CH-6005 Luzern, Switzerland
2004 is drawing to a close and it's time to reflect on the year's events, and send some news to friends and family. It's been a good, though rather hectic, year with unfortunately little opportunity for exotic vacations. Almost all of our travel this year has been business related.
The year started off on the wrong foot, or more accurately, on a bad knee. In November of last year I injured my knee and after weeks of it not healing completely, I was finally sent by my doctor to see an orthopedic surgeon. He diagnosed a torn meniscus and recommended surgery, which he performed in late February. The operation itself took place using local anesthetic - I was just coherent enough to watch the live video feed from the arthroscopic probe - and took less than 40 minutes. I was required to stay at the clinic over night, and was forced to walk a few steps just a few hours later, right after the anesthetic wore off. The next morning I was expected to leave under my own power without the aide of crutches or a cane. A week later I was hobbling around Reykjavik, with a suitcase in hand, without too much trouble. Most of the recovery involved regaining flexibility and rebuilding the atrophied muscle, which had been lost before the operation. When you consider that ten years previously the same operation left two huge scars and required two weeks in hospital (vs. two stitches and less than 24 hours in a clinic), I'm quite thankful that my knee held out long enough to benefit from the improved technology.
Professionally, it's been a promising year. My speculative leap into the business of producing database backed web applications is starting to pay off. My customer in Iceland is pleased with the drawing management system I delivered last year and we - there are three of us now: me, one full time and one silent partner - are busy completing the next release of the system and planning a number of additional products. The business has now found a specialization in supplying IT systems and services for large construction projects. One current project, believe it or not, is helping to rework an old FORTRAN system that will be used to make the hydrodynamic calculations required for a power station in Iceland. This has been more fun than anticipated. I'm working with real engineers and having to brush up my calculus and differential equations, skills which have largely been unused since I graduated from MIT over 20 years ago (gasp!).
In mid-May, shortly before my second week-long trip to Reykjavik, the London based customer, for whom I had done a project in 2002, called and requested that I come out for another 'short' project. This turned into four months of living and working full-time in London. It was a demanding project; technically challenging and in a stimulating environment. I was pleased to see familiar faces from the previous project of 2002 and also to meet a number of new and quite interesting people. All this made for a hectic summer, with Sandra and I attempting to see each other on alternate weekends. Unfortunately, the intensity of the project and the demands of keeping the rest of the business afloat did not allow me time to visit many of my friends in England. This was a real shame but, given the circumstances, unavoidable. I also missed having a summer holiday, so Sandra went with a girlfriend for a week in southern Turkey without me. All I got was a T-shirt [sic].
When I finally arrived back in Switzerland in mid-September, I was only home for a week before, much to Sandra's consternation, I had to go back to Iceland again for third week! Thus, last year's prediction that 2004 would be exciting has come true.
Luckily, since then things have calmed down somewhat and we finally had time for one long weekend away. In October we went to Piemonte, northern Italy's main wine region, where visited the cities of Asti and Alba. Near Alba we visited some vineyards and, quite by chance, arrived in the middle of Alba's truffle fair. Caught up in the excitement of the event we bought our own white-truffle, as well as a car full of wine and other regional specialties.
In early November my mother visited for a week. I was pleased to see she continues to be quite active and fit.
Due to my knee injury and operation, I didn't even get my skis out of the basement this year and consequently missed the Engadin ski marathon. I plan to sign up for next year's race. I also missed most of this year's Kung Fu training, especially considering my summer in London. Though a mitigating factor was the chance to train for a few weeks in London at Austin Goh's Kung Fu school.
Tomorrow we are finally off for an exotic vacation. We're going to Lhaviyani atoll in the Maldives for a well-deserved week off. There we plan to spend our time reading, snorkeling (Alan), enjoying wellness treatments (Sandra) and not doing much else.
I'll close by sending our very best wishes for the holiday season and the coming year. Thanks for all last year's cards and especially letters. As always, I look forward to hearing from you in the coming year.
Best wishes from Sandra and myself,