December 2007

Dear Friends and Family, 

A new school, a new job, a new business, and new friends—2007 was a year of change for the Allens. 

Eric has fully embraced the college experience at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY. To quote him, “I’m comfortable, I’ve found peers, I’ve come up with a schedule that fits me, and I get to do what I love: work on projects. I’m having an awesome start to what looks to be a great education.” His major is Computer & Systems Engineering. 

We would add that he has a wonderful roommate. He enjoys several clubs on campus, including the group that provides sound mixing for events on campus, the Progressive Students Alliance, the electronics club, and the ham radio operators club. He does his best to keep his blog up to date, but sometimes it's hard to keep up!

Eric and a group of friends from middle school, who are all at east coast colleges, spent the Thanksgiving break in Washington, DC. They converged on the capital—from as far as Pennsylvania  and Vermont—to catch up, play cards, and prepare meals together.

Although the nest is empty, the little bird does a good job of keeping in touch. We flew to Albany to move Eric into his dorm and returned in October for Family Weekend (perfect timing to catch the fall colors). Back at home, we quietly celebrated our 20th anniversary and counted our blessings.

In January, Susie took a job as a senior technical writer at F5 Networks, a Seattle-based high-tech company that has an office not far from our house. She has a great boss and appreciates the perks of a medium-size company, including onsite yoga. Knitting projects, a book club, and dates with John kept her busy enough that she barely noticed her 60th birthday in June.

John presented Al Gore's slide show to 13 public audiences, and he continues to discuss climate change with anyone who is interested. He improved our solar thermal system enough that it provides 100% of our hot water on a sunny day. He continues to refine the monitor and control part of that system with an eye toward commercializing the monitoring part as a web service. Although Eric created the software, John is working to take it over, which means dusting off his old programming skills and learning a new language. In his spare time, he volunteers as a precinct captain for the Barack Obama campaign. 

We are sad to report that John’s mom passed away in Spokane in March at the age of 91. She maintained her vigor right up until the last few months. The end came peacefully. She was an inspiration to us all. 

Tiffany, Jason, and Avalon are still enjoying their European adventure. They have found new friends, taken advantage of opportunities to travel in Europe, and made a couple of trips back to the U.S. to visit their families. Cisco Systems purchased WebEx earlier this year, and Jason is hoping to extend his contract in Amsterdam for another year. Ava attends the British American School, so she not only speaks some Dutch, but she is acquiring a bit of a British accent when she speaks English. Tiffany works part time in a catering company’s storefront deli. 

Eric visited Tiff, Jase, and Ava during his spring break, and he loved every minute of his trip—from riding the tram across town to the wonderful and interesting food to the “chill” European atmosphere. Not exactly your average spring break, but for Eric it was perfect. He even got to borrow Jason’s bike! 

As we look forward to 2008, we hope this holiday season brings peace and joy to you and yours.