THE "CROSS-MAS" CHRONICLES
Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings to all! Merry Christmas from Houston - and, I should say - also from Atlanta, since our kids are all there at Georgia Tech. There’s lots of exciting news this year, including an engagement and a newly minted Ph.D. in the family. Our middle son, Robert, announced his engagement to Laura Grosch, also a Georgia Tech “Yellowjacket” and recent Harvard Business School graduate. We are we’re excited about having another fantastic girl in the family. Our other big news is that Richard, our oldest, received his Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering in September. David, our youngest, is now in his junior year at Georgia Tech in Mechanical Engineering. So, now we’re down to 3 more semesters of “sending our check – to Georgia Tech” As for John and me, we’ve made it a third of a century together and are trying to figure out how to fit “retirement” into our schedules.
Thanksgiving with the Family in Atlanta
Again this year, we made a Thanksgiving pilgrimage to Atlanta – since all the kids are there - a situation that may not last too much longer. This time we loaded up the car with a huge frozen 22-pound Texas turkey. (Like there are sill no turkeys in Atlanta?), computer equipment, games, presents, cheesecakes and enough clothes for a month. Robert hosted the dinner at his Midtown condo and single-handedly cooked the turkey – topped with “manly” bacon, maple syrup and home-grown herbs. Richard and John made the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing, gravy and green bean casserole. I made the pies – pumpkin and lemon meringue. Dave supervised the cooking, beer drinking (now legally) and sports scores. Before the football games got serious, we also had a lot of fun playing “Wii” tennis and bowling.
Besides the Thanksgiving feast, we had a week of fun in Atlanta with the kids and our friends, the Dixons. The weather was fantastic, and, due to the drought - although not good for crops - the fall foliage was absolutely spectacular! Leaves of vibrant yellow, deep red, and brilliant oranges stood out everywhere in the bright blue sunny weather. Even though we had been to Atlanta many times before, there’s always more to see. This year, we toured the new “World of Coke,” an exceedingly commercial extravaganza focusing on the history and marketing of Coca Cola. Needless to say, the gift shop was “gi-normous.” We also got a chance to take in some Georgia Tech football. Before Thanksgiving, we saw Georgia Tech beat North Carolina and, after Thanksgiving, we enjoyed all the festivities of the Georgia Tech vs. Georgia rivalry, including the Georgia Tech drumline, band, cheerleaders, parade and massive, non-stop, endless tail-gating. Although our student kids could get in to the game, we watched the sold-out game in the comfort, spectacular view and stocked liquor cabinet of Rob’s condo. The week went quickly, as we had lots to do – like take our kids out to eat and check out restaurants for the up-coming rehearsal dinner next year. Tough duty, but someone has to do it.
Summer Tripping out to Oregon and a Week with Richard and Christiane
John decided to “be retired” for the summer and go to Oregon to archive my Mom and Dad’s extensive photo collection. Out there, he bought a scanner and started scanning about 100 pictures a day. After about 2 weeks and 1000 pictures, he was pretty much “scanned out,” even though there were probably a “bazillion” more photos to go. Although he could have done a ton more in the 10 weeks he was there, I suspect “playing” on the farm and checking out “manly” things like plasma torches and pneumatic assemblies was much more fun. I came out for 3 weeks to join him during the peak season for raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. Everything was so incredibly good right off the bushes.
Richard and Christiane also came out to Oregon the last week in June. Mom and Dad had a party for them with all my siblings and their families. For a week, John and I became their tour guides around Oregon and Washington. Of course, we had to hit every possible air museum, including the Evergreen Air Museum with the Spruce Goose in McMinnville, the Tillamook Air Museum, the Boeing Museum in Everett, Washington, and the Boeing plant, just north of Seattle, where we saw a section of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the latest all-composite jet. (John and Richard could have camped out in any of these museums for months.) In Seattle, we also visited some non-aeronautical attractions like the Space Needle and the Music Experience. Seattle was nice, with some on-and-off rain, but traffic was absolutely awful. (But those of you up that way already knew that.)
Besides the air museums, we “had to” go clamming and Christiane dug her first-ever razor clam. We also visited the Columbia River Maritime Museum and the Astor Column in Astoria and the Tillamook Cheese Factory, where we bought lots of cheese curds and ate ice cream. Before the end of their trip, we also took in the Rose Garden in Portland’s Washington Park (lots of roses to photograph), the Japanese Garden (too much “zen” for John), and the Pittock Mansion (too much old furniture and house details for the guys). All in all, we had a great time that was way too short.
John Continues Clicking Away at Photography
John continues to take pictures like crazy – after all, as he says, “electrons are free.” See his photo site 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. Also, if you’re in to Aliens, there’s a section on them, as well. I think this is especially for guys. As readers of this section know, I usually report on John’s new hobby. Well, I don’t mean to disappoint, but there’s not really a new hobby this year. However, that really didn’t keep John from embellishing his impressive stockpile of equipment – (read that: new lap top computer, new desk top computer with huge flat screen monitor, new film negative scanner, new flat bed scanner and new “humongous” photo printer.) He’s doing his part to keep the economy humming.?
John continues to tutor math, chemistry and physics to about 50, mostly high school, students. He’s become very popular – especially around test times. To clear all the problem sets from his head, most every morning he still heads out to the airport to “mess around” with his planes.
Home Improvement Hotline – Re-telling the Re-tiling of the Upstairs Bathroom Floor
Every year, I think of something to fix up around the house. This year I thought it would be nice to clean the grout of the upstairs bathroom floor - after all, the boys were gone, and the grout should now stay sparkling white for a good long time to come. I started this “weekend” project in mid-January. The “groaty” grout would not clean with any chemical concoction I tried. No problem, I’ll just chip out a bit of the grout and re-grout around the tiles. Well, the grout chipped out alright, but the tiles started coming out, as well. So, pretty soon, (actually some weeks later), I had chipped out all of the grout – and, all of the tiles (luckily, mostly intact). As they were Japanese porcelain from 1975, there were no replacement tiles to be had - out of stock long ago. I Super-Glued the few broken ones and strategically placed them where no damage would show. To further complicate matters, each tile had a mesh-like paper backing that had to be removed – like labels on jars – only worse. Lots of nights and weekends later, the tiles were clean. Since the tiles were small, irregularly-shaped and irreplaceable, I had to keep them in a sort of “jig-saw puzzle” order so as to put each one back in its original place. After the tiles were clean, the last step was just a quick trip to Home Depot to get supplies. (If you’ve ever been to Home Depot, you realize this is actually no quick shop as there are hundreds of products for solving every problem – and each of the “experts” there will give you a different combination of products and procedures.) So, after many trips to Home Depot and hours on the Internet, I finally tackled the floor tiling project to adhere, grout and seal the tiles with all the “right products” and “best procedures.” The two-day project turned into a two-month project. I finally - and proudly - showed the finished floor to my Mom. She looked at it and said it looked just like - “vinyl.” At that rate, I guess I’m not hiring out. Stay tuned next year for another exciting episode of “Do-It-Yourself Home Fix-up Fun.”
Richard, 26, now a Ph.D. and, with Christiane, Going to the Philippines
In September, Richard defended his thesis and earned his Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering from Georgia Tech. He’s now a post-doc in Aero, while Christiane finishes her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering - a joint program of Georgia Tech with Emory University. Christian proposed her thesis this year and hopes to get her degree in May.
Both Richard and Christiane continue to play guitar and piano, respectively, at Sunday Mass at the GT Catholic Center. Christiane also loves tennis and plays competitively on a US Tennis Association team in the Atlanta area.
This December they will spend two weeks, including Christmas and the New Year, in the Philippines. They will go with Christiane’s parents, her two sisters and an aunt to see relatives and the country. Christiane has not been back to her homeland since she emigrated as a young girl. Although English is spoken in the Philippines, Christiane and Richard are also practicing their Tagalog – one the native languages.
Robert, 24, and Laura Engaged
Just before Christmas last year, Robert became engaged to Laura Grosch, also a Georgia Tech graduate. Upon graduation from GT in Management, she went directly to Harvard Business School and was awarded her MBA this June. She is now the New Media Marketing Manager for the InterContinental Hotel Group in Atlanta. They are planning a late May wedding in Alpharetta. In the meantime, Robert continues to do research on carbon nanotubes at Georgia Tech and hopes to complete his Masters in Mechanical Engineering by early May, i.e. before the wedding.
Dave, 21, Mechanical Engineering Junior at Georgia Tech
David turned 21 and is now legal! He’s in his Junior year (with Senior status) in Mechanical Engineering. He went through six straight semesters (including summers) without a break, so was getting anxious for a change. This fall he landed an internship with Rosser International, where he’s mainly been doing CAD-CAM work (read that: drawing straight lines – dotted, dashed or colored, i.e. sort of boring). So, now he’ll welcome going back to classes in January.
David was the Secretary of Theta Chi fraternity this year, and, this past spring, he was also the chairman of Greek Week. Like last year (and I cringe), he went a very quick weight-loss regimen to lose enough weight to arm wrestle in the light weight division. Fortunately, he got 3rd in the arm wrestling and his fraternity went on to win Greek Week.
In September, he had surgery on his shoulder, which hurt when he threw balls or Frisbees. (We’re not sure if the arm wrestling had anything to do with it, but we are getting to know Dr. “X”, the Chief of Sports Medicine at Emory, pretty well since he also did Rob’s knee surgery last year.) Dave’s recovering is going well, “sans” the arm wrestling!
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!
Home: (281) 480-2507 or (281) 480-9441 Note: NEW E-mail: email@example.com
My Company Merges Again
Every company I’ve ever worked for has merged – Celanese with Hoechst, Exxon with Mobil, and now Carbon Nanotechnologies with Unidym, a company based in Menlo Park, California. Using nanotubes, Unidym makes a transparent conductive film that will go in to various electronics. The merger was finalized in mid-April. I’m still doing patent prosecution (mostly from home) and going in to the “office” every couple months or so. So far, so good.