Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us. This page is a photographic annotation of the email (or regular post) that you may have received. [If you want to see a bigger version of the pictures, just click on them.]
Last year, we identified the biggest event of 1999 as the move of Laura's parents from Prescott, AZ to nearby Chelmsford. They continued to dominate our news this year by selling that one and buying two others, one right here in Bedford, and one in Florida, shown at right. Their official residence is in Florida, (possibly so their presidential vote can have maximum impact) but they are here nearly six months a year.
We didn't do as much travelling around this year as last. Laura and the kids went to North Carolina in the spring, visiting old college friends.
We made our usual trip to the Cape in July, again with my parents and my sister Amy and her two daughters. We did introduce one wrinkle, though. Matt brought his friend Kevin (at left in the picture) for part of one week and Katherine brought her friend Heather for part of the other. The water shuttle from Boston to Provincetown simplified the transportation of the visiting kids.
One unusual sight at the Cape this year was a tall ship docked in Provincetown and shown in the picture at right. The workmanship was amazing in this wooden ship. These pictures pretty much sum up our Cape vacation; it never rains when we go to the Cape, but sometimes the wind tries to blow you off the dock.
You may have heard that a few years ago Laura and Tim took a cruise to Bermuda on the occasion of an anniversary. The kids thought that they would like to go on one as well, and we have periodically promised to look into it. Well, this was the year. We got a good deal on a trip in August on the ill-fated Sea Breeze I from Boston to Halifax, Nova Scotia, St. John, New Brunswick and Portland, Maine. As you can see in the pictures, it was a pretty good-sized boat, not big for a cruise ship but still over 600 feet long.
The picture at right shows the lifeboats hanging on the side. The first day they had us practice the evacuation drill and explain how we all get in the lifeboats, 50 per boat. More about those below.
We ate a lot of food, read books, followed our track across the ocean with Matt's new GPS receiver, played video games, jogged around the deck, and took a quick look at the sights around our destination cities. (The point of this kind of a cruise is to eat and relax, not to explore land.) In the picture at left, Matt and I are at breakfast, figuring out just where we are in latitude and longitude. It never rains when we are on a cruise, either, so the awning was pretty handy to cut down on the sun.
We were surprised to find out about five weeks later that we had evidently gotten too good of a deal on the cruise; creditors got a court order to seize the ship, ordered it to turn around as it headed for Boston, finishing a cruise, and returned it to Halifax where it was seized by authorities. The poor passengers had to make their way to Boston by air. But that was a minor inconvenience compared to what was coming up.
The ship sat there in Halifax for a few months, and then headed south. The Coast Guard got a distress call from the ship on December 16th, 200 miles off the coast of Virginia, saying that they had lost an engine and were taking in water. The Coast Guard dispatched two helicopters to the limits of their range to possibly rescue the 34 crew members. A news program had instrumented the helicopters with cameras to film a rescue, and they got some great footage of the ship foundering in 25 foot waves. The video frame at right doesn't really do the video justice. The panicked crew were evacuated just before the ship went down. We noticed that they made no effort whatsoever to launch those lifeboats! Our cruise ship is now a debris field under 4300 feet of water. As Katherine said, "That's creepy!" I guess we won't be taking that one again any time soon.
We did more last year than hang out at the beach and risk our lives in aging cruise ships, though. Laura spent about 30 hours a week in a Q/A contract job, somehow maintaining her record of not working in the summer for the fourth consecutive year. You guessed it, her current contract runs out next June. Katherine continued her Tae Kwon Do classes, but decided that the time was right to branch out into fencing. She and Matt both went to fencing camp and fenced in tournaments, but she has the greater enthusiasm and did about twice as much of each. Katherine is the left fencer in the left picture, and Matt is the left fencer in the right picture. Tim and Matt did a little snowboarding, and hopefully there will be photographic documentation of more of that in next year's letter.
We hosted a Korean family over Thanksgiving as part of the ISI (International Students Incorporated) Thanksgiving conference. In the picture at left are Kyuhee (very pregnant), Jungsup and Jaehan (left to right) We always enjoy learning about other countries in this way. The kids found out this year that they can be very thankful that they don't have the workload of a Korean student. We also had my brother Mark and family for Thanksgiving dinner.
We spent Christmas with family, including my parents,
shown in the picture at right with us.
Tim, Laura, Katherine, Matt
Tim's web site - Tim's email address - Laura's email address - Katherine's web site - Katherine's email address - Matt's web site