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7 Random Facts About Me

This showed up on Facebook and I thought I'd make it into a blog post for no particular reason.

OK, I'm doing the random fact game. Here are 7 random facts about me you might not know.

  1. Early names suggestions for my last 'major' band, Far Cry Fly, were Ampersand, Kermit's Children, and Fozzie's Malaise.
  2. I have taken saxophone lessons, piano lessons, and voice lessons. I have taught myself guitar, bass, and drums. Other musicians say I have a great sense of timing and I accredit that to Steve Chetcuti, my saxophone teacher.
  3. My house is full of Cabbage Patch Kids, Webkins, and other random stuffed animals. We call them our "Imaginary perfect children." Someday I want to write a book about them and it will be a "Rugrats meet Winnie the Pooh" sort of thing.
  4. I have written 3 books that were published by Osborne McGrawhill. I am currently working on the fourth. These are technical books.
  5. I have participated in February Album Writing Month for four years straight; writing and recording 14 songs during the month of February. If you Google my name, some may come up on the Internet. But I'm not sure. I posted some songs on some music sites; but I forget the names.
  6. I make my own Dairy Free ice cream. Since it is Dairy Free perhaps it shouldn't be called ice cream? But, it is the same concept made with an ice cream maker.
  7. My band, Far Cry Fly, once got kicked off stage a few songs into our set. The owner walked up and said "play one more song and get off." because people were not dancing to us.

Seven Things Meme

I saw this on a friend's Live Journal and thought it was interesting enough to partake myself:

A. List seven habits/quirks/facts about yourself. B. Tag seven people to do the same. C. Do not tag the person who tagged you or say that you tag "whoever wants to do it."

  • There are about a dozen cabbage patch kids, 50 webkins, and hundreds of other assorted animals throughout my house. I don't have kids.
  • I can solve the Rubik's Cube, most of the time in under five minutes.
  • I spent >$200 for this ergonomically correct keyboard drawer, and >$600 for this ergonomically correct chair, but still have a crappy desk which I believe prevents me from working in an ergonomically correct way. I blame the constant dull ache on the right side of my jaw to ergonomic issues.
  • I have been Pepsi / cola free since the Sunday after last Thanksgiving. It has affected my ability to work in an extremely positive way; instead of putting in 4-6 hour days I can put in 10-12 hour days. I'm more aware and more efficient and I can get things done. I did go out to Wendy's with the wife and have a Frosty Float w/ Root Beer a few days ago. Most of the time I drink water and various juices. I want to start juicing my own fruits and vegetables.
  • The first loaf of bread I ever made came out very salty, I think I mistook teaspoons and tablespoons in the measurements. I would be less liable to do that if there was a consistent abbreviation for them. I think I'm learning that 'b' means tablespoons and no 'b' means teaspoons.
  • I did not pick up the phone call two--now three--times this morning. I woke up late and am still shaking the dust off.
  • Coming up with seven items was harder than I thought, but I'm not going to tag anyone.

2009 Holiday Letter Plus a Look Forward

This is a slightly modified version of the Holiday letter that T and I sent out. If you didn't get one, but thought you should have, let me know. T wrote most of this because I Was too lazy.

The year has, indeed, been busy. Most of the year was consumed with wedding stuff. In fact, if you look closely, you'll still find things that need to be put away; the twinkle lights from our wedding reception are doubling up as winter decorations.

2008 concluded with a trip to PA to meet some Houser relatives that T had never met and Jeffry still can't remember the names of. The rest of our winter was low key, with some local hiking and short trips to the Poconos and Boston.

Summer eventually came, which gave T more time to prepare for the wedding. We spent thousands of dollars at Home Depot to make our house presentable. The monotony of house projects was broken up by some short trips to VA and Vermont.

Our wedding weekend was not traditional. We started the weekend with several competitive games of laser tag and some yummy pizza. We did the deed before a beautiful cascading waterfall in the middle of the woods. Back at the house, we enjoyed an all day delicious barbeque styled open house reception. The next day, we headed to a local amusement park for some enjoyment. Jeffry's car was broken into the next day; but we still closed the weekend with a trip to the Yedinak Farm in Moscow, PA. We took a tractor ride, hung out by the pond, and picked backyard blueberries.

T's long-time friend, Irina, came in for the wedding from Moscow, Russia, with her daughter, Juli. They spent 2 weeks visiting Mystic, Boston, and many other local affairs. It had been 15 years since they'd seen each other!

The summer ended quickly when it was time for T to go back to the classroom, teaching eager young minds in the 4th and 5th grade. September and October were relaxed, but November had Jeffry bouncing all over the Northeast promoting Flextras, his set of UI Components for Flex Developers.

In November, T and Jeffry traveled to Newport, RI, meeting up with the Houser clan for a Cliff Walk and a trip to the Coggeshall Farm Museum. Next, they headed up to Vermont for a Guster concert. Then we had a rural Pennsylvania Thanksgiving meal at Jeff's brother's place in State College, PA. And finally, T got to be a tour guide when another friend from Russia, visited CT!

Our first Christmas together was spent, ironically, apart, a mutual decision to satisfy Jeffry the Homebody and T the Traveler. T went to Williamsburg, VA with her friend Rachel and enjoyed 3 days of sightseeing which included a side trip to Jamestown.

So, that was our Holiday letter; which got snail mailed out last week sometime. I'm not sure what the next year holds for us, but here are some things I expect to do in no particular order:

  • I expect to do more home cooking and add more fruit and vegetables to my diet.
  • There is a chance I'll buy a juicer, funds permitting. The thought of juicing your own veggies holds a strange appeal for me.
  • I did not buy replacement pages for my day timer, instead moving to Google Calendar synced with my iPod touch. So far so good.
  • I expect to have no more conversations about when the decade really starts, or ends.
  • There is a slight chance I'll switch from Blockbuster On-line to Netflix, part due to the streaming service, part due to the fact that if I build an app against the Netflix API I can expense the account
  • I will find a good, simple, bread recipe and finally use our baking stone and peel. I also plan to finally make some Pizza [from scratch] for T. I used to do it all the time with moderate success, but not in ages.
  • I'm going to try to participate in February's National Album Writing Month. Want to write a song or two with me? Are you in the area?
  • I will be a success!

Wedding Party Post Mortem - All the Nitpicky Stuff

My big wedding reception is over, and I'm wearing a silver-esque titanium band on one of the fingers of my left hand. We hiked out to a waterfall for our wedding ceremony in the middle of the woods with around 30 friends and relatives. Then we took a lot of photos, with and without various folks and hiked back to the parking lot, then onward to the reception which had a much larger guest list.

I love lists, so here is my list of various random thoughts about my wedding and reception.

  • Guest Count: Life is about the lessons you learn. And this time I learned a lesson that I should have already learned from my friends, the conference organizers. You will get some no-show guests. And you will have extra food! Our original invite list was 128 people, give or take. We told the caterer to expect 100 people, at the time expecting 96 people. That was mistake number one.
    We wanted to be clear in case the four "unknowns" made an appearance. That was foolish on our part. The final number of attendees was 93. We paid for seven extra meals, threw out a lot of food, and are still eating leftovers. We could have paid for 85 meals and have had plenty.
  • The Pre-Event Consultation: Our photographer gave us a free event consultation. It was just a PDF form that we filled out and e-mailed back to her. It was basically, a refresher course on the information we had already discussed. That was an absolutely brilliant idea.
    I wish we had done that with the caterer, and the friend who was going to let in the caterer. I have a lot of nitpicky complaints about the day. For example, we could have countered the "you didn't get enough water" with "there are 7 unopened cases in the basement." Someone, unknowingly, went out to buy more water [and cups]. We didn't find out until much later.
  • The people you expect to be there for you won't always be the ones who actually help out: Some folks certainly went above and beyond their call of duty. One of T's sister's best friends orchestrated our "great house de-cluttering" and watched the house to let in the caterer while we were off "doing stuff". One of my brother's friends let us borrow his big camping coolers, and he wasn't even a wedding guest. At last minute, I had my friend Tim drive me to the ceremony. And he ended up acting limo driver for T and I on the way home.
    On the other hand, we had to field a lot of complaints about hiking to a waterfall in the middle of the woods for a ceremony. God forbid we ask an American to walk somewhere. The amount of times people told us "You can't do that" during the planning process was just insane. We can, and we did!
  • Get it in writing: You'd think that me, of all people, would have known this. Our caterer painted a fantastic picture of how the event could work within the constraints of our property. After all is said and done that is probably why she got the job. Unfortunately, a lot of things we talked about were not explicitly stated in the final contract; and therefore never occurred. A few things that were explicitly stated in the contract got ignored. My family strongly suggested I write a letter to the caterer before blogging it, but things are so nitpicky I decided against it. Here are a few examples or my complaints:
    • Extras: We bought lemons, lime, lemonade, and iced tea based on her suggestion that we create a drink station so people can grab stuff "on their own." She was going to bring water pictures and make it all look pretty. The drinks were to balance out the bar which would have water and soda delivered by a bartender. It was not explicitly stated in the contract and I didn't ask because there was no cost associated with it. All this extra drink went untouched.
    • Casual Dress: The caterer has a bunch of different outfits that they wear for different events. For our casual outdoor August event, they were supposed to be in Hawaiian shirts and shorts. Yet, when we showed up they were all formal in black and white. I hate formal. I feel bad for the employees who were not in their more comfortable / appropriate clothes. Who would have thought that I'd have to enforce a dress code in a contract? I guess next time I know.
    • Tables: The caterer was contractually supposed to provide banquet tables for the bar and buffet. But, instead they used some of ours, which were earmarked for other purposes. Since our tables were not long enough, they brought the antique card table I inherited from my grandmother to extend the buffet. I didn't realize that until much later. The table has slight sentimental value and I do not bring it outside.
    • Schedule: We were having a big open house for seven hours and wanted food service for most of that time. I had proposed a six hour schedule, which the caterer pushed back to five hours. However, we were not on the same page here. I wanted five hours of food service. She wanted five hours on-site, which means about two hours of food service.
      Due to the open house nature of the event, there was supposed to be carry over between food and desert. I was fine if people who showed up six hours into the event didn't have hot food served to them. But folks who showed up two hours in should have been. No, the food service stopped after about an hour. Desert was only a half hour after that. I estimate that 10% of our guests showed up after food service stopped. I'm embarrassed by the quality of service I offered to my guests. It bugs me.
  • Where is my Stuff?: While I am quite happy with all the assistance we got cleaning up our house, I think a few people took it too far. We are still finding stuff to be missing or put in the wrong shelves. The one major missing pieces is the cookbooks that were kept on the kitchen nook shelf. Where did they end up to?

I could go on and on about nitpicky things. But, overall I think everyone has a list of nitpicky things to say about their wedding party, right? That is the thing that stories are made of.

The fact is, I got to spend some quality time with ninety three close friends and family. And it was not a two hour whirlwind that most couples are forced through.

I plan to do another post on the business of weddings that takes a clear look at the financial numbers, along with some theorizing on the whole "gift grab" nature of weddings.

We'll probably try another big party again for our 10th anniversary. When that comes around, remind to to find and read this post. I'm sure I'll have forgotten all the mistakes we made this time. And at that point, we'll be independently wealthy with our own island and the guest list will be 1,000 people, amplifying our mistakes tenfold.

Until then!

Wedding Photographer Woes

So, I'm getting hitched, yada yada yada. There has been a huge photographer drama. my good friend let me rattle on about this for a bit. I think our conversation sums up my thoughts on the situation rather nicely. Here are some, excerpts. I expanded where I thought appropriate:

D: you are being educated about wedding photographers right now though
D: Did you find someone?
Me: : laughs:
D: I take that as a no, you can't agree on terms?
Me: Formally no. It's a very long story.
Me: The Photographer in question is one of T's grammar school friends. I think they reconnected on facebook about a year or so ago.
D: Ah
D: I've done my share of weddings myself
D: it's stressful
Me: So, they worked out a price--which is relatively cost effective--and I said send a contract, which they did. Apparently both T and the Photographer friend got seriously upset as I suggested alternate contract terms.

T is being wish-washy about the whole thing. She just wants two things. Her friend to come to the wedding and have fun and take pictures and give us the pictures. I'm fine with that. And she wants a professional photographer to create picture perfect pictures. I'm fine with that too.

Unfortunately, I don't believe that it can't be both ways.

If we want to invite her friend to the wedding and tell her to take pictures, awesome great. We'll tell everyone to bring cameras and pay no one for the privilege. Most of the guests will probably be taking pictures or video anyway.

But, if we want to hire a professional photographer, that's fine and dandy too. But, once money is changing hands, *I* need to treat it like a professional relationship; not as a "handshake deal" with a friend. By professional relationship, I mean getting a contract, defining roles of each party, defining the deliverable. I do this type of stuff every day. DotComIt has some serious troubles in our early years by not having a comprehensive contract.

The Photographer sent over a contract based on discussions with T and her had. I read through the contract and had one major sticking point. Payment was due in full a week before the ceremony. That means we'd be shelling all this cash before they do any work. As a business owner myself, I have serious issues with that, and had no problems saying it.

I know the photographers puts in time and I have no problems putting down a deposit. There is also a deliverable in the contract: Digital Copies of all the pictures they took on a CD [or DVD, I forget which]. That comes 4 weeks after the wedding. Why should we pay in full 5 weeks before the deliverable, and one week before they do any work at all?

If we pay in full a week before the wedding; what is their incentive to even show up?

I offered options, one of which was a 3 tiered payment plan (30/30/30) or even (50/30/20).

This conversation apparently upset both T and the photographer friend.

After much discussion, the photographer friend left 3 options on the table:

  • Do it there way
  • Pay "full price" (92% more), and get my preferred contract terms
  • they don't come and it destroys the friendship forever

Quite frankly, anyone who puts number 3 on the table is not someone I want to do business with and is not someone I want at my wedding. What type of friend would say that to another?

I may have made things worse--as I sometimes inadvertently do. At some point early in the negotiation--before the poop was flying--T said to me "We may lose our photographer" and I said "Well, then we lose our photographer!" From my perspective, it is a business relationship and nothing I was asking for was unusual.

T is now worried that no matter what happens, that if this photographer is there, I'll be ornery in all the pictures; thereby ruining them all. I never thought of myself as one to hold a grudge until then. It sounds exactly like something I'd do. I wouldn't intentionally ruin pictures, but I'm just incapable of hiding my mood / feeling. Shame on the photographer who can't capture that on film. I believe I may be permanently tainted against that photographer.

I get the impression that the photographer's husband is giving her flack about the low cost she promised to do the photos for. And my requests just added stress to the process--although I don't understand why. Wouldn't a professional photographer deal with these types of negotiation all the time?

I was presented with various arguments that were completely unrelated to the root of my problem. Here are some of them and why I don't care:

  • They'll have to pay for gas: I'll admit it's going to be a trip down from Boston area. But, transportation costs are just part of doing business. They'd have to pay for gas regardless of how much we are paying them.
  • They'll have to take time of work: What work? I thought we were hiring professional photographers to come to photograph our wedding. They will be working our 'wedding' not the wedding of someone else. This is work!
  • They have to rent a camera and other equipment: A photographer doesn't have a camera? Oh, I understand it is a special camera just for this event. But, even so that is the expense of the person I'm hiring and should not be used as an excuse to charge me more.
  • They Deserve More Money: I'm not sure how to quantify this issue. The amount being paid out has come up multiple times in conversations w/ T. But, I don't understand why. It is not something I ever once tried to negotiate, or even complained about. The original number was also proposed by the photographer, not by us. I do have cash flow considerations as I'm trying to start a new business selling ya'll Flex Components, So, yes money outflow is a consideration. But, I never once tried to negotiate the cost. That was never a sticking point with me.

I have spoken to some people who hire photographers for their time; and any prints / pictures they want to buy are covered at a later date. In that case, I can rationalize paying in full on the day or week of the wedding. We have that type of arrangement with the caterer. But, that is not the case with the photographer agreement, which has a clearly defined deliverable 4 weeks after the ceremony.

Here is the finish up of my conversation w/ Dee:

Me: This has been a bone of contention for the past few days. :-) Did my words get heated when it came up?
D: HA, yes very much on fire

This blog Open to Invited Readers Only

Really? WTF? Who has a closed blog? Doesn't that defeat the purpose?

Write a Story w/ These words

I was recently reading A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. The book is about why being competent at button pushing is no longer enough to survive in the new world order. You need to offer benefits beyond something that can be automated away from you.

One the components that the book touches on is story telling. My fiance is an elementary school teacher and she gave the assignment to her students to write a story using these words. I thought I'd give it a shot and write my own story.

Before you read my story, feel free to guess where she got the words from or write your own. Here are the words.

Died damage flowers witch
Fortune singing glare creature
Smoke woods dragon flame
Asleep dream princess screamed
Castle drawbridge knight fire
Moat fear glass mirrors
Lips wicked marry together

My story should be after the break.

[More]

25 Random Things [About my relationship]

This is a Valentines Day variation on the facebook meme; and my good friend Tim inspired me, so here goes.

This is kind of like the "25 random things about me" - except there are pre-decided questions and it's about you and your spouse, not just you. Come on, play along - inquiring minds want to know! ;-)

Just copy this post into your own notes & change the answers!

? What are your middle names? Something w/ an A Something w/ a B

? How long have you been together? Since late 2001. It could be August. Or September. Or December 25th because that is a date I'm unlikely to forget.

? How long did you know each other before you started dating? How do you define dating? You could say immediate. Or you could say one month.

? Who asked who out? I probably said "okay, we can go out on an official date."

? How old are each of you? umm... no idea

? Whose siblings do/ did you see the most? Probably hers.

? Do you have any children together? Do Cabbage Patch Kids Count?

? What about pets? Do Webkins Count?

? Did you go to the same school? No

? Are you from the same home town? No

? Who is the smartest? Me

? Who is the most sensitive? Her

? Where do you eat out most as a couple? Does pizza delivery count as eating out? If so, Uptown Pizza. Beyond that, it used to be Chilis except the food went to crap last year. Now it is more often Ruby Tuesday's. I love chains (much to the chagrin of the rest of my family )

? Where is the farthest you two have traveled together as a couple? WA or CA; I'm not sure which is farther.

? Who has the worst temper? Not sure. It is hard to get me mad, but when it happens hide. She is more easily onerous.

? Who does the cooking? Both.

? Who is more social? Her.

?Who is the neat freak? Neither, but if I had to choose... comparatively, that would be me

? Who is the more stubborn? Me

? Who wakes up earlier? We both do, but she wakes up earlier.

? Where was your first date? Chilis [I think] then off to Equator Club for a show

? Who has the bigger family? She does

? Do you get flowers often? Nope

? How do you spend the holidays? Depends which holiday. We usually see both families at some point

? Who is more jealous? Jealous of what?

? How long did it take to get serious? I think we'll start getting serious i about 15 years.

? Who eats more? Not sure

? Who does/ did the laundry? We both do our own.

? Who's better with the computer? Me

? Who drives when you are together? I think she probably drives more; but it depends on what we're doing. If it's her family, she drives. If it's my family I drive.

25 Things You Didn't Know about Jeffry Houser

I got tagged on Facebook by Tim; but writing such an important post over there seemed like a waste when I could put it here.

  1. I own a business currently in it's 10th year, give or take depending on the start date. First client was summer 1999. I left my day job in Fall of 1999. I incorporated in 2nd quarter of 2000.
  2. I've been in 3 serious bands; two of them focused on original music. Far Cry Fly was the most prominent of the bands; we were a duo consisting of guitar + hand drums.
  3. I've been working with a business coach for about a year in an attempt to change the business from straight services consulting to a product based business. I just launched the first product in a line of interface Components for Flex Developers
  4. I have a constant ache in my jaw on the right side. I've been devoting a lot of time to figuring out how to get rid of it. Last year I Got my wisdom teeth out. It helped, but the issue is not gone. This year I'm focusing on making my work-space more ergonomic. I just bought a new keyboard drawer. Unfortunately, w/ the drawer it appears that my keyboard is a lot higher than my mouse; which makes it hard to adjust the chair so I can reach both of them w/o straining. I expect a hydraulic desk from IKea may be in my future so that I can adjust the height of the desk easier; and spend some parts of the day standing.
  5. Occasionally I wrote posts for a group blog on company startups at OurStartupStory.com
  6. I'm pretty particular in contract negotiations, mainly because I had a lot of problems in my early years as a business owner.
  7. The Nintendo Wii is the first gaming console I've ever owned. I'm trying to fill in my cultural gap by using the virtual console to play games I never had. I bought two domains; bloggingmario.com and bloggingzelda.com; but never got around to releasing the sites. And I'm not sure I have time to blog them anyway. I still haven't plugged my way through the first Super Mario Brothers.
  8. If for some reason, I was inclined to spend $150 on a pair of fancy drinking glasses; I would consider them way to expensive to drink from. Especially when I have a perfectly serviceable green plastic cup that was free because a roommate left it when he moved out.
  9. I've written three books for Osborne McGrawHill on ColdFusion. I turned down three offers to write Flex books from different publishers. I'm now smart enough to ask "how big is the market; how many books do you expect to sell" I'm amazed at how many publishers told me "O'Rielly had books that sold well, so we can too." With such a copycat approach to market research, this industry deserves to go under.
  10. I produce a podcast on Adobe Flex. We've done 80 episodes in total and average ~2800 downloads per episode. I used to refer to each episode as my own personal hour of training.
  11. After eight years of dating; I'm engaged. T and I are fighting--in that way that engaged couples do--about how traditional our wedding should be. I think her best friend actual agrees with me more than her; which is odd. So far, we're gonna hike out to a waterfall for the ceremony and do a reception in the backyard.
  12. If I were in a band today, I'd do a lot of things completely different on the promotional front. It's not worth my time to do "new" stuff to promote the old band memorabilia, though. I miss songwriting w/ other people
  13. I love pizza. And Pepsi. Especially together. Pepsi is my Achilles heel. I drink too much. I do not drink coffee, though.
  14. I have a pay as you go cell phone, but rarely use it. The idea of a smart phone (and/or netbook) intrigues me for the sake of having a "always with me" ToDo list, but can't justify the related costs for "Everywhere Internet".
  15. I used to walk an hour a day, but got out of practice when my wisdom teeth were removed. The weather has prevented me from getting back into the swing of things.
  16. I had five wisdom teeth in there, don't ya know. Now they are in a pill bottle in my office. The same pills I took when healing from wisdom teeth removal surgery.
  17. I think American Idol trivializes the amount of work it takes to be successful in the music industry.
  18. I hate reality TV, but love slasher movies. The Friday the 13th remake has plenty of problems right off the bat. First, Jason wasn't in the original Friday the 13th; except for one tack on scene at the end. Second, Jason didn't wear the iconic mask until part 3. Third, they didn't get Kane Hodder to place Jason.
  19. I watch Smallville, Supernatural, Lost, Heroes, and The Simpsons. They are the only shows I catch "new". Anything else is just random surfing, often while eating. If a new Muppet Show is made, it is likely to get into my "playlist"
  20. I'm a huge fan of the band Nirvana. I collected a lot of bootlegs in the years following Kurt Cobain's suicide. I had ~110 tapes; which I gave away when I got out the trading game. I discovered later, that the person I donated my collection to gave them away when he got out of the trading game. I still have all my CDs (~50), which includes all the official releases and ~30 bootlegs. IT takes up a whole shelf on my CD case. I ripped the good stuff; about 7.5 hours of Nirvana music. Four of the CDs in my collection were lent to me back in the early days of CD-R. I did dupe them, but never got around to returning them. Sometimes I feel bad about it.
  21. I do not have cable or satellite or pay for any form of TV Service. I use bunny ears. I get a handful of digital channels, but have been meaning to get an antenna on the roof to improve signal.
  22. I worry about going broke, which is kind of foolish at the moment. I've come a lot closer to broke than I am now.
  23. I think people who didn't like the Star Wars prequels or Indy 4 don't realize that it is because they have changed; not because George Lucas' filmmaking got worse.
  24. I do a real bad job of keeping in touch w/ friends; as such I'm not close to a lot of people. Many people I was close to in the past I'm no longer close to now. There is no bad blood [that I'm aware of], life just gets in the way. Specially when focusing on business. This is why I don't want a wedding party.
  25. I'm a rather analytical person; and think through every decision I make; sometimes to an extreme.

Jeffry Houser's Holiday Letter

This went out to a bunch of people and maybe you've already seen it; but for posterity purposes; here is our 2008 Holiday Letter. We never got around to mailing out 2007's Holiday letter; so some of this stuff is 2007 related. I cut out a handful of the stuff that was T-only because it's my blog not hers.

Here is the letter:

We hope you have (or have had) a Happy Holiday season. Believe it or not we actually wrote a Holiday letter last year, but never got around to sending it. That is either the epitome of busyness or laziness. You decide!

Once again, we had another (two) year(s) of fun, games, and chocolate. Here's an update for those of you who read these letters!

First off, we're getting hitched. We've been dating for a couple years (T says: seven years) and Jeffry figured it was about time. We're still figuring out the best way to pull this off.

It was a pleasure to see many of you at our various events such as the Week Before Labor Day Party, the bowling bash, and the Thanksgiving weekend brunch. We'll do more next year, so if you want to be on our Evite list, please let us know.

When we say it was two year(s) of games, we weren't joking. Start with a collection of children's blocks (like the block box from Jeffry's parent's basement), a box of heavy rubber bands, and a smattering of Action Figures. Set up the blocks on a table, position the figures on them, and fire away with the rubber bands! It's like a video game from 30 years ago. This game was named Slingshot, by Tammi's adopted nieces.

We weren't content with tiny plastic people, so we searched for more intelligent prey. That led us to laser tag, a game that Jeffry had never played before. In laser tag you get to run around in a dark maze and get shot many times by a bunch of 12 year olds. To top that off, we collected some high tech toys in the form of a Nintendo Wii (& new large screen TV & some surround sound speakers). The Wii has a motion sensitive controller, which makes for a truly unique gaming experience. We have all the cool party games like Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution, and Mario Kart.

Even though we love the seasons in Connecticut, we still had a chance to step away from the house quite a bit. December 06 we flew into Spokane WA the middle of nowhere to visit Jeffry's sister. The weather kept us indoors with no cable, Internet, or phone. The trip home was ~24 hours; and Jeffry swore he'd never travel again: A claim he eventually rescinded.

We had a sinfully delicious steak dinner in Omaha on Good Friday, a sandwich while floating kayaking rafting down the docile mighty Delaware River, and a meal in the round at Seattle's Space Needle. We flew to San Jose and visited Oakland and San Francisco in 2008. Jeff tried lamb at a Thai place in California and finally got to have an animal-style burger at In N Out. T helped her best friend move to Virginia.

For Valentine's Day, Jeffry was able to "acquire" a 96-serving sized box of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Therapy ice cream. Somehow, we got less than 25 servings from it, but they were all good till the last drop. We even got to see a pre-Broadway showing of Young Frankenstein the musical.

Jeffry has finally put some focus into DotComIt. He hired a business coach; and is paying that person a lot of money to ask, "What do you want to do with your life?" over and over again. The result of this is that Jeff is building a line of interface components for Flex Developers. Jeff also started an Internet radio show (AKA podcast) on Adobe technologies named The Flex Show. If you don't know what that means, you probably won't care to listen beyond the novelty value of "Hey, " know that guy".

T got formally accepted into grad school, and we expect this to end most of her social life for the next two years as she tries to complete her Masters in History. At the day job, T's school moved into a new building (again), but this time they moved into state of the art facility with working AC and heat. Along the way, Tammi switched from 6th grade to a multiage 4th/5th grade level. In May, Tammi got big thanks from co-workers for organizing Multicultural Day. The schedule was set up 2 ½ weeks before the event and most of the day ran smoothly.

Here is wishing you all the best in 2009.

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