December 1994

Last month the political landscape in the US changed.  After 50 years of democratic rule (since 1932 only once has the house of representatives had a republican majority) the house is again republican.  In addition, they now also have a majority in the Senate.  Even the NY state administration, after decades, is now conservative.  Fewer government regulations and lower taxes are our hope.

Which should help at the company, where we extended our laboratory for measurement and scientific investigation and hired a material scientist with a Ph.D.  The problems of the extended recession from 1990 well into 1994 seem to be behind us.  Hiring personnel and securing credit lines for the expanding world economy are our newest problems.

Early this year, we took a break from a long, white winter with a family vacation to Hawaii.  This time we went to the big island.  First we were on the tropical east side of the island where the US Volcanic National Park is located.  We took a ranger-guided tour over endless barren lava fields, then watched where the active volcano releases liquid lava into the ocean.  The lava explodes on contact with the water and bursts into millions of pieces becoming black sand.  The black sand beach within walking distance of our hotel was wonderful.  While Brigitte and Gerhard collected beautiful rocks, Peter and Susan swam with the many sea turtles.  When we went to the dry, west side of the island, we stayed in one of the most luxurious hotels in the world.  Access to the hotel rooms was either by monorail, boat through canals, or one could walk through a mile-long art gallery.  When our three children went on another scuba diving trip, we were able to share in the adventure through the magic of underwater video.

In April our friend, architect Paul Kramer, died of a stroke.  He had visited us earlier in the year, from Germany, to advise Tanya on her new house, which she moved into in April.  After Peter finished building his own room, he started living there as well.  Later in the year, to decorate the living room, we had our antique family furniture refinished and shipped to her house.  Since the house is in the same neighborhood as our company, we were also able to use it to house a Japanese intern.  At this time, Tanya is getting it ready to rent out, because she will be going to Germany soon to teach English.

Brigitte flew to Munich earlier this year to celebrate her cousin Anni’s 70th birthday.  In May she went again, this time with Gerhard.  The first attraction was the architecture of the new Munich airport and airport hotel, built by German American architect Helmut Jahn.  Then came museums, including the Teutonic Museum in Nuremberg, and the Vitra Museum near Basel, built by US Canadian architect Frank Gehry.  When we went on to see friends in Garmisch, we spent a beautiful day hiking in the Alps.  Afterwards we stayed with Brigitte’s cousin Max near the Schwarzwald.  The other places we visited included the thousand year old graves of German Kaisers in Speyer, Worms the site of the encounter of Luther and emperor Charles the fifth, Wagners Nigelungen, and finally Achema Congress in Frankfurt.

Shortly after we got back from Germany, we went to a scientific meeting in Boulder, Colorado.  While we were there, we went to the Rocky Mountain National Park which has the highest continuing street in the world (3000m).  Visiting at the same time as us, was the emperor of Japan.  During our guided tour of the park, we just missed seeing him, only catching a glimpse of the tail-end of his extensive entourage.

Susan and Tanya both spent some time on the west coast visiting friends.  Then Susan traveled along the Pacific Coast, looking for a college where she might continue her studies to get a masters degree, while Tanya went up to Seattle, to do some sightseeing.  Peter got his drivers license and drove to a runners camp in Pennsylvania.

In the beginning of December we went with friends on a cruise to Mexico.  We had a couple of quiet days at sea, then visited a Mayan town with famous temples and pyramids.  Nobody knows what made them build those sites during the years 300 to 900 AD, or why they were abandoned long before the Spaniards arrived.

We hope this letter finds you in good health and spirits. Have a happy holiday season and a successful 1995.