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Yes I know it's a little "over the top". But you can kill the music by clicking the STOP button on your browser! (It runs for just over 2 minutes)

Dear friends and family,

Here we are again – counting down to Y2K. But before that celebration, we hope that each one of our friends have a wonderful Christmas. I’m also hoping to get this letter finished a little earlier than most years as I’m due to go away for a couple of weeks next weekend – so by the time I get back, everyone will be in panic mode prior to the 25th.

So what have we been up to this year? Casting my mind back – I spent a lot of the first few months organising a reunion for people who came out to Australia in the early 60’s to take part in the Blue Steel weapon trials at Woomera. Many of us regarded that period as a high point in our lives (at the hight of the cold war – we were not as worried about the project as we would be these days). Some of us had been no further than Europe, and here we were doing exciting things on the other side of the world. After the trials were over (1964-65), many of us went back to jobs in the U.K. but couldn’t wait to get back here (particularly me as I’d got married to Betty in U.K. after we met in Adelaide). Most of us had not met for over 30 years and so it was great to start with half a dozen contact names and addresses and end up with over 150 (just about all via the Internet). The reunion took place at the end of April over 3 days with people coming from all over Australia (including 3 from WA). I think everyone had a good time as we agreed to do it all over again in South Australia in 2001! Those who are interested can read all about it at http://www.pcug.org.au/~jsaxon/bluesteel/bluesteel.htm

Continuing on in approximate chronological order. In Mid-June Betty and I went up to North Queensland to visit Betty’s brother and family in Townsville – something we’d been threatening to do for over 30 years! We had a great visit exploring all B’s old "stamping grounds". Magnetic island is just off the coast there and we had a good day exploring that – I even found an Internet Café there and I was able to check my E-mail! Sad isn’t it J We then spent a few days driving up to Cairns via the Atherton Tablelands which Betty remembered fondly from her childhood and I can now understand why – it’s rather spectacular Volcanic rainforest country and well worth a visit. Cooktown from the North?Then after a few days in Cairns – Betty and I flew up to Cooktown (the furthest North town in Queensland) where I spent 8 days doing some work for VISE (Volunteers for Isolated Student Education) helping people with computer and Internet problems. That was a terrific spot to visit during the Canberra winter. The minimum night time temperatures were higer than Canberra’s maximums! We stayed with a great couple who run the local newspaper there, and they also run a wildlife rescue service with some rather exotic fauna in residence. The rather technical report (but with more photos!) is all there at http://www.pcug.org.au/~jsaxon/visetrip.htm

One offshoot from the Cooktown trip was that I volunteered to do some Web pages for NOCOG – a typical Cooktown type of organisation. It stands for Not the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. A protest that the Olympic flame will not travel to Cape York Shire (larger than the state of Victoria). NOCOG expects to raise $50,000 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and have a lot of fun in the process. Hopefully I will have the domain name registered soon and it will then be found at http://www.nocog.org.au

So what about the rest of the family, I hear you ask? Glad you did! Betty is still working part time at Medical coding – some 18 hours a week – I think she enjoys getting out of the house. She had a fairly major operation in July which was very successful and she is very well now. A few of Bettys dollsShe is always busy at home with various craft projects – the photo shows some of the more "politically incorrect" dolls! My Mother is still "going strong" – she often goes to her classes in Music and Literature. Her short term memory is very bad but physically she is great for 95 next January

Hilary, Michael and family are all well – the girls are all at school and amazing as it may seem to us – Amanda is already a teenager at high school. Hilary is studying to be an enrolled nurse and working part time. Michael is running a very successful gardening business and studying that part-time as well. A very busy family!

Emily - about 3 Hrs oldAs are Penny and Terry who fitted in Grandchild number 8 (Grand-daughter number 7!) to their busy schedule. Emily Elizabeth arrived just 3 weeks ago on 16th Nov, and is a remarkably pretty and tranquil baby – even arrived at a civilised hour. She was 2 Hrs old in this picture.

Catherine and Jon stayed with us for a week or so earlier in the year visiting from Brisbane. Grand-daughter Samantha and Grandson Andrew kept us on our toes – particularly the latter who is entering the "terrible twos"!

Timothy was living with us for most of the year, but has recently moved out to share a house with some friends nearby. He took Samson his Alaskan Malamute who’s puppy picture appeared in last year’s epic. Amazing what 12 months can do. And he’s still growing!

Sampson at 12 months

The reason that I’m trying to get this letter finished relatively early is that I am off to Cobar out in the far west of NSW for two weeks starting this Saturday. I am going to teach people Internet and other computing skills, replacing another VISE volunteer who has gone onto the sick list. I’ve also been teaching Internet at evening adult education courses for 4 weeks 4 times a year, and volunteer Senior’s Internet training once a week, as well as fixing various computer problems in people’s homes,etc. So life has been very busy!


Apollo consoleAlso I'm getting involved with another reunion - heavily into nostalgia these days! This one is for people who worked at the Apollo tracking station at Honeysuckle between 1966 and 1980. We have our next informal get-together in April next year. Who is that handsome young lad working hard at the Apollo station console?

So once again, have a superb Christmas and totally fabulous new year celebrations! If the world as we know it is still around, we hope to meet with many of you in 2000.

Don't quite know what he's doing with the (apple?). But I've come to the conclusion that it's a Christmas tree decoration.


From John & Betty Saxon @ 2, Mauldon Street, Chifley, ACT 2606,Australia

26 Nov 1999

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