Heiser Christmas Letter 1994

What a great year it has been! We are enjoying our new home and our work immensely.

Between her string quartet, orchestra and teaching opportunities, Loretta has many interesting and fun experiences. She also has gotten to meet and work with many neighbors in Westchester who want to prevent the building of an apartment complex nearby. One hundred twenty people went to City Hall in two chartered buses on the day the City Council voted on the matter. So far, we have kept the developers at bay.

This year Dick is teaching computers all day long, at the Fairfax High School Visual Arts Magnet. Two weeks before school started in September, Dick installed twenty-one new Power Macintosh computers in the lab. These are the first desktop computers powerful enough to make computer graphic arts really practical. It’s a real treat to be teaching with state-of-the-art equipment; most schools have machines two generations older. The computers are linked to a high–resolution laser printer and color ink jet printer. The Fairfax alumni class of ‘44 donated a scanner.

Dick has been operating a computer adoption center for the old lab computers and for the used computers he collected from local businesses. Eleventh-grader Yevgeniy Katsnelson is cleaning and testing these computers, installing software, and delivering them to teachers and counselors.

New computers need new lessons. Existing textbooks and software tutorials are out-of-date or inappropriate. Dick is extremely pleased with the new lessons he has been testing. His lessons on geometric and freehand drawing, word processing and layout are unique. The course briefly touched on SimCity; now kids come before and after school and at lunch to build new cities. They can use the program CityBank to inflate their bank accounts to build dream cities. An “Easter egg” gives special privileges in the more complex SimCity2000. Other kids are experimenting with the Microsoft Flight Simulator. One student, Leo Rivera, has become a real expert, supplementing his weekly flying lessons with daily simulator practice. The kids are well–behaved and friendly, and take good care of the new computers. They are more interested in using them to paint than to draw. Dozens of their pictures adorn the whiteboards; the room is alive with color. The environment is further enhanced with classical piano music.

Now Dick wants to recruit student computer enthusiasts. They will tutor other kids on the computers before and after school, and perform graphic arts and typing services, such as creating flyers for school. For example, Anna Bessy Fernandez made emergency signs for each classroom. Another assignment waiting for us is the school newspaper the class of ‘44 wants us to publish.

Now that everything is going so well, Dick is asking himself whether he can be happy if he gets everything he asks for. He says this because ten years ago he got what he asked for, but was immediately disappointed. So far, he’s happy this time. Dick even enjoys the commute to school! Last Summer, he bought a Miata sports car. Some other motorists teased him about driving with the top down in 40° weather, but he’s so thrilled about his new toy that he doesn’t feel the cold.

We both hope this letter finds you enjoying the holidays and looking forward to the new year!

Love and Peace!

Loretta and Dick Heiser