2001 has been a good year. Everyone was healthy and gainfully employed. Jenny and Charlie celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary (after many predicted the marriage would only last a couple years). And Mark bought his first house - finer than any previous house we had owned.
Mark continues to work in computer systems development (on the database team) for Metasolv Software in Plano, Texas (213 miles north of Austin). He was in Las Vegas for a party, and placed a modest bet that paid $35,000! After taxes, etc., he had over $20,000 towards replacing his car.
Last summer his roommates moved out of the house they were renting. After exploring his options, Mark found that buying would be cheaper than renting (since Tipper, his 2½ year old 90 pound Rottweiler "lap dog" would like a yard). And with a roommate to share the costs, he would be ahead.
Jenny is still a Controller for start-up companies, through "Virtual CFO Inc." The 30 or so senior financial executives in her firm each work with several companies at a time, typically starting with a company when they only have a few employees, and helping them "grow up" until they are ready to graduate to a full-time CFO. (Or until they give up on their idea, and close down.) The bad economy hasn't hurt VCFO as much as many companies, since many clients have kept them longer, rather than hiring full time financial management.
Charlie continues as the Image and Work Management "Subject Matter Expert" for Computer Sciences Corporation Financial Services Group. In simpler terms, he consults to the CSC project teams doing imaging - often to 20 or more projects at a time, including many system conversions. This fall a nagging computer virus in the office led to Charlie working at home for weeks. He loved it, and was more productive, but Jenny wasn't sure about having him home all the time! This may remain the pattern as CSC moves to new "downtown" offices in January. In the new building everyone switches from private offices to an open cubicle, and grumpy Charlie goes from a 5-minute commute to 20-60 minutes (depending on the hour). Although our part of CSC is extremely busy, the company has cut expenses across the board, so some of the tools and travel have been lost and the bureaucracy has risen - a frustrating situation.
It looks like Charlie will end the year with only 81 nights in hotels, and about 80 flight legs, about 20% less than usual. He passed a million miles on American Airlines, plus roughly as much in total on other airlines. It seems like a lot, but most of his fellow workers travel 2-3 times as much!
Travel is always a big part of our annual letter. In addition to Charlie's business trips to Boston, New York, DesMoines, Petaluma California, San Antonio, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Louisville, Jacksonville Illinois, Minneapolis, Tampa-St. Pete, Dallas, Neptune New Jersey, Chicago, and other locations, Jenny did join him in Australia (Wollongong and Sydney) in January.
In July they took a pure vacation trip to Seattle. Can you imagine? No talks. No meetings. No trade show or conference. Just Jenny and Charlie together. What is this world coming to?
In February Charlie finally traded his old Cadillac STS for a top-of-the-line Lexus with only 19,000 miles, which led to a driving trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin in the summer. (This is the first time that we have had a car big enough for Charlie to be comfortable in, that Jenny also enjoyed driving.) There is a test for all the relatives in the pictures of the driving trip.
In late September we flew to Western New York, to visit friends and relatives, including lunch with 5 of his 45 first cousins and 88 year young aunt, and Charlie's 40th high-school reunion. The trip to Germany for a meeting in early October was cancelled by the economy, but would probably have been cancelled anyway by the events of September 11th.
We also took a big step in the world of art. We have always had many pictures, but only a few museum-quality prints, and nothing particularly valuable. We have admired the work of Carl Rice Embry, a Texas painter. In January we bought an original from a gallery in New York. (They started to take us seriously when our friend, the director of the McNay Art Museum, stopped in to check on it.) Shortly after we made the investment, Mr. Embry called - an early patron in Arizona needed to sell another painting - could he give her our name? So now we own two of his works!
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