17 Oct 1987

Hey, there, Udo!–

The really big news first: I found two new ribbons for my Epson printer, after to four computer stores here in The Big Tomato (that’s the equivalent of you-know-what, where you live). For a while I had the feeling I might have to buy them by mail. Anyhow, I won’t need the ribbon inker immediately. The economics are like this: the ribbon I removed from the printer is being saved for re-inking. The two I bought ($12.50 each) will last from 6 to 12 months, depending on how many Outraged Citizen letters I write to the editor of the local paper. If I buy an inker for $25, that’s the equivalent of 5.2 ribbons.

Now…here’s the beauty part: after 12 months I will start re-inking. Let’s say I re-ink a ribbon every 6 months. Each time I do that I save $12.50. After 2 years and 7 months, the inker will have paid for itself. If I can stretch ribbon use to 12 months, it will pay for itself in 5 years and 2 months. in geologic time, that’s the blink of an eye.

You can see that I’m in a strong position, ribbon-ink-wise.

By now you must be a country squire. I see you pacing the boundaries of your estate, two settlers at your heels, tapping your riding crop against your boots as you pace. Every quarter of a mile, one of the locals pops his head over the fence across the road and shouts, “Mornin squire!” You nod with aristocratic detachment, and pace on. The settlers flush a partridge. Much barking and panting until they return empty-mouthed. By a wooden bridge you pause to look down into the babbling brook and reflect on The Human Condition (no small thoughts permitted). After a while you stroll back (“Mornin’, squire! every hundred yards) to a late morning indulgence of toast from Anne’s homebaked bread, and coffee ground by hand in a coffee mill that’s two hundred years old. Looking out the kitchen window, you reflect again on The Human Condition. Thomas enters with a baby skunk he has charmed away from its mother, who is at that moment charging into the barnyard at a dead run, to be confronted by the setters.

Let us draw the curtain over the conclusion of this episode, and press on.

We have been more than busy here with visitors. At the moment we have another one, who used to work for Mary at UCLA. Mary will drive down to the LA area with her on Monday. I will then fly to Santa Barbara. We will drive back the next day, this writing finis to another exciting California adventure. I may not be a squire, but in The Big Tomato jet set, I take a back sear (non-smoking) to nobody.

Now you are a Class Parent as well as a squire and a non-stop traveler on behalf of your company. You ask my advice on Class Parenting, but I have none to offer. We visit the Country Day School, where one grandson is enrolled, to attend kindergarten and first-grade ceremonies. Look at it this way: not many Class Parents can deliver little talks on buffer solutions. You can’t go wrong by sticking to what you know best.

Latest John Bulletin: his troublesome eye is healing at long last. He now faces some kind of arterial grafting and interlocking that I don’t follow too clearly. Not enough blood supply to his right leg, so they propose to cross-connect the supply on the left with the supply on the right. (I think that’s it.) John is not sure he wants to go through with this. The problem is that if it isn’t done, the weakened leg may worsen. John has to consult with his family doctor and two specialists. In the meantime he observes a schedule of activities that would exhaust a person in good health. Squiring is a lot easier.

We are bracing for another Christmas/New Year’s at Lake Tahoe, which is not at all painful. The only apprehension is inevitably a possible heavy snow that might block Donner Pass and lock us in with no possibility of rescue for an hour and a half. We observe a relaxing schedule, which is a nice change from the demands of retirement. Those members of the family who like to ski will head for the Olympic slopes early. The rest of us will look out at the lake and reflect upon The Human Condition, a habit we picked up from a squire friend.

That’s about all the excitement I can bring myself to write about, without risking light-headedness. Regards to Anne and Thomas and the setters. We know that Stamford is beautiful, but setting up a household is hard work. We’re still not fully organized after almost 2 years.

–Fred C. (“The Jet”) Dobbs

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