surfing the stardust

Greeve’s Favorite Books

I started off as trying to get some inputs from classmates on their favorite books but soon realized that favorite “authors” were more appropriate.  These are all really good authors.  You can tell I love suspense novels.  Graham Greene used to differentiate between literature and “entertainments” – that makes no sense to me. I will not read if the book does not hold my interest – if it holds my interest I am entertained.
I also like a historical background and pure history too, especially wars. But, except for spy novels, I can’t recall many WW I or II novels I think are really good. I have read scores of books about the 20th Century wars – the 8 or 9 authors here give a fine start to the “questions without answers” of “why”.  I have read many Vietnam War novels but none compare to the movie “Platoon”.  I have not read Churchill’s “History of the English Speaking People”
On the Civil War, I think I’ve read about 8-10 Lincoln biographies but non really stood out – I guess with such an amazing character and life many are good. Sandburg’s Lincoln is the place to start for the whole view.  Grant’s wonderful biography by Jean Smith makes sense of all the shenanigans of the other generals.
Science fiction is almost always suspense.  Far away places and exploration also entertain me.  I went through a period when mountaineering was a big thing in my life and boating has always been fun.  I have re-read almost all of these books.  I continue to be perplexed why there are no great German writers – I guess with Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven who needs to read?
                                                                          The best book I ever read:

Top ~85 Authors to Read:
I have sometimes picked one or two titles which I recall were especially good.  All of these authors’s complete work are worth a try – as usual there will be a lemon or three. If I marked it ++ I highly recommend you give all the author’s works a try.

Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurty (this is really my favorite)
My Early Life – Winston Churchill++
The Search for Karla Triolgy – John LaCarre++ (no this one is)
The Indian Creek Chronicles – Pete Fromm
The Robot Novels – Isaac Asimov++
Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson (Jenny and My favorite)
The Guns of August – Barbara Tuchman++ (Dan’s and my Favorite)
The Collected Stories (1950) – Willam Faulkner
Anna Karenina/War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy (yes this is it)
The Winds of War/Caine Mutiny – Herman Wouk 
Hawaii – James Michener
Contact – Carl Sagan
The Rise and The Fall of the Third Reich – William Shirer
Hell in a Very Small Place – Bernard Fall 
A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway
Rain and other South Sea Stories -Collected Somerset Maugham++
Undaunted Courage – Steven Ambrose++
All The Pretty Horses – Cormac McCarthy++
My Antonia – Willa Cather
Inside the Third Reich – Albert Speer
The Snow Leopard – Henry Matthiessen++
Two Years Before the Mast – Richard Dana
Straight Man – Richard Russo
That Willder Image –  James Flexner 
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Chichikov’s Journey – Nikolai Gogol
Out Of Africa – Isak Dinesen
The Heart of the MAtter – Graham Greene++
Crime and Punishment – Dostoyevsky++
The White Spider – Reinhold Meissner
Nanda Devi: The Tragic Expedition – John Roskelley 
The Great Railway Bazaar – Paul Theroux
Napolean – Vincent Kronin
Dreadnought – Robert Massie (and all his Russian biographies)++
The Blue NIle – Alan Moorehead
Sportsman’s Sketches – Turgenev
The River at the Center of the World – Simon Winchester
P&P, S&S – Jane Austin
Everything by – Elmore Leonard++
Little Men/Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

Neuromancer – William Gibson

Grant – Jean Edward Smith
The Story of Crime (10 novel Martin Beck series) – Sjowall & Wahloo
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

City of Djinns – W. Dalrymple
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
L’Assommoir/Germinal – Emile zola
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Trilogy) – S. Larsson 
Ten Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Zafon

“Electric Mist etc” – James Lee Burke
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
Kim – Rudyard Kipling
The Call of the Wild – Jack London
Stranger in a Strange Land –  R. Heinlein
The Castle – F. Kafka 
Ringworld – Larry Niven
Mount Everest, The Reconnaissance – George Mallory
A Gentleman in Moscow – A. Towles
The Outsiders  – S.E. Hinton
Richard Wetherill: Anasazi – F. McNitt 
The Hobbit & LOTR –  JRR Tolkien
Out Stealing Horses – Per Petterson
 The Catcher in the Rye/Franny and Zooey- JD Salinger
Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse
Lincoln Biographies – Carl Sandburg
Cannery Row – John Steinbeck
Boys in the Boat – DJ Brown
Three Men in a Boat – Jerome Jerome
The Six Mountain Travel Books – Eric Shipton
Aubrey-Maturin Series – Patrick O’Brian
All Novels – Evelyn Waugh
All Jeeves and Bertie Books – P.G. Wodehouse
Collected Sherlock Holmes – AC Doyle
All “Thriller & Crime”  by E. Leonard, H Mankill, D Hammit, R Chandler, J Kanon, M Connelly, J Ellroy, Alan Furst, Lee Childs

Nominee’s from non 1966 grads
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
Laura Ingalls Wilder books (my favorite is Farmer Boy)
The Emerald Mile – K. Fedarco

Kids books

Winnie the Poo
Hat in the Cat
The Polar Express
Charlotte’s Web
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
The Wind in the Willows
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

others considered
F. Scott FitzGerald, Dos Passos, Stegner
Thomas Mann, the Latin American authors
Numerous French authors
HG Wells
The 50’s american east coast writers Updike, Roth,  Bellow, Singer Malamud, Styron etc
Crane, Cooper, Melville (do like lots of Moby Dick, especially the beginning – “wow”), Walter Scott, Dickens
other thriller and police: Philip Kerr, Christopher Buckley, other US police procedurals,  etc etc etc etc etc…thanks for reading down this far! Ciao

Hoss Caruthers, Ace Scrounger

The US Army is run by a bunch of Sergeants – Regular Army “lifers” who are not your Commissioned Officers like Majors and Captains; they are NCO’s, Non-Comissioned Officers.     They have various names for their ranks.  Names like Staff Sergeant, Sergeant First Class, Master Sergeant, Sergeant Major.  They have nick names like Sarge, Buck-Sergeant, Platoon Daddy, Top, Top Sergeant, Double Rocker.  The guy that makes it all happen is called “Top” – that’s the First Sergeant, Master Sergeant, Sergeant E-8.  This fellow is the senior enlisted man in the core army unit – the company.

A company has about 120 men.  A company has platoons – usually 3 or 4; the platoons have squads – usually 3 or 4.   In a normal TO&E (Table of Organization and Equipment) each of these units have a “Commanding Officer” typically a Captain, but also a Top Sergeant who is the day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute manager. From the platoon level on up to the highest organization type, called an Army (like the “5th Army”), each of these units has an officer in charge.  But the real guy who makes stuff happen is the Sergeant and each unit has a Sergeant standing right next to the Officer.  It is a redundant structure, designed to be somewhat fail safe, because when the army goes to war a lot of the leadership is going to die.  Another reason for the redundancy is that in time of draft, most of the new officers don’t intend to stay in, while, once you are a Sergeant, the chances are you are about to become a lifer – you are really tempted to re-up, to re-enlist, and the Army today will give you $10,000 to $72,000 to do that.

By the way the TO&E is an interesting document..every item in the army is accounted for.  The TO&E for a Combat Rifle Company tells you things like it’s Mission: TO CLOSE WITH THE ENEMY BY MEANS OF FIRE AND MANEUVER IN ORDER TO DESTROY OR CAPTURE HIM, OR REPEL HIS ASSAULTS BY FIRE, CLOSE COMBAT, AND COUNTERATTACK”.   It also tells you it has, among other things, 29,719 pounds of equipment, 129 Bayonets, 6 “30 caliber machine guns (really 7.62mm) and 8 sets of binoculars (7×50).  Google it.

Let’s say you were drafted in 1966, when the Vietnam war was on and the army was expanding as fast as possible.  You came in as a buck private.  within 18 months you were a corporal, within 3 years you got promoted to Sergeant.  If you did well and were just a bit lucky within 10 years you could be a Sergeant First Class and, in the next three to five years, be looking at becoming a Top Sergeant, First Sergeant, or Master Sergeant, (they’re all pretty much the same).  At that point you could be making Fifty to Seventy Thousand Dollars (2018 dollars). Here you are, no college degree, not particularly good at books, but decisive, dependable, courageous, and versatile and you are 36 and pulling down $65,000 with regular re-up bonuses, free medical, subsidized housing, and living in Heidelberg, Germany.  Sweet! 

                        Here is the insignia of a Top Kick – the rock on which the US Army is built.


This is a story about a guy named Hoss Caruthers, Private E-3, Regular U.S.Army.

Hoss had been in the Army about 15 years – I was 21 when I met him, he was going on 40. He’d been in Korea, Europe, and Vietnam.  In that time he could have been one of the senior Sergeant’s and running a company or even a battalion.  But he wasn’t.  He was the lowest rank in the whole match.  Now, he had been promoted to Sergeant level 3 times, BUT had been busted back to Private 3 times.  None of us could really understand what made him tick.  He had “issues”, one of which being that he would just up and disappear.  In the army that’s frowned upon.

In 1966, when I got to my assigned unit, a truck company,  it was in the Phu Tai Valley in BinDinh Province, Vietnam – that was 10 mies inland from the coast of the South China Sea, in the middle of what was then South Vietnam; about 250-300 miles south of Hue and the DMZ and 400 miles north of Saigon.  At 21 years old, I had really only had college, some summer jobs as fry cook and store clerk, and my Army training – I wasn’t good at anything technical at all.  In its wisdom the Army made me a platoon leader, a convoy commander, and the Vehicle Maintenance Office (never having done more than change a spark plug or a tire).  But in its wisdom there was a Buck Sergeant really in charge of the maintenance shed and keeping the vehicles rolling.  So not to worry.

It was enlightening to be in the middle of 120 men, in an ancient, distant, foreign land with no infrastructure,  where none of the locals spoke our language, and to find that everything worked.  We had 60 trucks, a hundred guys loaded for firefights, inserted into the boondocks for the long haul, and we got fed, gassed up, loaded the trucks each morning from some ten ammo and supply “dumps”, drove up towards the Cambodian border, got shot at, got home, had beers and a big dinner, went to bed, and started again at 0400hrs the next day.  Every day, without a break or a day off.  I was not only amazed, I was impressed. And the Sergeants were the guys that made it happen.

Our Commanding Officer was Captain Patrick Gorman.  There were 3 of us shave tail Lieutenants, recently out of school.  Charlie Trompler, Win Luther, and me.  We slept in a biggish, old, canvas tent with sandbags piled about 3 feet high around it to keep shrapnel out, under netting, wrapped in a poncho liner.  I think I was the 3rd Platoon Leader.  I don’t recall if Hoss was in my platoon originally or if Charlie and Win conspired to transfer him in there after I showed up.  The newbies had to take the hard stuff – it’s only fair.

I wrote about my first convoy and how Hoss was assigned to drive me up to Pleiku and back in his tractor trailer.  It talks about how he had friends all along the way, and how his running out of gas got us ambushed.  He knew pretty much what he was doing the whole run; the only mistake was leaving the lights on when we got ambushed, but everything turned out ok.  I said everything worked…well that’s not quite true – everything worked to about 85% accuracy.  That missing 15% was what made being in the Army kind of a pain in the ass.  But mankind is eternally inventive and that’s where Hoss excelled.  Hoss was a professional scrounger.  He’d be sent off to find beer when no beer had been in country for a month; he’d find you new boots or jungle fatigues when the supply tent was out; he’d get us steaks when we had been eating mystery meat for weeks.   You can call guys like Hoss what you may: scrounger, rustler, forager, borrower, vagabond, hobo, tinker, tailor,  beggar-man, thief.  But no matter, you’ve drunk his beers, slept in his pancho liners, worn his newly acquired pants, sat under his steel roofs, and 2×4 trusses.  When you’re in Vietnam, guys like Hoss provide the icing on a pretty raw cake.

Charlie Trompler, tentmate from the 2nd Trans Company, 27th Trans Battalion puts it this way with a few anecdotes about the old guy.

I have several Caruthers stories I will send you. I am traveling so I will send you each story separately.

I had been in 2nd Trans about 2 or 3 weeks when Caruthers showed up. He had been on a scrounging mission and no one really knew where he had been. This was the first time I had met a real “scrounger” and couldn’t believe the Company Commander would let him wander around Vietnam on his own.

He had a large sack with something in it and said, “I have a present for Captain Gorman”. We watched as Caruthers stood in front of his desk, saluted and said, ” I have a present for you sir.” He then opened the bag and dumped a turkey on the floor. Captain Gorman jumped up, removed his glasses and yelled, “get that turkey out of the company area”. Caruthers brought the turkey to me and asked me to keep it for him until he could find someone to trade. That night we put the turkey in bed with Lieutenant Hajovsky who was leaving the next morning for USA. He kept throwing it out and we kept putting it back with him under the mosquito netting. The turkey spent the night there. The next day Caruthers traded the turkey to 2 guys in the motor pool. They took the Turkey and traded it for the company of a couple of local girls.

Caruthers showed me a VC flag with blood on it. He said, you want one,  I am selling these and making a lot of money. I said no, I have no use for one.  Caruthers then said, these aren’t really VC flags. I have women in the village making them and putting chicken blood on them.

We needed lumber so I went to the Navy supply depot with Caruthers. We hid behind stacks of lumber until a Navy guy loaded our truck. He traded whiskey for lumber and have no idea where he got it.

The Battalion Commander was walking thru our company area and spotted a truck with no identification markings. He said, ‘is that truck Caruthers’?” I said yes and he directed me to tell Caruthers to get that truck out of here before we get caught. He used Caruthers to find things he wanted so he wanted no problem
Caruthers said to me, want a helicopter. I said, Caruthers, what would I do with one. I can’t fly it. Do you have a pilot? Caruthers replied, no but I am working on one and think I will have a pilot next week. Don’t know what happened to helicopter but I am pretty sure he found one     
Well, I think I actually found that helicopter.  One day, maybe Charlie was out on a convoy, I was off the road (a rare occurrence) when I heard the thrump-thrump-thrump of a copter coming in low.  Our tents were set up around a mud parking lot about half the size of a football field.  Normally during the day that “motor pool” was empty and during the dry weather it was deep with dust.  A Huey HU-1 made a long looping descending curve along the hills, past the stacked concertina, the machine gun towers, across the open-air latrines and the burning shit-cans, and, kicking up a cloud of red dust, hit the ground.  As I watched from our tent Hoss came walking out of the billow and, as the rotors turned gently to a stop, the pilots joined him.  We all had a cup of coffee then we got into the copter and did a flying recon of the scrub hills around our valley bivouac and up the pass leading down the costal range to Tuy Hoa. A fine morning excursion.

But, my best memory of Hoss had to do with constructing a “hooch”.  This happened when I’d been in country only a few months.

Our camp in Phu Tai was pretty basic with some ten to twelve 20-man tents used for sleeping, supply, NCO’s, officers, etc.  There was little lumber in Vietnam, so anything other than tents depended on lumber shipped by boat from “the world”.  In the year or so the Company had been in country the team had managed to collect enough lumber and steel roofing to build a truck maintenance shed, a mess hall, and an office for the CO. These non-tent facilities have been called in Asia a “hooch” or “hooches” for as long as anyone can remember, and normally means any thrown together hut.   But now the Top Kick wanted to build a small hooch for the “EM’s” (enlisted men) to have a beer when they got back from convoy.  They’d be driving up to Pleiku and back over 100 dangerous miles of rough and enemy infested road and only had a couple of hours to eat and relax each night.   A nice, dry “club” would be appreciated, especially during the monsoons.   Lumber and steel was hard to find just then, so Top called Hoss in and asked him to take his truck and go try and fine some material.

In those war days we seldom had company formation, and never had them daily.  Men were gone day and night or were stuck in Pleiku, Quang Ngai, Tuy Hoa, wherever.  So even though Hoss was technically in my platoon it wasn’t my job to keep tabs on him daily.  But after a while someone, maybe Top, maybe the CO, maybe the company clerk said “Hey Lieutenant, do you have any idea where Caruthers is?”

     Well, so we started mulling that question over and realized that we’d seen neither hide nor hair of old Hoss for over two weeks. That became the subject of daily interrogations of all and sundry – “Have you heard anything of Hoss”; “Have you seen Carruthers?” soon deteriorated into “Greeve where the hell is Carruthers??”.

So one morning along came the “thrump-thrump”of a Huey and out of the billowing motor pool dust strode Hoss.  The following exchange ensued.

me:  “Holy Hell Caruthers! Where the devil have you been man? The Captain is ripshit!.” 

Hoss:   “Hold it Lieutenant, Top sent me out to find the stuff for the club.” 

me:  “But Hoss you’ve been gone three weeks!  Where the heck have you been.”

Hoss:   “Oh Lieutenant I was way up past Dak To with my buddies in the 5th.”

(now as an aside he meant the 5th Special Forces at Dak Pec where top secret excursions into Laos were happening – extremely remote and dangerous, and the last place anyone would find any lumber – it was well known Hoss was in tight with the Green Berets)

me: “My God Caruthers that’s nuts..but did you get the lumber, and where’s you’re truck.”

Hoss:   “Oh, don’t worry about that lumber Lieutenant, I have something way, way better than that.”

…cleverly avoiding the truck issue

me:  “Jeez Hoss,  Top is going to be really pissed if you didn’t find the lumber.”

Hoss: “Maybe but Captain Gorman is really going to love what I’ve got!”

…with that he pulled out a large cotton bag and held it up

me: “What the hell do you have there?”

Hoss: “This is just for the Captain.”

At this point I was breaking out into a cold sweat.  Hoss refused to tell me what he had in the bag.  It hung, heavy and still by his side, like a hangman’s noose.  I realized I had no choice but to bring him to Captain Gorman.  I went to his little hooch which was divided into an outer “office” and then his cot room.  Gorman was sitting at his camp desk which was strewn with papers.

me: ”Captain, Caruthers is back!”

Capt:   “What?  I’ll be damned! Bring that guy in here NOW!” 

as I brought Caruthers in

“Hoss where the HELL have you been?”

Hoss: “I’ve been out looking for lumber Sir, just like you ordered me to”

Capt: “Oh Yeah.  Well did you get it?”

Hoss:   “Not yet Captain, BUT I’ve got something really good.”

With that Hoss lifted the white cotton bag over the desk, grabbed a bottom corner, and with a magicians flourish dumped a thunder of clanging, clattering knives, forks, and spoons all over Gorman’s desk.  A mass of stainless flatware, enough to set a table for twenty, scattered across the desk many skittering onto the floor.

All were transfixed.

In the shock of the event the Captain’s face was frozen.
I was having an out of body experience.
Hoss stood there looking like a slightly slow puppy – eyes on the Captain.
As the seconds slowly slid forward Hoss realized that the Captain was not reacting as he was expected to.
Hoss’ look changed from expectant to intrigued to dismay.
Coming to my senses I said
“Hoss – go wait outside”.
He immediately scooted out.  I started to pick the tableware up.
Gorman said
“Leave it Greeve.  Go take care of him”

I am still amazed, as I look back on that,  today from 50 years. All I could do was shake my head in wonderment at the spinning of the universe.

Hoss said

“Well Lieutenant I guess I better go.  The copter’s about to leave and I have to get on it to go get my truck”

I think I just muttered.

“Yeah, well, OK”

Hoss left and return in a day or so with his truck.  Within another few days a flatbed truck full of two by fours arrived and the Maintenance Sergeant unloaded it with a scrounged forklift.  Shortly thereafter the corrugated steel roofing also arrived.

I could be facing torture in Lubyanka prison and I couldn’t tell you where it came from, nor what it cost, or what Hoss had done to get it.  It remains one of those mysteries of humanity and how some people navigate this life.

It’s not that Hoss’ was dumb – he wasn’t.  He was good enough to get promoted to Sergeant several times but he lived by his emotions, which were never angry ones, and ultimately they let him down in the pursuit of position and place.

The thing is his basic innocence –  “the innocence that feels not risk and knows no caution”.

So that’s Charlie and my stories of Hoss Caruthers, a guy whose memory always brings us a laugh.

Post Script:   By the way I found the Wikipedia entry on “ripshit” amusing



ripshit (comparative more ripshitsuperlative most ripshit)
  1. (slang, vulgar) Enraged or otherwise highly emotionalquotations ▼

See also[edit]

I guess each has a verb with it..
– you can be “ripshit”,
– act like “apeshit”
– and be going “batshit”
but not viceversa. and you may put “totally” in front of them all.
But insane?? Really???

Gerry and Charlie

    Here is a picture of the Battalion’s convoy that we led on the road outside Pleiku. I don’t know what year this was but I suspect sometime between 1966 and 1968

Convoy marshaling at Pleiku

Chao Phraya River – Thai Dreams


Nitrogen Poisoned

I was at seventy-five feet below sea level, in the warm evening Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Kona, in my sixth dive since 10 am the previous morning.


Margo’s fish, Hawaii, 2017

In front of me was a school of a hundred silver goat fish lying aligned toward the current running in from the west. I moved forward in gradual inches until my mask was 24 inchs from the closest one. Their yellow rimmed eyes watched me but showed no fear. Two feet above us several hundred more hung in the warm water, a canopy of reflected light. The small tentacles on the fishes chins were mesmerizing as they churned the sand for food. I lay with them for several minutes, gently rocking in the soft surge. I decided then and there that if reincarnated I no longer wanted to return as a bird – I wanted to be a sea creature. I slowly moved through; they gradually split to allow me passage and I made a slow ascending left curve to the bottom of a huge, green wall stretching up fifty feet towards light. Oscillating in the smooth back and forth of the Pacific, my breath stopped for a dozen seconds as I beheld a marvelous and unexpected treasure. A massive, coral architected structure, climbing from an eel strewn gray sand bottom to the west, was lighted with soft, diffused ray-glow coming from the late afternoon sun, still about 25 degrees off the horizon. The wall was very steep and regular with a slight receding bow in the middle so one could lie at the bottom and look at a semicircle reaching up about 50 feet towards the surface. It was covered with massive, irregular rows of rounded, coral the clouds had been frozen and then plastered on the rock face, then dyed in every shade of green and brown found in a Japanese imperial garden. No rock could be seen through the coral, thick and mutilayered. Tables of rusted brown, dark ochre, and leather hues in great colonies and neighborhoods. Mounds and peaks, hillocks and enormous, irregular waves in emerald and umber. Surfaces of textured galaxies: warts and polyps, tiny lines, ridges, and crevices; lobes and fingers; minute hexogonal and pentagonal patterns, broccoli crowns. Words cannot describe how beautiful this wall is – plates of rich coral cantilevered out from the wall their undersides flat as steel rules; coral mountains hanging out; dozen of different geometric shapes – flat bottoms cut knife-like, It resembled nothing as much as a Chinese mountain village reaching into the clouds. Liiving there were several thousand floating animals, in dozens of schools of varied and contrasting reef fish..their colors purples, silvers, golden, scarlet, varied greens, creams, spotted, striped, a tropical pallet of pale hues of blue and emerald. They all move together in the soft swells, hanging off the village clusters, navigating among the burnt orange and rusty maze. I lost myself in this scene, floating together in the sway of the evening. I realized that I would be happy to live hanging here forever in the never ending play of color, light and motion and when I awoke from my daydream found I had one minute before i would go into decompression dive phase and zipped up from 37 feet to 20 feet and the top of the wall where strewn before me was a coral plain stretching as far as the light allowed me to see. And at that point I felt, to the core of my being, like I was alongside the Chao Phraya River running through the khlongs and villages of Bangkok. I later realized that, after 6 dives in just over 30 hours, that I must be experiencing the “Rapture of the Deep” – I think I was narc’d.

Fresh WaterNancy Bangkok & Sukothai 126 (1)

Many of us have unforgettable memories of a quiet day or two in the countryside next to a special country river. To me these must include the valleys of the Kosi, Bitterroot, Roanoke, Yellowstone, Lamar, Loire, Deschutes, Madison, Gallatin and Beaverhead; then the southern marshes of the Ashley, Warwick, York, and the headwaters of the Columbia, as well as its mouth, on the Youngs River estuary; and the wiilderness jungle and lonely inns of the Rio Pacuare. These memories are indeed sweet ones.

And then there are the majestic cities of Europe where the river banks have been tamed into lovely parks like The Seine, The Thames, The Main, The Saone, Isar, Salzach, Ill, Tiber, Elbe, Moldau, Spree. In these, in many ways, the ebb and flow of a special river life will soon gone, now replaced with container terminals, hotel palaces, strip malls, skyscraper office parks, concrete embankments. Strangled by dams, they are now, or may soon be, only good for shipping, electricity, tourism and an occasional casual fisherman. Not that this is all bad necessarily – one cannot imagine London without The Thames or Manhattan without the Hudson and East Rivers. But to find a river which is the heart and soul of several million people, whose lives are inextricably linked together, in the quotidian chores and pace of their family life – ah that is a fine, and soon to be lost, thing.

In many parts of the more primitive edges of what used to be called civilization, massive rivers are barely tamed and bursting with a crush of man – alive with life and death. The sun makes its daily run and clocks the rise and fall of the breasts of its people, all in the edges and murmur of the mighty water flow. The river is the life. In the sense that the gradual movement of the seasons is life now in sunlit valleys of the mountain forests, but, soon to be frozen death lands when winter arrives.

Those whose passion is ambling through empty back country or the seamy underbelly of the world know these places. The flower market and ghats of Calcutta on the banks of the Ganges; the cross river ferries and markets on the Saigon and Mekong; the parks and fields of the high Indus in Ladakh; the cremation temples of the Bagmati and the Kathmandu Valley; the masses of animal life on the banks of the mighty Zambezi; trash strewn banks of the Nile; the ancient cities of the Irrawaddy. Or we have read our papers and websites as the Brahmaputra deals tragedy in Bangladesh or the Mississippi in Louisiana. This is where the river is life and life is the river, still.

I Meet The Chao Phraya and Awan

I first saw the Chao Phraya River when I had my “R&R” week in Thailand in June ’67, after nine months in Vietnam, running convoys from the South China Sea to the Cambodian border.

Nancy Bangkok & Sukothai 134

The Chao Phraya River

Flying from Qui Nhon, through Danang, took only a long day until we landed at the old airport of Bangkok. We taxi’d to a remote side of the field..large militrary buses pulled up; as we climbed on board a quart of cool beer were thrust into our hands. I chatted with a few of the other officers as to at what hotels they were staying. I decided to stay at a smaller hotel that was mainly frequented by enlisted men. I had grown tired of the officer talk – and also they didn’t listen to the good rock and roll that I loved. In Binh Dinh province we got little of the latest 60’s music that was sweeping the rest of the world – I had scored a Jefferson Airplane album and Cream and spent a hour or two many evenings with “the heads” smoking weed and listening to Otis, Smokey and The Temptations. I checked into the hotel, dropped my pack, and hit the pool. as the night deepened I grabbed a taxi and headed to the bars of New Pethchaburi Road and into Thai Heaven. I won’t go into much about the bar scene. The attached link from “Stickman” does a much better job that I could on how the scene worked. .

As he says the relationships between tens of thousands of american young men and the lovely ladies for hire was often more than a physical quick roll in the hay. My memories of that first evening were hazy at best – many beers, a taxi ride, a warm bath with my back getting scrubbed , a late morning swim in the pool, and a beautiful, nut brown gal in my room about sums it up. But I realized that rather than heading out into the night again the next evening, that I’d rather get to know this woman; so we talked about staying together for the week. I called her “Awan” which meets “Sweet”. She said she’d enjoy being together all the week. She said she knew a taxi driver named “Di” who we could hire who’d take us to see the sights. When asked about getting some Thai sticks she said Di,could provide all I wanted. She said she had a baby at home so would like to go home most nights – that was fine with me. So later that day she returned, we hooked up with Di the driver, and began my first of many visits to the magnificent temples and museums along the Chao Phraya. As we drove through the dusty, crowded roads of the city, Awan said that we were going to the river. It was far and away the best way to move through the city center, and we would go along it to see some of the temples of Buddha. I was interested that the temples would be on the river banks and, loving water, I thought that would be very nice, to say nothing of cooler in the mid day heat. When we got there I realized we were in for a bit of an adventure!

What Is The Chao Praya?

Di dropped Awan and me on the river bank past the zoo. The bank was a warren of food stalls, small shops, fruit carts, with small alleys every 30 feet that went down to rickety piers out over the brown flow. The smells of frying donuts, satay’s broiling over charcoal, fresh melons and tropical fruit split and skewered on bamboo spears, were everywhere. Well, then I saw the river – a flooding mass of coffee, moving in waves of tree and brush laden streams, all pushing and shoving to rush ahead and outrace each other. The rains up in the hills on the Burma border had collapsed mud walls, and tumbled teak and tea trees into the river’s wash, breaking them as they tangle with the shores and rocks of the burgeoning streams. It was a massive, tumbling, confusing, horizontal waterfall – rushing by the rotten wooden dock, which teetered out for us to get into a narrow, rocking boat with a 327 Chevy V-8 engine and an enormously long, long prop.

Nancy Bangkok & Sukothai 008

a long-tail water taxi

The boats rocked with the wakes of a dozen craft zooming by, out in the deeper water. Awan jumped in the big, supercharged canoe and turned with a smile and said “Come on GI”. I jumped and off we sped – my first trip on the mighty artery of Bangkok.

So that introduction was many, years ago. In the twenty or so visits I have made since then I have almost always stayed on the riverbank. It takes many forms depending on the weather – it can be smooth and quiet, occasionally blueish green, once I saw whitecaps in a gale. Sometimes in the rainy season the floats tangle up and it begins to seem as if a woven bridge will form that might be used to cross. In a strong rising ocean tide or as the southeastern monsoon roils the salt water bay just 15 miles down stream, the river might turn and the thickened, leafed branches can move upriver lending visual confusion to the bizarre chocolate flow. It is endlessly interesting to watch.

The Chao Phraya is alive with boats of all types moving at all speeds and in all directions – a kenetic stack of pickup sticks. Large and small public water buses, ferry’s stuffed with passengers hanging on beneath the canvas rain covers, independent water taxis all rocking in the wakes of dozens of crafts lumbering or zooming by. This is one of several characteristics of Bangkok life that make it unique in Asia. Its streets when I first was there were largely dirt and filled with buffalo and horse carts, multi-rider bicyles, mopeds, tuk-tuks, fume spewing buses; while today they often are jammed to inertia, it was not much different forty years ago. Buddhism is everywhere! Nancy Bangkok & Sukothai 338 In shops, under trees, around trees, at the end of alleys, in windows – everywhere. The people are legendary in their outward gentleness and friendliness. And finally Bangkok itself was and still is, to a lesser extent, laced with hundreds of canals that are the veins of life, with houses and transport abounding on, in, and around them. What this means is that the Chao Phraya is the trunk of the vines of water that make the city go. These cappilaries are called “Khlongs”, the “streets” of Bangkok’s villages. The thousands of stick houses hang out over the, bamboo porches and plywood walls hammered & tied together over wet and dark pilings; the strings of huts are connected with small wooded bridges merely a couple of tree trunks wide.

Bangkok&Burma w Pam & Carolyne July 04 089

Khlong market

You would walk through a number of neighbors porches to get to dry land. Kids were swimming, jumping, and playing in the water. Boats with vegetables, rice sacks, flowers, and all types of dry goods ply their trade through the tangle of waterways.




Out on the main stem are the delicious sites and sights, along the banks of the river itself, which are some of the best of what the city can offer a tourist-explorer. All of these can be reached by public water bus and most have their own stop. Awan and I would go each day and ride the water buses to new. colorful excursions.

A good start of our first day, in the warm late morning, was the Pak Klong flower market – cavernous rows of stalls and warehouses with every scent and color of Asia, it seems to go on forever; a photographer’s paradise.

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each finger tip ~ 3 feet in diameter

Then I was awed when the ferry boat later dropped us at Wat Pho – the temple of the reclining Buddha – massive in size we were spellbound by the magnificent finger print swirls of the big golden God. Now there is a Thai Massage school in the shady alcoves around the walls. You can sign up and get a good 30 minute for about $5. This style bends your body and streches out the muscles and is properly done on a floor mat. I don’t recall if it was there in 1967 but certainly a popular stop today

Almost every day we’d see a new temples. The second day across the Chao Phraya, on the west side, Wat Arun is the sleeping charmer of all the many temples.

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Wat Arun – The Temple of Dawn

It is the “Temple of Dawn” which sneaks up on it from across the water. It is a place to wander slowly looking at the details of the mosaic adornments of the towers. This temple is never crowded – that and its lovely spires made it, forty years later, Margo’s and my favorite place to escape the craziness of the masses. While we were over in that area we went up a side khlong to a enormous, dusty, old warehouse which housed the ancient barges of the Kings.

The third day of our explorations my lovely tour guide took me to what I believe is the most magnificent building complex in the world. The sacred Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The adornment of the many small temples, pavilions, walls, and terraces surrounding the central shrine cannot adequately be described by me.

Bangkok&Burma w Pam & Carolyne July 04 108

an ancient acolyte

One would have to have a bag full of majestic descriptions of gold and silver and jewels and flowers, all the rainbow colors and reflections, all the mix of geometry and fluidity. It is full of lovely statues of gods and acolytes, flowers and animals – all in service to the emerald idol. There are about a dozen ancillary temple buildings – each one in its own magnificent splendor. Then the massive central temple in Lanna style with its enormous, splendid pillars and multichrome shingled roof – the Temple of the Emerald Buddha main hall. I was stunned by its beauty. This building could easily be the subject of a lifetime of study.

The fourth day Di said we wouldn’t go to the river.  We saw some of the more exciting sights…first the snake farm, then to a movie, and finally as the evening came to the Thai boxing arena. Under the metal roof the crowd steamed, sweated and growled in anticipation of the upcoming fights. Bets and beer, strange food and warm beer.   Copy of Freindly green snake in Si Satchanali 243The crown was in an uproar as the fighters came and went in the yellow roped ring – beneath the Singha beer sign and the flourescent lights. In a sense the movie was the hi-point of the week so far..something so normal and different than the war and the country side. Something truly like home. We ate that night in the food stalls in the marketplace and had a quiet evening back in the hotel room.

I guess now most of the khlongs have been filled in and covered, although, in one of Margo’s and my last trips, we spent at least 2 hours driving around in a hired long-tail and never covered a previously explored canal. But in 1967 they seemed to go on forever. The last full day, Awan asked if I wanted to go to her home and hang out. It sounded right and we headed there. The rough, brown, main river gave way to mirror-smooth, black water. We rode up narrow channels, then wide ones, then narrow ones again – under forested banks and through rafts of barges. Finally we pulled next to a tie-up, climbed out, and up a wood ladder. Her home was a comfortable two or three room spread, open to the air on all sides except where reed curtains moved in the breeze, shading the tatami mats, pillows, and quilts spread throughout. We lay in the cool with her little 8 month old boy crawling between us. Awan’s s eyes were like the dark river, still beneath her bamboo porch; her eye lids were billows of bronze clouds, her lips rolled and soft beneath her lovely small nose. Her mother took the boy and we slept for a hour then ate lightly and drank a cool beer and played with her son again. After we met Di back on the bank by the zoo he and Awan bought me dinner – I was broke by then, but they had most of my cash anyway.

I flew back to Binh Dinh province the next day – my 7 days R&R complete. That was my last look at the Chao Phraya for until 20 years later I stopped in to pick up some codeine pills and a haircut on my way up into Nepal in 1988. I stayed 2 nights at the Oriental Hotel, sat on the balcony of my river front room and smokes a joint – it was beautiful but then the paranoia hit and I had to go in and lie down. Nancy Bangkok & Sukothai 001 When we moved to Singapore in 2003 we started going up there ever few months –  just an hour’s flight and corporate discount at the Oriental Hotel. It is on the river – in fact it straddles it with its wonderful spa and Ramayana dance theatre on the west bank and a private ferry plying its crossing every five minutes or so. The staff at the Oriental had a file on us, I think, since they aways greeted Margo with the same line “Well Mrs Greeve would you like your gin and tonic now?” We sit by the river for breakfast and swim in their pool. Then we get a long-tail and begin the ride again. I hope it never ends – sometimes I think I could stay there forever, soaking in the never ending play of the moving waves.

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The 20 Most Beautiful Buildings in the World?

Jenny and Brett are thinking about taking a trip next year and I recommended Bangkok as a tremendously interesting and exciting place with a significantly different culture.  And I added that it has the most beautiful building I have ever seen.  That would be the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Phra Kaew.   I decided to think about other nominations which I might make and reached the conclusion that, for my taste, it is the pinnacle.

I would appreciate any inputs. I don’t want to bore you with my photos but I will include a few details.  The temple is a complex so it is impossible to get a photo that captures it all unless you were in a balloon.

Some of the roofs – polychrome tiles








surrounded by offerings:





the main spire

With the McKinnon’s. I have been here about 8 times since 1967 – cool




Others on my list of nominations for the most beautiful, without regard to scale or type were:

The Taj Mahal

Haw Pha Bang Temple, Luang Prabang

Temple Luang Prabang







The Pantheon

Siena Town Hall

Stakna Monastery, Ladakh

Stakna on the Indus River







Siena Duomo

Doges Palace

Prince of Wales Hotel, Alberta

Falling Waters

Chateau Chenonceau

Church of the Savior on Sacred Blood








Wieskirche, near Steingarten, Germany

Todaiji wooden temple, Nara

Tokaiji Nara

Sant’Andrea al Quirinale

The Alhambra

Fatapursikri, Rajasthan






Hagai Sophia

Sydney Opera House

Sainte Chapelle

I am sure some may disagree in a list of some 20 buildings.  And there are many magnificent buildings I have not seen but these are all worth a trip.



This is a story about four men and a wonderful dinner party.

…Phu, who drove a blossoming and aligned a country;                                                   …Binh, a powerful technocrat in Vietnam who helped Phu;                                              …Paul, who had to make a very difficult and risky decision;                                         …Bernard, who may have had an impact, although he had been dead for 40 years.

Me?   …   I am Gerry, and I achieved a bit of redemption in this journey.


Intel was the egg in the center of my universe. So much of my life has been made rich by working for, what was then and may today still be, the world’s best company.  It is impossible to think of the many blessings my family and I have received without thinking of how Intel helped shaped so many of them.

I traveled to over eighty countries; my children, Nick and Jenny, have been to about forty, my wife Margo over fifty. Waynette, my kid’s mother, and I took Jenny to Paris at four years and Nick to Castiglione della Pescaia for a whole summer at three months age. In forty-plus of the countries visited I did business for Intel.  Some trips have been on vacations or sabbaticals.  I’ve been to Everest Base Camp and hiked into the mountains of Ladakh; scuba dived around the world; trekked the Alps hut to hut; rode elephants in 5 countries (I think); climbed Sigirya and Kinabalu; sailed the Great Barrier Reef; all while having a great job with Intel.

Intel was extremely generous with its money and its time.  And we operated within a firm construct of ethical purpose, and with smart, ethical colleagues.

Intel gave my friends and me a never-ending stream of tasks which, frankly, no person had ever done before.  That is because no one had ever before had the microcomputers, systems, and devices – Intel was an invention engine and I was lucky to have been hired to be part of its lubricant.  To give you an idea of how special my life at Intel was, my first ever trip for the company, in 1978, was to accompany Bob Noyce to Paradise Island in the Bahamas for three days where he presented his strategy for microprocessors to Burroughs Computing.  In 1985 I arranged and accompanied Gordon and Betty Moore on their first trip to China. In the first 24 months at Intel I organized and participated in day long “Introduction to Intel Processors” seminars at every IBM Development Lab throughout the US and Europe – I don’t think any other tech company or person had ever done that. These things just happened – it was like riding on the head of a comet through uncharted space.

I worked in EProm’s, Static RAM’s, D-RAM’s, Single Board Computers, Real Time Operating Systems, Ethernet and Bit-Bus, Math Co-Processors, Video Conferencing, Retail Channels, Distribution, Major Accounts, Third-World Development, sold Data Center Services, traveled with Andy and Eva Grove to Broadway and the horse farms of New Jersey to sell to  Beneficial Finance and AT&T.  And I wasn’t a big deal at Intel, even though I sometimes carried a big number (like $15 Billion for Asia).  In official capacity I met Presidents or Premiers of China, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Zambia, Sudan and Cabinet leaders of numerous other countries, many with Craig Barrett.  It was amazing.

intel founders

Intel early players in 1988, Bob, Gordon, Andy, Les, Jean, Ted, and others

The reason I am telling you all this is to ask you to put in perspective my background as I tell you a story.

I want to tell you about a magic night I spent with Paul Otellini in a candle lit, red room in Hanoi.  It was a night which I believe defines my life.

So, I’d like to believe when I say “it was one of the most important evenings in Vietnam’s history, certainly in the post war reconstruction period, and one of the most important events there since our American forces killed over 2 million Indochinese people, largely non-combatants”,  that you think “Ok, arguably, he might be right. ” 

And I want to try and let you feel what I felt, sitting on the right hand of the Intel CEO, while General Vo Nguyen Giap’s, son-in-law sat on his left, and the sense of timeless eternity enveloped us.

Back Then

In June 1966 I graduated from the University of Santa Clara – only a few mile from where Noyce, Moore, Vadasz, and Grove, the founders of Intel, were working at Fairchild; 12 weeks later I was pinned down in a ditch, ambushed from an old graveyard in Central Vietnam’s Binh Dinh Province.

This was almost a decade before General Vo Nguyen Giap defeated the


Gen. Giap on right, Ho in center

the American led armies and freed Vietnam from almost a century of foreign domination; and just over a decade since General Giap had defeated the French in the watershed battle of DienBienPhu.




I was in Vietnam early in the war:   there was little electricity, no televisions, no private transportation but bicycles or horse carts – no motorbikes.  Water buffalo were the primary power source;  most families cooked meals on charcoal.

I was a Lieutenant and a Convoy Commander.  A “convoy” is a group of ammo and supply loaded trucks, traveling through combat and enemy held territory, with protection of gun jeeps, tanks, and air. We would get into fire fights frequently and ran roads that were mined and subject to ambush.  I ran 300 convoys and drove over 20,000 miles in my gun jeep – all throughout central Vietnam from the South China Sea to the mountainous high plateaus near Cambodia.

I would take off with my trucks before dawn and not return until hours past twilight.  I would typically start my drive with the rising sun at my back its rays lighting the bright green rice paddies, the clouds over the Central Highlands, and the mountain jungle.  As we passed through the villages the folk were just rising, washing themselves naked in the open shower stalls or from porcelain tubs, feeding their babies, chasing their dogs away.  Men and women squatted in small groups smoking pipes and chatting. The peasant girls in white pantsuits and straw conical hats walked slowly to the fields, holding hands; sway back pigs wandered along the road; boys on water buffalo backs would wave as we passed.  Early rising rice paddy workers were bent over, planting or scything.

This was the idyllic farmland life that our entire world had lived in for centuries – even lovelier since we had no winter in Vietnam.  Three crops, warm, sometimes wet.  It was the most beautiful place I had seen.  The green and the light.  I had a few girlfriends – they were beautiful with soft skin and always laughing and singing.  One was Ann – rumored to be a spy for the Viet Cong, but as sweet to me as possible; often we would sleep together on thick quilts on her spotlessly clean dirt floor – her hut with mud walls and thatched roof.   It was the most beautiful place I had seen.  The green and the light. The people were wonderful.  But we were killing them.

More Recently – Margo and I Meet Phu

I left Vietnam and went on a long and winding road for thirty-eight years, and didn’t return until Paul Otellini, our CEO,  assigned me to become the General Manager and Vice President of Intel’s Asia Pacific Region.  Starting in February 2003, I was responsible for sixteen countries, from Korea and China in the West, to Pakistan in the East,  and a thousand people under my charge.  I lived in Singapore, which was closer to both SouthEast Asia and the India Subcontinent – two areas which we viewed as holding a great growth potential but were being somewhat obscured by the enormous shadow of the PRC. With this emphasis, I traveled to work in India thirty times in the thirty months I had this assignment.  I also learned quickly that, in SE Asia, the wild card for growth was Vietnam. So, with the memories of my war times years before, I shortly made my first trips back to Saigon, now called Ho Chi Minh City or HCMC.

India and Vietnam – two wonderful countries, as different to one another as samosas and pho.

India is one of my 3 favorite foreign countries, Japan and Italy being the others.  India is a lot like Italy: great food, rich layers of history going back through several epochs for thousands of years, countries of majestic ruins and marvelous architecture, a strong religious framework with amazing iconography, deeply spiritual heritage, terrific music, beautiful women.  I have had terrifically fun trips there dating back to my first trip with Hugh Swift into Kashmir in 1981.   But India has enormous issues that debilitate their ability for growth and modernization.  Many of these issues prompt India’s leaders to “get in their own way” and create the chaos and unfulfilled promises that one experiences too often there.  This penchant would ultimately lead to my dinner in Hanoi.

Margo, after shutting down her very successful art gallery in Portland, arrived on Friday July 4, 2003 to join me in Asia  She landed at 0100hrs in Changi Singapore.  At 1000hrs we were back at Changi catching a flight to Saigon on Vietnam Airlines.  I had been up to Vietnam twice to get acquainted with the business.  This time I was to be the keynote dinner speaker at the annual meeting and trade show of the “HCMC Computer Association”.

My host was our Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos Country Manager Than Trong Phuc.  “Phu”, as he was known by us “gweilo’s” has an amazing story of how he, and his mother, aunt, and cousins, made the last day, helicopter, rooftop escape from the Saigon US Embassy on April 29, 1975. He was 12.  In the chaos he and his cousin got separated from their mothers. The boys were sent to Guam while the mom’s went to the USA.  They had NO IDEA where each other was for many, many weeks and they were not reunited for six months! Once I asked Phu if he was scared being alone, with no knowledge of where his mom was or when he would see her again.  “No” he replied, “we were too busy going to the beach and playing every day to worry”.  Phu grew up in Southern California and joined Intel in Santa Clara shortly after his graduation from the University of California, Davis.  In 2000, Intel assigned him to lead  Intel’s business in Vietnam, an assignment that forever changed his life and, some might say, helped change the trajectory of a country.

Phu Than

Phu Than on left

On that Monday July 7, 2003, Margo, Phu, and I went into the Hotel Caravelle ballroom for the banquet. Across the Opera House square was the Continental where I had enjoyed steak-frites in 1966, my first day in country.  At the banquet, Margo sat next to the Vice Mayor of HCMC, Nguyen Then Nhan,  the senior leader for the evening, (he’s now head of the CP in HCMC and member of the Politburo).   As speeches started, he told that I had been in Vietnam in 1966 and welcomed me back with warm greetings of friendship.  I started my speech saying “how very happy I was to be returning to this most beautiful of countries”, in a quite poor attempt at the extremely complex Vietnamese language.

I then stressed Intel’s strategy of building local “computer and communications” infrastructure.    Vietnam’s unique problem was hundreds of thousands of computer educated, university grads with no jobs.  While there were a few international companies building factories for the textile and clothing industries, no major technology oriented companies, even in consumer electronics, had begun to invest.  It also had a bad reputation for investment protection.  The country’s population had soared from twenty-five million souls during the war to over seventy million in 2003 but neither job creation nor FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) had grown much.  At that point their strategy was “grow from within” so Phu and our regional teams were driving market development programs critical to their well-being.

I guess my talk was well received because Vice Mayor Nhan directed his assistant to meet Margo the next day and take her to the best dressmaker in Saigon, where she would be fitted with a beautiful, pale blue AoDai.

Such was my official reintroduction to Vietnam – 38 years later.

Two Key Players

Over the next years I made many trips into Hanoi and Saigon, meeting with all of our channel members, indigenous computer value adders, software companies, user groups, and telecommunications players. Very early on I met Truong Gia Binh.  Phu told me Dr. Binh was one of the most important people in the technology industry.  Whenever we were in Hanoi we made it a point of seeing him.  As with many Viet leaders, Binh was educated in Moscow.  He had pursued a career in “private industry” founding a computer company in 1988 which today employs 28,000 people.  He was Dean of the School of Business of Hanoi University and Chairman of the Vietnam Software Association.  He was a leader in driving youth education in computer and software technology, and later founded a University with that aim.

(l to r) Phu, Dr.Van, Navin Shenoy, Dr. Binh, Craig Barrett

Dr. Binh, w Craig & Navin Shenoy

Also of importance was that he had married General Vo Nguyen Giap’s daughter and was his son in law.  Of course next to Ho Chi Minh, Giap, co-founder of the Viet Minh and the hero of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, is the most historic and important person in Vietnam’s fight for independence.  Dr. Binh was a friendly guy; full of energy. He was a font of bright ideas, and was particularly adamant about the need for students to learn computing skills.

So there is one more player to sketch for the non-Intel reader and that is Paul Otellini.

It has been said the “Intel Measures Everything”, which is a truism when building trillions of things every day at the nanotech level.  I was excited to get hired at Intel because, in my previous job of selling silicon wafer substrates, Intel asked us to measure characteristics of the wafers that no other company ever did – that was the type of company to work for!  Paul was an SI & USF grad who started in finance & accounting, which naturally measured a boatload of performance indicators for the business – having a good finance team supporting you is a key factor for success and Paul accelerated from that foundation into numerous business management slots.

He ran Sales and Marketing and Intel’s core business – the Intel Architecture Group. He was asked by Andy Grove to be his Technical Assistant when Andy was Intel’s President.  In May 2005 he replaced Craig Barrett as CEO.  Paul had certainly been around the block, but yet had a reputation for not liking to travel overseas, especially to the Third World.  My experience traveling with him in India, one of the toughest places to travel, was that he was fine, a good trooper, although he did bring his own cases of American bottled water!  I remember him one evening at an outdoor evening  banquet in southern India dressed up somewhat like a Maharaja and having to dance with men dressed up as horses – fantastic. When I was with him he was totally focused on business and had no attributes of a nervous or novice travel.

PSO & cyclo

Paul – focused even in a rickshaw!!









Well, that sets the stage for my story. 

In mid 2004 Intel began a detailed analysis to determine in which country to locate its next assembly and test manufacturing plant. Intel had been in the forefront of building these “final steps” plants in Asia.  They had built plants in Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, and several in China.  As the year wore on, the choice was resolving itself to be either in Southern India, or Vietnam, near Ho Chi Min City.  This was a “fight” between two countries vying for billions of $’s of investment that would take their technology communities to a whole new level.  And the decision maker would be Brian Krzanich, head of all manufacturing, as approved by Paul Otellini, CEO.

The stakes were higher for Vietnam.  An Intel move into Ho Chi Minh City would finally be a ringing endorsement that Vietnam was “safe” for large, medium, and even small companies to invest in by building manufacturing plants.  It would also test, teach, and help the chosen city to upgrade their infrastructure in key areas like electricity, water, emission control, industrial gases, etc.  It would provide thousands of great jobs and teach and train the employees.  Vietnam really needed to win the day and break loose from the image that they were only fit for textiles and coffee.  Vietnam also had a bad reputation on financial rules and intellectual property protection – in fact Intel Capital, one of the largest venture capital funds in the world, had refused to invest despite Phu and my best efforts.  Clearly a win would revolutionize Vietnam’s economy.  Foreign Direct Investment might go from negligible, to greater than Malaysia or Thailand – two of the “Four Tiger Cubs”.

For India the stakes were not nearly as high.  Intel had already invested hundreds of millions there in software development, and the country’s budding call center business was riding a modest wave of job creation.  It had a robust, electric appliance business and was making lots of tv’s and computers.  Even so India had been stuck at a 6% GDP growth rate for decades.  Everyone kept demanding from me “When is India going to start growing like China? Huh? Huh?”  India had a strong rooting section at Intel headquarters in Santa Clara.  My direct boss, the WW Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, pulled me aside and told me that I should do every thing possible to make sure India won the plant deal; that would give us special access to its supposed hundreds of millions prospective computer users.  I did not think a demand explosion was likely, and even today India GDP growth has seldom risen above its 6-7% average – never coming close to the PRC growth.  I told my boss that I was committed to Vietnam as the better choice.

By May 2005 Intel was down to the final decision process.  You may not know that, in these massive investments that multinational companies make, there is a type of bidding war in which the potential countries engage.  The countries offer up an array of benefits such as tax breaks, free utilities, new dedicated infrastructure like roads, power lines, sewers, and subsidies or contributions of many types.  These get wrapped up for ease of discussion into a single number.  Like “India is offering $100 Million in support to Intel if they put the plant there”.  Which was what our estimates were; but our confidence was not wholehearted that the Indian government would actually come through. Vietnam, being an agrarian society at this point had difficulty coming up with such a sizable number.  It looked like their contribution would be estimated at somewhere around $50 Million.

Phu Than was nervous, “Gerry”, he said, “India is putting up such a BIG number.  How will we ever compete?  Are we going to lose this deal?”  However we thought India’s commitment was shaky. There were multiple state, city, and federal governments involved – the situation was murky with different stories from different government leaders. I told Phu “Relax, you just focus on Vietnam; there’s a good chance India’s commitment may not show up”.

Phu had a big job to do.  In June Paul was going to make his first trip into Vietnam.  For Vietnam to have any chance at winning the factory, Intel’s CEO would have to come away believing that the country was up to the task.  Paul needed to feel that Vietnam’s leadership would do everything to make the plant successful – there could be no failure, no serious stumbles.  And very few Americans had a feel for the Vietnamese people.  Did they still hate us?   Could they develop a competence in ultra sophisticated automated manufacturing?

Phu had to come up with an array of technical and financial benefits but also had to develop a rational but aggressive PC market growth plan that necessarily had to include communications infrastructure.  He had enlisted as far back as 2001 a small cadre of Vietnamese political and tech leaders to help. Leaders like Nguyen Minh Triet, later Vietnam’s President but at the time the HCMC Party Chief; the Head of the Saigon High Tech Park; various Ministers, and most of all Dr Binh.  He had made good progress using the numerous Intel teams that planned new factory establishment and aligned our needs with the government’s.  Locations were being scouted, infrastructure evaluated, financial plans and policies developed, Phu insuring all was moving forward.

Meanwhile demand rate for PC’s in Vietnam continued to steadily grow by thousands every month as local assemblers and system integrators stretched their wings and internet cafe’s sprung up.  One early Saturday morning, as I prowled around the Hanoi open-air food markets around Gia Ngu St., I heard a screeching of voices up an alley. Exploring, I went up it to find a small room with two dozen young boys, all lined up around a dozen computers, gaming away – it wasn’t 7 am, yet they were in full swing!  Vietnam’s PC demand was surging towards 2 million units a year – with encouragement and education we could envision demand hitting as much as 3-4 million units a year – that would be about a third to a half of India’s internal demand – a country that was well over ten times larger. But the government had to drive this growth with connectivity, manufacturing, and localized software.  Phu and Binh derived an aggressive local growth model that had to be included in the Intel deal offer.  But Paul Otellini was coming for his state visit – would he feel the fever?

Paul’s trip had been scheduled to coincide with an annual meeting of youth and university computer societies from all over the country.  A few months before I asked Binh whether this would give Paul a good feeling for the enthusiasm of the nation for technology.  He assured me it would be a good setting for Paul to interact and see for himself how important the Vietnamese citizens felt technology was.  Also Dr. Binh asked me if I would approve of a special dinner for Paul.  In the evening of the big visit, at the end of surely a long, long day, he would like to have Paul and us to his home for dinner where we would be joined by a few national technology leaders.  Hmmm?

To step back for a second, one needs to understand that, in those days, a visit from the CEO of Intel, one of the world’s most valuable companies to a Third World Country, or even to London, New York or Tokyo, was like a rock star appearing at Bukodan or Wembly.  The CEO traveled with a US based entourage of writers, graphic artists, soundmen, lightingmen, and video teams.  There were numerous technical staff to make sure the “not yet released” new technology actually worked when Andy, Craig or Paul demo’d it before 10,000 people…PR people, right hand aids, government specialists, marketing and business deal makers; and local geography based leaders like Phu and my staff were there – his chief guides. A couple of platoons of supporters.

A typical CEO’s day would start the night before with a briefing as we drove to the base hotel after meeting the private jet, then a “full dress” review of local business at 0700, followed by several political or guest meetings – including a meeting with the country’s President or Prime Minister where deals and relationships were discussed, then the first BIG speech of the day (always showing off the latest), then a big lunch at round tables typically with partners and customers, then another visit or two, then another BIG speech at a different location, then a press conference, then another visit, then an email break, then another big round table dinner with either a third BIG speech or just remarks. Then the CEO might leave on his private jet to another day a couple of hours away.  It always varied a bit but the evening dinner was always a major production. It was a time for team building with the local Intel team, entertaining important guests in restaurants’ private dining rooms, or speechifying in hotel ballrooms.  However, I had never heard of a private dinner in someone’s home. Binh’s invitation was a new twist.

Well, we decided to give it a try.  Hanoi was still pretty basic – there were a couple of nice hotels and a few exquisite restaurants.  Binh’s idea might work and give Paul a chance to feel out some of the men, gauging their commitment to Intel and America.  Margo and I were up in Hanoi a few months before the big trip and were taken to check out Dr. Binh’s home.  We drove into a comfortable neighborhood; as we walked through a small garden to a lakeside setting we were impressed.  The home was a beautifully rebuilt, old, northern Vietnamese town home; single story, thick stucco walls, tile roof.  The rooms seemed to be separately built, with foot tall sills which one had to step over to move from room to room. The walls were deep crimson. There were polished wood ceiling beams and heavy, carved, wood doors.  Polished wooden pillars and shelves abounded; ancient Viet art everywhere – a museum of magnificent craft, speaking of the history and rich tribal lore of the indigenous, aboriginal tribes and Viet people.  Brass and wood masks, beautiful musical instruments, carved idols, vessels of all types.  A luxurious, exotic home. The dinner tables would be placed in the two living rooms,  separated by raised doorsills, looking out on the garden – a wonderful setting.

vietnamese livingroom

a Vietnamese living room

(As an aside, Vietnam has some 50 indigenous tribes. In ’66 I often visited with the Gia Rai Montagnards – animist people, with log-walled villages, built around a central, stilted, thatched, long house; also one person, thatched, sleeping huts the size of a small cot, on stilts, with woven stick walls. Hanoi has a terrific museum honoring the indigenous tribes – a hi-light of any visit.)

Paul’s Day in Hanoi

The June 2005 day arrived for Paul’s visit.  We met him at the airport and on the way to the Metropole Hotel briefed him and his “aide de camp” and Technical Assistant, Navin Shenoy.  In the early morning we had regional reviews, then headed to the Vietnamese State House where we met for an hour with Vietnam Prime Minister Phan Van Khai.  Gifts were exchanged, and the PM gave his assurances of the importance of Intel and computer technology to the country.


Paul Otellini and Prime Minister Phan Van Khai

Next on the agenda was Paul’s address to the assembly of student computer societies from throughout Vietnam.  It was being held in an enormous indoor sports arena that had been built for the ASEAN Games in December of 2003.  I was afraid the stadium was not a wise selection, thinking the student audience would never fill up the 5,000+ seats – it would look like a paltry turnout.  Binh said I underestimated the importance of the conference – they would be turning away applicants for attendance.  With the reticence of cultural sensitivity and difficulty of language I deferred with some skepticism; still I imagined a half full ground floor, thousands of empty seats, and dozens of empty rows reaching up to the rafters of the hollow complex.  I feared Paul going away scorning and patronizing the small potatoes of Vietnam’s farming economy.

As we waited in the green room we could hear raucous applause and cheering as the previous speakers wrapped up their talks and then began the introduction of Intel and our CEO. Soon we were led out into the sports arena where a sustained roar broke out, rising to the domed roof.

Hanoi Conference

Paul is greeted at “Digital Summer Conference” in Hanoi

I imagine it was as if the SF Giants had just won the World Series in Candlestick on a Wille Mays or McCovey homer!!

Paul walked down the middle row towards the stage and as I scanned the crowd I saw that almost all the attendees had donned Intel logo regalia – shirts, hats, banners. It was pandemonium with Paul’s face and waving arms shown from enormous screens.  As the cheers subsided Paul went into his multimedia presentation – greeted by massive applause at every significant point.  It was wonderful.

These young men and women, whose families had fought and died for self determination, Paul Joins Young Tech Leaders soaked the air with enthusiasm, and thirst for change, and shouted out for Intel to join their bandwagon – just as Dr Binh had predicted.

After that adrenalin laced event we returned to the hotel where a number of meetings, and press interviews took up the rest of the afternoon. All the reporters wanted to know what Intel’s intentions were on investing in Vietnam – Paul was circumspect.

MOU signing

I sign the Agreement

Later we had more photo ops as we signed the agreement that Phu had developed for the market expansion plan.

So far Paul was pleased, to say the least, although these types of big conventions were somewhat old hat for him and the other Intel CEO’s. They were always competing with Jobs and Gates for adulation from the tech fans.  Therefore, they would soon forget such an event as they moved on to the next capital or the next COMDEX, CES, or Davos keynote.  It would take something special to firmly plant the seed of Vietnam’s commitment in Paul’s core and the dinner party was what did it.


As evening fell we headed over to Dr. Binh’s home for the final meeting. It was almost 30 years to the day since General Giap had finally won after 35 years of fighting the Japanese, then the French, then the US, and now we were going to his daughter’s house. I thought of the struggle that the Battle of Dien Bien Phu represented, as we walked up the small garden path to the massive red wooden doors of the house. Evening dusk had settled so the home was gently lit with candles and art lighting – flowers were everywhere.  We were met by a group of six senior men who all wore soft tunics, almost uniforms, without ties but some with standing collars.  Binh had rolled out the red carpet as we were served a fine French Bordeaux and we stood for 10 minutes chatting as Binh took Paul around the room showing him pieces of ancient craft. Navin, Phu, and I looked at the interesting old style architecture and the carvings and chatted with the Viet guests.   Soon Binh invited us to all sit and begin a wonderful meal.

It took me back 40 years…back to one night on convoy, when I needed help to protect some disabled trucks near the Anh Khe Pass in central Vietnam so went to the Korean Tiger Division camp, out in the dark rice paddies, where I was escorted to the officers’ mess tent. The CO and his team were eating dinner in dress uniform. There was only the dim light of Coleman lanterns. I came in to the large tent and the staff came to rigid attention in honor of the visiting American officer.

The light in Binh’s room reminded me of that evening.   The dusky shadows of the candles veiled indistinct idol forms.  Carved, lacquered, wood pillars separated the rooms.  Icons and effigies stood on Asian cabinets.  The crimson walls created an otherworldly atmosphere.    There were 10 of us at the beautiful tables – frankly it was like sitting around a campfire off in another world – far away from the noise and crush of a city.  And as the wine was passed the atmosphere too became one of travelers together resting at an evening way-station.

There were no big speeches, although both Binh and Paul exchanged brief toasts. Congenial conversation carried the meal.  As the dessert finished, Dr. Binh stood.  He thanked us all, and especially Paul, for joining, and then an extraordinary thing happened. He said: “I would like to do something which is traditional here in Vietnam.” He turned to Paul: “When we gather together we love to sing and, Paul, with your permission we would like to sing to you one of our most beloved songs.  Is that ok with you?” Paul of course gave his consent.

With that, Binh moved over towards his comrades and as they moved their chairs, still seated, and gathered around, he gave them the pitch with a hum. These six, powerful, communist revolutionary, ex-warrior leaders of the country began a soft and measured paced ballad in simple two part harmony.  Their lovely baritone voices were full with emotion, and they looked at one another’s faces in the muted glow, or looked off into space.  The song was a gentle one, and we were told after that they sang of the beauty of their country, and their love of their people for one another, and of course, of the scenic wonders and their beautiful girls and families…some of its lyrics were:  “Young girls smile in the lovely life, green trees are on the hills;  Rice fields show their full waves, while storks fly o’re the fields.”

Phu remembers the evening atmosphere this way: “I recalled the dinner ambiance at Binh’s home as serene and peaceful.  The dining room looked out to the garden by the lake (Westlake) – dimly lit with traditional Vietnamese lanterns, giving us a sense of timelessness, a place where time stand stills.  That’s what I remember.”

The evening ended with all of us feeling that something very, very special and quite important had just happened.

The Decision

Well to wrap this up, the Indian governments were not able to fulfill their support commitment.  They did not offer the $100M of incentives and Brian K. and team decided to move on.  Brian made the manufacturing recommendation to Paul to put the new plant in Vietnam and Paul ok’d it.  A few months later it was announced and in 2010 opened with Paul’s return.  As Intel’s press release stated: “First announced in 2006, the facility represents an investment commitment of $1 billion and opens up extensive new opportunities for economic development in Vietnam. The facility is the largest assembly and test factory in Intel’s global manufacturing network… .”

This first ever, significant, high tech investment kicked off an investment boom.  Before the 2006 Intel announcement, Vietnam FDI was under $2Billion a year a year – in 2007 it catapulted over $20Billion and has been between $15 and $20 Billion annually since then. As per The World Bank, “Vietnam now is one of the most dynamic emerging countries in East Asia region.”  President Nguyen Minh Triet told President George W Bush in 2006 that Intel’s decision to build its plant in Vietnam was the most important event for Vietnam since the end of the war.

Again, Phu’s thoughts: “The notion of 2 nation at war with each other now come full circle in doing business with each other, letting the past be the past.  With Intel’s stamp, Vietnam is seen as rising from the ashes of war into the new century.  What a symbol that is!”

To me particularly that magical dinner at Binh’s gave me the pleasant relief of completion.  In late 1965 I had begun believing that our war of interference was wrong as I talked to other members of SNCC while working on civil rights awareness campaigns at college.  I have always felt uncomfortable about my fighting over there.  But I came from an almost completely military family; my dad was Secretary of the General Staff of the 8th US Army in WW2; my uncle was Captain of the battleship USS Arizona; my godfather was a Navy Chaplain; my parents had been married at Annapolis; my sister Kay was the first female Army nurse to go into Vietnam.  As early on in the war as I went there, 1966, I had little chance of not going – it was go to Canada, go to jail, or go to Vietnam.  Besides I wanted to go, having been raised in that tradition, and so I had volunteered.  But I knew then and know now that we were on the wrong side of that war.  So I was happy to have played a roll in some compensation to the people of that lovely country and to truly feel their forgiveness as they sang to us that evening.

Bernard Fall

So that is my story of Phu, Binh, and Paul…but I said there was a fourth person – Bernard.

One of my contributions to this whole Vietnam factory decision was to tell Paul why I thought Vietnam was a great place to build a factory. Way back in early 1966 I had read a book by Bernard Fall called  Hell in a Very Small Place. Written in 1966, it is about the crux battle in the French Vietnamese War, the battle of Dien Bien Phu.  I believe everything one needs to know about the American Vietnamese War is in this book including the hubris of big countries, the overconfidence in technology, and the power of will, determination,  love of country, and the desire for self determination.  There is a paragraph in the epilogue that talks about what General Giap’s army did to bring Vietnam’s power to bear from the hills above the French fort – it is a word painting of almost superhuman commitment.  I told Paul in a note, accompanying the book I sent him, that if we could harness the Vietnamese’ people’s energy like that then the factory was sure to be successful.  I think it made a difference. Here is an excerpt from my email to Paul in May 2005, accompanying the book:    “The key take away for me in studying their struggle is the depth of their commitment (nonstop fighting for 30 years), their never-ending pursuit of the goal, the suffering that they were willing to go through (2.5Million non-combatants were killed in the US war – primarily by us), their optimism and self-confidence in the face of terrible odds set against them, and their resourcefulness and versatility in overcoming objections.  These guys are an inspiration to me.  Please see page 452 for some surprising statistics on what they needed to do to beat the French in this battle.  If we decide to build a plant here sometime in the future, I think this book portrays the type of people who will be working for Intel.”

Bernard Fall died with the 9th Marines in February 1967.  On that day I was in An Khe with the 1st Cav running convoys. I had been in Vietnam five months, he had been there 13 years; I was 22 – he was 40.

Read the book – you’ll like it.  …and many thanks to Phu Than who helped me write this, and who, by the way, has other amazing stories of Vietnam.

Gerry Greeve, Portland, Oregon, Aug 2017, retired Intel after 30 years in 2011.               Phu Than, Venture Capitalist, DFJ VinaCapital in Saigon

Postscript: In preparing this essay I checked with several of the attendees to insure reasonable accuracy. I received the following comments on the work from Paul who is now retired from Intel and living in San Francisco:                                                                   “… It brought back great memories of my trips and, of course, you are correct that the evening at Dr. Bhin’s home was absolutely the most memorable evening I have ever had in 40 years of Intel business. Your description was perfect. I recall as we were driving into Hanoi and you pointed out the “Hanoi Hilton” from the war and then the Phantom that they had shot down into the lake and made into a monument to their victory. You are right that it put trepidation into my thoughts. You are also right that the seminal event was the arena. At that point, I was pretty convinced that this would be a great place to operate and grow. The dinner put the icing on the cake…Best to you and thanks for sharing this with me!   paul”


This is about Bob Dylan’S 30 minute long “2016 Nobel Lecture in Literature” which was just provided by Bob on June 4.  
– This is NOT his 10 minute acceptance speech which was delivered by a woman in Stockholm at he ceremony.
– This is NOT about the content of Bob’s speech…it is about his delivery.  

But,  before I write about this I want to acknowledge to whom I am sending this.  
They are all people whom I believe (with one exception) have enjoyed with me and, in some cases, loved Bob’s music. 
Humor me please, here are my friends to whom I am sending this with fond memories of our joint experience of Bob Dylan’s work

     – Lawrence (Laddie) Davaney – my first cousin and oldest friend and he who, in summer of 1963, first introduced me to Bob Dylan’s work on a summer’s evening on a porch in their rental house in Los Also Hills
     – Kathy Sheehan – we went together to Dylan’s December 21, 1965 “Highway 61 Revisited” tour- his first electric shows
     – John Farnan – We spent hours studying the lyrics and crafting them into parts of our philosophy and theology papers at Santa Clara
     – Pete Borelli – we sang these songs in our apartment as we began to learn how to play the guitar; later we’d sing these songs as “buskers” in the streets and subways of Germany.
     – Greg Quintana – Bob’s civil rights song were the music that helped us shape our thinking and propel actions in support of the movement 
     – Dan Pisano – with whom I went to my second Dylan Concert – with Maria Muldar..later we got kicked out of Original Joes. This concert does not seem to show up on concert lists
     – Russ Rottiers – with whom I went to the “Gospel Tour” and waited for Bob to “play some folk songs”
     – Adam Welch – Nick and Jen’s cousin who is as close to a Dylan scholar as I know and who, with his Mom, has seen more concerts than me.
     – Jenny and Nick Greeve – two fine children who learned to love Bob despite his rough and crumbling voice
     – Frank & Mary Gill – who set up a fine concert last week where Joan Osborne sand 90 minutes of Bob’s songs
     – John Miner – who has shared that his one goal in his twilight years is “workin’ for a while on a fishin’ boat right outside of Delacroix
     – Rich Bader – with whom I’ve seen several Dylan concerts and his mother Mildred who worked for Dylan for 30+ years as his accountant (a great picture of Mildred and Bob many many years ago attached below)…Mildred was one of Margo’s favorite people and we loved our visits with her in New York.greev

OK – here’s  the link to Bob’s Lecture:  

Here are my thoughts on it: While the lecture content is wonderfully written and ties together much imagery which runs through 50 years of his writing, there is little that a serious fan will find new.  It does show his thoughtfulness in reading and contemplating classic literature.  Most of the lecture is devoted to 3 novels:  Moby Dick, All’s Quiet on the Western Front, The Odyssey.

However, what I found most lovely was how Dylan talks throughout the lecture. How he uses his voice; how he caresses words or spits them out, and varies his vocal instrument continuously.  This is particularly rewarding give to that old saw “Good Songwriter but HORRIBLE singer”.

The arrays of sound mechanisms a person can use produces an individual “print” that is, like fingerprints and eye appearance totally unique to each individual.   These include attributes such as pitch, tone, air sensation, articulation, modulation, timbre, dynamics, intensity, accent, emphasis, length of hold, frequency level, shape of vowels, impact of consonants, their looseness or tightness, vibrato, etc etc.  In addition to the physics based variations there is the note structure of how sentences and phrases are constructed.  Ending on a high note, ending on a low note, how many notes might be used in a single syllable – all these can be varied.

I saw two fine concerts in the last month with Frank, Mary, Russ, Rich, and Abe where different musicians devoted hours to singing Bob Dylan songs:
     – Old Crow Medicine Show’s rendition of the Blonde on Blonde album
     – Joan Osborne’s concert of about 15 Dylan songs at The Aladdin Theatre.

While it was nice to hear these terrific songs, their interpretation in ALL instances was, to my taste, inferior in their quality of singing to the originals.  The words were the same, the bands were top notch, the venues were terrific. But I left longing for the originals and their moving, emotional, rendering which Bob created.  
Bob’s singing of most of these songs adds SO MUCH to the emotional impact of the lyrics, that to hear a whole set by someone who is not able to duplicate or expand on his phrasing merely reinforces the extremely controversial claim that Dylan, in his prime, was a great singer.  A rough, scratchy, raspy tone with annoying timbre’s and a bit too much nasal sound – yes he was;  but never the less GREAT in his ability to communicate the depth and type of feeling that he wants the song to communicate.

Rather than pontificate on what was missing I encourage each of you to listed to Bob’s lecture.  Set aside 30 minutes, put on a good set of earphones, and listen to his voice as it flows over the rich words – it is magnificent.

Here is the link again as kindly provided by our friend Ralph Henkhaus  
and here is Rich Bader’s mom Mildred back in the days that they were a team:

Some good eating places in Kyoto

here’s what we have found in Kyoto.



Since I was a child, Margo and I have been there twice for a total of about 6 weeks.  We rented a house and did breakfast and an occasional lunch there.  There are many coffee shops with fine coffee and pastries.  There are a number of excellent pastry shops too.

Both times we stayed on the east side of the city in an area called Higashiyama (Eastern Mountains)between Shijo Ave (Dori) and Sanjo (Dori) Ave (Sanjo is 3rd Ave), Shijo is 4th Ave.
These Ave’s run east west and there are 3 North-South Streets that one moves up and down on.  We stay in Higashiyama because the mountains run straight North-south and are pretty much a non-stop run of shrines, temples, museums, parks, interspersed with interesting neighborhoods.  Also because the bus system and subway system run along it as do several of the train systems to out of town (especially the little train to Ohara and the amazing Sanzen-Ji) .  At the furthest south end is the rightly famous Inari Temple, dedicated to foxes, in Fushimi and to the north end is my favorite of the Imperial Household grounds, the “Shugakuin Imperial Villa” with hawks flying and farmers working in the rice paddies.



These restaurants are in these general areas. They are all difficult to find due to little english signage. I recommend trying to find them on Google Maps, going to the general area and looking around then finding the resaturant. I ALWAYS get reservations and often will go to the restaurant a day before and book the reservation in person. That way I am sure of its location and feel welcome when I arrive. In most of the restaurants we sit at the counter – this allows us to interact with the staff and admire the work. It is always better to have a few beers or wine also. We try to order “Omikase” which means “what ever the chef feels is specially good” and then we don’t have to struggle with the menu. If one of the party does not like fish we find either a noodle restaurant, a chicken restaurant, a yakatori cafe or a Sukiyaki or ShabuShabu restaurant. The big department stores like Takeshimaya have great food courts and cafes (on each floor) for a nice lunch.

– Our favorite places in Higashiyama are as follows:

The Yagenbori Sueyoshicho restaurant in the beautiful northern Gion geisha district (north of ShijoDori). This is a small chain of family run traditional fine restaurants. booths and counter
here is the chain website.

Another spot in the south Gion area is a fine chicken/yakitori restaurant called Wabiya Korekido. You find it by the lovely circular drawing on the website and its wall

Our favorite place is a restaurant called kitchen Occobe. It is on the south side of Sanjo Dori close to the Higashiyama Subway station. Its owner is Kouji and his sushi chef is Shingo. Their omikasi meal is terrific. Kouji heads the local wine club.京都東山三条-Occobeおっこべー-ワイン洋食-347763642044159/

Next to that is a restaurant called Bamboo which provided us with the finest meal I have ever had in Japan (almost). The owner chef is somewhat tempremental but if he is on you will remember it always. Look in front of it for a small bowl of live freshwater crabs which he frys and you eat whole – terrific.


hope this helps


the garden which gathers green Sanzen-ji


Jenny asked me to do this…!!

In reviewing I find that I have been to almost all of them with Margo whom I met when I was 52 and who did me the honor of taking me for her husband. She is an intrepid traveler and shares my love of new places – without her this list would be much shorter.


Jungfrau from our Hotel Beausite room

A few things needed to make this list…you must be overlooking, or in the middle of, something beautiful. You don’t need to be able to see it from your room, although that is icing on the cake, but you must be able to walk out, stroll no more than a minute or two and be in the middle of a wonderful earthly paradise or wonderland, made by God or man, it doesn’t matter. And, if possible, there you may purchase & start your day with a cup of coffee.  Also, with two exceptions,  it must be a charming building with comfort and atmosphere to spare, those two exceptions have unique and special settings.

My Favorites

Relais Christine, Paris – right in the middle of the left bank tucked away on a quiet small street around a courtyard entrance, this small Inn has comfortable rooms with blissful quiet. IMG_0530.JPG3 minutes walk takes you to (a)the Rue De Buci street market,(b) 3 -5 Michelin starred (either now or in the past) restaurants/bistro, (c) Odeon metro, (d) Pont Neuf. Hard to beat – I’ve tried the Maurice, George V, Raphael and others but this is where I prefer.

Nishimuraya Honkan, Kinosaki – Near the Sea of Japan is a famous spa town; in it is one of the finest traditional Japanese inns you will find. Beware – I refer to the “Honkan” not its modern sister “Hotel”. With 8 official bath houses, temples and walks in the lovely wooded hills you will have a stay to remember.


Nishimuraya Honkan Ryokan

Moana-Surfrider, Waikiki – is its old name, now a Sheraton it has a permanent place in the families heart and is my favorite hotel. It really is the verandah and the Banyan tree but the Waikiki outrigger rides are terrific. The old market has been torn down sad to say – but the memories of making “Meadow foam Madness” movie with Nick and searching for Jen’s b’day cake will never die. We always get a room at the top of the stairs in the old building so we don’t have to ever use an elevator.

Stephanie Inn – The most beautiful beach I know of is Cannon Beach in Oregon. Sitting overlooking one of its claims to fame, Haystack Rock is this small hotel.


View from Stephanie Inn

The Janice Kay suite is where Margo and I stayed the weekend before we left for the turn of the century party in Salzburg and Paris which ultimately led to our marriage. It is also where I did my first drawing in my new journal which accompanied us through many countries. It is luscious.



Beausite, Wengen – wake up to the Monch and Jungfrau or take the cable car 10 minutes to the face of the Eiger. There are no cars in this village and the mountain train can take you to dozens of trams, funiculars, cable cars or lake steamers. Warm swimming pool and massages. This is your ultimate Swiss inn.

Hotel Sacher, Salzburg – We woke up one Christmas morning with snow coming down on the Salzach River and the turrets and steeples white in front. This may have the setting of all town settings; with great chocolate cake and Mozart all around. Try their Christmas market and late Xmas Eve mass. Dinner with Barton’s is icing on the Sacher Torte so to speak.

Asia Comfort

Metropole, Hanoi – Any hotel with a Graham Green bar has got to have historic atmosphere.


Hanoi market

This one cannot be better sited in the middle of the robust action of central Hanoi. Close by are french bakeries, wonderful temples, markets, ice cream parlors, galleries, you name it. The old building rooms are comfortable and Pho is cooked on open fires for breakfast.


Avani Resort, Qui Nhon, Vietnam – In 1966 I ran convoy’s to the Cambodian border from this town.  Now outside it, past the leper colony, is a lovely place on the South China Sea.


South China Sea

Looking for a quiet get away from the crazy life of Saigon or Hanoi, with a look at the real Vietnam, this will do it.




Jaipur Palace, Jaipur – Majestic and enormous old palace now converted to a hotel.

india-2-188Impeccable service (for India), wonderful meals on the lawn or in the massive dining room. A great base camp for shopping and historic outings. Memories of Christmas dinner with Nick, Jenny and Margo.  There are sights galore in this town and in short drives to the countryside.  Best shopping in the world for precious and semiprecious stones.

Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore – The Maharaja of Mysore built this palace for his guests including Mountbatten. In 2005 it had a lovely vista of this interesting and exciting town. Close by is a stunning architectural wonder – Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace (he who handed Cornwallis his final defeat). Suites are enormous, dinners are complete with floor show, monkey’s help deliver breakfast on your verandah,


The verandah at Mysore

and a magician hung out in the lobby for guests sleight of hand enjoyment.




Beautiful Vistas

Pere Bis, Talloires – has only about 25 rooms and is its third generation as a Michelin starred retreat. The lake is beautiful, warm and you can dive from a rowboat for a refreshing swim back to shore. There are towered villages across the blue water and comfortable lunches out on the patio. The lake steamer stops every 90 minutes for a leisurely ride to Annecy for shopping and lunch

El Tovar, Grand Canyon – The most beautiful view in the world is 30 feet from the lawn chairs on the porch. While the rooms, like most WPA hotels in the NP’s, are rustic, the dining room is lovely especially for a nice bit breakfast

Shiv Niwas Palace, Udaipur, India – Possibly the most romantic views in the world are around the lake in the center of this princely state in SE Rajasthan.


breakfast by pool, Shiv Niwas

Many choose to stay at the Lake Palace which is a great choice; we prefer the Shiv Niwas Palace because a) it is the center of the town and b) it looks out on the Lake Palace. We were invited for cocktails with the Maharani which will forever be in the Greeve family lore


Fretheim Hotel, Flam – There are numerous fine hotels on the Norwegian Fjords and this one is the only one I’ve been to but we loved our quiet stay. Ferry trips through the fjords, bike rides, fires in the lobby. good wine and a brewery 3 minutes away, and one of the great rail trips Europe make this a winner. Between Oslo and Bergen – arrive by train and leave by boat – brilliant.

Chateau Lake Louise, Canadian Rockies – two fine stays here – New Years eve with the kids (the top floor is turned into a family casino); more atmosphere than believable, sleigh rides around the lake, which, by the way, has the most beautiful water in the world. Rooms are rustic but fun. Skiing and hiking galore.

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island – This experience FAR exceeded Margo’s and my expectations. It is a long trip to get here, but if you are looking for a restful and relaxing stay it cannot be beaten. It is the living embodiment of the 1890’s – and it has 3 fine golf courses. NO motorized vehicles allowed on the island – horse carriages only.

Shore Lodge, McCall, Idaho – morning mist rising on Payette Lake in the sunlight just cresting the foothills of the Bitterroot Range; WS award dining room; luscious spa; kayaking, water skiing, & golf galore and the best 4th of July show in the west. A stay last September showed remodeled rooms that were not as comfy as the old ones but still fine.

Magic Town Inns

Hotel Cathedrale, Strasbourg – We went here to visit Jen during Thanksgiving 1998; while we were there the city’s famous Christmas market opened. It was a thrill to look out from our window on the magnificent cathedral and in its surrounding square and teeming cobbled streets the booths strung with festive lights and garlands of lights. Make sure you get a room with a view!

Steigenberger Hotel, Dresden – The hotel is just a comfortable business class one but its location is terrific. On Germany’s most beautiful square a room with a view also takes in the steeples and spires of royal places, opera houses and multiple churches. Its crowning glory is ten steps from its outdoor cafe – a view of the magnificently rebuild Frauenkirchen. read my post on Dresden in this blog Mar 4 2015.

Hotel Wentzl,Krakow – I believe this Polish gem has the most charming square outside of Italy and this hotel will give you a window opening right into its midst with flower markets and ancient chapels underneath it. Terrific middle European cuisine, cathedral concerts, open air cafe’s and horse buggies to take you to tour the castle make for a wonderful stay.

Grand Hotel, St Peterburg, Russia – The ten days we spent here were some of the best of our lives.


our living room


For Margo’s 65th birthday we went thru the hassles of getting real visa’s and bedded down here.  This city is really a town because you will almost certainly never stray more than 3 miles from the theaters, churches, parks, and museums that are within a stones throw of this great lady.  Dining is a problem in Russia but there are 5 restaurants in your hotel.  Excellent concierge service makes the problems disappear and the guide & town car appear.  We went to the Hermitage 5 different days, two ballets, and one opera innumerable palaces and museums plus a great boat tour of the canals and rivers.  A 15 hour tour of the countryside was exceptional  Truly worth the time if you are an art and music lover.

Cipriano Inn at Torcello, Venice Lagoon – The original island settlement islet in the Venetian lagoon has been inhabited since the 700’s, still largely given over to small farms if has a comfortable Inn run by the famous Cipriani family. Fine food and wine, luxurious garden dining, under the rust red brick domes and towers of the hote11th Century basilica. Some come here first to get over jet lag hanging in the beautiful garden. Its byzantine era mosaics are some of the best preserved in the world. The rooms can be tiny so reach for the best

Hotel Savoia & Jolanda, Venice – I am troubled by hotels in easy to find yourself paying $800 a night and have a disappointing stay. This hotel will save you 25% and put you on the magnificent Riva if you spring for the “junior suite”. Once the hordes have left you find yourself in the most perfect “view” spot in the city.

Shangri-La, Hangzhou – Hangzhou was the first Chinese city I felt comfortable in and this traditional old western style hotel was a big part of the reason. Situated along the lake with beautiful views of the garden islets, it is a center for walking, casual biking or boating on the lovely archipelago. Two of the finest Chinese restaurants are on the lake, one only a 5 minute walk out on a causeway.

Hotel Raphael, Rome – I suppose you can call Rome a big city but it always feels like a town to me. This 70 room vine covered spot feels more like an inn – casual and in no hurry, crazy room layouts, but always willing to please. It has been a favorite of our family since 1983. It’s payoff is the 3 minute walk to the alley entrance to Piazza Navone – certainly one of the top squares in the world. The is no better place to start and end a day that a coffee or gelato in this glorious space.

“Tropic” Inns

Sun City, Livingston, Zambia – I believe the Queen Victoria Falls are the most spectacular in the world. This sunny hotel is safe & comfortable and a short 5 minute walk from spectacular views. Zebras graze outside your windows, you can walk across the bridge to Zimbabwe or take boat or walking safari’s. Great fun.

Oberoi, Seminyak, Bali – This is one of the best hotels in the world.

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Jen and Nick at The Oberoi


It exceeds The Oriental Bangkok by a good margin. You must get a compounded villa and spend hours by the pool.  Nighttime entertainment, terrific food, and convenient sight seeing and golf will keep you busy when not soaking in the India Ocean (good body surfing).  see the reviews in TA for confirmation of this opinion.

Casa Dell’Arte, Borum, Turkey – This is paradise on the Aegean with meals al fresco and one of the most beautiful pools in the world. Gracious hospitality and interesting art all over. And you can rent their 90 ft+ gulet schooner and disappear for a week or two if you have 6 good friends to split the bill.

Ibah (Warwick), Ubud, Bali – The first time we stayed here in 2003 Margo and I dubbed it “our soul hotel”.

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view from an Ubud villa

For the upcountry view of Bali, where a few days with a hired car & driver through the temple and garden complexes will immerse you in the real Hindu paradise get a villa here. Deep in a gorge of rice patties and lush forests you cannot help feeling transported. Long walks with cool pool soaks, dinners in the garden, massages, and gamalang music, all help you feel its special charm.

Raffles, Siem Reap – a short tuktuk ride from the Temples of Angor this has a fabulous pool with outdoor massages under the spreading banyan trees. The suites are small but comfortable. You must stop your jungle touring in the middle of the day and rest with a refreshing lunch and a massage by the excellent pool. Short walk through the park to the village center and the boat races down the river. This is one of the top historic sites in the world, but it is exhausting – use the Raffles to help you enjoy it.

Amanjiwo, Borobudur, Java – The only one on the list at which we’ve never stayed but Harrison Ford has many times. It overlooks the jungles, mountains, and in the distance Borobudur – a truly, truly, wonderful temple with a mystical story. We had lunch. No need to describe an Aman luxury resort.

Palau Pacific Resort, Palau – The best swimming beach hotel (no surf) I’ve ever stayed at.img_0396 Basic comfort in a lush paradise of palms and white sand. A magnificent and large coral garden begins 10 steps from the beach and is good for scuba as well as unparalleled snorkeling. Prices have tripled in last 5 years.

Big City Ships (Expensive)

Gotham Hotel (now The Peninsula), Manhattan – Waynette and I stayed in this wonderful 245px-usa-nyc-the_peninsulaold building which is now beautifully restored. It was Thanksgiving Weekend in 1977, 9 months before Jen was born. We had Thanksgiving dinner in the Rainbow Room and saw Liza in The Act. Built in 1905 in a beautiful old style it is the center of 5th Avenue action. Now our suite will cost you $2000 a night over the holiday.

Imperial Palace, Tokyo – refinement galore in the beautiful public rooms of this images-3comfortable and attentive high-rise. Nice little spa, in room massages, helpful english speaking concierges. Right in the Marunouchi/Ginza area close to the palace, kabuki and shopping.The previous version was designed by F.L. Wright

Westin, Kyoto – You would think that in this ancient city you would look for an old hotel with traditional Japanese hospitality – CANNOT for less than $1000 a night. So get comfy in this well placed hotel and rest easy in between prowling thru the heavenly gardens and temples outside your front door.

Oriental, Bangkok – Rated continually as the best hotel in the world seems to me an exaggeration, but it is fine. Its crowning glory is its position on the ChaoPraya River, the city’s boulevard. boats of all type whisk you to the temples, markets, and museums. Then return to a cool swim in the lovely pool and relax on your balcony overlooking the interesting scene.

3 “Dumps” worth your while … Ok “dumps” is too strong a word but if you don’t mind floors that squeak or are linoleum, bathrooms like a Motel 6 , or no phone to call the front desk these will work. You wonder if they’re really clean but in the end they work out just fine. These are all locations you can’t get any other way.

Ola’s Bird Safari, way above the Arctic Circle – it is comfortable and clean enough for most but you are staying here not for the facility but its spectacular location and the terrific wildlife boat tour leaving from your front porch every couple of hours. After all it truly is at the end of the earth. UNBEATABLE! (if the sun is out) read my blog post 9/18/16.

East Lake Resort, Newberry Volcanic Monument, near Bend, Oregon – Deep inside the caldera of the volcano this place has good breakfast, canoes, outboard fishing dinghys, pontoon boats, trout galore, and some marvelous hikes and short drives. Best lake in the Northwest is you can do without waterskiing.

Prince of Wales Waterton Park, Canadian Rockies – It’s a shame this magnificent building, iconic really, has been let to go to seed by the Canadian Government. It is still worth a trip just to see it and its magnificent view. We stayed in 2009 and wrote a scathing review and as of this summer there are scathing reviews from visitors. Worth a trip.

SeaFoam Motel, Nags Head – we went every summer to Nags Head when we lived in Williamsburg. My mom and I would walk in the early morning up this beach to the pier and back collecting sea shells. This motel was there and is no different. Basic but clean.

Other places I like to stay or have stayed once and liked a lot:
I could write a page or more about each of these.. If your stay at one would be like one of my stay’s it will make your list for delicious places to bunk as well.

North America:

-Black Rock Sheraton, Maui
-TuTuTun Lodge, Gold Beach, Oregon
-Hannover Inn, Dartmouth
-Hotel Monaco, Seattle (you get a goldfish friend for your stay)


views from out turret room at The Empress


-Empress Hotel Vancouver







-Dukes, London
-Hotel Miramare, Castiglione della Pescaia
-Hotel Majestic Toscanell, Padua
-Hotel de La Poste, Beaune

-Hotel Manoir Les Minimes, Amboise


-Manoir at Amboise

-Grand Hotel, Zermatt
-Atlantic Park Hotel, Baden Baden
-Hotel Cathedral, Barcelona
-The Manor House, Castle Combe, England
-Montreux Palace, Montreux
-Palazzo Dragoni, Spoleto


-Four Seasons, Chang Mai

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Four Seasons, ChangMai

-Dalat Palace Hotel, Dalat, Vietnam
-Intercontinental Hotel, Sydney
-ShangriLa Hotel, Singapore
-Raffles Hotel, Phnom Penh

-Surin Phuket (on the same small bay as the Amanpuri but half the price)

Any decent inn on Gili Trawangen, off Lombok


Nick on Gili Trawangan





The Butcher of Tiananmen Square

Bob Noyce had been the first senior leader of Intel to go to China.  He had gone there in late 1982 and met with Deng Xiaoping.  In about August 1983 Hank O’Hara, then Vice President of Sales for Intel, went to Beijing and met with Premier Zhao. China was anxious to do a deal with us which would get them more microprocessor technology fast. Zhao had chided Hank with an admonishment that went something like this: “Why have you Intel people done nothing with China? We have asked your Chairman to propose a deal for us to work together yet no one has done anything”.

Well Hank came back and talked to Bill Lattin who called me into his trailer. Bill said something like “Look Greeve the Chinese are all in a dither and you and your guys have got to put together some type of technology transfer deal. There’s been lots of talk but no results and you’re going to have to change all that”!
Well to make a long story short, a bunch of people joined me and we pulled together Intel’s first proposal for a business relationship with the People’s Republic of China. Our proposal was we would transfer computer hardware and software technology and training to the computer engineering department of the Aviation Ministry in return for them purchasing tens of millions of dollars of single board computers. In February 1984, four guys, Francis Yu, Chris Lingle, Mike Kemple, and I flew up to Beiing and negotiated the deal and the final watershed agreement with their Import/Export arm CATICunknown was done by the spring.

So as the wheels of that deal started to turn it was time for the ceremony. Of the Intel “office of the president” only Bob Noyce had been to China and so in early 1985 I helped Francis Yu organize a visit for Gordon Moore, then Intel’s President and his wife Betty. It was largely ceremonial with tours of factories, speeches to technology associations and ministry leadership, and a public resigning of the agreement. Of course we ate our way through the trip with one memorable feast after another. There are a number of lake parks just west and north of the Forbidden City which are fun to stroll through – we had a small luncheon banquet in an ancient building for about 30 Intel and PRC leaders there – delicious.

But the high point of the ceremonies was to be a “state meeting” where Gordon was to meet with the very powerful Vice Premier, Li Peng, who for a decade, starting a year or so after our visit, was the Premier of the PRC and head of its National Congree.


Vice Premier Li Peng

I had to do the briefing for Gordon and in my research uncovered the fact that Vice Premier Li was the adopted son of Zhou En Lai. Li’s father, a member of the revolution, had been executed by the Kuomintang. During the “Long March” Zhou had given the six year old Li his blanket to keep him from freezing as they hid out in a cave in mountainous western China. So Li was destined for power in the seemingly, never ending incestuous realms of human politics.

I had to come up with the ceremonial gift that, in Asia, is a required part of any meeting between leaders. Teeing off from the tale of the blanket I went to our Portland based Pendleton woolen mills and purchased a lovely American Indian patterned kingsized blanket. Gordon raised an eyebrow when I told him what he was going to present but I convinced him with the cave story – and anyway, who doesn’t want a Pendleton blanket?


Pendleton Blankets

There is a marvelous building near the Forbidden City which some nickname “The Chinese White House”. It is called Zongnanhai, which refers to the multiple lakes west of the palaces and the “imperial garden” in its midst…it now refers to the compound where the seat of power in China often resides and usually holds its most significant and power laden meetings. That was where our state meeting was to take place. Home of emperors and presidents, its history is palpable as you approach it in a limousine and, after disembarking, begin the walk to its majesty. The entrance to this compound is an enormous two story, carved wood, polychrome gate called “Xinhuamen”. unknown-2Its multiple eves sweep upward as wings. The gate entrance is flanked by large calligraphy signs with patriotic sayings and a couple of soldiers in full dress, and behind them, a massive gold written exhortation “Serve the People”. The theme is red and gold with sky blue accents under the handsome tiled roofs.

Six of us walked through the gate into the courtyard with Gordon in the lead and turned left approaching the “Hall of Purple Light”, the most important meeting hall. There we took seats in luxurious upholstered chairs with side tables laden with porcelain tea utensils and steaming Longjing dragon well tea. I took in the carved screens and silk paintings around the handsome room as the translated conversation between Gordon and Premier Li covered predictable ground. Then my turn came as I brought the blanket up to Gordon who presented it to Li. Their chatting was amiable, accompanied by occasional hand signs meaning tight collaboration, most of the talk merely confirming our commitments to work closely together. The whole thing lasted only 30 minutes and frankly I don’t recall any specific phrasing that was said. The ceremonial pictures were taken – all with film since it was 1985; mine are in some big box in Downtown Self Storage. As usual in China when its over its over, all shook hands and we left.

Gordon led us to Tsinghua University where he gave a lecture on Moore’s Law. After another meeting or two the Intel party split up. Bill Clemow and I went to Jiao Tong University in Shanghai where I gave a lecture on Open Systems Theory. I recall looking out of the Sheraton windows and seeing block after block of the teeming city streets stacked with large bok choy cabbages sitting outside in the freezing cold. Gordon invited Francis and me to join him and Betty on a trip to Guilin and the Li River but I declined.


Mount Kinabalu, Borneo

I was into high altitude trekking at that point and elected to fly to Kota Kinabalu in Borneo where I climbed Mt Kinabalu which at about 13,500 feet is the tallest mountain in SouthEast Asia. I regret now not going with Gordon and Francis. While I worked closely with Gordon on this and IBM, it would have been special to get to know him more personally. I was invited later to go fishing in Alaska with him but again declined and my good pal John Miner joined him instead. Anyway enough of that.

In 1989, only four years after our meeting with Li Peng, the ten years of loosening the tight reign of the communist totalitarian state began to give way to popular demands for even more freedom. Frustrations with corruption, unequal economic success, and suppression of free criticism resulted in an explosion of protest around the country. Beijing’s Tianaman Square saw tens of thousands and sometimes a million people demonstrating for more freedoms. Riots, protests, and arrests broke out throughout the country. There was no agreement on response in the Politburo Standing Committee of Zhao, Li Peng and 3 others, much less with the “retired” paramount leader Deng, nor the Politburo as a whole. Li Peng was the fiery leader of the “crackdown” set. When Zhao left to take a trip to Korea, Li took charge of the country, coordinated with Deng and began pushing a hardline response.

There was back and forth until in mid-May when hunger strikes which had been underway for weeks prompted response. The party leadership decided this was all a threat to order and their control so ordered a tougher crackdown. Martial law was declared and masses of troops dispatched to Beijing. On June 1 LiPeng issued a formal report to the Politburo calling the protestors terrorists and counterrevolutionaries. This report was the justification for military action. Zhao having been ousted, Li was now the senior member of the Standing Committee and with Deng decided it was time to clear the square with military force. On June 3, outside the


XinHua Gate

Xinhua gate of Zhongnanhai, where we had followed Gordon in for his state meeting, tear gas swept as the army and protesting students clashed. As the day proceeded the order was given by Li Peng to “use any means” and by late evening the army was killing people. The battle continued for the next 3 days as the army gradually exerted control. One estimate is 250,000 military occupied Beijing; there were dozens if not hundreds killed in other cities; the leaders were eventually rounded up and hundreds imprisoned and executed. Amnesty International estimates that from several hundred to one thousand were killed. There is no consensus on the true reach of the crackdown but there is allusion to, country wide, millions being investigated and “tens if not hundreds of thousands” being jailed.

Late in the summer of 1989 I saw Gordon and Betty at a garden party for Ed Gelbach’s 65th birthday.images-1

As I chatted with him I said “Gordon, what did you think about your friend Li Peng and that crackdown in Tiananmen square”.

“Gee”, Gordon said, “and he seemed like such a nice guy”.

POSTSCRIPT:  Oct 18, 2016..speaking of incestuous politics, corrupt dynasty building, and our upcoming election…in flitting around cyberspace today I spied this in the venerable South China Morning Post: “Li Xiaopeng, the governor of coal-rich Shanxi province and the son of former premier Li Peng, is tipped to become the new Communist Party boss of the regulator of top state-owned enterprises, sources in Shanxi and Beijing told the South China Morning Post.”  I was surprised about 30 years ago to realize that progressiveism leads, in some mentally twisted fashion, to powerful national governments which leads in turn to deeply seated nepotism…ugh.


I am posting this on my blog after having posted it 2 months ago on Facebook. There is only a little new information but I have added a number of pictures. I do like to keep my longer ramblings in one place, which is this blog.

Gjesvaer village with 4 rock sanctuary in distance

Gjesvaer village with 4 rock sanctuary in distance

“As I start this I am sitting here on a wharf dock in Gjesvaer, Norway at about 71 degrees, 5 min, North latitude. It is Saturday July 23 about 2pm. I am writing this because many people’s experience at NordKapp, Norway, the highest point in Europe and close to 330 miles above the Arctic Circle have been somewhat marginal weather wise. I have been thinking of how much others would have enjoyed what we are fortunate enough to be experiencing so I will try and describe it. Maybe if you’ve been disappointed you will come back and luck out as we have.

How we got here:
While we were on the Hurtigruten Ferry boat on our 5 day trip from Bergen to Skjervoy, Margo’s cousin Carolyn, who lives near us in Bend, mentioned that the cabin book on the excursions had some interesting stuff.

our ferry boat "Kong Harold"

our ferry boat “Kong Harald”

So I was looking at it and noticed that at Honnigsvag, the town near NordKapp, there was this thing called a “Bird Safari at the Stappan Nature Reserve/Bird Sanctuary.” Since we had seen Puffins on the RIB boat trip in Boda I thought, “well that might be nice” to do in addition to going to Nordkapp. We were planning a 5 day road trip after we finished visiting Anne Marie

Anne Marie and Carolyn

Anne Marie and Carolyn


with cousin Linnea

and the rest of Margo and Carolyn’s 14+ cousins in Storslett, Nordreisa (which is itself at 69.46 degrees North – 215 miles above the Arctic Circle).

So the first evening in Nordreisa a cousin named Lars Eric, who is a well traveled guy, a dentist who lives in the Loftoten Island metropolis of Finnesnes, asked “what are you going to do at Nordkapp”. And I said, well we’re going to go to the cape itself and then we might do a “bird safari” – Lars Eric immediately pumped his hand in the air two times and said “YES!!!”.

Lars Eric is quick to call Ola

Lars Eric is quick to call Ola

Turns out he and his wife had just come back from there and said it was way cool. He immediately grabbed his phone and called “Ola” (pronouced OOla) and reserved us some rooms. He told us we’d be staying in a particularly nice style of accommodation and one which is uniquely Norwegian – in a ”rorbu” in a small fishing village. A “rorbu” is a small fishing shack which sits up on a fishing pier; in amongst the boats; almost always painted bright red.

typical rorbu

typical rorbu

We set out 5 days later with a rent-a-car and drove through the mountains, fjords, and tundra, stopping in Alta and Hammerfest. In Alta we had a great lunch with cousin Kolbjorn and Barb, then a tour of the 6,000 year old petroglyphs. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has amazing images of the hunter gatherer life style over the millennia. Kolbjorn used to play on the rocks as a child, before they had been discovered.


Kolbjorn at Alta

On Friday Juli 22 we pulled into this tiny spot on a map called Gjesvaer – a fishing village that sits on a peninsula about equidistant as Nord Cape in latitude and to the immediate west of the actual, most northerly mainland tip Knivskjellodden. (ær )

What is here:
It is Saturday. I am sitting outside on the wooden wharf of “Ola’s Bird Safari” in a kitchen chair with my feet up on one of the several pine picnic tables. Ola said I could bring the chair out of the little cabin since we decided to stay here all day and not drive up to the tourist center at Nordkapp. The wharf’s main function is to serve the 80 foot passenger ferry that Ola bought and brought up here from southern Sweden to carry visitors out on safari.

The wharf sticks out into the sea about 30 yards and runs 50 yards along the shore. The sun has been shining brightly since Thursday afternoon when we left Alta. It is 16+ degrees Celsius which is about 60 I guess. The rorbu fishing cabin is actually one of 4 common wall units built along the wharf.

our dock and red rob

our dock and red rorbu, Ola’s excursion boat to left

We have the west end which is the center of activity for Ola’s business of running 2 hour boat excursions out to the massive rock islands on the horizon. Ola’s wife tells us she will fix us breakfast in the morning if we’d like.

Our picnic table sits in the direct sun about 20 hours a day! In the night time the sun is above the horizon but the cabins block its rays as it has sunken to only a few degrees above and is behind the cabins. We are surrounded by the calls of several types of gulls that continuously fly by, the lapping of gentle waves on the pilings below us, and the smell of the 58 dried cod that hang next to us on the ancient drying rack. Ola calls them “tourist cod”.

Margo on the dock with tourist cod

Margo on the dock with tourist cod

In front of our picnic table are three layers of water stretching off to the Northwest. The water has been smooth as glass, there seems to be no current – it is as if we are in a Canadian lake . There are small islets that separate the three inlets. We look out on only a small portion of the open ocean through them; perhaps 2 degrees of horizon. The islets are flat like pancake batter dripped onto a skillet, bottoms like rulers. Around the inlets there are dozens of smallish rocks from the size of small swimming pool to as large as a tennis court There are no trees; the islands large and small are covered with boulders, grass, and moss.

We are unbelievably lucky to have this great weather. After hearing from so many how bad the weather normally is at NorthCape, the supposed northern most point in mainline Europe, we are here having clear, warm sun 24 hours a day. As we pulled into our cabin and safari complex on Friday at 4:30pm ( evening the sky and ocean are the brightest blue imaginable. Our 2 bedroom + kitchen and LR rorbu is serviceable with clean new pine floors and think down comforters. We open the windows as there are few mosquitos around then sit and relax on the dock, soaking in the warm sun, admiring the view. We sat here all day today except for taking two 90 minute bird safari’s. We are reading, journal writing, eating, napping, drawing, and chatting with the other tourists who pile out of their tour buses every few hours to go on Ola’s boat ride through the bird sanctuary. This happens every couple of hours until between 0900 and about 0200. The midnight safari is quite popular. Every once in a while Margo and Carolyn have a cold Mack Pilsner. There is no ice cream here.

sunset from the picnic table

“sunset”  from the picnic table

The Bird Sanctuary:
Beyond the three ranks of small islets are four enormous, large rock islands. It is the fabulous nature preserve and bird sanctuary called the “Gjesvaer Stappan Nature Reserve” and is primarily built around these enormous rock islands sticking up about 1000 feet – named Storstappen, Stauren, Bukkstappen, and Kjerkestappen. Beyond is nothing unless you clip the east corner of Svalbard Island – otherwise continue on to the North Pole. (ærstappan )

Friday evening, after our arrival, we walk 200 yards down the coast to the Stappan Cafe for dinner of fish soup, fresh crab legs, and Bacalao. As we sit we see the sign promoting their sea safari’s…I ask the waitress “can we go on an evening safari?” She proceeds to call the skipper and owner who is on the water and replies in the affirmative. “Why not?” We all say, “sign us up!” So that is how we met Roald Berg

Ronald with 2 mermaids

Roald with 2 mermaids

and his small four person boat the “Aurora”. By eight Friday evening we are moving smartly over the calm sea, in the unending arctic glow, and into the mass of islands and rocks that is Stappan. We begin our first of what will be 3 trips into the Reserve in 24 hours. Magic light bathes us continually and keeps the air a warm 60-65 F. shows Roald with some of his fresh crab.

The sanctuary is famous for its Puffins and Sea Eagles**. There are about 3 Million birds which are here in the summer nesting in and about the 4 large rocks. Of these 1.5 Million are Puffins. Like at Cannon Beach but a few million more.   The Puffin are everywhere but never closer than 20 feet from the boat. They are floating in large rafts on the water, swarming like bees off the crests and faces of the enormous walls, and nesting in the grass that climbs up the flatter slopes.

puffins - 10's of thousands

puffins – 10’s of thousands

As we approach in the boat most paddle energetically to take off into the air, but many dive furiously under the water. When a Puffins takes off from the water he flaps his wings into the surface for 10 or 12 flaps then sticks his yellow webbed feet out behind him like Superman’s’ cape and the skims across the pond like surface for 50 yards until he begins to climb. img_3577There are piles of them swimming and taking off in all directions.

Above, as you lean back and gaze, is a seemingly random and furious swirl of tens of thousands of Puffins along with every other sea bird you can image: Alk’s, Gannets, Guillemots, assortments of Oyster catchers, Petral’s, Arctic Terns. Several types of gulls from Kittiwaks to Great Black-backed. On rock ridges sit hundreds and hundreds of Shags and Comorants – all with their foot long necks and heads pointed together in a single direction. On Saturday afternoon with Ola in the big boat and about 40 tourists from all over Europe, we watched a crow fight 3 Sea Eagles. He seemed to have dropped his catch but the eagles still kept after him; they disappeared behind a rock cliff and the crow never emerged.

Roald's buddies

Roald’s buddies

Around one set of small rocks is a pack of 30 to 50 harbor seals whose heads pop up to greet Roald.

beautiful Gannets

beautiful Gannets

There is a recovering herd of snow-white bodied Gannets arrayed in lines up the northwest ridge of the largest island Storstappan.   Our guide Roald Berg saw the first nesting pair in about 1981 – they have grown to over 1500 nesting pairs. They are graceful flyers and beautiful with long light golden necks. They can live for about 30 years. We have never seen them before.


soaring eagles

Eagles are the second biggest draw to Stappan. There are about 150 to 200 nesting here. There have beautiful white tail feathers as they reach adulthood at about 5 years. They soar, soar, soar above the massive rock then dive in a fast glide down to the sea on their 2.5 meter wingspan. Saturday evening with Roald on the “Aurora” Margo and I counted 25 in one view frame..he said “What? I counted 70!”

White tailed Sea Eagle

White tailed Sea Eagle

….  you oughta COME HERE!!

So we have definitely lucked out. We’ve gone once on Ola’s big one and twice on Roald’s small 4 person one. We had about 48 hours of clear, warm sun with nary even a breeze.

Alta Petroglyphs

Alta Petroglyphs

We think the wind stopped at Alta’s Petroglyph Museum when Cousin Carolyn sacrificed her 45 year old precious Sami silver neck charm to the weather gods. Thank you Carolyn.


The weather is certainly uncertain up here as many know. As I was writing last night in the midnight sun a fog bank that Ola was watching moved in and we have not seen the sun since. It is now Sunday morning and we will drive to Karasjok, the Sami capital. I hope we will break out of this mist by Honningsvag because there are a hell of a lot of reindeer wandering among the highway. Everyone should come here and have a great sail on the Hurtigruten and we wish you luck out in Gjesvaer as did we.

Reindeer galore

Reindeer galore

We are actually:
…at 71.05.53 latitude which is about 5 miles south of the famous “NordKapp – Northcape” 71.10.21. Of course the highest point is actually Knivskjellodden which is at 71 degrees 11 minutes and 8 seconds so we are saying “we went to NorthCape the highest point” anyway even though we are 3 miles as the crow flies from Knivskjellodden when we go to the islands of the Reserve to watch the birds…
….By the way, if you left our picnic table and headed out through the clear channel directly to the North Pole and continued on down the opposite longitude of about 155 degrees West you’d land pretty much exactly at Point Barrow – the northernmost point in the USA. **GEOGRAPHY!!  🙂

** How far north latitude is…?? (degrees.minutes.second) :
each degree =~ 69 miles;    each minute =~ 1.15 miles

Arctic Circle 66.33.46
Storslett 69.46.05
Knivskjellodden 71.11.08
Nordkapp-NorthCape 71.10.21
Gjesvaerstappan 71.08.24
Gjesvaer village 71.05.53
Point Barrow, Alaska 71.23.20 (about 20 miles farther north than Gjesvaer)

** Taxonomy of The Bird Sanctuary
Puffins (Fratercula artica)
White-tailed Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
Gannets (Morus bassanus)
Alk (Razorbill) (Alca Torda)”

The Ferry route to Gjesvaer is by Honningsvag – top of Europe

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