Huffman Coding

… with a bunch of Family Stuff too

2010 Holiday Letter

December 2010


Each year recently I’ve suggested to my wife that our annual holiday letter be sent out electronically and each year she heads to the post office for postage stamps, indicating that at least one of our old-fashioned traditions will continue.

Every three years we have a group vacation with the families of Katie’s orphanage mates and this summer we visited New Orleans, in the home state of the southernmost family. Ten parents and ten kids visited the city and a few plantations nearby in sweltering July heat. And there was lots of swimming in the postage stamp sized hotel pool. The tweenage kids got along famously even though they rarely see each other. Marissa, after hanging around with girls like her, changed the part in her long, black hair, got her ears pierced and has now requested contacts. No peer pressure there.

Marissa and Katie continue with gymnastics. Katie fractured her ankle early in the year and was on crutches and wore a boot for months, and ended up cheering at many the team’s spring meets from the sidelines. Now in seventh grade, the two were on their middle school gymnastics squad for its very short season this fall and have now resumed with their competitive gymnastics team. Interestingly, there are two Katie Huffmans on their squad now. To address them specifically, our diminutive one has been nicknamed “Squirrel” because of the way she gamely flings herself from the low bar to the high.

Third-grader Claire “Bear” is doing gymnastics recreationally, but with her weekly practice on Friday nights, we’ve occasionally forgotten to take her to there.

We have yet to come up with an animal nickname for Marissa. What kind of animal would you choose for someone hides her dad’s status feed within the hour after her dad allows her to open a Facebook account? Dunno. By the way, Katie has a Facebook account now too. I don’t know where my daughters get their fascination with social media. :-)

Katie has dropped the flute so we have two unused instruments in a corner of the basement. My hope for any of my children playing in the high school marching, like Chris and I did, is quickly fading. Katie has switched to the oboe because she’s the only one in her band instead of couple dozen flutists. Can’t say that I blame her, although we are buying new reeds about every seventeen minutes. Claire will have a choice of Marissa’s old clarinet or Katie’s old flute in a couple of years. I’m not buying a fourth instrument.

Without any long vacations and because it was a healthy year for my family, my paid time off accumulated to the end of the year and my last workday was December third. I’m doing a little iPhone development for fun until the New Year, but I know that I’ll end up being distracted with doctor and dentist appointments and running errands. The highlight of my day last week was replacing the burnt out garage coach lights.

Even though I have them off, these December days with highs in the thirties don’t appeal to the cyclist in me. I stopped commuting to work for the year around the time Daylight Savings Time ended. Katie and I did the hilliest GOBA ever on the tandem in June and she’s now over a thousand miles. Although an August cycling vacation fell through, I’m planning on riding Pelotonia in 2011 for cancer research at Ohio State if my family and friends can help me raise the money. If you are reading this, I consider you my friend. :-)

Chris, for a change of pace, did not have any stomach surgeries in 2010. Surprisingly I didn’t miss our “vacations” driving late night to Indianapolis to see the specialist.

The stomach of our cat, however, is another matter. Cooper continues to throw up sporadically after gorging out on food. We have resumed feeding him very small portions many times a day. He has mastered a real whiny meow to indicate his hunger. We haven’t eliminated the problem though; he seems more likely to gag when traipsing on our hard to clean, off-white carpet.

Claire has gone in the side business of assembling little houses for the cat out of cardboard boxes, scraps of fabric and masking tape. If the cat does not take a shine to them after a couple of weeks, Chris and I put the boxes back into the recycling bin when Claire isn’t looking.

Our family wishes the happiest, healthiest and warmest for you and your family this season, even more so if your house is made of cardboard and masking tape.


Ken, Chris, Marissa, Katie, Claire and Cooper