About Mark and Laura
From our Christmas letter, December 2002...
We hope this letter finds you well and warm this holiday season. We? Who are we? Why, Laura and Mark, of course! And this is our first holiday letter
together, so each of us needs a bit of introduction to the other's friends and family.
It all started the Summer of 2000. Mark had just graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a Masters in Computer Science, and set off to
in search of his fortune in San Antonio, TX at the Southwest Research Institute. He rode off into the sunset in a PT Cruiser. Meanwhile, Laura also
graduated, but from Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX, with her degree in Mathematics, Computer Science, and a Secondary Education
Certificate. Her next step was to attend graduate school in Computer Science at (where else) Madison, Wisconsin; she packed a warm, down coat. Mark soon
discovered that SWRI was not for him; he'd much rather be back in graduate school up in Wisconsin and pursue a Ph.D. So, he returned to Madison for the
spring semester, began to teach intro to computer science, and who should he meet but fellow instructor Laura Goad. We quickly became best friends and
started dating in April 2001; everything since has been roses and balloons!
So, it's now December 2002 and graduate school continues. Laura was awarded the Graduate Instructor of the Year in 2001 for her excellent teaching skills
and classroom decorum (these are Mark's complements not Laura's ego talking). Our summers have also been spent teaching, with Laura teaching an
introduction course to computer architecture and Mark teaching an introduction to artificial intelligence. My guess is, we're going to teach for the rest
of our lives. Mark, who sold his PT Cruiser and once again drives a red station wagon, began research working with Jude Shavlik in Machine Learning, and
is now supported by a Computational Biology fellowship. Laura wrapped up her Master's Degree in May 2002 by writing a detailed master's thesis on
optimizing garden plot layout.
Though even with all our schoolwork, we still make time to relax and have fun. Some of our favorite times have been spent cultivating a garden plot and
growing our own produce. Our freezers are now overflowing with tomatoes, zucchini, squash and other vegetables. This, and our first starts at canning
pickles and jams, feed well into our love of cooking. Other times we spend making candles, carving pumpkins, playing card games, learning tennis, and
reading fantasy and mystery novels, or throwing pots and making tortillas with friends. And Laura's index and middle fingers have turned green following
her green thumb; both our apartments are overflowing with African violets, streptocarpus, pepperomia and more. She also takes care of the plants in the
Computer Science Department, making them bloom for the first time in years.
All these hobbies together, and you'd think we were married! Well, you don't have to wait long; we got engaged on August 14th, 2002, and plan to be
married here in Madison on July 5th, 2003, and hope you can join us (website to appear soon with all the details). We've enjoyed flying and driving on
vacations to TX, WV, NC, NY, and IN to see family and friends. And Mark's officially an Uncle; his nephew William Matthew Rich was born in February. They
say he takes after Mark, stays up late watching Letterman and doesn't really following a schedule. You go, Will!
Well, we could go on, but we'll save more stories for next year's special edition 2-Disc DVD letter. :) Have a Merry Christmas!
Mark and :)Laura