies, Inc. (CNI), is alive and well. The company was spun out of the research of Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Richard Smalley at Rice University and makes carbon nanotubes, which are tiny tubes of carbon with the atoms arranged in a chicken-wire arrangement and capped with round ends that look like halves of a soccer ball. They have amazing properties and are already in various high-tech applications, such as flat panel displays. Since I joined two years ago, I’ve been involved in intellectual property. Last year I studied and passed the Patent Bar exam and became a Patent Agent licensed to practice before the US Patent and Trademark Office. In the company, I’ve taken the heart-cut of the work, i.e. writing patents, through which I really get to know the latest technology. Besides writing for Dr. Smalley and other Rice professors, I’ve also been writing patents for some of the professors at Georgia Tech. (A great way to check up on Robert, as well.) Another perk of the job is that I’m set up to do the writing and handle patent prosecution matters from home, and avoid a long (94-mile round-trip) commute.

My daily “commute” upstairs saves time and energy for other things in life, such as helping out with school and Scout doings. I’ve enjoyed working with the Clear Lake High School’s Academic Quiz Bowl, in which Robert and David have been on the varsity and JV teams, respectively. Besides reading questions for competitions, I chauffer the teams to various meets and took Robert and the varsity team to Quiz Bowl Nationals at University of Texas at Austin this summer. After over 13 years in Scouts and over 4 as committee chairman for Robert and David’s Boy Scout troop, I’ve decided to take a sabbatical from Scouts and pass the torch to other parent volunteers.

With fewer current Scouting responsibilities, I decided to get involved with other school-related activities, such as band. In Band, John and I volunteered to be bus chaperones for the football games and for the spring trip to Orlando. (This is much easier, not to mention, a lot more fun than organizing Scout garage sales! – Kind of a “no-brainer”!)

As I found out last year, it’s almost impossible to coordinate a family vacation with everyone. So, we do our best with whatever time and people are available. This year the only time we had was at spring break. Since John’s not in love with snow, Rob, Dave and I headed to New Mexico to ski with a bunch of friends at Angel Fire. The weather was warm and the snow was melting, but we still had a fabulous time.

Next spring break, David and I will go to Italy with a high school group. I had wanted to go on this trip with Robert a couple years ago, but the trip was already filled. So this year I volunteered to do all the organization, if the teacher would again sponsor the trip. (This was more work than I expected, but it’s coming off and there are 26 of us going.) David allowed me to go, only if I’d be his personal ATM machine. OK, I can deal with that. Looking forward to a fun trip with the classic sights of Rome, Pisa, Florence, Naples, Sorrento, the Isle of Capri and Assisi. Can’t wait.

John’s Flyin’ and Fixin’ and Scoutin’

Well, I know you can’t wait for this section and what’s new in the world of John’s hobbies and planes. Guess what? No new hardware! Don’t keel over! The money was still spent – this time on av-gas. John got his instrument instructor rating and a multi-engine rating, and helped Richard get his private pilot’s license. Trust me, that’s a lot of av-gas. (And if you think the price of car gas is high…)

John continued to “work” toward his 30-months of practical experience needed to take the A&P (Airframe and Powerplant) mechanic’s license. The 30 months will be up shortly after the first of the year, so he’ll be official soon. He’s also has instructed a fair amount of flying this year. However, between “fixin” and “flyin”, he’d rather be “flyin”.

He did a lot of “flyin” this summer with Richard when they went on a father-son cross-country to Florida. The purpose of the trip was purely educational, in that they “had” to check out all the planes and flying paraphernalia of the last century at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola and the rocketry of the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

John’s continuing in Scouting as an assistant scoutmaster for David’s troop, a unit commissioner for another pack and troop, and a teacher for Pius XII, a Catholic religious program for Scouts in grades 10 to 12. This year he was tapped out for the esteemed Order of the Arrow’s Vigil Honor, which is a very small and special group of Scouts and Scouters dedicated to the lodge’s work and principles.

Richard, 21, a New Pilot and MIT Senior Ready to Graduate to Graduate School

Richard finished his Junior year at MIT and spent the summer getting “high” – as in “off the ground.” Richard and John logged a lot of “air time” together – Richard as the student and John as the instructor – and culminated with Richard earning his “wings” – his private pilot’s license in a vintage 1952 Cessna 170B tail-dragger. Later in the summer, Richard and John took a flying vacation to Florida where they immersed themselves in the Naval Air Station Museum and the Kennedy Space Center. Richard’s summer also included a trip to Germany with four other MIT guys to visit some German Aero and Astro students at Braunschweig University’s Institute for Flight Research. There, Richard got to man the controls of a Dornier 128 twin and fly in a German helicopter. Judging from his VISA bill, I know there was some beer tasting in the trip, as well – hopefully, after the flying. Back at MIT, Richard's now “on final” in his senior year in Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering. His “final”, however, is also the “approach” to his next “take-off” into graduate school. Stay tuned next year to find out where he “lands.”
(For those of you with Internet access, check out the Dude’s web page at Richard’s the Dude, and there are very interesting pictures of a chick and a squirrel.)

Robert, 19, Freshman at Georgia Tech and on the Drum Line

Robert lived up his senior year at Clear Lake High School to the fullest. He had fun singing and dancing in the Senior musical “Barnum,” going to the Prom with all his Band friends, and partying it up at graduation.

Robert has persevered over the years in many of his activities he started in grade school. He took music lessons through his senior year. Besides his piano competitions and recital, he accompanied the high school band on the grand piano at the American Classic Music Festival in Dallas in May. He also stuck with Science Fair and again went on to the Greater Houston Science Fair. For doing a yearly project since kindergarten, he got a 13-year trophy. (Although parents are not supposed to do the projects, I think an “endurance” or “stamina” award might be in order for parents, as well.) Robert was also on the varsity academic Quiz Bowl team this year. The team qualified for nationals and had a great time at the national contest held at the University of Texas at Austin right after graduation. Another area where Robert has persevered has been Boy Scouts. He was an Assistant Scoutmaster in the Troop and taught the Motor Boating merit badge this summer at Camp Strake.

Since cold weather was definitely not an option for Robert, the college decision was narrowed down to Georgia Tech and UT-Austin. Georgia Tech was his decision and it’s been a fabulous one for Robert. The southern hospitality is very strong at GT and he’s felt right at home. I always thought GT was a “techie” school, but since Robert got there, I found out it is also a big “party” school, as well. Officially, he’s majoring in Mechanical Engineering, with a minor in music, but if there’s anything credit given for parties, Rob would have a bunch. Since he arrived at GT, his excitement has been in the band. He loved percussion in high school and was thrilled to make the drum line playing “quads” or “tenors” in the GT band. The band is a great group and like “family.” He and a couple band buddies got together and won the Homecoming talent show. (Robert danced and played the “buckets.”) He’s also joined a fraternity and has another “family” of friends at Theta Chi, introduced to him through one of his drum line “buds.” He’s having such an “awesome” time, that he felt that Richard’s life would be incomplete if he didn’t have a real college football experience. So, Richard went down to Atlanta for Thanksgiving, a Thrasher’s game and the infamous “Georgia Tech vs. The (sic) University of Georgia” (“To Hell with Georgia”) game. We know Rob has “A”s in band, parties and hospitality, and hope to see good grades on the rest of the report card.

Dave, 16, Sophomore at Clear Lake High School, Eagle Scout and “Only Child”

David's (sweet) 16 and a sophomore at Clear Lake HS, where he plays trumpet in the band. Since August, when Richard and Robert left for college, David’s been an “only child” and loving it a lot. He gets along with himself very well, thank you. In school, besides band, he's on the Quiz Bowl JV team and continues to play – and sometimes even practices - the piano. This past spring, he did an aeronautical science fair project called “Stealth Propellers,” which won 1st at District and a 3rd place trophy, as well as several special awards, at the Greater Houston Science Fair.

Just after the New Year, David received the highest rank in Scouting, the Eagle badge, at his Eagle Court of Honor. It was great celebration for David as well as his parents and friends. Thus began a very busy and fun Scouting year for David – filled chock-to-block with exciting summer trips. Right after school was out for the summer, he went backpacking for a week at Zion National Park. After that, he spent a week in west Texas at Buffalo Trails Scout Ranch, near Marfa, where he earned Horsemanship, Animal Science, Radio, and Fish and Wildlife Management merit badges. After coming back, he repacked for a 2-week trek at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico, where he matched the ranger in hitting all the targets in skeet shooting. After returning once more, he headed off to the National Order of the Arrow Conference at Indiana University in Bloomington. After finally getting back, there was no time to rest - it was back business, i.e. band camp for two weeks of marching practice before starting school and classes. After Christmas, David is looking forward to staffing Boy Scout Winter Camp at Camp Strake north of Houston.

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

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