Year in Review 2001

Dear Fellow Infidel,
Even before the September 11th Islamic terrorist attack, the one I have feared for many years, I had been focusing this year on how many exceptional people it has been my privilege to know and how important friends and family really are. Seeing the meltdown at Lucent and the terrible impact on so many friends was just one of the triggers to my thinking before 9/11. This year’s card is a painting of lower Manhattan during WWII. It’s small, simple and yet it has a certain emotional impact. I hope you enjoy it; I had to look at 1,000 cards to select it. It captures this year’s themes and is a snapshot of the world when I was born. One of the advantages of having my annual “Year in Review” on the web is that I can hyperlink text to various websites in case you want to do some surfing.
Best Wishes, Don

Here is the table of contents for my Year in Review:
Digital World (Jan - Dec) The Latimers (Aug, Sep)
Las Vegas (Feb) Club Dave (Aug)
Cuba (April - May) College (Sep - Dec)
Retirement 201 (June) Texas (July, Sep, Oct)
Summer Seminar (July) New York (Nov)
Canada (July) New Orleans (Dec)

Digital World

This year I began the conversion from analog to digital. This will take a number of years to complete. In January, I got DSL service to transform the Internet experience. Now the Internet is just part of the browser. When I double click to open Internet Explorer the Internet is already there. There is no “logging” on. Also Internet pages load much faster. This summer I replaced my four-year-old Mac with two new Macs: a G4 titanium laptop and a G4 desktop with a flat screen display. I interconnected the new Macs with each other and the DSL line using Apple’s wireless LAN called “Airport”. Wonderful!! The new standard USB and Firewire interfaces are the keys to the digital world allowing true plug and play and high-speed access. Next I bought a digital camera (3.1 megapixels) and a digital movie camera. I got a photo quality printer. It is amazing to see an 8” x 10” (20cm x 25cm) photo printed with a quality equivalent to a traditional photo. I got the Iomega Peerless backup system. I learned FrontPage and Dreamweaver in order to build this website. Finally, I got my own web address and loaded my site just before Christmas 2001. Next on my list is to get a scanner and convert both Macs to Apple’s revolutionary new operating system, OS X. It has a gorgeous user interface and under the hood it is based on UNIX (invented at Bell Labs). Another major technology change was converting to multi-focal contact lenses. This allows me to avoid using reading glasses in many situations. If you wear contact lenses and use reading glasses, you may want to ask your eye doctor about this advance in contact lenses.

Las Vegas

For the past 6 years, I have visited Las Vegas in February or March to attend Louis Ruykeyer’s financial conference, which attracts almost 10,000 people. I don’t gamble, but I do go to the shows. This year in addition to seeing the Blue Man Group (recommended) and the Cirque du Soleil (both shows are highly recommend), I went to see professional boxing for the first time. I almost walked away when I found out that the cheapest seat was $200 (tickets were $200, $400, $600, $800 and $1000. Ouch!). The Mandalay Bay Hotel arena seats 8400 and I was near the roof in my “cheap” seat. However, I was able to see the “big picture” very well and determined which fighter was going to win in all 6 fights by the way they moved their opponents around the ring. The main event was Holyfield vs. Ruiz. It was clear from the crowd cheering that the smart money (5:1) was on Holyfield, but Ruiz won becoming the first Hispanic heavyweight champion in boxing history. The extreme crowd noise gets your adrenaline pumping so it is quite an experience seeing and hearing boxing live. People lost so much money on the championship fight that the crowd was strangely quiet as they exited the arena. It was creepy.

Cuba

I made an 11-day trip to Cuba from April 26 thru May 7th. It was an exceptional trip that allowed me to integrate many pieces of history. Please read my extensive trip report. A month before the trip, I attended a pistol training event sponsored by the Chicago Libertarian organization. This was a public service to educate people on the practical aspects of our Second Amendment rights, i.e., how to use a pistol. After basic training, we got to fire 6 or 7 different pistols. It may have been beginners luck, but I was pleased with my marksmanship. In Cuba, there was a chance opportunity to have a “contest” with the locals using air rifles and I was prepared thanks to the Chicago Libertarians.

Retirement 201

As chance would have it, I worked on October 1, 1996, Lucent’s first day and retired the next day. Thus I am the very first person to retire from Lucent. Less than 4 months later, I returned to Lucent as a consultant on a contract basis. Normally, former employees work this way for 2 years or less because it requires high-level management approval. I worked for almost 4.5 years. Frankly, I hadn’t planned to work that long, but I was working for an exceptional leader, Fred Lax who had surrounded himself with some very talented people. I was able to leverage my extensive experience to help the team as it achieved breakthrough progress in technical support. In June 2000, I signed a contract for one final year to achieve a sentimental milestone: the 35th anniversary of my start at Bell Laboratories. I never dreamed that Lucent would layoff or retire almost 60,000 people – half of their employees -- in roughly the same period. I felt like the eye of the storm as I worked every day of my contract departing at the end of June 2001 as originally planned. All in all, my “post career” career was very educational and rewarding. I’m glad I had this opportunity. My 4 months of experience from Retirement 101 has made Retirement 201 go smoothly. I still have an occasional “work” dream.

Summer Seminar

The day I retired, I left on a trip to Johnstown, PA to attend The Objectivist Center’s (TOC) weeklong summer seminar on philosophy and related topics. This is my 5th year in a row to attend. I always look forward to the intellectual stimulation and the chance to meet old friends and make new ones. This was my first time in Johnstown and it was an opportunity to experience the 4th of July in a small town and see the site of the famous flash flood in 1889, which killed 2200 people. I also made a return visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwaters. This wonderful house is undergoing $14M worth of structural repairs. We have an Objectivist-oriented discussion group in Chicago, hosted by Marsha Enright, called the New Intellectual Forum.

Canada

From Pennsylvania, I drove to Midland, Ontario 2 hours north of Toronto to visit my 9th cousin, Lorine Schulze. I met Lorine on the Internet 5 years ago and had been looking forward to meeting her in person. She and I are descendents of the first Van Slyck in America and his Mohawk wife. Lorine and I are very interested in genealogy, but the difference is that she is a professional. Also I’ve done most of my work in libraries while she is an Internet power user. It is thrilling to watch her use her computer to cross check various databases and sources with breathtaking speed. We worked several nights to 1:00am as we traced my tree back to the earliest Dutch immigrants in America. The major discoveries were:

  • In 1624 my 10th great grandmother, Marie Vinge gave birth to the first European child in Manhattan (this made 9/11 even more special)
  • Abraham Verplank, my 10th great grandfather, was one of the 40 people who gave money to have the wall built that Wall Street is named after
  • Thomas Edison is a distant cousin (we have Dutch immigrants in common)
  • I already knew that one of my ancestors, Captain Martin Cregier, was Burgomaster of New Amsterdam (New York City) and earlier the first fire warden in 1648

On my way back to Chicago, I visited the Bell Homestead in Branford, Ontario. This is where Alexander Graham Bell conceived the idea of the telephone and where the first “long distance” (8 miles) transmission tests were conducted. I spent several hours hiking in the park between the Bell house and the river to get an idea of what Bell experienced when he went for long walks thinking about his inventions. Bell also learned to speak Mohawk while in Branford.

The Latimers

When I started at Bell Labs back in June 1966, Richard Latimer was the technical lead in the group I joined. I became good friends with Richard and his wife, Lynn. Over the years, I watched their children grow up. Back in 1994, Renee, the eldest was married in a splendid ceremony in Vermont at a resort rented for the occasion. In August 2001, Jason Latimer married Natalia Carta in another spectacular ceremony in a vineyard in Sonoma County, California near the Jack London State Park. I don’t have the space to explain this extremely well planned wedding with its multiple events, but it is the featured wedding in the February/March 2002 issue of Bride's magazine (not on-line). I stared making a video of it using some “digital world” skills I learned. While in California, I visited many friends that I had not seen in 20 years. One of them, Andrew Goreff, runs the local ISP in Modesto which happens to be located where Congressman Gary Condit's office was. It's a small world. Also while in California, I made a brief pilgrimage to Apple Computer's headquarters in Cupertino. In September, Dagny Latimer married Michael Knight at The Wintergreen Resort in Spring Green, Wisconsin, the site of Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, Taliesin. We attended a Shakespearean play about love, "As You Like It", the night before the wedding at the outdoor American Players Theatre. Once again I have started a video of the wedding, but need time and some new skills to complete it. Richard and Lynn have two grandchildren and are looking forward to two more in 2002. It is a pleasure to see this fine family grow into the next generation.

Club Dave

At the end of August, I attended “Club Dave” for the 5th time. Each year, Dave Wahlstedt invites a collection of his friends up to a cabin for a long weekend and this year I got to use my new “digital world” skills to make an 11-minute movie of Club Dave 2001 including classic shots of people wiping out on water skis and some Woody Allen type scenes. After editing the camcorder and digital camera shots on my Mac laptop in iMovie, I added titles and a few special effects. The well-received movie was shown to 12 people on a local TV set. Apple has created a brilliantly simple and powerful piece of software in iMovie.

College of DuPage

This fall I signed up for 2 courses at the local community college. I was surprised to learn that at 30,000 students, it is the second largest university or college in Illinois. One course was “Web Generation” where I learned enough to create my web site and the other was “Elementary Spanish I”. Back in the 1960s, I took 2 years of German, 1 year of Russian and a semester of French at the University of Texas. So I knew what I was getting into. Learning a language is hard work, but now that Hispanics have become the largest minority group in America, I thought I should learn to speak Spanish. As you would expect, I studied diligently and made an “A” in each course. I’m signed up in follow-on courses next quarter, which starts January 7, 2002.

Texas

I made 3 trips to Texas this year. In July, I visited my father in Dallas to see how he was doing after his car accident. He was ok and had bought a recent American car finally retiring his 1967 Volkswagen. In September, I attended a banquet in Austin at the Ex-Student’s association to honor the donors and recipients of scholarships. This was the first year for the Parrish Computer Science Scholarship and you can read about it on this web site including seeing a photo of Megan Beck, the first winner. I also took my father to dinner on his 87th birthday. See his birthday photo. In October, we had our annual reunion with my father, my brother Phil and his son PJ, his wife Amy and their son, Cortlan Alexander Parrish. Cortlan is 2 years old and is very accomplished with all things technical. We also had a reunion with our first cousins in Texas and their mother, my aunt Marcia. I made a five-minute iMovie to record the event. On the movie, Aunt Marcia recounts seeing the crash of the airplane into the Empire State Building during a visit to New York City in 1945. Her son, Tim Parrish lives just 9 blocks from Ground Zero and I visited him in November. In 1999, Aunt Marcia received on her 76th birthday a special Senate resolution #759 in the Texas State Capitol building for her 65 years of piano playing.

New York

In November, I flew to New York to attend the Circumnavigators award dinner (I'm the treasurer of the Chicago Chapter) where the Order of Magellan award was given to Senator John Glenn. Before he gave his acceptance speech, the 1962 recording of his epic flight by Walter Cronkite was played. Most of the audience, myself included, had experienced this live back in 1962. I had a chance to talk to Sen. Glenn and mentioned to him that astronaut, Jim Lovell had autographed my Circumnavigator membership plaque back in 1989 with the comment "You have 421 times to go" -- referring to the number of times he had been around the world.

I explained to Sen. Glen that Jim Lovell had given us a talk on Apollo 13 that night which was so compelling the audience had held its breath wondering if Jim Lovell had survived. This was about 18 months before the movie was released. Sen. Glenn became very animated and told me that Apollo 13 was a great movie and that it was very historically accurate. On the other hand, he said that "All the Right Stuff" wasn't accurate and he thought it was a poor movie.

While I was in New York, I spent several hours with my 11th cousin, Molly Hayes touring Ground Zero. The closest you can get is about 2 blocks and the furthest is about 4 blocks. The smell wasn't as bad as I thought, but microscopic dust did make my sinuses very unhappy. There is a very strong emotional impact visiting the site. There are signs and banners everywhere of condolences and sympathy from people from all over the world. Also there are individual Missing Persons photos that were put up immediately after the Islamic attack. These are very touching because they are written as if the people are just missing and will be found. We now know that they are all dead. Since 1624, my ancestors have been living in the immediate neighborhood of Ground Zero and my first cousin, Tim Parrish lives just 9 blocks away.

New Orleans

At the end of November, I flew south to attend the New Orleans Financial Conference. This is my 5th year to attend. Milton Friedman spoke and answered questions via a remote teleconference connection. Chris Matthews presented a live version of his popular "Hardball" program. Chris can think on his feet and is quite skillful in asking questions to get to the heart of an issue. Basically he is the same person live as he is on TV. The featured speaker was the mother of the President, Barbara Bush. I've seen her speak before. She is a master of the "soft" speech filled with stories, anecdotes and humor. However, her rock-solid judgement and common sense shines through. After seeing his mother speak, many people had a higher opinion of George Bush because they reasoned that he must have inherited or learned things from her. I was lucky to be included in a group photo with Barbara Bush. The banquet speaker was John Stossel who spoke very frankly about how TV news programs are actually produced and what the decision making process is. John has done a number of great specials like "Greed" and "Are We Scarring Ourselves to Death?". These are now being produced for classroom use. It was very nice to talk to John for a few minutes one on one.