Tuesday, 11 Oct 1983

Dear Mom & Dad,

Well, I'm sure you will be pleased to know that your son is alive & well. I finally went back to work today after being off for a week. I feel very good, the best I've felt in a month. I can't believe I was so sick. It took till Sunday afternoon before I felt like I could stay out of bed. I certainly got to read a lot.

Kem & Brenda sent us a textbook from Harding's art appreciation class last week, at our request. It certainly came in handy while I was sick. I was amazed at how many things the book talks about that I have seen. It has been 9 years since I took that course. It sure means a lot more now that we live where it all started.

I have done practically nothing else since I last wrote.

I am sending a couple of articles about the earthquakes here. The tremor last Tuesday morning caused quite a stir. I think these articles give you a good idea about what is going on here. I had never heard of bradyseism before coming here. This area gives you the idea that the earth is alive!

The articles fail to mention that one of the hospital's 3 stairways has been closed due to damage from last week's quake. Look again at the picture I sent of the hospital, taken from the parking lot. The closest end in the picture is the stairway that is closed. Several of the windows, that you can see on the end, broke. If there is another quake that strong, they are afraid the whole section of windows could fall out.

Jeannie & the kids have felt only one tremor since we have been here, and that was while we were still in the hotel.

Please send Jeannie's parents copies of these articles.

I got your letter today.

I can't believe it is still so hot in Harrison in October. The weather here is great. We are dreading how cold it is supposed to get this winter here in the house. Jeannie ordered us & Angelique electric blankets, blanket sleepers for the kids, & long underwear for all of us, from Sears at no small price.

Personally, I'm glad I wasn't around for your Fall housecleaning. You think your house is dusty, just wait till you come here. Next year tell Becky to come up to help.

Next time Becky tells you she has a "letter started," tell her to sign her name to it & put it in the mail. We aren't picky about whether the letters come complete, just as long as they come. Perhaps if I dropped her a note, she would be more inclined to write back. I'm not sure what to tell her. I assume she hears about us from you. Tell her to tell us about her kids and send something about "Days of Our Lives." Jeannie has just about gotten over her addiction for that soap opera. We are still curious about what is going on, though.

Are Becky & Andy going to Harrison for Christmas? We need to know before sending presents. I hope Becky understands that she doesn't need to send us anything.

Why don't you buy yourself a VCR for Christmas? By the way, we have decided we want you to get the videotape to "Camelot" for us. We will probably never find it here.

Grandma was hooked to a Holter scan. It is like an EKG run continuously for 24 hours. If she is having to wear two nitroglycerine patches, perhaps a different medicine would help. Ask Joan if they have tried Calcium Channel Blockers. They are a step more advanced than nitroglycerine. I have never used them because they are relatively new, but they work miracles for some patients. If her doctor isn't familiar with them, it is time to learn. They have used them for several years in Europe, but only about a couple of years in the States.

I guess by now you have executed your calves for getting into the orchard.

I suppose Harrison would be in big trouble if the shirt shop didn't open one day. But, I guess $800 is a good reason to open.

Arkansas ranking 14th on national exams just shows that other states have education problem that aren't solved by spending more money. The same may be true in Arkansas. Most of the school districts want computers these days. I suppose that will be more & more important. I will see to it that our kids learn to use a computer regardless whether the school has one.

Another thing about spending more money on education - there are some kids that aren't going to learn anything no matter how much money is spent. I can't think of a single thing I would have learned in Harrison schools more than I did, just because more money could have been spent.

I'm sure Mr. Van Deven would say that the amount of money spent has little to do with the quality of education.

If a country boy like me could go to a "country" school (as Harrison is considered by Becky & the rest of the country) and become a doctor living in Italy, then I say the education system in Arkansas is not as bad as everyone thinks.

In a few years we will find that Arkansas students are no smarter (based on national exam scores) even though millions more was spent on education. You will see.

Our nearest neighbors are Ann & Bob Cummings. Their boys are Chris & Erik, who are about 9 & 10 years old & very good with our kids. Ann is just like a big sister to Jeannie. She occasionally substitute teaches in the schools here. Bob is a civilian & works at the port. He is a supervisor over the repair of ships. They have been here for 3 years & will be here 2 more years. We are glad they will be here.

Yesterday Jeannie went with Ann to the crystal factory & came home with some really pretty glasses & a large crystal bowl (on 3 legs) from Bohemia in Czechoslovakia. (The TUMAs were from Bohemia.) I can't remember seeing anything in the States from a Communist country (with the exception of the Cubans, of course). Jeannie recently got something pretty that was made in Russia. It is sort of a doll, but not really a toy that we will let Angelique play with, though she could I guess.

It is nearly dark here at 6 pm now. We are farther north than Harrison. Naples is about even with Chicago.

We do not have earthquake drills. Yet. I think the high school has.

When you go to Wichita, does Grandma spend the whole weekend reading my letters?

Being wealthy in Europe centuries ago automatically gave you royal blood. You obviously don't understand the system yet. After you come, you will understand it better then. I will enjoy discussing it with you. The rich people were that way because they were smart or they inherited it. The bad parts of the history here happened too often because the idiots who inherited their money & position were too stupid to do a good job in governing their territory.

Jeannie says they open Toyland so early here so there will be time to write back to the States to order things for Christmas that you couldn't find here. This is the American Toyland. The Italians start Christmas shopping about the time you do.

Jeannie feels like she has got a lot to learn about painting yet. She says watercolors are hard.

We never hear anything about smaller ships like David is on. Even when someone comes to the hospital off one of the smaller ships, he almost always has been on a larger ship before we get them and that is the only ship we know anything about.

We have a new commanding officer (C.O.) and a new executive officer (X.O.) at the hospital. The executive officer is the closest thing we have to an administrator. Both of them are very pleasant & everyone seems to like them. It has made a big difference in improving morale at the hospital since I got here.

Since passing my boards, the Navy will simply pay me a little more with each paycheck. When I finally start getting it, they will also give me the back pay to when I passed, I think.

How are the Razorbacks ranked nationally?

Jeannie says the biggest problem with education in Arkansas & the U.S. is discipline. Spending billions on education will therefore not change that basic problem. If you ask us, a lot money is going to be wasted raising taxes in Arkansas because it won't change the system.

Angelique especially likes art & music classes at school. Yesterday was a holiday, but Jeannie didn't know that Paddington was closed, so they all got up & got ready. Angelique woke me up when she got back home at 8:35. She wasn't quite sure why mom thought her school was open, but no one was there.

Steven can count to 12, and to 20 with a little help. He knows the first 4 letters of his name. He isn't as eager to tell the world how smart he is like Angelique always has. We really have to squeeze it out of him sometimes. He likes his position in the family & has learned that if he plays dumb, life is easier. Angelique would do everything & say everything for him if we let her. He learned quickly how to talk like a four-year-old. He is always saying, "I can't," or "I don't want to." Usually he is a charmer, but occasionally he is unbearable. He minds very well.

We all look forward to your coming. Take care of yourselves. You both are working too hard. Take it easy. I am.

Lots of love,

Michael, Jeannie,
Angelique, & Steven

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