Global warming my foot. The temperature outside is so cold that the wind chill factor could only warm it up. As we sit inside our centrally heated house (only those of you who have visited us in the winter months and have seen the way Ann(dy) does her part for the international energy crises can appreciate how funny that statement is), basking in the radiant glow of our new color monitor, our thoughts of course turn to groundhogs. Now the way I figure it, no woodchuck in his right mind would dare stick his head out of his burrow to search for his shadow. Therefore, any groundhog that would is clearly encephalopathic and should probably (a) not be trusted and (b) move to our woodpile and join the rest of our demented tormentors. Since the holiday is therefore meaningless this year, we’ve decided to send out our annual Groundhog’s day letter early.
Well, so much for Plan A.
Alena has had quite a momentous year. Being all of six years of age, she decided that two piano players in the family were not enough and declared that she needed lessons. Surprising everyone, she has stayed with it and is progressing to the point where she and her brother can play duets. Half way through first grade, she is well on the way to becoming a member of the Reading Club for Girls (she is not only the president, she is a client). She is still a lover of nature (as stated on the fly leaf of every book she writes and “publishes” in her class) and science, and has more energy than humans should be allowed to have. She, along with most of her contemporaries, began learning her way around a soccer ball this fall, and after two days out last week, has become hooked on cross–country skiing.
Danny achieved double digits in October. Unless they sport the name of a team, Glenn can no longer distinguish his T shirts from Ann(dy)’s when sorting the laundry. He is turning into quite the musician, playing first (and only) oboe in the school band in addition to his genuinely fine piano playing. Fresh from his acquisition of the prestigious Bronze certificate from Le All–Newton Ecole de Musique, he and Glenn are working through a four–hands version of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, which without much imagination actually sounds like music. Danny’s still involved in sports, primarily baseball, basketball, soccer, table–top football, and parent–tormenting. He still aspires to be a comedian (he and Glenn have added Monty Python to their repertoire), and continues to read voraciously at every opportunity (opportunity meaning when he’s supposed to set the table, practice the piano, do homework, clean his room, etc.). Like Alena, he’s still a great kid.
Glenn’s had a pretty busy year. He was asked to give a talk at a conference at the well–known Illinois institution of higher learning, Hamburger U. HU is, of course, the corporate headquarters of McDonalds and the place where they train all those managers in the art of McDonalding. The place is actually quite nice, situated as it is on a wooded campus and with art work distinguished by at least one golden arch (albeit tiny) per landscape.
The annual Neuroscience meeting this year was in Washington, D.C. Aside from the shock of finding 21,999 other attendees (and figuring out that there are probably 15,000 jobs in the country) the best part of the trip was a private tour of the west wing of the White House. A relative of one of Glenn’s colleagues works in the Executive Secretaries office in the Old Executive Office Building. After dinner one evening, Glenn got a personal tour (saw Ollie North’s old office, one of Gore’s four offices) and waited for Bill to retire to the residential area of the White House. At 8:30 “Elvis” had left the building and Glenn and his connected colleagues walked over and saw the Oval Office, the Cabinet Room, the Roosevelt Room and got their pictures taken in the Press Room. All in all, a pretty cool visit. No matter how cynical one can get when one considers the government, there is something quite enlivening about being that close to the center of it all.
Would you believe that we have a star of stage, screen, and TV among us? Well, except for the stage and screen part, we do. This year marked Ann(dy)’s debut as a scientist–in–electronic–residence on a national satellite/cable network. Every Monday for five weeks this fall, Ann(dy) appeared in front of about 100 classrooms scattered from Maine to Texas teaching them all about Animals Nobody Loves. Each week focused on increasingly more disgusting creatures which Ann(dy) did her best to endear to the hearts of grossed out youth of America. For reasons hard to fathom, she has been asked back to give another course on skeletons next fall, and will perhaps reprise ANL introducing a whole new cast of justifiably abhorred species.
In addition to her TV work, Ann(dy) is getting more involved with the Arnold Arboretum in Boston and continues to work at the Harvard University Museums of Natural History. We won’t bore you with the other dozen or so paid and volunteer and conscripted jobs she does —suffice it to say, that it’s a wonder she has time to think. Actually…never mind.
Lest you think we do nothing but work, we also had some fun times. We once again attended family camp on Lake Sebago where the weather was, for the first time, perfect for the entire week. The boys played soccer every day and the girls spent most of their time in the water. We also made it up to Ann(dy)’s parents’ place in the Adirondacks for a couple of weeks where swims across the lake, raft construction, boating, blueberrying, fishing, pirate hunting, and vegging were the orders of the day. Glenn was able to get away for a 4–day golf weekend in Tampa with his life–long friend, Geoff Kahn and his nearly life–long brother, Stuart. They ended up on two courses which featured water hazards on 17 out of 18 holes. Glenn’s thinking of taking up scuba before the next trip. Ann(dy) went on her annual hiking/camping getaway to Acadia. As beautiful as it looked in the brochures, Ann(dy) insists it is even more spectacular in the pouring rain.
We hope all of you are well. We’d love to hear from you all. And remember our motto for the year: Leave no paper trail/do it by email!