Saturday, July 04, 2009

Forth of July Online Card and Newsletter.


Independence Day, 2009.

The 2008 Christmas cards never got out this year so I am doing a Forth of July 2009 newsletter to cover 2008 and the first half of 2009. I am pleased to be able to report that all family members are healthy and otherwise doing well. Here is a rundown of our current status:

gothicChristopher graduated a year ago from the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida, with a four-year degree in Graphics Design. He has returned to the Raleigh area where he works (and works and works) as a graphics designer for Capstrat – a communication company that specializes in advertising and corporate communications (fliers, brochures, etc.). Chris rents a room from his Army friend, Paul, and his wife, Jen, who have just had their first baby. Paul and Jen seem to appreciate Chris’s steadiness, his quiet lifestyle, and the rent that helps with the mortgage. Chris has a girlfriend named Reid who is finishing a PhD in Dye Chemistry at the NC State University College of Textiles.

amber_w_lee_croppedAmber will be working for a few more weeks as a Medical Services Coordinator in the emergency room at the UNC Hospital. She will then move to St Petersburg, Florida, to attend the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Bradenton. She has been living with her parents for the last few months to save up money to finance the move. Amber’s boyfriend, Lee -- Lee the Younger, or Not-Quite-So-Big Lee, or Lee With Hair – is also moving to St Petersburg where his is currently looking for work. If you know of any west-coast Florida opportunities for a young man with a PhD in chemistry let us know. (Yes, both kids are dating PhD level chemists – go figure.) Her mother and I are elated that Amber has been accepted into medical school but will be sorry to see her go.

irene_whalewatchingIrene still manages the Cheese case at the Harris Teeter Super Flagship store in Cary. The cheese biz is not altogether immune to the slow economy and the trips on the corporate jet to visit cheese manufacturers have not been in the picture during the last year. Hopefully, once the recession lets up a bit, Irene can get a bit more traction with her ideas to take Harris Teeter to new levels of cheesiness. In the meanwhile, Irene still enjoys her volunteer work as a Docent at the North Carolina Museum of Art, which will be closing many of their galleries for almost a year starting this summer while they move into a new (huge) facility. During the move Irene won’t be giving many tours but the classes on the collection will continue so she and the other docents can hit the ground running when the museum reopens in April 2010.

lee w stereo rigLee is currently sitting at his computer, writing a mid-year family newsletter, and waiting for the phone to ring with job offers. He is switching to the first person -- now. He … that is, I had expected to ride out the tail of the recession working on a contract for the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, but a black hole developed in the North Carolina State budget and the DENR contract was last seen near its event horizon. It may yet emerge (my champions at DENR assure me it didn’t actually fall into the black hole) but for now I am available. My previous employer, Keane, could not afford to keep me on their payroll while they found my next assignment but they are hopeful they can recall me, either for the DENR gig should it ever win its way free of the governor’s office, or for any of several other proposals they have bid. In addition, I have several other prospects I am working and, even if Keane comes up empty, I don’t expect to be unemployed for long so I am trying to enjoy it while it lasts.

One item on the plus side of unemployment is that it gives me an opportunity to do things with Irene as long as they don’t cost much money. We have both been getting more into photography. After a somewhat rocky start with her Kodak P712 (during which she struggled with the controls and the balky auto-focus) she has discovered that she really likes the long stabilized telephoto lens and birds without scaring them away. We’ve made multiple trips to the botanical gardens (which is free) in Chapel Hill and several to the NC Zoo (for which we have a membership). I’m glad she is enjoying her camera but I wish she would stop taking better photos that I do.

Hoping this finds all well.

Lee (Irene, Christopher and Amber).

The cover photo on this card is a composite of a photo Irene recently took of a distant thunder storm, and of some fireworks photos that I took from the deck of the Disney Wonder cruise ship.

Random Photos of Stuff We’ve Done.

star_from_kayak_dockAlaska Cruise: For our 30th anniversary, Irene and I took our second cruise of the Inland Passage of Alaska. chris_w_espressoThis time we took my father and the kids along.
We sailed from Seattle and while we were there we had nice visits with Mike and Sandra, friends from our FSU days who we hadn’t seen in 30 years, and also with “Dex Quire”, a fellow blogger with whom I have struck up an online friendship through mutual weblog commentary. (

On the cruise we went…

... shopping in Ketchikan, and ...

... kayaking in Prince Rupert, and ...


... whale watching in Juneau.

cyclingBeach Week: Was on Hilton Head Island again last year. Somehow we never quite got around to that big group family photo – people kept leaving and arriving and we reached the end of the week to realize that there had never been a time when we were all there at the same time. Maybe this year we’ll get that photo for the Christmas card.


Graduation: Chris graduated from Ringling just before we all left for the Alaska trip. Irene and I went down for the occasion and the morning of Graduation Day we went walking on the beach at the Ft. DeSoto State Park. Irene, who has lost the tan that used to protect her growing up in central Florida, got sunburned and spent the Alaska cruise smeared with cocoa butter. Now the kids and I will forever associate the scent of cocoa butter with glaciers, floating ice and the frozen north.

Washington DC: Dad came up in the fall for a Thanksgiving visit and, while he was here, we drove updad enjoys art museum to Washington to visit his friend George and to wander around the Smithsonian a bit. George and Lenore Cohen were gracious hosts and we had a wonderful time. The first day we were there we took dad with us to see some of the sights but the second day we left him to visit with George and Lenore which he seemed to enjoy. The weather was perfect – more or less sunny days with light snow in the evenings. Dad and George went to high school together (Woodrow Wilson High, class of 1944) and also went to George Washington Medical School (class of 1950).

dad and george

George invited Dean Martin, another GW 1950 graduate, for dinner and a mini-reunion.


Miscellany: A few photos that speak for themselves.

Pirate Night on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship w/ Irene's Disney Friends.

lifeboat drill
Lifeboat Drill on Disney Wonder

Irene in Nassau

Wildlife Photography in our Back Yard

Polar Bear at North Carolina Zoo

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Das Uber Maus


Consider this mouse.


It is active, ...


... athletic ...


... and elusive.

Clearly it is a superior mouse... a better mouse.

And I have trapped it.

So, by definition, ...

better mousetrap

... I have built a better mouse trap.

Those of you who doubted my ability to catch the mice in my garage using a dodgy homemade trap cobbled together from hardware cloth, wire and half a Walmart minnow trap -- you know who you are -- are singing another song now*.

*Probably Michael Jackson's Billy Jean which is playing constantly on all media outlets just now and sticks in your head like superglue.