Brigitte’s 70th Birthday
Caribbean Cruise

Dear friends,

“Joy, beautiful spark of Gods, daughter of Elysium, fire drunken we enter your sanctuary. Your magic reunites what fashion strictly divided. All men become brothers where your gentle wing abides. Be embraced millions! This kiss to the entire world!”

The New York Times Radio station, WQXR, declared November “Beethoven Appreciation Month,” and on November 30th I heard a German choir perform his famous 9th Symphony, the ‘Anthem of the EU’. I thought, “It doesn’t get better than this!” Europe has always had so much to offer in terms of its ability to produce great works of art. I hope it takes advantage of this rich cultural heritage, its diversity, and all of the components that have made it great in the past to drive it into the future with confidence and boldness. The world economy would be better off today if Europe would have continued with the 2000 year old gold standard it abolished together with the aristocracy. Then, with a stable Euro, the U.S. would have been forced to follow the Euro model.

Our 2011 was framed by two cruises: in January we celebrated Brigitte’s 70th birthday in the Caribbean with the whole family, and last month we made our South American debut. The latter trip had us conveniently leaving New York at the onset of an unusually early October snowfall, and we landed in Fort Lauderdale where we got to see Peter. In Cartagena, Colombia, I was able to demonstrate my post OPEN HEART SURGERY (new heart valve and double bypass) physical fitness by walking around one of the world’s largest city walls for 1½ hours in 90 degree heat.

Voice recognition software has finally become accurate enough to replace typing, and so this Christmas letter is the first one to have been spoken into the computer. I did it on a MacBook Air, my first Apple product. I feel it is stylistically as sophisticated as a sculpture. I wanted to work on it during our cruise but the internet was too slow and besides I was distracted by all the sights, as well as a good new book I was reading. It was about the Renaissance era’s rediscovery of the philosophies of Epicurus, which included how to enjoy life in moderation. No doubt Epicurus would have enjoyed our cruise… and my new iMac as well.

Susan and her husband Steve bought a home in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina earlier this year. When Brigitte and Tanya drove down to visit them, their car looked like a greenhouse; it was loaded with Long Island perennials that they then planted on the property. Brigitte also visited with her cousin Kuni, who lives on the other side of the state.

In November, Tanya celebrated her 20 year high school reunion, much of which was organized through Facebook.

The German magazine, “Der Spiegel” had a cover story this week entitled, “WEB battles” . In it, Facebook is portrayed as a nightmare for German data protection lawmakers seeking to keep people’s information private. In other respects, the typically critical magazine showed a different side, singing praises to Apple, Amazon, and Google for their innovations. The possibilities are very exciting and I intend to do all I can to keep up with the ever-changing technology. For Christmas I already know I’ll be getting a white iPhone. I am looking forward to everything from learning about useful apps from friends and family (especially Peter, a loyal Mac user) to having it replace our regular phone, computer, GPS, camera, and who knows what else. The deluge of photos created since digital cameras came out made managing albums a daunting task for me, but with the smartphone’s ability to take, send, and store high quality photos with ease, it is re-igniting my enthusiasm for photography.

Our company website has just passed the 100,000 visitor mark. Business was good this year.


We wish you all the best, and hope you take the “business of enjoying life” very seriously in 2012