2 Jan 1985
Dear Mom and Dad,
Hi. I am trying to use my computer to write you a letter. If the electricity goes off while I am typing, I will lose it all and will have to start over. I wrote Becky a letter last night using this word processing program. I need practice using it, so you should be able to read EVERY word. It is harder to think and type an a TV screen at the same time, but it is just as fast. The program is EasyScript and didn't cost me anything, of course. It is very good but I haven't learned everything it will do yet. The manual has about 200 pages to it. So, I'll read the "instructions" if I have trouble.
I do not cease to be amazed at what we can do with this computer. I have literally hundreds of programs that will do all sorts of things. Jeannie wants it to do the housework for her. The kids very much enjoy "Ducks Ahoy!" You will see it on the enclosed videotape. I still have not mastered my printer, however. I thought it must be torn up the other day, because I could not get it to work. I finally figured out that the problem was too little voltage. It worked fine the next day. It seems that the electricity here only works by magic anyway.
Thank you for the Christmas presents. We will put them to good use. We appreciate "The Empire Strikes Back." Jeannie got me "Star Wars" for Christmas. I'm sorry we did not get word to you that Jeannie had found the Fisher Price tool set here for Steven. We will put the one you sent up until later. Steven does enjoy the He Man and at first made us laugh every time he called Battle Cat, "Bottle Cap." Angelique frequently plays with the little pony. The kids are still excited that they have so many Care Bears now.
I enjoyed your phone call on Christmas morning. You will probably notice that the phone rang while I had the video camera on. I think you will enjoy coming in September. It will not be too cold and, hopefully, not too hot. We do want you to come and I hope nothing has been said that might discourage you.
We spent several hours at the Sigle's yesterday. We ate lunch and supper there. John now has a Commodore, too, and wants me to teach him everything I know. I don't know much, but don't have time to teach him what I do know. Computers have really gotten to be big here. All the men seem to want to become experts on it overnight, and all the wives complain that they can't get their husbands off it. Jeannie wants me to work all the bugs out of everything before she is willing to sit in front of it. She does enjoy playing many of the games we have, but I am not interested in playing games on it when there is so much more to learn about it.
I am going to start teaching Evolution and Genesis 1 - 11 at church this Sunday. I also have to preach this week. I think I have most of it already worked up. If I don't know what I need to by now to teach this subject, then it is too late to start. I tried to get the congregation to advertise about this, but it wasn't done. (I was in LaMaddalena when they should have put it in the paper.) I suspect many who aren't members might be interested in hearing about what I have to say. I have read several books about Evolution over the past few weeks to refresh my memory. I suspect it to be fun, but challenging.
The American TV station here, which is run by the Navy, has started broadcasting for the base and hospital. In Agnano they can pick it up very well, but the signal is very weak everywhere else. Monday, I got up on the roof and turned the antenna so we could pick it up. The picture is quite snowy, but watchable most of the time. Every time a car goes by it messes up. Sesame Street is on while the kids are taking a nap. When the signal gets stronger we will be able to tape it with the VCR and let them watch it later. They are supposed to turn up the power around May. There will be little worth watching on it. There is too much sports on. Also, all the commercials are military propaganda.
It has been very cold here for the past several days. We are freezing inside. We are really dressing warmly. We are pleased that the radiators are working better than last year. The landlord worked on them and now they are too hot to touch. Perhaps, if we could leave the heat on 24 hours a day it would be better. It has rained all day today. It looks just like it could snow outside.
The electricity in the clinic was really strange today. About noon, HALF the lights went out. We were unable to figure out what could cause such a thing. But, as I said, it only works by magic here anyway.
We certainly like the picture you sent. We will have it framed soon to match the one of Rex and Velma. The tiny pictures are attached to the inside of the door to the wardrobes in the kids' rooms. They thought that was neat to have their own pictures of you, and ones that were just their size. They were eager to show me when I got back from LaMaddalena.
I told you I went to Corsica (France). That was an interesting trip. On Saturday, I got on a ferry at 7 a.m. and got there at 9:30. I returned that afternoon at 5:30. I was unable to buy anything because I couldn't get any Francs. I did find a restaurant that would take an American Express card. I had no idea what I was ordering, but I ended up with grilled shrimp that were about six inches long. Also, there was soup, salad, and dessert. Most of the day I just walked around the town of Bonifacio. Much of the town is built inside a castle. Only about a fourth of the shops were open. I couldn't believe they didn't want my dollars.
I felt like I wasted the whole time in LaMaddalena, only seeing eight to twelve patients a day. They have a doctor there. He obviously doesn't like to work much. They schedule 30 minute appointments for everything. I was able to come home a day early. There was a six passenger prop jet going to Naples the night before my scheduled flight and I said, "Let me on it." It was used to medevac two patients to Naples and they needed a medical attendant anyway. I was told at 2:40 p.m. that I could go, while I was still at the clinic. I had to practically run about a mile to my hotel to pack and check out. I had to buy a ticket for the ferry which left at 3:00! How I did all that in twenty minutes I will never know. I guess it just shows how much I wanted to come home.
I bought a computer monitor (TV) that we all have been very pleased with. It is a Commodore. If I use the VCR as a tuner, we can watch regular TV with it. Now I can play/work on the computer while someone else watches TV on the Sony. We decided to try having the computer downstairs. We rearranged the downstairs, as you will see on the video. Actually, it is warmer here, but lonely.
I bought Jeannie a cameo from the factory we visited in Ercolano (Herculaneum) while you were here. I even talked them into reducing the price a little. It still cost around $100. She seems pleased with it.
We do appreciate the subscriptions you gave us for Christmas.
I actually got a letter from Becky with her Christmas card. She sent pictures of Alan and Brian. We couldn't believe how big Brian is. We are sending her 12 hours of cartoons tomorrow. We hope she will send us 12 hours of Saturday morning cartoons in exchange. She seems very happy with Ashville. How did their Christmas go?
What did you do on Christmas? By the way, do not put anything on that coin. Leave it the way it is. It stayed in the ground over 1500 years, but you can ruin it if you try to shine it up. I bought it from our archeologist friend. He said the only safe thing to try to clean it up was to put it in olive oil for 40 days. I already did that and I couldn't tell much difference afterward.
I can't figure out how Andy and Becky can afford to build a new house AND build apartments. It must be nice to be wealthy. I suppose if I weren't in the Navy I might have money to do such things. I am getting tired of not making as much money as I could on the outside. Who tricked me into this business, anyway?
There are plans to build a new base before 2000. That will not help us. The U.S. will probably pay for all the buildings, then GIVE them to Italy if we ever leave or move the base again. They will surely put the hospital on the base. I only take call for delivering babies now. That is still done at the hospital. The clinic at Pinetamare is closed up tight between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. It is dangerous to lead the community into thinking we can handle emergencies at the clinic as some at the hospital have tried to do. I have to eat lunch or supper at the clinic. I have a drawer in my office with groceries in it, or I take a sack lunch. While I was gone they saw about 400 patients there in one week. That is very busy for such a small clinic.They will leave all the doctors here because they are afraid they will not be able to get all that they need later if they don't. It is just a political game.
We had no trouble with anyone bothering the car at the airport in Rome while we were in the States. Apparently, the spark plugs just needed to be changed, because it started and ran fine after that was done. I overlooked that the spark plugs have to be changed here more frequently because of the poor gas we get.
I will send you a copy of the jet lag diet another time, because I just now found it. I looked all over the place the other day. I will make you a copy. Jeannie wrote an article about it for her wives' club after we got back.
Jeannie did not shop in Austria on her trip, though they had originally planned to. They decided there wasn't time. They did visit a big wood carving factory (Anri) with which she was very impressed. She could understand why they are so expensive and wondered why they don't charge more.
There is a flight every day, I think, from Frankfurt to Naples via Lufthansa. It stops in Genoa. I do not remember how much it costs, but it isn't too much. I flew on it once.
On Saturday before Christmas, the church had a Christmas party at the Sigle's. Our kids and the Sigle kids spent the night at the babysitter's (Andrea's) house, which is just upstairs from John and Faye's. Jeannie and I stayed and visited with John and Faye an hour after everybody else went home. The kids had their own party.
I cannot think of any thing else to tell you. This turned into a long letter, I think. My computer says I am on line 316. I will send this tomorrow with the video tape of the kids opening presents. Or at least I hope I can get this to print like it is supposed to.
Happy New Year! We look forward to your visit in the early fall or late summer. Even more, we look forward to returning to the States NEXT YEAR (1986). I hope we will be moving to Memphis. Then you and Becky's can meet there for Thanksgiving or whatever.
Take care. And write even if I don't. We love you lots.
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