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THE CONNECTOR

A Newsletter By, About, and For Graduates
of William Allen High School's Class of 1983

Issue 10 - December 2000

Remembering 2000                                            by Annette Blanar
We are lucky in that our age group was able to experience the change to a new millennium. Whether you think that the change to 2000 marks the millennium or not, or whether you think that the year 2000 marks an important historic event or is just another year, these are some things that we all will probably remember about this year.
1. January 1, 2000
a. Where we were at midnight whether it was at a party, on vacation, or asleep in bed
b. The Y2K fears related to computers and the fact that little happened
c. The stockpiling of food and supplies by many people (we are still using our food up even though I keep insisting to my husband that our excess food wasn’t for Y2K, I just like to buy "on sale")
2. The stock market
a. The ups
b. The downs
c. The even more downs, especially in the .com sector (how much money did you lose?)
3. The presidential election
a. The media thinking that they know the winner before the votes have been counted
b. The ballot recounts in Florida being started and stopped repeatedly
c. Five weeks of presidential election uncertainty
4. The new stories
a. Completion of a working draft of human genetic code (http://www.ornl.gov/hgmis/)
b. Microsoft anti-trust court case
c. Elian Gonzalas saga (the Associated Press photo of the armed immigration agents seizing the boy will always be imprinted in our minds)
5. The loss of people who impacted our lives
a. Don Martin on 1/6/00, Mad magazine cartoonist
b. Doug Henning on 2/7/00, magician of the 1970s and 1980s
c. Jim Varney on 2/10/00, actor who played Ernest
d. Charles Schultz on 2/12/00, creator of The Peanuts comic strip
e. Larry Linville on 4/10/00, Frank on the TV show M*A*S*H
f. Walter Matthau on 7/1/00, actor
g. Sir Alec Guinness on 8/5/00, actor that played Obi-Wan in the first three Star Wars movies
h. Richard Mulligan on 9/26/00, actor on the TV shows Soap and Empty Nest
i. Thomas Yohe on 12/21/00, creator of Schoolhouse Rock ("I’m Just a Bill" from America Rock, "Conjunction Junction" from Grammar Rock, "The Good Eleven" from Multiplication Rock)

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Since High School     See e-mail addresses of classmates

Rob Rindock and his wife Lisa celebrated the birth of their second son, Logan Robert, on Thursday, November 24, 2000, at 1:24 p.m. Logan was 8 lbs. 9 oz. and 22 inches long. Their first born, Nicholas Robert, will be five years old in January 2001.

Robin Rosenfeld recently moved to Philadelphia and became the Regional Director of the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization.

Ronald Tomasko and his wife, Joyce, are blessed with a son, Alexander Thomas, age 2, and are expecting the arrival of, presumably, a second son (if you believe the ultrasound technician) on or about December 29, 2000. Ronald is still an attorney-at-law at Tomasko & Koranda, P.C. (see the Business page)

Update - Wayne Barz has recently changed jobs. He is now the Manager of Entrepreneurial Services at the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern PA. They are a state program that invests in early stage, technology-based companies. His new work contact information is: e-mail wbarz@nep.benfranklin.org, phone 610.758.5421. He is also going to get started on his MBA in Management of Technology at Lehigh in the spring.

Update - Charles (Chuck) Sander wrote this amusing, and informative, article about his life since high school entitled "Never Look Before You Leap".

I had no intention of writing an article about myself until I traded some e-mails with Annette about adding a synopsis (link) of my new venture to the Allen High Class of 1983 business pages It always seemed a bit self-serving or egotistical to write about oneself. Who would want to read about me anyway? I actually have a purpose for writing this beyond the self-promotional aspects. I want to convince you to adopt my motto: Never look before you leap (hereafter, NLBYL). If this was the last line you read, I’ll never know.

Indulge me while I set the stage with some preliminary stuff. After Allen, I attended Lehigh University and received a B.S. and M.S. in Chemical Engineering. I had visions of working for a small chemical company somewhere in the Northeast. Here’s where "the plan" fell apart and, to my surprise, the fun began. My first employer was Rhone-Poulenc, a French government-owned chemical company based in Princeton, NJ. I never thought that I would work for a French company, and New Jersey was the last place that I thought I would ever live. Ironically, the job was also the lowest paying option in the bunch of offers I had. But, the experience promised to be the most valuable, so I took it.

As soon as I started at RP, I knew I had made the right choice. The work was challenging and very rewarding. I quickly made up the pay inequities through promotions and bonuses. Further, I actually liked living near Princeton. About a year into my tenure with RP, my boss asked me if I wanted to take an assignment in France for about a year or so. "Sure," I said, "Why not?" Never mind the fact that I studied German and didn’t speak a word of French. Unimportant details I thought (NLBYL # 1).

Before I left for France I asked Staci, my girlfriend of several years, to marry me, and she said yes! Even more surprising, she still said yes on our wedding day even though I did not return to the U.S. until a few weeks before the wedding. Oh, and I left her with both of our mothers to plan the wedding (NLBYL #2).

The year in France was challenging and at times frustrating, but I will always remember it as a great experience. I learned four important lessons during this year overseas:

  • You can learn a foreign language in less than three months if you have to. Mind you, my first 45 minutes "in country" at the Paris train station trying to decipher the instructions for obliterating your train ticket prior to boarding the train made me question if I would ever understand French. Why would you obliterate anything as important as a train ticket before you get ON the train? Fortunately, a very nice Parisian helped me understand that you must merely punch a hole in it using these funny orange boxes called obliterateurs. Whatever. Did I mention that he didn’t speak English? I guess we looked pretty foolish waving our hands and passing my French/English dictionary, soon to be known as my best friend, back and forth.
  • You can eat all sorts of stuff and not get sick, as long as you do not know what you’re eating. A good example is "andouillette". Andouillette is basically an intestine sausage. Mmmm. I had no idea what it was when I ordered it, and the waiters’ attempts to explain it to me were not helping. Good thing, it is now one of my favorite dishes (NLBYL #3).
  • The golden arches are the epitome of haute cuisine if you have spent more than 3 months outside of the US.
  • You can live anywhere in the world for a year (as you will see, I have had plenty of chances to test this one).

The next few years were a series of quick moves from state to state as my company offered, and I accepted, one relocation after another. I think that people who knew us thought Staci and I were in the witness protection program or running from bill collectors. One of my close friends finally told us that we couldn’t move anymore, since he had run out of space in his address book. I never thought that bouncing from place to place every six months would be fun, but it. (NLBYL #4)

Staci and I have already traveled more and experienced more cultures than many people will in a lifetime. The toughest move had to be to West Virginia. We spent almost a year in the Kanawha Valley without a divorce. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean. Here’s a taste:

  • Not one deer crossing sign in the whole state is intact. They all have at least one bullet hole in Bambi’s head.
  • If you stare at any native West Virginian long enough they will spit (women, children, and pets included).
  • Every truck has a confederate flag on it somewhere. But that’s not the funny part. West Virginia split from Virginia during the Civil War to fight FOR the NORTH.

These little oddities aside, Staci and I made some great friends and have fond memories of our time in the Kanawha Valley.

Well, about 1994, it looked as if things might actually settle down. We bought our first house in Yardley, PA, and prepared to do the suburb thing. Not three months into our new house, my boss again asked me to take an assignment in France. This time, he wanted me to go that same week. I still do not know why I am still alive. Without asking my wife I said, "Sure, no problem." (NLBYL # 5) Then I thought, "How am I going to make this happen." Fortunately, my wife was pretty enthusiastic about moving to France. It hurt to leave our first house behind, but it hurt even more to give our dog to my parents for the year. Again, the assignment was unforgettable. Staci and I polished up our French and saw more of Europe than we could have seen in a year of week-long vacations. One of our favorite experiences was aimlessly wandering through the French countryside looking for vineyards (and, of course, wines to taste).

Well, the assignment ended and so did my enthusiasm for Rhone-Poulenc. I saw that the company had little new to offer me, so I jumped ship to return home to Allentown to work for Air Products. I never thought that I would return here to live for any period of time. Yet here it is four years later, and we have no immediate intentions of leaving the area. (NLBYL #6)

Although we are physically stationary, we can’t stand predictability. To spice things up, I have decided to leave Air Products and form my own company (you can see the ad on the Allen High Class of 1983 Business page) Here’s where the motto comes into play in a strange way.

Staci and I agonized over this decision for months. The business premise is sound, but how do you walk away from a good job, a sure thing, and dive into something that might not pan out? We concluded that Staci has a successful consulting business and that we’ve saved a little money for a rainy day, so why not try something a bit risky now? We are healthy, young, and don’t have any kids. The time is ripe…JUMP! (NLBYL # 7 and it’s a biggy!)

True to form, no plan ever survives contact with the enemy. I guess someone thought that starting my business would be too easy under these circumstances. Shortly after I informed my employer of my intention to leave, Staci informed me of my new title, Dad. For those of you who know us, you know that this was definitely not "the plan". We were to be DINKs (double income, no kids) for life. As in the past, I am sure this NLBYL will be worth it.

Anyway, I guess what I am saying here is "Don’t worry so much about the future. And definitely don’t look before you leap." It might stop you from doing something really interesting.

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