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Winter Solstice, 2006Dear extended family,
Paul just can't seem to get the hang of this retirement thing. This summer, just six months after retiring from QorTek, he went back to work. (Well, if you consider teaching work...)
Actually, he had plenty to do, and was enjoying it all immensely. Keeping technically active as SETI League director emeritus, as Director of Education for AMSAT, as VP of the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers, as co-chair of the SETI Permanent Study Group of the International Academy of Astronautics, and as Principal Investigator for the Invitation to ETI initiative. Money has not been much of a problem, so he was enjoying his other areas of activity: antique cars, ham radio, motorcycles, and flying.
Then, back in June, just as one of his car club mates and he were getting ready to leave for his hangar on their motorcycles, to go fly his plane (a typical day in the life of a retiree), Muriel said, "Enjoy your retirement. It's not going to last long."
Her instincts are good, and she's right more often than not. That very afternoon, Paul received an email from a friend who teaches Physics at Lycoming College in nearby Williamsport. Seems one of their department had departed on short notice, and they were in need of a professor for one year. Said colleague was over at our house that very evening, discussing details, and Paul found himself meeting with the Dean of Faculty within a week. A few days later, he signed a contract,, and now, he's just completed his first semseter back in the classroom.
Lycoming is a small, church-affiliated liberal arts college with 100 faculty and 1500 total students. The physics department consists of three professors, teaching maybe 50 undergraduates, most of them non-majors (pre-med is a big draw there). It's a pretty close-knit operation, and we already all know each other. In fact, Muriel did a Biology degree there years ago, and Paul has given colloquia and symposia there, with the Dean of Faculty in attendance, so they had already seen him teach. Thus, neither a formal application nor a job interview was actually required.
We're not doing this for the money (trust us, the pay is minimal), but rather to help out some friends. The title (Visiting Professor of Physics and Astronomy) is appealing. It doesn't hurt that Paul still enjoys teaching, and the medical insurance, which is probably worth more than the meager salary, is a nice inducement. The dean hinted that this could turn into a permanent appointment. But, eventually, Paul really does want to retire. Again.
Well, our first attempt at retirement, three years back, lasted just one weekend. This time, we got six months. Maybe next time it will stick?
With Paul back at work, their tenth anniversary just days away, and only two kids left at home, Muriel is manifesting serious Empty Nest symptoms. She travels a little now (with the kids to two science fiction conventions this year, and recently to California with Paul, to celebrate his mother's 85th birthday). She also has more time to herself, to devote to substitute teaching, taking further teacher certification exams, running her Everquest online gaming guild, hosting exchange students (for our second year, we had a Spanish teenager in the house for the summer), and of course, chasing after the kids:
Three of whom are off in college. Bryn is a Senior at Mansfield University, having started out in Computer Science, but recently changing his major to Criminal Justice. He works weekends as a security guard at a local hospital. Aubrey is a Junior in Bioinformatics at Rochester Institute of Technology (where his girlfriend Haley is studying art); both are doing very well academically. Devin is in his Freshman year at Bloomsburg University, majoring in math and engineering, but still planning to teach. His big news is that he made Eagle Scout this year, the first of our offspring to achieve that significant milestone (both starting and completing his required Community Service project mere hours before his eighteenth-birthday deadline).
Curran is a Sophomore at Williamsport Area High School, still in learning support classes, and continuing to receive various supplemental services and therapies for his Cerebral Palsy. He still likes to play Challenger Little League baseball, the only athletic activity currently pursued in our family. With Muriel's encouragement, Paul's antique car club, the Keystone Cruisers, is looking to expand its community outreach efforts by sponsoring a Challenger team next year.
Though it's a little early for him to worry about such things, Erin, in his last year at Lycoming Valley Middle School, says he can't decide between a legal and an engineering career. We've told him that he can do it all, as a patent attorney. When he started asking where he should go for law school (this at age 13!) we suggested Georgetown. No place better for him than to be in the Lawyer Capital of the World.
Paul's daughter Erika is taking a break from her administrative and teaching duties at New College of California, having secured a prestigious Artist in Residence appointment, which has allowed her a leave of absence to do choreography, and develop some new theater pieces. Her big triumph this year was the dance theater project "ORBIT (notes from the edge of forever)," which ran at Intersection for the Arts in July and August. Paul was pleased to fly out to San Francisco for a weekend, to catch the SETI-inspired performance. He couldn't believe that she managed to work into the script and score not only the Morse Code letters 'CQ,' but also the ancient astronomy mnemonic "Oh, Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me!"
Paul's son Andrew continues to tour Europe (and, a few months back, Israel) with his hip-hop music. With the help of his mother, he made the last payment on his flat in Berlin, so he is now a homeowner, and has put down roots. His new Apple PowerBook computer enables him to tackle ever more creative and challenging musical compositions. He visited us in Pennsylvania last January, for the first time in several years (Paul returned the visit in August), and is always welcome to drop in, whenever his travels take him to the US.
As are you, if you ever find yourself out this way.
Peace, love and joy in 2007,
Copyright © H. Paul Shuch, Ph.D.; Maintained by Microcomm
this page last updated 14 June 2007