Tuesday, December 30, 2003


We decided to take a trip to Florida between Christmas and New Year. Our first stop was in Titusville and from there we visited the Kennedy Space Center. Then on to Orlando and Universal Studios. Perhaps the high point of the trip, however, was when we rented Segways in Celebration. They are really a lot of fun to ride around on and Steve got to be quite acrobatic on his.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Christmas 2003

Merry Christmas!


Many of you are readers of the (irregular) Miner Updates so we won't
review the whole year. We'll publish all the old Updates on the web
"real soon now". (Sounds like a good New Year's resolution.)

The old saying "Less is More" was true for us this year. We were
successful with the Atkins diet and each lost over 25 unneeded pounds.
You might notice the difference in some of our more recent pictures.

Steve continues to telecommute for Apple, with monthly cross-country
trips back to Cupertino. His WebObjects software is used to power the
Apple iTunes Music Store which has been in the news quite a bit this
year. Time magazine called the iTunes Music Store "the invention of
the year", Fortune magazine gave it the product of the year award, and
Business Week picked it as one of the best products of 2003.

Time Best Invention

Business Week

We had fun buying a few favorite old songs from the iTunes Music Store,
and we encourage you to try it, too. It even works on Windows!

Steve also worked on the "Panther" release of the Mac OS X operating
system, officially known as version 10.3. It has received good
reviews, although it lacks the Rock Star appeal of iTunes. By the way,
if you're in the market for any Apple products be sure to ask Steve
about his employee discount.

Lisa will finish up her horticulture and landscaping classes at
Brunswick Community College just before Christmas. She's done well in
her classes, and now knows the Latin names (as well as Southern
pronunciations) of hundreds of local plants. After three semesters at
BCC, she's very happy to be done with her studies -- at least for now.
Next semester, she's been invited to teach a course in computerized
landscape design at BCC. She's also decided to sign up for classes to
become a "Master Gardener". So it looks like her academic career will continue.

At the beginning of September, we took advantage of a good deal to
spend a few days in the Bahamas at the Westin Hotel in Our Lucaya near
Freeport. We got lucky with the weather. It was mostly sunny, with
just a few tropical showers. Hurricane Fabian was headed for the
Bahamas but turned north, leaving Freeport untouched. (You might
remember that Bermuda was devastated by a direct hit from Fabian.) We
had a great time snorkeling and hanging around the pool, which had
swim-up access to the bar. The Bahamas have an interesting mix of old
English traditions and Caribbean style. One of our favorite spots was
the English-style pub across the street from the hotel. They also had
English cheese and chocolate. The Bahamians drive on the left like the
British, but most of the cars are American built so the steering wheels
on are the wrong side.

It wasn't long after we got home from The Bahamas before Hurricane
Isabel formed far out in the Atlantic, with a projected path across
North Carolina. September and October are traditionally the peak of
the hurricane season for our area so the local weather forecasters were
very excited about Isabel. As the hurricane approached, even the
national news networks were sending reporters to North Carolina and
Virginia. Fortunately for us, the eye of the hurricane made landfall
about 200 miles north of us in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We
had lots of rain and wind (up to 50 miles per hour), but no damage to
speak of. The Outer Banks, on the other hand, were hit hard. The main
road was washed out in several places where new inlets were carved
through the narrow strips of sand. As Isabel moved inland and north,
our friends in Virginia suffered significant damage and extensive power
outages. We feel very lucky to have missed the brunt of the storm. We
were also glad to have visited the Outer Banks in July before the

History of Isabel

Hurricane Isabel Damage at the Outer Banks

At the beginning of November, we went on our first "Volleyball
. A couple of pro beach volleyball players (including an
Olympic gold medalist) coached a bunch of us amateurs at the Club Med
in Turks and Caicos (a group of islands south of the Bahamas). The
beach was beautiful, and the highs were in the 80's, with just an
occasional shower. Steve had a great time playing volleyball and won
the Men's B tournament with his doubles partner Kevin. As a reward they
got to play doubles with the pros. Lisa doesn't play volleyball, but
she enjoyed watching us (a bit) and soaking up the sun by the pool.
Aside from volleyball, we went snorkeling and sailing (with a friend
who knew what he was doing). We met one bartender who was a big Apple
fan, so he took care of us at the bar in exchange for an old Apple

On a sad note, Lisa's mother passed away in September after a long
illness. She had been suffering from Alzheimer's for many years so in
a sense it was really for the best, but it's always sad to say
good-bye. Lisa gave the eulogy at the memorial service, remembering
her mother as she was before the illness. Whilst she was in England
she had a chance spend time with her mother's old friends and share
some fond memories with them.

Our dogs are doing well. They really love the neighborhood, and our
neighbors have adopted them as honorary grand-dogs, spoiling them with
treats. Bertie is going to be ten years old in January -- he sleeps a
lot but still has the puppyish enthusiasm that we fell in love with.
We're planning to have a big birthday party for him. Heidi is doing
fine, and has a good time chasing squirrels and Canadian geese and
running away from Bertie when he gets too rambunctious.

We will be spending Christmas at home with the dogs. Steve has about
ten days off work so we are going to Orlando for a few days after
Christmas. We will also be going to see the final installment of the
Lord of the Rings.

We wish all our friends and family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy
New Year!

Steve, Lisa, Bertie and Heidi

Sunday, August 17, 2003

August 2003


Dear Friends,

This Miner Update is dedicated to the theme of transportation. In May,
Lisa finally decided that she had had enough of pushing a lawn mower
over 13,000 square feet of turf so we bought her a riding mower. It
was the smallest one that The Home Depot sells, but it's very
maneuverable. She has had a good time mowing the lawn ever since. The
lawn mower was actually the second convertible that we bought this
year. The first was ordered in January by Lisa (while Steve was in
California), and finally arrived in May just in time for her birthday.
(That's a new twist on a "surprise" birthday present where the giver
doesn't know about it.) It's a red Toyota MR2 Spyder, nearly as small
as the lawn mower. Lisa aptly describes it as her "mid-life crisis

We planned to take the Spyder on our trip to the Outer Banks in July.
However, the weather was uncertain so we took the SUV instead. That
turned out to be the right decision as it poured with record rain (3-5
inches per hour) while we were driving up the coast. Fortunately, the
rain eased and we enjoyed a couple of days exploring the area,
including Kitty Hawk where the Wright Brothers' museum and memorial is
located. In December of this year, America will celebrate the
centennial of their first flight. We also climbed to the top of the
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse -- 268 steps. This is the lighthouse that was
recently moved inland to avoid being destroyed by the ocean. They made
TV program about how this was accomplished. Consult your local PBS

Near the north end of the Outer Banks, we stayed at a wonderful hotel
called The Sanderling. It is right on the ocean, and guests are
treated like royalty (almost). We particularly enjoyed the
complimentary bottle of wine, the afternoon tea cookies, and the
oversized hot tub.

Back home, the dogs were proud sponsors of the Azalea Fifth hole for
the second annual Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation golf
tournament at Brunswick Plantation.

Steve will be in California for two weeks starting on Monday, and Lisa
will be visiting for an all-too-brief weekend, arriving Thursday night.
It will be her first trip back to California since we moved over two
years ago. We've been invited by Arnold to work on his campaign for
Governor so we'll be very busy! Regarding Steve's October trip, which
happens to coincide with the recall election, all he can say is "I'll
be back".

See you soon!

Steve and Lisa

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

April 2003


We've been off the air since our Christmas newsletter. Thanks for all the email - we've missed you, too!

Just to catch you up on the weather... We had near record cold this past winter. A little snow is kind of fun, but the bitter cold gets old real fast, and the truth is that this place wasn't designed for 19 degree weather - we're built for hurricanes, not ice storms! After a couple of days of below freezing lows, we discovered a broken water pipe running over the garage and out to a spigot. We caught it quickly and shut off the water. The flooding was confined to the garage so it wasn't anywhere near as bad as it might have been. Naturally, this transpired on a Friday afternoon around 5pm so it was impossible to get a plumber. Fortunately for us, we have some neighbors who know a thing or two about copper pipes. We found the break, cut out the bad section, and capped it off so that we could turn the water back on. (By we, I mean mostly Art who has the tools and practical knowledge that your typical software engineer sadly lacks.) We weren't the only ones with problems so we patiently waited a few days for the plumbers to come around and repair the damage. Fast forward to April, and now we're talking torrential rain, leading to minor flooding on the golf course. No earthquakes, tornadoes or hurricanes, so we shouldn't complain.

As our loyal readers undoubtedly already know, Lisa has been studying horticulture and landscape design at Brunswick Community College since last autumn. She's still doing well in school and enjoying fields trips to the local greenhouses, farms and the world famous Green Swamp (an excellent place to observe venus flytraps in their native environment). She finished the Spring semester recently and doesn't have to go back until August.

Steve continues to telecommute to Apple, with frequent in-person visits back to the Bay Area. Apple has made some news recently with new iPods and an online AppleMusic.com store where you can download songs for 99 cents a piece. Behind the scenes, Steve's software runs the online music store so he's now part of that whole Rock Star scene. It's not as glamorous as you might think.

Now, it wouldn't be a Miner Update without some travel news. For our pre-New Year's celebration we spent a couple of nights in Charleston, South Carolina. It's become our weekend getaway place, especially since we found a good martini bar. For Lisa's Spring Break (remember, she's a college kid), we took a trip to Fort Lauderdale. I never made it to Florida when I was in college, but I do remember hearing about it. People still think of MTV beach parties and Girls Gone Wild videos, but things seem to have changed. For some odd reason, millionaires in waterfront mansions with magnificent yachts didn't like having millions of teenage college coeds descending on their beaches every Spring so they've tried to change the tone of the area a bit. More money, less wild, but still fun for the over-forty tourist crowd. MTV and the college kids have moved on to other parts of Florida.

For some computer fun, do a google search for Bertram Wooster. OK, I'll do it for you... That's my boy!

Cheers, Steve and Lisa