RuLabinsky Ranch 2009 New Year's Letter

January 2009

Dear Family and Friends!

What a difference a year makes. Barack Obama is our president (woo hoo!), the economy is in shambles (boo hoo!), and we're another year older and wiser. Things continue much the same here at RuLabinsky Ranch, but 2009 will bring some changes... Steve and Amy will become empty-nesters.

At the Santa Cruz Boardwalk carousel

Izaak kayaking the Moon River
Let's start with the kids. Izaak is now a junior at Stanford studying computer science. This summer was his third time at PowerSet, an Internet startup. He worked for them two years ago when they were just a few people in a borrowed office. Last summer they had grown to be big with offices in San Francisco. This summer, on his second day of work, the company was acquired by Microsoft, and the ensuing craziness provided an education that cannot be had at any college. This coming summer, Izaak plans to work at Stanford to see what the academic life is all about and to help him decide whether or not to go to graduate school. His current plan is to apply to the Stanford co-term program, which essentially means that by spending a 5th year there, he will get his masters. Izaak is really enjoying his studies and friends at Stanford. This year, he's living in Muwekma-Tah-Ruk, the Native American theme house. It's been an interesting experience and has the added bonus of a private house chef! Izaak has also been enjoying taking body-building classes every quarter and is now learning kickboxing too.

Max is now a senior at Gunn High. He has applied to six schools to study animation, and as of this writing, has been accepted at two. We'll hear from the other four by April 1. It was a super exciting year for Max. He won first-place for his animation The Adventures of Awkward Girl; at the Bay Street Animation Festival in October. Then, only a week later, he got to meet one of his idols, the French pop singer Yelle. Max has been a Yelle fan for a long time, and he even created an animation for one of her songs, 85A, which is now on her MySpace page. When she came to San Francisco to do a concert, Max brought pictures from his animation and managed to show them to the band. They recognized the piece and the whole band (even Yelle) gave him great hugs of thanks. On the mascot front, Max retired from being Timmy the Titan this year, but he still misses it. He continues with his art classes and animating. In addition to working on a second episode of Awkward Girl, he is now creating a series of educational animations for a doctor (on diabetes self-care), made some public-service morning announcement animations for Gunn, and is finishing a date-rape awareness animation for Stanford. We're hoping he'll get a job animating this summer. In his spare time, Max continues being a fixture on various reality TV Internet groups where he enjoys creating "faux-shows" such as Work of Art Next Top Model (a reality show where famous art pieces are photoshopped to compete with each other as if in a modeling competition). When he pries himself away from the computer, he has a lot of fun hanging out with his friends and vows to fully indulge in second semester senioritis.
Max and Yelle

Steve in Santa Cruz
Steve is still at Sun Microsystems, where he continues his mission to spread the use of his open-source CAD system, Electric. He recently created a worldwide map of users, with over 200 pins in it, which attests to the scope of his impact! In his spare time, Steve continues his weekly reading at Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, maintains the web searchable VAERS database (which presents the government's vaccine injury database to the public), reads dense and confusing books (they are dense and he is confused), and meditates each morning.

Amy's big news is her progress on a new book on consciousness. A title will not be revealed until it's done, but think of it as a scholarly approach to The Secret. It's in the same mold as Impossible Cure - part personal stories, part academic research, extremely comprehensive, all written in a folksy style, with lots of exercises and experiential material too. It's almost 2/3 done and hopefully a first draft will be complete by the summer. Impossible Cure continues to do well, even during the economic downturn, and a 4th printing is expected this year. An Arabic translation will appear soon and a Czech translation is in the works. Amy also continues to spend way too much time working as a board member of the National Center for Homeopathy. However, as of 2009, she has stopped making new radio shows for Autism One, as well as stopped writing her column in the UK Society of Homeopaths newsletter. She wants to make room for new things to emerge in her new area of exploration. She continues attending her meditation workshops with Gary Sherman and her meditation practice.
Amy on the Moon River

Izaak's favorite spot: a waterfall in Muskoka
We also traveled a fair bit in 2008. Max spent three weeks in Costa Rica on a teen trip that included homestays with families, Spanish intensive learning, service projects, and adventure activities. The biggest adventure was definitely the trip home which turned into a two-day grueling ordeal, courtesy of American Airlines, and which he managed most triumphantly. Izaak had a great visit to Hawaii over Xmas break, courtesy of his roommate's family. Amy and Steve spent six fine weeks at the family cottage in Muskoka, joined by Izaak and Max for the last two. Amy also had several trips to Buffalo to visit with her mom (still hanging in there at age 93), as well as NCH board meetings in Washington, DC and Rhode Island.

For those of you confused by our status vis-a-vis Canada - we are permanent residents (like a US green card), not citizens. This must be renewed every 5 years, and in order to renew we have to spend 2 years in the country during that period. Since our summer visits don't add up to that much, Steve and Amy plan to take a 2 year sabbatical in Canada beginning in the fall of 2010, during which Steve plans to spread the word about Electric at various Canadian universities. After that, who knows what we'll do.
Amy and Max canoe the Moon River

Eating ice cream on the banks of the Moon River
So that's about it! Keep in touch, and don't forget to check the web sites:;;;;;

Love, Amy, Steve, Izaak, Max, and Shadow too
lansky at, strubin at, izaak at, max at