Zev News 2014

In the beginning of 2014, Benjamin participated in the FIRST Robotics competition.† Although he had been on the Reseda robotics team for three years, up to this point they had only done VEX.† Benjamin has enjoyed VEX very much, but the extra intensity and challenge of building FIRST robots really inspired him, and convinced him that engineering would be a good place to make a career.†

March is always a busy month for our family, but this year it was particularly crazy, with the Bakersfield square dancing festival, the LA Regional FIRST Robotics Tournament, and the Heritage Festival on three consecutive weekends.† Iím not looking forward to Benjamin going away to college, but I expect that March will calm down somewhat once he is gone.

We were excited that Jonathan obtained a (paid!) summer job in his major (Materials Science.)† The bad news was that it was in Houston, so he only came home for a couple of weeks at the beginning of the summer and a couple of weeks at the end.† He did join Benjamin and me for a week in Little Rock, Arkansas, for the National Square Dancing convention.

Benjamin spent July at an academic summer program at UC Davis called Cosmos.† He lived in their dorms, took classes in the Mathematical Modeling of Biological Systems, went on field trips and got to experience the best of college life a year early.† He also found this experience quite inspiring and hopes to find a similar experience in college.

When it came time to pick up Benjamin from college, we drove up to Davis, Jonathan flew in from Houston to San Francisco, and we spent a week bopping around the bay area, visiting friends and family and being tourists.† Our favorite parts were the Tactile Dome at the Exploritorium and the Museum of Computer History in San Jose.

We came back from the Bay Area and Benjamin started school Ė his senior year.† He seemed to look at all the different things there was to do at his school and realize that this was his last year to do them, so he signed up for them all.† He is still doing Hebrew High and Chorus outside of school, and at school he signed up for Robotics, CyberPatriots, Academic Decathalon, Speech and Debate, and Theater.† After a few weeks, he decided that this was a little too much and dropped the CyberPatriots.

In September, I went to Michigan to celebrate my Aunt Reneeís 90th birthday.† It was a lovely visit, full of family, museums, and birding from my Aunt Marjorieís breakfast nook.† I hope to do it again soon!

Also in September, Benjamin was driving to school and another driver came out of a gas station and ran into him.† It was clearly the other driverís fault, and our auto insurance sent us a check for the amount of it would cost to repair the van.† Fortunately, the van was still drivable, and we did not rush to get it fixed.† Unfortunately, a month later, Benjamin then got into another accident.† Fortunately, he was not hurt in either accident and again the van was still drivable.† But bad news comes in threes, right?† Not even a week after that, I was driving the Prius to work, and waiting to make a right turn, when one car made a left turn into another car, and pushed the second car into me.† Luck was with us again, and I was not hurt.† But the damages to my car were more than the value, and our insurance company totaled the Prius.† Sigh.

We ended up buying a 2010 Prius (red!) on eBay for only about $2000 more than we got from the insurance company for our old Prius.† Marc (who has a 30 mile commute) drives the Prius now and I drive the Honda.† Weíre happy with the new Prius Ė itís much easier to find in a parking lot and it gets better gas mileage than our 2006 did.†

November was a particularly busy month.† Benjamin had two Chorus performances, two Robotics competitions, a speech and debate tournament, an Academic Decathalon competition and a Hebrew High retreat.† Needless to say, there were not enough weekends in November to fit them all in, and he was not able to attend all the events.† Plus, he was working hard on his college applications.† I was very pleased that he completed all of his applications before December, even though most were not due until January.†

As if all that were not enough, we received a letter from his school saying that that they had made a mistake last year when they put all the kids that applied for AP World History into AP European History instead.† And AP European History does not satisfy the CA State High School graduation requirement for World History.† Benjamin was a little more than half a year from graduation, and he still needed to take World History to graduate.† He didnít want to drop any of the classes he was taking, so he just added AP World History.† Benjamin is now taking Introduction to Engineering Design, AP Government, AP Statistics, AP Chemistry, AP Macro Economics, AP English Literature, and AP World History AND Hebrew (outside of school.)† Thatís right, eight classes.† Iím thinking that college is going to be relaxing for him!

Marc had been working as a consultant for Inter-Con Security, doing application development.† They loved his work and brought him on as an employee.† So now he has benefits and a parking space.† For the most part, he enjoys his job and is happy there.† Last year he got involved with a non-profit that puts on a Renaissance-like fair called the Nottingham Festival.† He did it again this year and it was a great success.† He participated in one of the guild booths and showed off his repousse (copper etchings.)

My work is going well.† For a while they were laying people off, but things have turned around and now they are hiring again.† Last January, I hit my 20 year anniversary Ė where has all the time gone?† I continue to be very involved in both the Sisterhood at my Temple and in my local AAUW branch.

Jonathan is looking forward to graduating next May and getting a job.† He has gone on several interviews, and is hopeful that one will make him an offer soon.† He has been able to maintain good grades despite being very busy with the MOB (Marching Owl Band), the Houston Hillel and FastWarp gaming club.

We wish you a 2015 filled with good family, friends and fun!

Jackie, Marc, Jonathan and Benjamin