Dec 23, 2016

Christmas 2016

The big news for 2016 is David's college graduation. We've paid our last education bill and the kids all have degrees and jobs. David and Ben now share an apartment in San Francisco, both working for Thumbtack.

David graduated with a double major in mathematics and computer science. While in college, he took four years of classical piano. In his junior year, he started Russian and now reads, writes and speaks it quite well. He spent his last quarter of college with fellow students at Moscow State University. Ann, Ben and I met up with him in Russia when he finished in June and spent a week touring Moscow and St. Petersburg, and then another week in Finland. The trip was wonderful. David was our personal guide and translator, bringing us to great restaurants and endless sites. Russia is this northern land, in many ways similar to northern Minnesota, a land that time forgot. The Orthodox churches are simply amazing. The history is at once horrifying and inspiring, and sent me off on a Russian reading campaign. No, Putin and I aren't Facebook friends, but I've gained a new appreciation for their situation. But regardless of politics, the story of one of the most consequential countries of the past two hundred years is riveting.

With kids in Texas and California, holidays have become a bit more complicated. For Thanksgiving, Ann and I spent over a week in SF at an historic hotel a block from Ben and David. Ann and David made Thanksgiving dinner in their apartment, including homemade apple pie. Our hotel suite was roomier than some apartments, so hanging out there was fine. We took a short road trip down the coast. Ann and I become comfortable walking and taking the bus around most of SF. We found a Starbucks nearby that opened by 5am (haha) – and sold the New York Times. I might retire in that hotel.

For Christmas, everyone is coming home for up to ten days. We’ll spend a couple of days at our place in Lutsen, MN. The kids are then all flying out together to SF for another week together.

Ann and I have done well at home. I’ve joined Ann working our gardens. I had forgotten how much I like yard work. I remember as a kid so enjoying our yard and our land in Michigamme. We landscaped our gardens (including deer proof fences) and now have raspberry and asparagus patches. We also grow beets, tomatoes, peas, lettuce, beans, hot peppers, squash and herbs. The peas sometimes grow taller than me. We also planted plum, cherry and apple trees in the yard.

Ann is now the state rep for northern Minnesota for Celebrate Recovery. She stays in touch with the couple of dozen other CR's in her region, plus travels to short and long summits around the region and country. I usually travel with her. I continue to run the music with the help of over twenty musicians. I returned to playing my now twice reconditioned guitar I bought in college. It has new electronics and a series of pedals. I'm also the primary vocalist, which is new territory for me. Ann and I lead groups at our weekly meetings. We also have after hours closed groups that spend a year walking people through an intense 12-Step recovery program. It includes a series of workbooks that can move almost anyone closer to a personal objective that improves their lives.

After talking about it for over ten years and after sending out over seven thousand Tweets (@JonJosephA), I set up my blog, Confessions of an Investor ( I'm actually getting a little activity on it. I've made connections with people overseas and was even interviewed by some guy from Bloomberg News. It’s a start.

Merry Christmas and Blessings to You,
Ann and Jon

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