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