Huffman Coding

… with a bunch of Family Stuff too

2015 Holiday Letter

December 2015

Family and Friends,

This was the year of college planning and visits.

Chris and I have taken Marissa and Kaitlin to various campuses in and around Ohio and I took each of them on a long out-of-state weekend visit to the college of their choice. Marissa to Ithaca, NY and Kaitlin to Harrisonburg, VA. At this point many of these visits blur together. Most of the time these visits near and far have only served to convince the girls they didn’t want to apply to that particular college.

We’ve got a laundry basket full of literature from dozens of colleges. The less the girls are interested in a college, the more literature they receive from them. I’ve created more than a dozen spreadsheets, word documents, Venn diagrams, forms, and check lists to analyze the various metrics for a college. I’m trying hard not to live vicariously through the girls in this process. Thirty some years ago, I had no choice but to go to Ohio State and I was crushed when Marissa decided she didn’t like Carnegie Mellon.

One of Marissa's Senior Pictures


Marissa, with her interest from AP Psychology, is likely to major in Cognitive Science. Kaitlin, with her interest in Biology, is leaning towards the Health Sciences. As you could probably guess, Chris, with her background, helped Kaitlin pick colleges and I helped Marissa with hers. The girls have applied to a half dozen schools apiece with accompanying essays, test scores, and blood samples. Just kidding about that last one. It is now a waiting game hoping they respond with thick envelopes, which nowadays are virtual. While a few have already sent acceptance letters, we won’t hear back from most until spring. Stay tuned to Facebook in April as to whether each girl is a future Blue Demon, Buckeye, Cardinal, Cavalier, Crusader, Duke, Golden Flash, Hoosier, RedHawk, President, Spartan, or Yellowjacket.

One of Kaitlin's Senior Pictures


Claire usually tags along for these college visits, but is only concerned that her older sisters won’t be around next year to play with. She has managed, however, to maintain a social life more active than the rest of us. Last winter she enjoyed the ski club and did the long jump in track in the spring. Now in the eighth grade, she once again made the middle school volleyball team. This year she had no injuries and was able to play on a more regular basis. With the school season now complete, she’ll switch to an elite level 14U team over the winter to keep her skills up until the next school year.

8th Grade Volleyball


Claire did win the battle of wills I mentioned last year. We relented and let her drop trombone at the end of the last school year. As our last child, the chance of us ever going to a high school football game to watch the marching band has now dropped to zero.

With the endless college visits, there was no big family vacation this year. Chris did take the girls through Michigan for a few days and they walked the campus of a certain School Up North. Note that its nickname does not appear in the list up above.

Marissa is in her last year of varsity gymnastics and has been training year round. Kaitlin continued her skating, now transitioned to the OSU ice rink, but now at a more casual pace due to senior commitments. Over spring break, Kaitlin, along with a handful of schoolmates, attended a Student Leadership Conference in San José, Costa Rica with Dr. Jane Goodall. She of chimpanzee fame, of course. They toured the country soaking up the local milieu and participated in a sustainability project.

Documenting the Costa Rica trip with a video became her capstone project at Darby. All Hilliard seniors must complete a capstone project in order to graduate. Marissa’s capstone project was training and creating a video for her week with me on the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure, something she hadn’t ridden in eight years. Claire, who got her own road bike for Christmas last year, rode with us. Both learned the aerodynamic benefits of drafting. They spent hours trying to cajole the other into riding in front.

I rode the 180 miles of Pelotonia again this year and raised more money for cancer research. I continued my role as Big Lot’s team captain up until the week before for the ride when an opportunity arose to change employers. I now work at my previous company which has since been bought by another. I started at Applied Innovation in 1994 and it was bought by Kentrox before I left 4 years ago. It was bought again in the intervening years by Westell. I am in a different Dublin office building than before, but I am still compiling some of the same code I wrote two decades ago.

Chris in her 27th year at Grant Medical Center, helped them go live with electronic medical records in January. She eventually found herself out of work due to the very same automation. She is on a low-key search for a replacement job, but in the meantime rooms in the house are being repainted and redecorated.

Also in August, Chris and the girls found a stray kitten outside our grocery store. Chris took the kitten home with the intention of taking it to a cat rescue facility. To the consternation of Chris and me, and the delight of our daughters, those organizations do not take kittens that young. “CiCi” has since been spayed, chipped, declawed, vaccinated, and become a regular part of our family. Even eating what our other cat, Cooper, throws up.

With hope for feline peace and college acceptance letters in the New Year,

Ken, Chris, Marissa, Kaitlin, Claire, Cooper, and now CiCi