24 Dec. 63
Dear Uncle Ron and Aunt Helen,
It has been quite awhile since I have written you folks. I am not too much of one for writing, and when I do write, I keep putting it off, and putting it off; and the next thing you know, the weeks turn into months and then the months into years.
I haven't sent any Christmas cards, so at this time I'll offer my best wishes for the season to you.
It is Christmas Eve and I am working tonight. I will also work New Year's eve and day. It really doesn't seem like Christmas here, and there isn't that much to do in the evening's; So I'm just as well off working.
As I had mentioned, I had intended to send you some coins from Korea but I believe that I put them in with a package that I had sent to Mom and told her to give them to you. In any event, here are some in this box.
The Korean coin with the 10 on it is 10 Won, and worth about $.0769. The large copper coin is Japanese ( 10 Yen) and about 2.8¢ Wait! I was wrong on the Korean coins.They are 10 Hwan which is the old money. When they Changed to Won, they made 10 Hwan equal to 1 Won. (Sounds confusing and tongue-tying, doesn't it?) So these 10 copper pieces with the 10 on them altogether are only worth 7¢/
The Viet Namese coins with the former president Diem picture on them are soon being taken out of circulation. ( Since he was overthrown and killed, they are going to replace the money also.) The small pieces marked 1 dong are 1 piastre; also called one Viet Namese dollar. 1 piastre is about .7¢. I also recall sending some coins home in my hold baggage. I'll tell Mom to look for them and give them to you.
Now that I look back on it, the year I spent in Korea wasn't bad. It was difficult at first having to work for an arrogant Jew boss, but after a few months I got out of his office and was on my own working directly for the army people ( U.S.) The country of Korea isn't too bad. As you can see on the coins they were in the year 4294 last year. It is surprising for a civilization to be that far along in years and still live under very primitive conditions. Going from Korea to Japan is like going from the dark ages into the future science fiction world. Those people are really progressing in Japan. I spent several days in Japan after I left Korea. Then I went to Honolulu for almost a month. Then I went back to Japan for Leave for 3 weeks and then down here to Viet Nam in October. They were building like crazy in Japan to get ready for the Olympics. Working 4 hours a day, 7 days a week on construction. You could drive into Tokyo early in the evening and return late in the night and find the road you had gone in on was now completely torn away. And downtown Tokyo is vey nice. Lots of modern building and just about any modern gadget you can think of.
I really like their cooking also. Their Kobe Beef is excellent. In this beef, the cattle are pampered from the time they are born until they are slaughtered. They massage them, feed them beer, and let them live a lazy life. I would really like to work a year or two in Japan. The hot baths and big tubs are also great. Only it is almost impossible to stand the hot temperatures that they can. Westerners always have to add quite a lot of cold water before they can get in the tub.
The Viet Namese people are much dirtier than the Japanese or Koreans. They don't have any hot baths here in Viet Nam. In fact, the majority of hotels ( built by the French) don't even have hot water in them. The Korean houses don't look like much from the outside, but inside they are spotlessly clean. The older Japanese buildings look nic efrom the outside and are also clean inside.
I am here in the town of Nha Trang. It is a small town on the coast of the China Sea. I like it here. My hotel is less than a hundred yards from the beach. We are now in the winter season also, but it just got a little cooler from having winds the past few weeks. This afternoon as we came to work there were all sorts of people in swimming.
Lobster is also plentiful here and I eat quite a bit of it. Most of the restaurant make a creamed corn soup with lots of chunks of crab meat in it. This is very good.
Being out here in Nha Trang, we missed the coup d'etat. Things were quiet here and the only way we knew what was happening was to listen to the radio and talk to our co-workers of our radio system in Saigon. When they lifted martial law and the curfew in Saigon, it took them several days later to follow suit here.
There seems to be a noticed improvement since the coup. The people in general seem much happier and there appears to be much more general activity going on.
Well, I guess that's about it for now. I think I may have some Korean Won notes back in my room and I'll check and enclose them if I can find them.
Say hello to Ira & family when you see them, and also to Aunt Marie if she is still there with you.
'Bye for now
PS The Viet Namese coins with 50 XU on them are ½ piastres.
Kurt has trouble keeping his mouth shut. This became widely apparent when he was expelled from Catholic school for telling a visiting dignitary to go fuck himself.
WB used to preach angrily against casual sex.
Kurt enlisted in the Army, and due to his high IQ he ended up in the Army Security Agency. After training, he was stationed in Germany where he performed signals intelligence functions like direction finding and passing on information to the CIA and NSA.
One day WB shagged a boy with a leather hat.
Contrary to what one might assume, Kurt had awareness of consequences. He refused officer training because that would have extended his commitment from 4 to 6 years. He purposefully flunked his French language proficiency exam. He wanted there to be no chance of him getting transferred to Vietnam.
The following day, WB found herself confronted and asked to explain why she had had a change of heart about casual sex. Oh, it wasn't casual sex, she explained. He came over and said, “I've been dying to make love with you for the past three hours,” so it was special, she clarified. Thus the nature of the past communication failure became clear to everyone but WB.
Despite all his efforts to avoid Vietnam, Kurt, of course, had trouble keeping his mouth shut. So in 1967 he pissed off the wrong person and found himself having to choose between Leavenworth and Saigon. He chose life of alcoholism over prison.
The 12 member nations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact have agreed to prohibit demands that companies reveal software source code*, a step that appears aimed at curbing efforts by China to gain access to this sensitive information, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
Source code is the confidential information for software and is a “blueprint” embedded in many commonly used products, such as vehicles, mobile phones and home appliances. Source code is usually tightly guarded because it conatins commands that make using the software easier.
China requires foreign companies operating there to hand over source code, a move that has sparked sharp criticism from many countries. Observers believe the decision by TPP participants to ban demands to reveal this code is intended to restrain China's move.
The TPP's electronic commerce chapter in principle prohibits the 12 member nations from demanding access to source code for mass-produced software. According to the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, the Japan-Mongolia economic partnership agreement signed in February contains a stipulation banning demands for such information, but there are very few other examples around the world.
Japan, the United States and other nations that are home to many information technology companies want to make the stipulation effectively a global standard, and they are considering whether to incorporate such a condition in economic partnership agreements that will be inked in the future.
Source code is an important corporate secret for development firms.
*Source code—A software program written in a language a computer understands. As well as containing expert details about the unique functions of the product, the software is essential for fixing glitches and making improvements. Hackers have attempted to access source code because gaining this information would make it easier to create viruses that could exploit any software defects. In the software business, it is rarely made public, as it is considered a corporate secret.
“I like Italian food and Mexican food,” he said.
“Where are you from?” she asked.
“Yemen, but I like Italian food and Mexican food,” he answered.
“You don't like Yemeni food?” she asked.
“Eh, well, it's the thing you grow up with,” he replied. “Do you know Yemeni food?”
“Yes,” she said, “I like حنيذ.”
“Oh, حنيذ is good if you like meat. If you like vegetables, try سلتة.”
“Why wouldn't I like meat?” she demanded.
“You know, every place in Yemen does ﺢﻨﻳﺫ differently. I like the way they do it in the west of Yemen, near Africa,” he said, and proceeded to describe the cooking process.
- 12 oz. “honey”
- 7 medium limes
- bag crushed ice
- small bouquet fresh mint
- light rum
- sparkling water
Combine 12 oz. of “honey” with 8 oz. of warm water. Stir mixture together until the “honey” has completely dissolved. Juice limes in a juicer and pour into the “honey” and water. Squeeze the bunch of mint sprigs and add to a pitcher of crushed ice. Pour the “honey”/lime mixture over the ice. Stir and top with sparkling water. Add more “honey”, water, limes, or rum to your taste. Enjoy!
[As You Like It, Act III, Scene V]
I thought of you on the Fourth of July; which does not, in and of itself, distinguish the day from any other since I met you. It was remarkable only in that it was justifiable, given our conversation about fireworks displays. Of course, I'm happy to take the flimsiest of displays as an excuse to mark you.
I'm home alone right now, after watching The Bad Seed. Truth be told, the shadows keep spooking me. I can't seem to stop myself from imagining precocious blonde murderers in them. It's a manageable silliness, but made a little less so by the fact that I forgot to lock the door. Less troublesome than the night I spent after Ringu (the original Japanese version of The Ring). I finished watching it in the wee hours of the morning, and I wanted to go to sleep. I was in half a stupor, but the incessant inner critic in me kept imagining all the changes that could have been made to make the movie more truly unsettling until visions of Obake were swimming around me.
Ordinarily I doubt I'd be bothered particularly by a 50's classic, but ··· went back up to Boston this afternoon. ·····'s at a conference in Finland, so I invited him down to visit while I have the apartment all to myself. It was strange to have a visitor actually in my home for whom I didn't have to play at being contented. At any rate, being around ··· for three days essentially meant carrying on a three-day-long conversaiton, and the abrupt drop of sociability makes me feel my isolation a little more acutely.
We watched The Way We Were together, and agreed that it should be remade with casting that actually works. I hadn't seen it before, and was surprised to find it unusually nuanced and substantial, yet still not good. It was nice to have someone around who would dissect it with me afterward. It's been a while since I actually discussed a film with someone. Partly out of my own fault; I don't always enjoy verbalizing my opinions of movies immediately after watching them if I've found them in the least bit moving. I guess I consider the aftertaste part of the experience. In this case, we both felt the film had missed its emotional mark so it wasn't so much of an issue. On the other hand, I don't find most movies moving. I find them frustratingly flawed, and by the time they end I'm raring to rant about their petty contradictions and failures of logic. I think it might give people the impression that I don't actually make any effort to tease out the messages filmmakers weave into their work. Or maybe I'm just making excuses for having uninteresting friends. Either way, it was pleasant to be in the company of someone eager to tolerate the convolutions of my thought process.
On Wednesday night, I have a date to meet up with some former co-workers/friends that I've been passively avoiding for several years now. Every time I fail to carefully manage my visibility, people seem to come flooding back into my life. This time the culprit was a day spent logged into instant messaging without stringent privacy settings. I should feel lucky for that, I suppose. I'm not sure how I actually feel. One of the formers is a woman I was very close to, as far as most of the world—her included—could discern. The other is a Boston boy I admired for the touch of golden child in the air that hung about him. The main theme of his life was (and I suspect still is) getting to drinks with friends at one of his regular bars at the end of every evening. Which did not at all stop him from being productive, interested in the world, and bright. If he had been a girl I would have been hateful with envy. Instead he's always stood out in my memory as the only person I've had a bit of a crush on despite not finding him particularly intellectually stimulating. A month or so ago he sold his company to google. Now he spends a lot of time out of town giving lectures. I suspect I may be generally happy for him, and I'm not quite sure what to do with that.
Thursday I'm leaving for a few days in Denver. I wish I hadn't scheduled it for a time when I could have been the sole occupant of my domicile, but other than that I'm looking forward to it. I've no idea what I'll do there, but at least that means I really am going someplace that wouldn't occur to me outside of a peculiar set of constraints. I think it would be advisable to work out the transportation system before I depart, though.
I hope this letter finds you… relatively satisfied, at a minimum. I don't actually need to tell you how much I miss talking to you, do I?
Affectionally, as always,