Monday, December 18, 2006



Hello all,

It’s that time of year when some of us sit down a the keyboard and concoct the annual Christmas letter; that happy, cheery, impersonal, bit of prose that sounds more like a government press release than something you would send your friends or relatives. 2006 was exciting for us. Late in 2005 we got involved in a new venture, the world of the Caribbean Medical School . We invested some money in a school owned by old friends in Belize . This has been an emotional rollercoaster ride, but always exciting. We got into a nasty hostile takeover fight with a school in London that had lost it’s charter and was folding. We offered to share our charter with them to allow their students a chance to pursue their educations and not have to totally start over. It got so nasty that our lender for student loans suspended us, and we had essentially no cash flow for about 6 months. We did survive and we now have that new location in London . Over this last weekend we restructured the company and actually look pretty good, going forward. We are beginning to cash flow and we have swapped out our old friends as partners as they had to divest because of a non-compete clause from an old lawsuit from a previous school they owned. (complicated? Nah!) Our new partner is a Harvard trained psychiatrist who is on faculty at Harvard and has a dozen or so friends there who want to teach at our school. In a nutshell, the future looks brighter (right now), we will see how the Christmas letter looks for 2007!

Callie (alphabetically, now, let’s be politically correct) is at the Art Institute in Minneapolis since early July. She is in a 36 month degree program in animation. She called this week, all bummed out because she earned something less than an “A” in a course, a “B+”, which was a first. She works as an usher at the Guthrie, which is several blocks from her student housing. We always feel that kids grow up too quickly, but the rate of change is never quite so steep as those first few months away from home!

Hannah and Jason built a house this summer (Hannah 5%, Hans 1%, Jake 5%, Jason’s Mom and Dad 5%, Jason’s other friends 5%, Jason 97.3%). It was an exciting project and fun to be even a small part of. It is across the road from us, and now that it is largely completed, they have been trying to re-capture their old lives of hunting, trapping, kayaking, fishing, horse, and partying with friends, striving to pretend that no one noticed that they have been missing for 9 months. They did manage to hold on to their jobs, Jason as a crew manager at Northwest Builder, a regional commercial builder and Hannah in the graphic design department of Rice Lake Weighing Systems, an international weighing scale manufacturer.

Ian is a senior and looking forward to life after High School. He is looking at different careers and colleges. He survived football, and lettered. Spooner Schools have a clever event at Christmas where the select choir anchors a “Dinner Concert”. The “food classes” (“Home Ec” is a term much like photo film……….so “six months ago”!) do the food for an elegant, white linen, sit-down dinner for 300 parents and the choir and several other musical acts, some student and some amateur from the community, entertain. They charge plenty, which works out well because the school district is so broke that they don’t particularly fund unnecessary activities like music any longer. Ian is in the Select Choir and he was in the Food Class so he got to sing and help prepare the food, both of which were worth the price of admission.

Jake started his own business after taking the long-discussed-and-put-off decision to quit his cushy job in the Twin Cities and become an independent electrical contractor. Put another way, he consciously decided to forgo a regular paycheck and live in abject poverty. However, it seems to be working in the face of a slump in construction and the jobs are starting to find him on a more regular basis. Not all of his decisions are that crazy. He is still single, for example, not wanting to make the mistake that nearly all of the rest of have made.

Janelle and Todd are enjoying life in St Paul . They are remodeling their house in anticipation of a new baby in February. This, like Hannah and Jason’s, has been a labor of love and Todd has done most of the heavy lifting. Carrying a new baby has been Janelle’s task and she has been a trooper in the face of some nasty and prolonged nausea. Todd remains in the management side of the retail liquor business and Janelle does research for the Minnesota State legislature. Todd frightened us all last Christmas by sending us all pictures of his hobby, whaling in the unpredictable waters of the Twin Cities.

Laura and Jim have settled into life in Dresser Wisconsin. No one knows where that is (particularly, no cell phone company knows where Dresser is). Ironically, if you explain that it is near Trollhaugen Ski Resort, people’s eyes light up and they say, “Oh, Yeah!”. Laura probably gets the prize for the most exciting moment of 2006 by delivering Owen, who is Wendy’s first grandbaby. He may well go on to be president, pitch the last game in the World Series, then win the Nobel Prize, but the news anchor will still introduce each of those stories by mentioning that he is Wendy’s first grandchild. In spite of a mild early winter, the resort has been booming as the weather has supported snow-making and it looks like a white Christmas at Trollhaugen!

So, there you have it. Here in Lake Woebecable , the men are strong, the women beautiful and THE KIDS ARE ALL ABOVE AVERAGE. We hope you all have a great holiday season and that your travel is safe and effective, especially if you are coming to Spooner with presents for us.

Hans and Wendy