I give up!

Following is my first (and quite possibly last) Holiday letter.  (Packed with information on our family that I am sure your family can not live without. If, by any chance, I am wrong feel free to use this to start your Holiday fire. However, this must be read by all those who sent me Holidays letters this year)

I (Martin) - took a new position with Hoffmann-La Roche last spring and instead of managing the Information Technology (IT) environment in their American headquarters in Nutley NJ,  I was asked to create an IT organization to support all of the Americas. Unfortunately Roche never quite got around to fully explaining to the IT managers in Latin America, Canada etc. that they should now all prefer to work for me instead of their local country executives. My powers of persuasion were also apparently not enough to convince them they should eliminate their own areas for the betterment of Roche and as well as the advancement of my career. Anyway they were less then enthused about this and as I write, this "regional concept" is rapidly falling apart. I did, however, get in a few interesting trips. In Brazil I saw Iguazu Falls in the jungle and Rio De Janeiro, in Mexico the Aztec pyramids but, the high point was being dragged for 12 hours up Half Dome in Yosemite by my Swiss mountaineer co-workers. Next year will bring some as yet undetermined change. In the mean time I am responsible for Roche's Year 2000 efforts. This covers everything from making sure the computers and networks work as well as assuring that the 12,000 animals on site stay nice and warm in case of a power failure. (People have to fend for themselves).

Natasha - is in her senior year at Cornell's school of Industrial and Labor Relations. She spent the spring term working in Washington for Senator Kennedy's office on the labor relations committee trying to get the minimum wage raised. (Any of you making the minimum wage feel free to thank her)  In the summer she worked for the Steel Workers Union in New Mexico to help recruit and unionize Spanish speaking workers in that area.  I'm not sure she had too much more success then I did but at least she speaks Spanish so they knew what she was saying.  She is now applying to a slew of Law Schools.  For those interested (and I frankly am wearing a tad thin on this) Natasha is now going through her fourth consecutive year of breaking up with her boyfriend Andrew. This is about double the time they actual went together.  She tells me it's really going to happen but it will have to wait for the next millennium.

Kyle - and his Junior High School math team placed 1st in Westchester and Putnam counties and then went on to the NY State championships where they placed 4th out of the 52 top NY State teams. This fall he entered my Alma Mater, New Rochelle High School.  He certainly seems to be enjoying and coping with it better then I did and is doing well in the advanced Math and Science classes.

Tamara - as those of you who know her, cannot be easily described in words. She has taken up the flute and at the moment is down to single "boyfriend"  She is a "senior" in her elementary school and is on the security patrol which finally gives our youngest someone to boss around. She seems well prepared socially for high school if not college.  We are stocking up on Valium (fortunately free as my company makes it) in preparation for her teenage years.

Randye - has just completed her 19th consecutive year of being incredibly wonderful, and I have just completed my 19th year of being equally grateful.

Skiing - I got in four days in Davos Switzerland (tagged onto another business trip) and our whole family (and cousin Bryan) enjoyed a week in Snowbird Utah where we now have a timeshare. This made our 3rd consecutive successful ski season in a row. (Which I define as not having broken anything).  Since in the three previous years I broke my shoulder, my hand, and 2 fingers I do not take this for granted.

Travel - Our major trip this year was Spain and Morocco. We spent a great week in Spain in the small but extraordinarily beautiful town of Montefrio (the background of the children's picture). From there we saw the sites of southern Spain including Granada, Malaga, Cordoba, Seville and the Sierra Nevadas. We then traveled to Tangier and Fez for a more exotic experience. Fez, in particular, was fascinating as we were able to see a world that has hardly changed in over a thousand years.  Altogether this gave our children a chance to experience and closely observe many different life styles and local customs.  Of course certain customs (topless bathing on the Costa del Sol comes immediately to mind) received much closer observation than others.

For those still with me, Happy 1999 Holidays from the Friedrichs Family
(and wish me luck on the Millennium transition)

Email: Martin.Friedrichs@Roche.com        Ranster319@aol.com
Martin's only Xmas e-maill for 1999