As we look back on 2000, it has been a tumultuous year for us. Helen’s dad died in January after a brief illness. Both Helen and Lee started new jobs. Paul began a new school. Karen went off to Wellesley, this time as a sophomore. As the year ends, we (Lee and Helen) are developing more empathy for the stresses of two career families – as of the week before Christmas, the only decorations in our house were two candles on the table and lights (but no ornaments) on the tree. As we finish writing this letter, we finally did get most of the decorations up….
Helen’s father, Jack Hutchison, died January 6th in Claremont. He was 88. The Hutchison family assembled for a weekend later that month for his memorial service. At that gathering, we came to understand the therapeutic value of the traditional Irish wake. The storytelling and laughter was good for us all. After the service, his kids and grandkids scattered his ashes on Mt Baldy along his favorite trail.
Paul graduated from 8th grade and Bentley middle school in June and moved on to CPS (where Karen spent her last two years of high school) in the fall.
At CPS, Paul has become both an athlete and a brain. During the summer between schools, he began training for cross-country running. He attended a cross-country retreat at Lake Tahoe before the start of school. During the fall semester, he daily workout regularly consisted of a run of an hour or longer. A typical team training would include a run from CPS to the UC Berkeley Stadium (2-3 miles, with hills), then run up the bleacher steps 10 to 16 times before running back to CPS. In addition, the team did upper body and other exercises. He is now in wonderful shape!
Based on studying during the summer Paul tested out of the second year of math and is taking Algebra 2 and Trig. This puts him on course for AP Calculus in his junior year. He has developed strong study skills and, even when practicing with his cross country team after school for two hours, has not been consumed by homework.
Paul’s primary love continues to be computers. He spends a couple hours per day reading his news groups and SlashDot.org (News for Nerds, stuff that matters is their byline). He wants to upgrade his “hand me down” computer from a Pentium 166 to a Pentium 4; the process is similar to the improvements guys many years ago lavished on their cars.
Karen is now in her second year at Wellesley and continues to thrive. Her challenge is selecting a major: she is considering a dual major of Physics and Philosophy. She says she learns the physics, but also wants to know “why.”
Karen continues to play volleyball with a “club” team at MIT; most of the team is graduate students. Karen says her teammates complain that they are beginning to feel the signs of aging; Karen says they are pretty old -- late twenties to early thirties.
Helen started with Geoworks last January. Geoworks is a fascinating small, dot-com like company, that has reinvented itself several times. Originally, Geoworks produced a character based Windows operating system for IBM PCs. Lee’s dad had it running on his first PC. Unfortunately for Geoworks, a competitor introduced Microsoft Windows 3.1 and that was the end of Geoworks’ product. After several other unsuccessful tries, Geoworks has moved into “mobile communications” -- transmitting data to mobile devices like pagers, cell phones, and Palm Pilots.
Helen spent the first part of the year at Geoworks in the Marketing department as a Business Analyst on a project to track and report customer reactions to coupons that Geoworks transmits to pagers and data ready cell phones. As a result of a recent reorganization, she is now in the Operations department – the department that operates the computers, web site, databases, etc. Her role, if not yet her title, is Assistant Database Administrator.
During our trip to Italy, Helen fell in love with the SmartCar designed by Swatch and built by Mercedes (see proud photo). She would love to trade her Grand Voyager mini-van in for one here in the US.
At home, Helen continues to chair the League of Women Voters study on the Oakland City Government.
Lee, after 15 years with Kaiser Permanente, also took the plunge and joined a start-up eHealth Plan, mywayhealth. Mywayhealth is a consumer centric health plan that is developing a product that empowers consumers and removes almost all of the barriers and controls of a traditional health plan while creating an environment where the consumer feels he/she is spending her/his own money. He is having a great time.
A highlight of our year was three weeks in Italy this summer. The impetus for the trip was a week in a rural farmhouse in Umbria that Helen won in the CPS annual fund raiser. It was located a half hour east of Cortona (featured in Under the Tuscan Sun). From that base, we explored the Italian hilltop towns from Sienna to Assisi. We spent a week in Rome including a day trip to the ruins of Pompeii. And we had a few days in both Florence and Venice.
In addition to the death of Helen’s father, additional sadness in our lives included the premature death of Gary Zaret. Lee first meet Gary in 1968 at the Summer Science Program at the Thatcher School in Ojai, sponsored by the NSF program and has considered him a close friend ever since. Harry Usher, COO and Lee’s boss at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles also died this year.
We all wish you a happy new year in the 21st century!
Yours in peace,
Lee, Helen, Karen, & Paul
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Last updated: 7 January 2001