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21 December 2008Dear extended family,
On the shortest day of the year, as has become our tradition, we use what few hours of daylight remain to bring you up to date. The big event this year was Erika's wedding. 160 relatives and friends from all over the world converged on San Francisco in July, for what turned out to be a grand party lasting several days. Paul and Bryn flew out together in Son-of-a-Beech a few days in advance, rented a minivan, and met Muriel, Aubrey, Devin, Curran, and Erin, who patronized the airlines, upon their arrival at SFO. Andrew and Irena flew in from Germany, Allen's parents from New York, a goodly contingent of Erika's Korean relatives from -- well, Korea, and the rest of the assorted family from wherever. This was certainly our grandest family reunion to date, and likely the last one until one of the boys decides to wed. The wedding itself, an eclectic blend of Jewish, pagan, and animist rituals, was as unique as Allen and Erika. Allen and his parents are a most welcome addition to our growing family.
Little more than one year into his retirement, Paul signed up as a substitute teacher at the Williamsport Area High School. He averages just under a day per week of teaching, everything from Math and Physics to Auto Mechanics, Welding, Metalworking, Special Education, and even (most surprisingly) Girl's Gym. The pay is a pittance, but the youngsters are great, and he enjoys keeping himself intellectually challenged (this in addition to his lecture tours and leadership role in the International Academy of Astronautics). He's also spent the year doing a total refurbishment of his 38-year-old Beechcraft, treating it to a new autopilot, avionics suite, and custom leather interior, and thus turning an antique into what the FAA now calls a "Technically Advanced Aircraft."
As Paul writes this, Muriel is at home recuperating from major surgery, less than a week ago. Not having been able to dance at Erika's wedding (or anywhere else for a number of years) due to a knee injured decades ago, and then subjected to "the bad old days of orthopedic surgery," she has just endured a total knee replacement. A month of physical therapy lies ahead. Since she will not be allowed to drive for about that long, Paul has taken on chauffer duties.
Muriel's greatest invention has to be her imposition on Paul of a 10% hobby tax. For every dollar he spends on his toys, she gets to take a dime out of their retirement savings to spend as she sees fit. She predicts her "hubby tax" will catch on, and save countless marriages.
Despite seeing Andrew at his sister's wedding, we can't say much about his activities, other than that he's always on tour. Paul didn't get to see him on his most recent trip to Europe, because Andrew was on the road. We talk on Skype from time to time, however, and are glad that webcams and high speed internet connections are now ubiquitous.
Bryn is still a student at Mansfield University, apparently having abandoned criminal justice and resumed his computer science courses. This is his sixth year of college; we're still not sure when he's planning to graduate..
Aubrey, on the other hand, graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a BS in Bioinformatics, and decided to stay on there for graduate school. His girlfriend Haley still has half a year to go at RIT, which most likely influenced his decision. In addition to his MS, Aubrey is also thinking about pursuing an MBA.
Devin is in his second year at Mansfield University. Even though the school is just an hour north, we don't see much of him, as he and his girlfriend, Samantha, seem to spend most of their holiday time with her parents in New York.
Curran will graduate this year from Williamsport Area High School, but (because of his disability) will remain there for another two years, until he turns 21. He failed to excel in his computer maintenance course last year, and this year is trying his hand at food service. His favorite part of that particular vocational program is -- eating. As reported last year, Curran remains on the years-long waiting list for a group home placement, with his mother continuing as his primary caregiver.
Now in his second year at Williamsport Area High School, Erin continues to achieve perfect attendance. He attained Life rank in Boy Scouts this year, and still has a chance of making Eagle by age 16 (but only if he starts thinking about his required service project now).
Phyllis and Milton, well into their mid-eighties, are only now starting to show signs of slowing down - he from the effects of a stroke suffered last spring, and she from having to drive him to all of his therapies. Still, they managed their traditional journey to London for the High Holy Days, and are looking forward to returning there for Passover, as usual.
Our biggest accomplishment (as a family and as a nation) has been surviving eight years of Son-of-a-Bush, and witnessing the impressive victory of Barack Obama. Thus, we don't really want any Hannukah presents; we got ours on 4 November. Paul was active in the campaign, supporting both Obama/Biden and a number of lesser-known candidates for local and state office, as well as Congress. That all but one member of his slate got elected speaks well for the turnaround in this nation's politics. We no longer need to apologize to our friends around the world for being US citizens.
May 2009 be the year we wage peace, having finally elected compassionate and intelligent leadership (Yes We Did!) Our best wishes to you all,
Copyright © H. Paul Shuch, Ph.D.; Maintained by Microcomm
this page last updated 21 December 2008