Letter 15 (page 1)

27 July 2002

Dear everyone,

Rather than apologize about the length of time since I last wrote, I'll just say that this is our Christmas letter and you can pick which year.

The news

Our applications for permanent resident status, commonly known as the green card, were approved early last year, after 2½ years of filling in forms, standing in lines at the Immigration and Naturalization Service and then waiting. This means we can now apply for jobs wherever we like without worrying about work visas, stay as long as we like and we can go through the fast lane (actually, the not-so-slow/ I-still-might-get-my-connecting-flight lane) when re-entering the US. What we can't do, in order of increasing disappointment is vote, work for a defense contractor, join the Marines, represent the US at the Olympics, or run for President.

Lan made a rushed trip to Australia in July last year when her father was very ill. She was hoping to make it to the hospital in Adelaide to see her father while he was still alive but unfortunately was just an hour and a half too late.

A happier visit was the one we both made in April. It was, of course, too short but it was wonderful to catch up with those of you we were able to see. One downside of working in the US is that most workers only get 2 weeks of holiday each year. We also had our 10-year wedding anniversary while we were in Adelaide.

Lan started a new job with American Express when she came home as the previous job at Avaya was leaving her exhausted and the company was (and still is) in serious financial trouble so it didn't seem wise to stay. I'm still at Premier Data, where I've been since I got a work permit 2½ years ago. I'm still waiting on those stellar salaries that the computer industry promised but I've learnt a lot and most of the people there are very nice.

Some of my favorite people came to visit last July: Lan’s sister Le and her two children Viet and Catherine. Being mid-summer, there wasn't a lot of snow about but we had a great time anyway with the highlight perhaps being the day we spent at the rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming which included a display by the Air Force Thunderbirds. They had a l-o-n-g ride home from Denver though. Their travel agent had booked them to travel Denver to Los Angeles via Cincinnati (click on the map and see where it is!) so they could join their trans-Pacific flight.

Early this year, Russell, a friend of mine from childhood came to call. There was lots of snow to show him. Since the road through the Rocky Mountains National Park was closed for winter, we debated whether it was even worth going but I have never seen the park look so enchanting.

I finally finished my Aassociate degree at the community college but I've given up on getting a real qualification, at least for the moment. I completed three subjects at the University of Colorado at Denver but they were only prerequisites to enter their Masters program that is essentially the same as the Bachelors degree in Computer Science but with the maths and science removed. However. I was finding it increasingly difficult to study material I knew I would never use, such as assembly language, when there was so much to learn that can be used immediately.

I normally think that following sports is a complete waste of time but I make an exception every four years for the World Cup. To paraphrase someone speaking about playing for the English national championships, soccer is not a matter of life or death; it’s more important than that. With that in mind, I enjoyed watching the World Cup coverage—in Spanish! The ABC network had the rights to broadcast the games in America but they showed it live on cable TV only. Few Americans care and indeed in the first Sunday newspaper after the tournament started, coverage began on page 20 of the sports section following the baseball, basketball, golf, ice ho

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Air Force Thunderbirds display team.
Long way home.
Rocky Mountain National Park
It was very cold for a week in February turning fountains into ice sculptures. The tallest mound is about 5m high.

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