1997

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The most important news of 1997 was the birth of Rex Surachat Gamble on February 06.  He was born 3.45kg & 50cm.  This compares to Roger, born 3.56kg & 48cm.  Rex looked exactly like Roger at birth.  We couldn't believe it.  We have a photo of each taken within 30 minutes of their birth; the only way to tell them apart is the angle of the photos.  The births of Roger and Rex were very coincidental.  Roger was born on Feb 10; Rex was born on Feb 06, both of which were Thursdays.  Roger was born on Lunar (Chinese) New Year Day; Rex was born on Lunar New Year Eve.  Roger and Rex were born in the same hospital in Jakarta; yet we moved to Singapore for one year between their births.  Both were delivered by the same doctor; who, being Chinese, probably cursed us twice for interrupting his special holiday.  On both occasions Usa spent her recovery in room 2408 of the hospital.  I guess Roger and Rex were destined to be in the same family.  We think that is our good fortune, because they are both very special young fellows.

Rex is developing from a baby into a toddler.  Just like Roger before him, he can pull himself up to standing position, very easily, and walk around the coffee table using it as a guide to make sure he doesn't fall; but has not yet started walking.  Roger was 14 months before he walked - he waited to be sure everything would be OK before he attempted it; seems that Rex may be the same.  Rex is turning into an extremely good looking boy.  So is Roger, but they are different in their appearance.  Roger has a cool and aloof appearance that many people find attractive.  Rex always seems to look worried about something, but he has the most engaging smile you can imagine.  While it's too early to know their personalities, Roger appears to be more like his Papa and Rex more like his Mama.  We'll see over time if that stays the same or changes.

In our last annual letter (1995), Roger had a difficult year in Singapore, visiting a doctor an average of 3 times per month for the first 8 months of being there and appeared to have a bad case of tonsillitis.  One month after moving to Jakarta he was OK; even the tonsillitis was gone.  That seems to imply that Jakarta is a better place for the family than Singapore. 

Roger attends a preschool 5 days a week.  He likes school, but doesn't like going there in the morning.  About 4 days out of 5 we have to fight to get him to leave the apt and go to school.  He is driven to school and if it wasn't for being in the car with his Papa, we can't imagine what would motivate him to leave every morning.  At this age he is very close to his Papa and sometimes even does what he is told!  Rex, of course, is very close to his Mama; but recently he has realized there are two grown-ups in the house and he seems to be fine with that.  Roger and Rex are generally good together.  Probably normal for children of their age (near 4 and near 1), Roger is good to Rex most of the time, but every now and again treats him roughly.  Rex adores Roger and wants to play with him all the time, but Roger has not yet discovered the joy of sharing his toys, making it tough for Rex to do too many things with him.

Roger is a computer nut.  He has multiple CD games that he can load and play by himself.  His CDs are all related to amusement and education; because he uses them over and over he is ahead of his class in both computer skills and the basics of the alphabet and numbers.  However, Roger lives in his own world, has poor social skills and does not have any special friends at school.  He hates going to events where there are a lot of people and hugs his parent (whichever is present) for dear life when he sees a crowd.  His speech has been poor for a very long time, but is getting better.  He is now able to repeat almost anything said to him, but his pronunciation of new words leaves something to be desired.  He seems to be challenged in the process of getting the sound from his ear to his tongue.

We missed sending an annual letter in 1996.  It's a long story.  In the 1995 letter we indicated that Neil was happy with his work and about being in Singapore.  He was.  But at the time he was in deep negotiations with an Indonesian company about moving back to Jakarta.  In fact, he didn't want to go, but the offer seemed "too good to refuse".  Like most things that seem to good to be true - it was.  From several points of view it has been good - better money and very good experience; but overall it has been unpleasant because of the nature of the bank's owner and his (the owner's) inability to be reasonable on any subject.  So, Neil figures it's time to move on and is actively looking for a job, preferably in the US where he can better leverage the new skills he's learned.

In December (1997) Neil's employer, Bank Papan, launched the first Internet site in Indonesia featuring bank transactions.  He and his team are extremely proud of this achievement, as they have taken a sleepy little Indonesian bank and transformed its technology into one of the acknowledged leaders in the country.  The list of "firsts" achieved by Neil's team in 1997 is long and impressive, but we won't bore you with it.  The amazing thing appears to be a total lack of gratitude for the achievements by the bank's owner.  On a more pleasant note, Neil is now a minor personality in the technology field in SE Asia.  He was interviewed for a software magazine article in October, appears in an IBM promotional CD ROM talking about his bank's Intranet and addressed an Asia Pacific conference on Lotus technology in October. 

Usa took up oil painting in the latter part of the year.  As you might expect, she has a real talent for it.  She is very good with all types of handicrafts and artistic things.  Her painting is no exception.  She is taking lessons from an expatriate artist in Jakarta; the teacher is amazed - she has trouble believing that Usa hasn't painted or had lessons before - and her friends tell her to stop lessons because she is already so good.  Usa has a talent for looking at something and being able to render it onto paper or canvas; much like some people have the talent to listen to a piece of music and later play it back from memory.  Usa can't render an image from memory (yet); she prefers to have something to look at, but her painting of that image is so true to the original that it is a marvel. 

So in 1998 we are looking forward to moving - again.  Don't know where and don't know when, but we'll let you know.  If you want to get us by e-mail, you can use the addresses on these web pages.  This may be the most reliable way to contact us in the future.  IBM provides a global service, so there is no need to change the e-mail address when we move; only problem with IBM is they have no presence in Singapore, where many Asia Pacific regional positions are based.

1998 ...