Archive for the ‘Personal History’ Category

Mary Ellen Steussy Shanahan, 1937 – 2016

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Mary and Larry undated

My aunt, Mary Ellen Steussy Shanahan, passed away today at the age of 79. She was an English professor, married to Larry Shanahan, another English professor. She had a wit, a tongue, an education and a taste for the good life.

Wedding_1965Her Official Obituary: Mary Steussy Shanahan, born January 30, 1937, passed away on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 in New Glarus, Wisconsin after a brief illness. She was the daughter of Edwin and Helen Freitag Steussy and was predeceased by two brothers, Robin and Calvin Steussy. Mary is survived by her husband Lawrence Shanahan. She was born in Madison, Wisconsin, attended West High School, and graduated with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. After she completed her Ph.D., she taught at Nebraska Wesleyan in Lincoln, Nebraska and Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma. After retirement, she taught for more than 10 years at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. Mary is survived by a large loving family of cousins, nieces, and nephews and an even larger family of students whose lives were so enriched by Mary’s gift of teaching. Mary’s two passions in life were teaching and beauty and she leaves a rich legacy of each.

Mary married Larry in 1965 in Monticello, Wisconsin at her grandfather’s stately rural home. Larry was her companion and her muse, always present and always devoted, for the past fifty-one years.

I’ve known Aunt Mary all my life. I remember her brief visits to my childhood home in Indiana, as well as our many visits to her in Wisconsin. She introduced me to good cheese, wry conversation and martinis.

She taught me cocktail party banter and etiquette. Her wry sense of humor and education mixed seamlessly. This was also true in her everyday life, as she had a cat named Fitzgerald and a car named Lord Byron. I will miss her.

With Mary’s passing, a generation of Steussy’s have left us. The void they leave behind, Robin, Cal and Mary, is vast and deep.



15th Anniversary

Sunday, February 7th, 2016






Yes, today is our 15th anniversary. The photos above were chosen from an algorithm on Facebook, but I think they are appropriate. And what do we get for this milestone?


A new house! We close escrow on March 14.

Harbin Hot Springs gone?

Sunday, September 13th, 2015





Harbin Hot Springs was part of our first honeymoon, a honeymoon trip we took by motorcycle from Los Angeles to Northern California. We spent two days at Harbin Hot Springs, a favorite hangout of mine from the 1980’s. We just heard that it has likely burned to the ground in the wake of fires spreading through the area. While we know people have lost much more (homes, pets, etc.), we will certainly miss this idyllic place in the mountains of NorCal.

Father’s Day 2015

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

Penultimate cigar

Dad died five years ago. When he passed away, he left a stash of recently purchased cigars. As the sole family member with any interest in cigars, these boxes passed to me as part of my inheritance. I’ve smoked Dad’s cigars on special occasions: law school acceptance, graduation, passing the bar, being hired. Yesterday, I smoked the next-to-last cigar remaining.

I lit it using matches Dad had taken from the Baltschug Kempinski Hotel in Moscow. This was the hotel I arranged for my parents when they came to visit me when I was working for Apple there in Summer 1993. The hotel looks down on Red Square and the walls of the Kremlin; it was one of their favorite travel hotels of all time. After a few days visiting me there, he and Mom left on a train for Beijing, the most adventurous trip they ever took.

Transiberian Railway

Transiberian Railway 1993

While smoking, I’m reading what is probably the last travel book by Paul Theroux. His first travel book, The Great Railway Bazaar was one of Dad’s favorites. Thus, this Father’s Day is spent, at least partially, in homage to Dad.

10th Anniversary Today

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

It was a great decision. Our celebration today? Cleaning up the house after three days of Thanksgiving parties and guests. Then home with the kids for a video movie. And we’re perfectly fine with that.

Time is my Enemy

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

Time is my enemy now. Virtually every minute of the week is accounted for. There are fifteen hours of classes, which are accompanied by some 30 hours of studying. Two hours out of class for every hour in class. Then there are about ten additional hours to make up for things I don’t understand, additional homework, practicing on Lexis/Nexis or Westlaw or other law school affiliated work.

On weekdays, I’m home by 5:30 or 6pm. Once home, I try to devote my attention to Gabi and the kids, until I’m off the school again the next day. On weekends, things are a bit different. Friday evenings are centered around our weekly martini parties, which we all thoroughly enjoy (“Can you make me a small one this week, Ed?”).

Saturdays are for the family. Sunday morning, I make an early commute to the library, where I can get an additional five hours of study in before coming home to watch football games with Gabi.

I don’t read the news anymore. I used to read the Economist cover-to-cover each week. Now, I scan Yahoo News once every two days or so. I don’t make all of the phone calls to family and friends that I used to. I have a science fiction book that I started three weeks ago, and I’m still less than halfway through it. My current videogame was started in mid-August and I will be lucky to finish it in October.

I’m reporting facts here, not complaining. I’m thoroughly entertained by the reading I’m doing for law school. I find the threading of logic in each class call completely engrossing. And my time with Gabi and the kids is much more sparkly, for being so infrequent.

I’m posting this as an apology to everyone who might feel forgotten. You’re not forgotten; it is just that my universe is now nearly completely filled with law school and family. There just isn’t room for much else, though I’m making sure to create time and space for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other important events. It’s different. And I am enjoying this a great deal.

Law School Starts

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

The reason we moved to Davis and have utterly shifted our lives is now upon us; law school has started. The Intro Week is now complete and it is time to start our actual studies.

I’ve met many of my fellow colleagues at King Hall. I am the oldest (err, most mature) in the class. I have the largest family with me. While statistics have not been published on the class beyond some brief measures, it appears that perhaps only ten other people are married. Notwithstanding a few oddballs like myself, it is a traditional post-graduate experience.

In talking with my fellow students, there is a range of reasons to be coming to law school. Driven, mature personalities; lost souls; seekers of fame, power and fortune; individuals on an intellectual challenge; some who simply see law school as the only way to legitimize an undergraduate eduction in political science, English or or other “soft” study. (My own reasons are published in detail here.) An interesting group; young, mature, attractive, enthusiastic. Certainly not overly cynical, greedy, brittle, egotistical or narcissistic; as lawyers and law students are commonly portrayed.

Personally, the challenge for me will be the separation of family and studies. I’ve filled my locker at King Hall with all of my books and notes, a stash of Diet Coke and power bars, workout clothes and other necessities. It will be where I study. When I come home, it will be to tell a few brief tales of the events to the day but, largely, to enjoy the trials and tribulations of my small family.

Above is a photo of Daniel, Veronica and Gabi running across an open field to get to Rainbow City, a vast playground in North Davis. We’ve been going to it in the evenings, after eating pizza in a downtown student restaurant.

Appearing somewhat like a wooden Angkor Wat, Rainbow City is a vast playground will slides, swings, jumps and falls. Perfect for four little boys and girls to get lost, meet people and play.

Here all four kids take turns sliding on a long, tall concrete slide (part of a skateboard park) near Rainbow City. The cardboard improves their speed on the rough surface.

With good luck (and planning), I’ll have sufficient time concentrating and studying at King Hall to continue to enjoy my family here in our new city. Three years is not so long; it feels like Aaron was born yesterday and he is nearly four now.

It will be an interesting journey.

Vacation Time

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Vacation time. That’s what this feels like.

Actually, I’m working twenty hours a week, teaching GMAT and GRE Prep for Kaplan Graduate Testing. And we’re still unpacking boxes – just this morning, I emptied a dozen boxes in the office.

But it feel like vacation. The fact is my adult life has been full of serious responsibility — companies, employees, creditors and investors. I’ve had to worry in some way, shape or form every day since founding my first firm in Taiwan in 1989. No one depends on me in quite that way right now.

Today, there is a clear plan — prepare for law school, which starts in 19 days. The family is safe and comfortable in its new surroundings. We’ve been exploring the territory (Sacramento, Truckee and Lake Tahoe this past weekend). And no one needs anything from me (save two dozen students who require ministrations four nights a week).

In my adult life, I’ve had only one paid holiday. RUI Apple Computer Moscow gave me two weeks paid leave in the summer of 1993. I flew to Bali free first class as frequent flyer number 56 on Czech Airlines. I read The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Paul Kennedy (purchased in Singapore) on the beach. I rented a motorcycle and purchased a painting –virtually the sole physical momento of my nine odd years abroad from 1986 to 1995. It was all good fun, but I don’t think my life has been lessened for not having more such holidays.

More updates later.

Moving – Day 5 and counting

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Text only entry here. Boxes are being packed and labeled. Ikea furniture dissembled. Everything is being staged in the garage. 26 foot truck appearing on Friday to load. Anything not on the truck is left behind. Clothes, kitchen stuff, computers, pets, … everything we have is being accounted for. A very stressful time.

Not that we’re unhappy with the final destination or why we’re headed there. But moving from the family’s home base of six plus years is tough. And the space we’ve allotted ourselves is limited. Does Barbie make the cut? What about BBQ tools I haven’t used for two years? Do I really need two Linux servers?

The office was taken apart today. External drives (which provide backup and are the sole storage point of most video) are gone. HD computer monitor is now packed. Precious desk (a trophy of an earlier business triumph) is now taken apart.

Time to move.

Moving to Davis

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

As alluded earlier in the blog, the Steussy Ranch is moving to Davis, California. UC Davis has offered me a seat in their 2014 class, along with a generous scholarship. UC Davis is far and away the first choice for my law school based on a series of factors: 1) US News ranking #23, 2) California location, 3) very family friendly small town. While there were a few large cities on my selection list, I was very pleased when UC Davis accepted me and gave me the option of a small town in California to spend the next three years.

And what a town!

Have you wondered why the sudden interest in bicycles at the Steussy Ranch? Was it a sudden need for outdoor exercise? Enthusiasm for the kids’ biking? No, it’s directly related to our move to Davis.

Davis is completely surrounded and embedded with independent biking streets located in Green Zones. In the map above, every yellow line is a bike lane inside a green zone, completely protected from any car traffic. (Full PDF map available here.) You can circle the entire city without ever seeing a car. Except for the very center of town, the whole city is accessible from these lanes. Speaking as a father of four young children, I can imagine nothing better.

Note the path behind Daniel here with two kids rollerblading. It’s an example of one of the bike lanes. Wherever the bike lane crosses a standard vehicular street, there is a bridge or tunnel allowing bikes to travel without danger. And these paths all lead to the most wonderful parks, as below.

The parks are green and expansive. And they contain …

…swings, rock climbing walls, swimming pools and the local elementary school. Simply, vastly wonderful.

Abutting the law school and accessible by bike lane is the UC Davis Arboretum. Home to plants from around the world, ducks, college students and little boys and girls.

We’re all anxious to start exploring on our own once we move there. In early July …

…we move. Until then, time to get our biking gear ready!