Huffman Coding

… with a bunch of Family Stuff too

2014 Holiday Letter

December 2014

Family and Friends,

About this time last year, I was taking my older two daughters to the far corner of the Kroger parking lot to practice their maneuverability test. A year later, Marissa and Kaitlin both have their driver’s license. They are also have a cute little teal used Mazda3 to share because the Acura TL was rear-ended by another teenager and totaled a month after I handed it down to them. In the meantime, I’m apprehensively handing over the keys to my new Acura if the teenagers need to go in separate directions.

Kaitlin continues with her non-competitive ice skating. She now drives herself to lessons and has progressed a couple of levels. She’s halfway through an anatomy course and Chris is googling for pictures of skeletons to help her study. The textbook apparently cannot leave the school. She took a photography course where she had to use a film camera and develop photographs from negatives. I suppose her next high school course will teach her how to dial a rotary phone.

Claire admitted her summer was unproductive after Marissa introduced her to YouTube. According to my teenage sources, YouTuber Ryan Higa is the “bomb dot net” but Nash Grier just isn’t. Claire just finished her 7th grade volleyball season. With very little volleyball experience, she made the team by her sheer enthusiasm. She was a “setter” at least until she had a shoulder injury from the constant serving during practice. She moved to other positions, but mostly from that point she did choreographed cheers from the bench. We’ve already signed her up for a competitive winter league now that shoulder has recovered. She’ll participate in ski club after break and she wants to do track in the spring. So there is still a chance in the future for more injuries of some sort. She is also begging her parents to drop the trombone. We’ll see about that one.

Not be left out of the home team’s Disabled List, Marissa was clipped on her bike to the way to the grocery. Thankfully she was not hurt, but it did give us a scare for a while. It also gave me the opportunity to buy more bike repair tools to fix her bent wheel. A win for me at least. Marissa is finishing up her Personal Finance course at school. I’m glad she is taking the course, but she sure finds the instructor’s teaching style annoying. She is looking forward to a Forensics course next semester. Perhaps the opportunity to kill someone appeals to her. Gymnastics continues and it is good to see her enjoy that even during the long after school meets. If 27 hours of gymnastics practices weren’t enough, she’s also making regular use of the basement treadmill I abandoned years ago.

We have started college visits with the older girls. Chris took them to a few state schools over the summer. Kaitlin was accepted into a weeklong pre-nursing camp at OSU and is leaning in that direction. Apparently scrubs really do come in her size. Marissa is still nonchalant about what she wants to do for college and this is driving me nuts. She and I visited Oberlin which was met with a shrug. I have ideas based on her left-brained academic strengths, but as my friends have pointed out to me repeatedly, she’s the one who will be attending college, not me. She did point out that she liked the cafeteria at Kenyon. Perhaps I will put more import to that when she chooses the food service industry as a career.

Kaitlin, Marissa and Claire

Kaitlin, Marissa and Claire

We went to Pawleys Island, S.C. for our family vacation in July. The girls had a blast boogie boarding in the ocean each day and we spotted dolphins in the local bay. They did not take putt putt golf seriously though. :-) I won’t elaborate on the moment when the adjacent condo called the resort’s front desk because the girls were running and squealing late at night. We spent several days on the way back in Blowing Rock. Lots of enjoyable hiking. I thought the girls would enjoy white water rafting, but after Chris literally drove two states from our hotel to the river, it was as smooth glass and quite boring. It did afford Claire an hour to discuss the plot of Spiderman 2, a movie she saw at least four times, with captive strangers who shared our raft. We also got wet that day not from the whitewater, but from the constant drizzle. Yeah, us.

Claire is now tall enough to ride her mother’s bike and she rode it all around Hilliard with her friends this summer. After an inordinate number of pinch flats, we discovered she likes to jump curbs on the way to the park. It was again her turn to be my tandem partner for the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure in June. We met up with Chris’s cousin Karen whose family is originally from the Coshocton area. As I mentioned in last year’s letter, I rode Pelotonia for the first time and raised money for cancer research. I ended up being the captain of my company’s team and we were able to exceed our team goal. Those who were kind enough to donate to my fund received a treacly thank you letter from me as punishment for their generosity. I plan on raising money for cancer research again next year.

Chris’s practice is going from quills and parchment to electronic records for the new year. The International Disease Classification system was to have gone live in the U.S. this past fall, but it may be postponed again into 2017. We’ll see what Congress does and whether they will let the U.S. join every other modernized country.

I suppose the highlight of my year was being retweeted by a New York Times columnist with a million followers. That’s what happens when you make a silly joke about Moldova on Twitter. My daughters have still managed to keep me humble, but someday I if create a YouTube channel and become famous, perhaps then they will subscribe to me.

I want to apologize for the relative tardiness of the family letter this year. Shortly after completing the first draft, I had to put it aside for a while… to compose a eulogy. My father, who had been in a nursing home since last winter, caught pneumonia and passed last week. He was a great dad and will be missed by his family. As the fates would have it, all four of his children and their spouses were in Ohio the week he died and were able to see him one last time. For that, I am grateful. As the child who probably was the most like him, I will always strive to be as good a person as he was. He did have a proclivity for long-winded letter writing, so at least I inherited that trait.

With hope for peace and brevity in the New Year,

Ken, Chris, Marissa, Kaitlin and Claire