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Letter from Dad by Margaret Downs
Hi everyone:

Am reading a good book, Nick you should look for it in the Duke library. It's "The Europeans" by Luigi Barzini, an Italian journalist. Very funny and insightful about the differences among the various European countries and the US. Please read it.

I'm expecting an embassy visit soon. Please have Tim FORCEFULLY request any written material of mine they may be hoarding here at the jail. Either release it to Tim or return it to me if they have some objection. I think what we have here is more than normal Gulf stupidity and slowness, perhaps they are collecting my letters in a box for some reason. They may plan to give me a pile of letters when I'm released, who knows. Last fall I noticed my stuff came to you promptly but there's a snag somewhere, possibly here.

Just sent a couple long stories to you. One is a Reggie episode in which our mad scientist hero is captured by a cult in the woods and they try to get him to build a bomb for them. He narrowly escapes, of course. Another is a spy caper in which Tom, working in the Gulf, conspires with the beautiful Iranian spy to steal a super computer. Taking a break uitil we find out why nothing is being delivered, it's very frustrating. I asked Meg if some were buried on Nick's kitchen table unter "PAST DUE!" and "FINAL WARNING" notices. She said maybe.

Love my New Yorkers, sure could use a few more. They are great, I read every page. Nick, I hope you're not thinking about coming for Christmas! Please don't, use the money for other stuff. A nice box of New Yorker magazines and a few books would be a better use of money. I'll send you a wish list. One idea is a laptop for Meg. Jareer's has Dell laptops with Windows Vista for sale, around 3000QR- is that a good deal? You also need a new laptop, Nick. If I'm stuck here this winter have the embassy insist that Kevin be allowed to visit me, that would be great. He's a fine young man. Got some books the other day from Robbie Denton, please email him a thank you and howdy. Still struggling to figure out what to write to Sandra. All my eloquence fails me in such a situation.

Loved talking to Tom the other night, what a great guy. He's getting quite an "education" in that Durham high school. Tom, try to scratch and bite you way up into the top 10 or 15% of students there, the type colleges look at. Have you taken an SAT? You should take a sample test and get a work book, you've got to do well on that. Also, read some quality stuff this summer, my stories for example! I'm starting a story about tinkering cars, a Mercedes 2-door coupe I had when you were a baby, I sold it when you were 6 months old. The BMW I sold for a dollar would also make a good story.

I'm sure the "summit meeting" in Eureka last week was fun and memorable, sad too I'm sure. Was little Zoe there? I've invented a new character in the Reggie series named for her, a 12 year old girl science whiz. Several Zoe stories are "on the way" to you, stuck somewhere in the system. Sure wish I knew where the hell it all was.

Chinese is going well, the book is good Nick. Also reading Sherlock Holmes in French and plan to read Spanish later this summer plus write more. Nick, try sending me a small CD with AAPG stuff on it to Box 6949, let's see if they pass it to me. I get to use an old PC once a week. Still walking about 15 miles a week plus walking the stairs. Diet is good, lots of salad, apples, whole wheat bread. Am teahing 2 Malayzian guys computer stuff and they make me Chinese food, also have a Vietnamese guy who stands in the chow line for me for 3$ a week. Nick, there's a young Malaysian guy here, Steven, who's reading some of the books you sent. Pretty sharp guy. I wrote up a joke legal agreement between us i which I agree to provide him educational materials and scholarly guidance. In return he provides me with chinese food and protection from "hoodlums, homosexuals and persons trying to convert me to Islam." He loves Kurt Vonnegut but we don't hav emuch here, none of the old classic Vonnegut anyway.

Meg, you're probably tired of typing at this point. (I am!) Did you see the story about "Jolie Blonde"? There's tons more lost in the ether somewhere, hope we can track it down. I don't think the jail destroys anything but they are ignorant, superstitious people and they have never seen a prisoner write a book , I'm sure; most of the guys here can barely write a sentence.

Just for fun here's the "contract" with Steven, borrowed in part from Kipling's story "The Man Who Would be King" :

Contract between Professor (Mr John) and Student (Steven), To wit:
1) Professor agrees to provide student with educational materials and scholarly guidance.
2) Student agrees to protect professor from hoolums, homosexuals and persons trying to convert him to Islam.
3) Student agrees to give professor a small portion of any Chinese food he prepares.
4) Student agrees to offer professor milky tea (extra sugar) whenever student is having tea and professor looks forlorn.
5) This contract remains in force until either professor or student is released from jail.

Love you guys,


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