Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy Holidays 2014

What? It’s the end of December already? You mean I have to write another crappy end-of-year letter? Ye gads. It's 2015! Can’t my robot butler write this while I take the flying car for a spin?

Alas, the robot butler and GPS receiver went to see a movie, leaving me the holiday letter. So here goes ...

Alex and Michael are about to turn 10. Andy and Susan just realized that the kids are closer to college than they are to birth. But that’s less depressing than Andy turning 50 in 2014 — meaning he’s (statistically) closer to death than birth.

Here are some really great photos of the boys (Susan suspects an angel flew over just as the photos were taken; Andy agrees — there is no other logical explanation):

Alex

Michael
Normally, the photos don't turn out quite as well.  Here, for example, are their passport photos:

Hard to believe, but these were the best of the set that we took.

The kids spend most of their time on the computers or iPads.  They play a lot of Minecraft (see last year's letter), as well as a tank game, Tanki.  Here's a family portrait in that game:
back row, L to R: Michael, Alex, front row: Andy
They are natural born killers in the game; if you see them coming in game, get out of their way.  When they're not playing games, they can often be found on their Chromebooks:
L to R: Kasper, Alex, Michael
where they're watching Maroon 5 or Fall Out Boy videos.  Andy has tried to channel their interest in computers into programming.  They started on code.org doing simple drag-and-drop programming, but they are now working to learn Python, which is a real programming language (it's what Andy programs in for his day job).  The kids are learning slowly but surely, but it's frustrating for Andy when the kids don't know the simplest things, like the differences between object-oriented, imperative, functional, and procedural programming styles.

And when they're not on computers, they engage in general hijinx.


The family's big trip this year was to Washington, DC.  Susan and the kid were there for two weeks, and Andy spent all of July (he was working at NASA GSFC).  Everyone had a great time, and we were among the very few who thought summer in DC was cool and pleasant.

Susan quit her job working in a local psychiatrist's office and is embarking on a new career.  More about that in next year's letter ...

Andy continues his work at Texas A&M on climate. In case you haven't heard, it's changing — and 2014 will (very likely) be the hottest year in the instrumental record.   Maybe, you think "change is good!".  Yes, it will be good if you like heat waves, droughts, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and precipitation changes.  If you don't like those things, it will suck.  Andy continues to try to inform the public about the science of climate change, and people seem to be waking up to the risk — although some places don't ever seem to change.  Maybe 2015 will be different.

Speaking of 2015: Have a great new year!

Andy, Susan, Michael, and Alex