Charles' Year End Letter


2011 Holiday Letter

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Hi All!

Travel this year

Munich

The biggest foreign trip this year was to Munich for the March JEDEC meeting. It was below freezing while I was there, however, that did not slow me down. I had a couple of very interesting historical walking tours of downtown Munich and the concentration camp at Dachau, which was the prototype for the other camps.

Downtown Munich was particularly interesting as it was the birthplace of the Nazi movement. The walking tour pointed out lots of historic locations of the Nazi party.

While in Munich, I was able to have dinner with Volker and his wife, Andrea. Volker and I worked in the same building when I was in Japan. He and I hung out together and went on a lot of sightseeing trips.

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This wall was very significant to the Nazi party. This wall is across the street from the "Residenz", which was the seat of government and home to the Bavarian dukes, electors and kings. There was a plaque to commemorate the 16 Nazis who died during the Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler installed a guarded memorial along Residenzstrasse and required all passers-by to give the Hitler salute.


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A little closer view of the wall, where's the plaque?

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The plaque has long since been taken down, however, you can see the holes in the wall where the plaque used to be.


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Viscardigasse became known as Drückebergergasse (Dodger's Alley) during the Third Reich. It was the only way to 'dodge' saluting the plaque by sneaking through this alley. This was a small act of civic defiance.

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A memorial has been created on the street. The faint curvy line is a gold color and commerates those that defied the Nazis by dodging the requirement to salute the plaque.



Dachau was the proto-type camp which became concentration camps. It is about an hour outside of Munich and it was another cold day. I walked around the camp for a few hours, then returned to Munich.

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This is the main entrance to the memorial site. The concentration camps were originally designed to hold political prisoners.

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The camp was laid out as shown above. The multiple narrow rectangles were the building used to house the political prisoners. The dark, U-shaped building, was the administration building. The dark building behind the adminstration building (on the far right) held prisoners that had special priviledges and were kept in single person cells, which was considered a luxary.


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This gate was the entrance to the area where the prisoners were kept. The words on the gate are "Arbeit macht frei" which means "Work will set you free". This slogan is known for having been placed over the entrances to a number of concentration camps.

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This is a view of the gate house from inside the prison camp.


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Between the rows of buildings, was this very pretty tree lined street.

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On each side of the tree lined street were the buildings housing the prisoners. The foundations are still visible even though the buildings are long gone.


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This is a reconstruction of a typical building to house prisoners.

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Inside the building was a communal bathroom.


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There were also communal sinks to wash up at...

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and a communal sleeping area. The benches were for prisoners to sit on, however, there were so many prisoners in each building, only a few could sit at a time. This room slept about 60 prisoners.



I always enjoy seeing how people live their daily lives. Just before the JEDEC meeting started, I wanted to do a couple of loads of wash, so I visited a local laundromat. Actually, I visited two and both were about the same. This one had just opened the day I came to do a load of wash. Since they were not known in the neighborhood, they had a cheaper price. Also, there was only one other person there. When he saw how confused I was on how the system worked, he explained it to me, in German! Through a series of hand motions, I finally caught onto the steps needed to do a load of washing and how to use the dryers.

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The entrance to the laundromat.


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Once inside, you choose a washing machine that is not in use. Notice the large numbers on each machine. Also, notice there is no place to put your money.

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If you are drying, you choose a empty dryer.


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Once you have picked a machine to use, you find the automated coin machine. You insert your money and push the button for the machine you want to use. You then go to your chosen machine and set the controls, such as hot or cold water, etc. and then push a button on the machine to start it up.

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If you need laundry detergent, you put money in this machine and a measured amount of detergent is dispensed into the cup.


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Once your load has started, you can buy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate to drink while waiting for your clothes to be cleaned.



I also visited a German grocery store. I was surprised to see they sold a lot of American products. I was also surprised at some of the others items I found as shown below.

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McDonald's catsup? I haven't even seen that here in the USA!


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WoW! Those are large cans of beer.

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5 liters per can? That is over a gallon of beer in each can!


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Bongs in a grocery store? This is certainly different!



Finally, I couldn't go to Munich without visiting the Haufbrauhaus. This company has a very interesting history that goes back a couple of hundred years. They serve beer, lots of it, and also have some pretty good and inexpensive meals.

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The Haufbrauhaus as it looks today.

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The original Haufbrauhaus. It is amazing it has been in the same location for a few hundred years.


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My JEDEC buddies, Roloef, Stan and Howard (with his very distinctive beard) enjoying a beer and dinner.

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Other tables nearby. This was only a small section of a very large room.


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Regular customers have special area they can use to store their own beer mugs. However, space is limited and the only way to get a spot is to inherit one!

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Each mug is individually locked.


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This is the upstairs banquet hall.

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There is also a small museum upstairs. This table shows the food choices from a hundred years ago. Basically, it was pretty similar to what you can get today. Notice the ham hock on the left. That is still a popular dish today.


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Beer was responsible for the very first food law in the world.


The plaque reads: "500 Years ago nobody would have attributed paradise-like quality to Bavarian beer. By then, they experimented with the most peculiar ingredients to improve the taste. Not seldom there would swim bile of ox, pitch and calf feet by the side of herbs in the beer-brew. Sometimes somebody died after drinking that stuff. This only changed when the authorities prescribed for all of Bavaria in 1516:

We want that from now on in all our municipalities, communities, markets and in the country there shall be no more used for beer-brewing than barley, hops and water.

This brew-instruction was the first food law of the world and it is valid till today. In the meantime we call it purity requirement. Who violated this was punished strictly. This inexorable proceeding founded the later world wide reputation of the Bavarian beer. This law was not only good for the health but also for the Bavarian economy: by controlling the ingredients you could tax the brewing and the treasury was filled thanks to the liquid bread."

I took this 2-minute video in Haufbrauhaus. It is a little dark, but still interesting to see what the place looks like. I hope you enjoy it.

To see the video, you may have give the browser permission to run the Windows Media Player plug-in. There should be a pop-up bar at the top of this window with a button to click to give Windows permission.


I had a very pleasant stay in Munich and was glad I had arrived a week before the meeting started as this gave me lots of time to do some exploring.


Bochum (near Dusseldorf)

Since I had arrived in Germany a week and a half before the JEDEC meeting, I visited my good friends Peter and Beatrix and their 12 year old twins, Niels & Benita. One of the highlights of the visit was going to an international gymnastic dance performance where one of Benita's classmates, Irada, is a Olympic hopeful. It was fun to watch these world class performers executing their routines.

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The event was held in a large gymnasium. The main floor was divided in half by a movable wall. This is the left half and was used for practice.

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The right half of the gym was where the performances took place.


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The row of tables closest to the performance area is where the judges were located. The second row of tables is where the scores were tabulated. There were young runners which would take the score sheet from the judges to the scoring tables.

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The parents of Irada, the olympic hopeful, had made a large sign to display during their daughter's performance.


This 2-minute video is one of Irada's performances. Each contestant had 4 routines to perform using a different prop. The props were: a ball, ribbons, a hoop and two sticks. Irada's best performance was with the ball, so I posted it here. I hope you enjoy it.

To see the video, you may have give the browser permission to run the Windows Media Player plug-in. There should be a pop-up bar at the top of this window with a button to click to give Windows permission.


We also spent part of a day at a wonderful science museum. The museum had three main areas which were really interesting. It started off with the history of printing. Then moved to the coal mining industry and finally wound up with a great exhibit on historic transportation methods in Germany, including a very old street car. The museum was fun and I would like to visit it again.

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A very early manual printing press.

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A automated press. While we were there, they actually started it up and made a few copies. It was a very noisy machine as you can tell by the kids in the foreground with their fingers in their ears.


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Various antique electronic items.


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If there is an airplane nearby, I just have to sit in the pilot's seat! This is a mockup of the cockpit of an airbus.

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I was lucky to have a very beautiful co-pilot, Beatrix!


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Watching a 3-D movie. From left to right, Charles, Beatrix, Niels and Benita.


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Beatrix and Benita "driving" an old time trolley.

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Our "drivers" are taking a break in the back of the trolley. It must not have been a busy day ;-) Niels is in the background.


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Entering a scary coal mine.

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Niels and I want to go to!


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Peter is enjoying piloting the helicopter.


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Benita wants to fly too...

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and so does Niels.



During my visit, Peter's brother, Albert, his girlfriend Uta and their good friends, Charles, Kurt and Uta and I went to a specialty ice cream shop. This shop is known for it's huge and artistic ice cream specialties. We ordered a single, top of the line, ice cream and it was fantastic! Check out these pictures for an ice cream desert that was so big, it fed all six of us and would have satisfied more!

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Here's the gang waiting for our ice cream to arrive. From left to right: Kurt, Uta, Albert, Uta and Charles (not me).

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Charles, friend of Kurt, Albert, Uta and Uta.


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Albert and Uta anxiously awaiting the arrival of the ice cream.

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Kurt and Uta are also waiting.


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WoW! Is that gorgeous? This is a side view.

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Here is a view looking straight down.


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Close up of the lower portion.

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Close up of the top.


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What? Where did it go?

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As you can see, I'm very satisfied!


Lake-in-the-Hills

My trip to Lake-in-the-Hills, Illinois, near Chicago, was most interesting. I had a chance to visit with my long time friend Pattie and Betty and their family.

Pattie is a good friend who used to live in the Bay Area. She moved to the Chicago area about 4 years ago. There was lots of excitement around the house as Pattie's daughter, Betty, and her grandchildren, Ryan and Brittany were now living with her. With this many people around and a couple of teenagers, there was always something interesting going on!

While I was visiting, Pattie took me to Lake Geneva for a day. This is a vacation area about two hours from Pattie's house. Since it was mid-September, most of the tourists were gone for the season and we had the place practically to ourselves.

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Pattie showing me Lake Geneva.


The next day, we took a trip to the Chicago Botanical Gardens. Now, this place was really cool. It was beautiful day the gardens were particularly interesting. We spent a whole day there and could have stayed longer, if we hadn't been been so tired from all the walking around.

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Lots of tree lined walkways...

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and meandering paths through the gardens.


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Multilevel waterfalls...

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and picturesque streams.


My favorite part of the gardens was the visiting chefs. Every weekend, they have well know area chefs come in and give a cooking show type of performance for the audience. I was lucky and the day we were there, the chef made a apple crisp. Of course, we got a chance to sample it. When I returned home, I made one from the recipe they gave us. Mine wasn't as good, but still tasty.

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The Executive Chef Partner of the Big Bowl restaurants, Marc Bernard, was giving a demo on making a Honey Apple Crisp. It was good!


Chicago

The September JEDEC meeting was in downtown Chicago. I was really happy about this as I had the opportunity to spend a day with my Uncle Eddy and Cousin Karen. We met at a century old German restaurant, the Berghoff, in downtown Chicago. My Uncle and I had a delicious saurbraten while my cousin enjoyed a yummy looking vegetarian dish. We had a fun time catching up with each other.

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The Berghoff restaurant, established in 1898.


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From left to right: Uncle Eddy, Charles, Cousin Karen.

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Ahhh, my meal of saurbraten. Doesn't this look appetizing? Even though this was an excellent meal, the best saurbraten I have ever had was made for me by Beatrix in 2001 while I was visiting Bochum, Germany.


After lunch, we walked through the Lincoln Park Zoo. It was just a quick pass through the zoo to get the car, however, we did get to see several animals.

Next, we headed to Uncle Eddy's house were we found a very unusual tomato which was growing while resting on the vine to which it was attached.

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Uncle Eddy has some beautiful flowers in his garden.

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I call this the "lazy" tomato as it is resting on its own branch!


Since the cooler weather was coming on, it was time to fire up Uncle Eddy's furnace. This required a trip to the basement. My-o-my, what a treasure that was. He has many old antiques down there. Everything from model airplane engines from the 1940s to a washing machine that also dated back to the '40s to some very old wood working tools. It was fun to see these items.

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A cross-cut saw, one of the antique wood working tools Uncle Eddy has collected over the years.


Cozy Mark IV Airplane Construction Project Update

WoW! I finally finished chapter 13, building the nose of the plane. This chapter took me two long years! However, I persevered and was able to put the finishing touches on it at the end of August.

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This is what the nose looked like before I started this chapter.

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This is what the nose looks like today. Of course, inside the nose there are the retraction mechanism for the front landing gear, the rudder pedals, the pitot and static tubes, the landing lights and lots of other items that are needed.


Momentum on the project has picked up. I'm now working on chapter 14, the main wing spar. My plan is to finish it by the end of December.

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Before I could build the main wing spar, I had to build a jig. The jig was needed to ensure the tight tolerances needed. Also, the spar has some complex angles and bends in it and the best way to build it was to use a jig.

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This is the spar. It is nearly complete. All that is left to do is to fiberglass the bottom and the ends. Unfortunately, I'm being delayed as the fuel proof epoxy needed for the bottom is on back order, though the supplier says it should arrive any day now.


I'm skipping chapter 15, for now. It is actually out of sequence in the plans and the designer recommends doing it later. Then come three very difficult chapters. Chapter 16 and 17 are installing the control system in the plane. This will involve a lot of mechanical futzing around. I'm hoping it only takes 6-months. We'll see how that works out. Then, chapter 18 is building the top of the fuselage and the canopy. This is one of the more difficult chapters. I hope to complete it by the end 2012. For those interested in seeing pictures of the plane and my progress, visit my web page at: http://cozy.caf.org.

Piper Cherokee Airplane

I have completed my first year of being a partner in Fireside Aviators Association, a non-profit organization which owns the plane I am a partner of. It has been a busy year with lots of flying. I few about 100 hours during the year. I was very lucky for most of the year as I was the only one flying the plane out of the 12 members in the partnership. In May and again in August, partners sold their shares to new members. There are now three of us regularly flying the plane each week. So far, scheduling has not been a problem. I can still go flying any time I want and boy is it nice having 11 other people to help pay for the fixed expenses of the plane!

Here are a couple of pictures of the plane. To see more and to learn a little about our organization, go to the Fireside Aviators website.




My Parents

My parents had a good year. They moved into an assisted living facility. It is a 2-bedroom apartment and the rent includes weekly maid service and three meals a day in the dining hall. They like it very much and have even met up with other couples that lived in my parents neighborhood.

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Driveway entrance.


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Main entrance.

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The lobby area. This picture was taken from the 5th floor looking down on the lobby. There is a volley ball game in progress. You can see the large beach ball about to go over the net.


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My Mom and Dad are enjoying one of the three meals a day that are provided in a very friendly dining room. Meals are a great time to socialize with your neighbors.

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The complex even has its own swimming pool, which is really nice on a hot Florida day.


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There are seating areas scattered through-out the buildings. This one is in front of the elevators.

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There is a laundry area on each floor for the residents to use and, these machines are free!


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There is a well stocked library...

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and even a beauty and barber shops.


Their old house is the big problem. It is difficult to emotionally let go of 40 years of accumulation. The house still has a lot of stuff in it, but it is slowly diminishing. Every time I visit, I take a couple of car loads of stuff to the thrift shop or a recycling center or to various charity organizations. Unfortunately, there is still a lot to get rid of. My parents go to the house 2 or 3 times per week. After about an hour, they are tired and head back to the apartment. They are creating various piles, which my brother and I dispose of when we visit. The goal is to have the house empty and sold by March, 2012. I think that might be a little too soon. We'll see.
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My parents house.


Community Theater

This year, I was involved with the three shows we put on. The three shows I worked were the Broadway hit "Carousel" and two Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, “The Sorcerer” and “H.M.S. Pinafore”. For these shows I was working behind the scenes, leading the run crew. The run crew is responsible for running the show. Theater is so much fun. I really enjoy being responsible for all of the action behind the scenes!

To learn more about the community theater group I belong to, go to Lyric Theatre's web site.

I hope your year was as eventful and as exciting as mine and...

I wish you a merry holiday season and a happy New Year!

Love,

Charles