26 November 2008

mail from bill gates sr.

We're getting into that gnarly part of the term these days, which is why the quantity and quality of my postings have been going downhill lately. Apologies for that. It seems like everyone here is in treading-water mode for the last couple weeks of lectures, and then there will be lots of essay writing before we all disperse for Christmas.

Anyway, for now I thought I'd share a remarkable piece of mail that arrived in my "pidge" (a.k.a. pigeon hole, i.e. my mail slot) last week. It was a very personalized letter from Bill Gates Sr., the father of the philanthropist and Microsoft founder, in response to a thank-you note that I sent in October. I thought it would be in good form to thank the guy who is paying my bills this year. I wrote the letter with Bill Gates fils in mind, though in retrospect it probably could have read equally well as a letter to Bill Gates père, and in some ways it's more appropriate that way. The elder Gates is famous mostly for being the father of his son, but he was a high-powered lawyer and pillar of the Seattle community before retiring to help run the Gates Foundation.

As mentioned in the letter, Bill Gates Sr. does visit Cambridge every spring, and as an officer of the Scholars Council I'll probably be in a good position to interact with him. Everything I've heard from the other scholars suggests that he's just a terrific man. Bill Gates Jr. is rumored to be planning a visit to Cambridge in 2010 for the tenth anniversary of the scholarship, which would mark his second visit here since the program's founding. It's also rumored that former scholars (I'll be one of those by then) will get subsidized tickets to fly back to Cambridge for the festivities. But then again, it could just be one of those legends that tend to percolate around here...

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