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Christmas 1983

Hello to all!!

This letter is going to serve as a Christmas card, newsletter, and all around gossip sheet. We've been tied up lately, and they used 500 lb test rope, so it took us longer than usual to break free.

I've been involved with a project at work (again!) that represents one of the first times my company has ventured out into the commercial world. The system works on an IBM PC, and involves international monetary finances. The powers that be wanted a demonstration system up and running by 9 January so they could begin field-testing the "User friendliness" of the system. They gave us the go-ahead on 2 November. We still had to acquire an IBM PC and all the associated sundries needed to make it work. By 10 December we had all the pieces in the building and I could begin to work on my end of it, which was the software to run on the IBM PC. Luckily we had the actual machine delivered by the end of November so I could spend the time between then and 10 December getting used to the machine (I've never worked with a micro-computer before!). Basically the demo was all up to me. The other guys had some contribution, but the software to run on the PC was "my baby." I made it, but it meant working some long hours over the usual holiday season. I got to break away from it over Christmas, and we all went to Lynn's sister's new house up in East Vassalboro, Maine (outside of Waterville). We had 4 days up there and it was great. The kids had a grand time. Megan is "in to" Santa, so she was really excited about the goings-on, and Audrey caught the excitement from Megan even though she wasn't as aware of what was happening. On a sour note, Lynn sprained her foot falling down the cellar stairs just as we were leaving, so she had a good limp on by the time we got there. We contemplated canceling, but she figured that she would be in pain wherever she was, so why not be where the action is? It worked out quite nicely in spite of it all, because there were a number of people there to share with child care, and there was even a nurse or two to cater to Lynn's needs. All in all it was a superb Christmas.

Well, anyway, I got the project done on time (just barely! Ask me about it sometime), and the demo was so successful that my company has formed a new company just to develop and market this software/data product. I have my time booked up for a year or more on Betac projects, so they were in a quandary as to how to fit this new assignment into my schedule (as well as the other two guys). My boss came up with an idea, so I am now doing consulting to the new company for the finished user system on my very own IBM PC at home!! This letter was typed on it (I already sold my old IBM Selectric 72) and it is slick. For those of you who care I will describe the system. For those of you who couldn't care less, skip to the next paragraph. The machine is an IBM PC with 1 disk drive and 256k of core. I have acquired a 10Mb hard disk drive to fit into the cabinet but I had trouble formatting it so I need to talk to the manufacturer (not IBM, Maynard Electronics in Florida). I have an IBM monochrome display, which is driven by a Hercules Technology Corp graphics card, giving me text mode of 80 char by 25 lines, and 2 screens of graphics mode 720 x 348. I also have a Hayes internal 1200 baud modem, and an Okidata microline 92 printer.

News of the homestead: I finished painting the house!! It was close, I finished the first part of November on the last warmish days of autumn, but its done. The worst part was scraping. We found a bicentennial book of photographs of Lexington, and in the book was an aerial photo of Lexington Center from 1941. You can see our house, plain as day, and it is white. When I was scraping, I found only two coats of paint on the house, the gold that was on it, and underneath was white! That means that the house has been painted only once since 1941! No wonder I had so much work scraping!. We chose a "canvas" color for the body of the house, and a dusty blue called "Nantucket blue" for the trim. When we were all done, it dawned on us why the house was not painted two colors before. With the windows and doors a different color, the crookedness of the frames sticks out like a sore thumb! Oh, well. Live and learn.

We got a wood swingset for the kids. They love it! It has a slide, two swings, a trapeeze, and a climbing section. Megan took about three days to learn, but now she can pump like a pro! That's great for us! One less kid to push! Audrey has less fear on it than Megan does. She wants to do everything that her big sister does, the swingset included.

Speaking of Audrey, she is really blossoming with her language skills. Though she's not yet two, she can communicate quite well, and often can get her point across. Once in a while we need a translator for the jumbled words, and Megan often helps out. Audrey also has a temper! We have given up on most ways of dealing with it. Ostracizing her seems to be the only thing that has any effect. Sometimes she can be the sweetest little thing, good as gold, and at other times its a wonder if she will make it to two!

Megan is quite an artist with the crayon box. She will sit and draw her own pictures (not coloring books) for what seems like hours. And when she's done, her pictures are often recognizable things. Her favorite thing to draw is a lion in a cage, complete with bars and decorations on the cage, and the lion has legs, and teeth, and a mane, and eyelashes, and sometimes a tail! She goes to nursery school twice a week, and has learned quite a lot from there. She has a few songs she can sing, and the stack of craft projects is approaching the ceiling in the cellar!




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