Usually, as we start writing this annual letter, we notice all the change that has happened in just the past year. 1998 was certainly no exception! Case in point -- Beth is now a full time student. We did not see that coming within 6 months of new year 1998. She is either doing homework or attending class in the city every day now. Last year she was always on the road. Another example -- Mike in Saudi Arabia. Maybe he is trying to make up for Beth's lower frequent flyer mileage? Not to mention -- technology -- www dot the-next-sure-thing dot com. Cheap PCs. DVDs. HDTV. Cable modems.
In such high speed times, it is nice to find such places as Saint Peter's Churchyard in Suquamish, Washington. We have not been to Chief Seattle's grave in a few years. Beth's painting is appropriately named Remembering Seattle not just for that peaceful magic afternoon. We think of Seattle often as it is the city where Mike's mother lives. We will be there these holidays. We hope that you are with all your loved ones, too.
First, our big news -- in September, Beth retired from AT&T. Since starting with Western Electric on Canal Street in Chicago, her career has spanned the country and the company. She started as a Computer Engineer -- computers were a new thing then :-), but soon found her calling in management. She has worked in quite a few of the parts of AT&T -- Western Electric, AT&T General Departments, Bell Labs, Long Lines, etc. Now, many of AT&T's parts are full companies on their own. Her most current position was as a District Manager of Adjunct Services (whatever those are), when AT&T made her an offer she could not refuse. So, after 32+ years, she is back to being a student.
Meanwhile, Mike, not to be outdone, changed jobs. He went with Beth to some of her retirement seminars and caught the job-change bug, again. He is still within Lucent Technologies (which is some of the parts of old AT&T.) His new organization provides products and services not just for US customers, but international ones as well. The system on which he is currently working is scheduled to be deployed in Saudi Arabia next year. That is how he ended up going there this November for the first time.
You may be wondering what Beth is studying? Art. She is attending her second class at Parsons School of Design, in Manhattan. She began with a class this summer in Graphic Illustration using Fractal Design Painter. Even though she used a Mac at Parsons and a PC at home, the Painter 5 software and Wacom graphics tablet worked almost the same on either. She could even copy her files back and forth onto Zip disks. One day, though, she brought home more than art work -- she brought home a computer worm. [Our Friend Tom said that it was only natural that an Apple should have a worm.] Nevertheless, it did have us concerned for a while. Could a Mac worm run on a PC? Mike thought not, but the more he read, the less sure he was. As it turns out, it did seem to be specific to the Apple Power PC. For those curious to see what her computer art looks like, here is a link. Her second class is Color Theory. In this class, she is painting the old fashion way.
While Beth is painting, Mike is playing with computers. It all started when a PC he had bought at a computer show failed to boot. All that original PC would do was display a not very helpful message, which said: Keyboard error or no keyboard present. Press F1 to continue. After trying the keyboard in a different machine, trying different keyboards, talking to a number of people, Mike determined that it was the motherboard. So, he order an new case with motherboard, figuring that he could move the cards from the old machine to the new one. But, when the new case arrived, the motherboard was separate! He read all the instructions and decided to give it a try. He got all the parts into the new box, and it was better than before. Now, he would not think of buying a "store built" PC. His latest additions are a DVD-ROM and cable modem. Mike and Beth each have their own PC, and a third PC with the DVD-ROM is connected to the TV and stereo. All the PCs are connected by a LAN, so we can surf the net through the cable from any PC.
Enough about us! It is about time to recall all the wonderful folks that we visited this year. Our first trip in 1998 was to see Anne and Steve in Haverhill for Steve's annual 2+ day birthday party. At least I think it was 2 days -- that guy making the margaritas did not help our memory much. Next, Beth convinced Mike to come with her to Cheyenne on what turned out to be her last business trip there. He got to meet her group as well as the proprietor of the B&B where she often stayed. On the way back home, we stopped to see cousins Jim & Jayney and their wonderful view of the western slope. Of course, we traveled to Charleston this year and stayed for both weeks of Spoleto. At one point there were 13 of the usual crew PLUS Leslie & Jim and cousin Denny. sleeping somewhere in the house, not to mention the overflow to Mack's boat.
In the middle of summer, Carol and Beth planned a trip to the mountains. What they had not planned was the 200+ FBI searching for the Atlanta bomber around Andrews, NC. The stay included what was probably our most adventurous experience in 1998, white water rafting down the Nantahala River. Late in the summer, Beth joined Mike on one of his business trips out in San Francisco where they had dinner with other Illinois refugees. In the fall, Mike went with his fishing buddies for what is becoming a yearly expedition out of Nags Head. The six of them caught over 300 pounds of dolphin and tuna. Of course, the big fish (Marlin) got away.
Over the holidays, we will spend Thanksgiving with Beth's parents on the Isle of Palms. And, we will be in Seattle with Mike's mother for Christmas. It may not sound like it, but we really did spend more time at home this year. Beth swam in the pool. Mike played with the computers. Beth worked in the yard. Mike played with the computers. Beth painted watercolors, acrylics and oils. Mike played with the computers. Is there a pattern, here? It is a good thing that our two cats, Phantom and Shadow, provide Beth with such good company.
We wish you a good holiday and a better new year. Come visit us. We are always looking for an excuse to go into NYC.
Peace and Love,
Beth and Mike