While the tragic mystery of my corrupt hard disk was unfolding I made progress with other technology. A new version of Blackra1n had come out that allowed me to upgrade my iPhone from 3.0.1 to 3.1.2 and jailbreak it. This was the simplest iPhone jailbreak ever and had the option to only do the network unlock and not install other low level tools or app installers. Getting to 3.1x was good because there are some useful apps that don't run on older versions, like Dropbox. Yelp also doesn't run on older versions, but that's not helpful outside of America.
Tien and I went for another walk to find a screwdriver and some dinner. We tracked down a screwdriver with little problem and on the way back to the restaurant we found a doughnut shop. Regular people do not eat doughnuts before dinner, but Tien had never had a doughnut before so we indulged and bought six. We walked down the street and shared three of them on the way to dinner.
We chose Viva Coffee for dinner and got a table on the upstairs patio. During this stay in Saigon we ended up eating there quite a bit no only because most of our other outings to find decent restaurants came up fruitless, but because it was literally 2 skinny VN doors down from our hotel.
We had only ever sat downstairs outside, and as we made our way through the inside and upstairs we found that the rest of the cafe was quite different. Outside was decent patio furniture and glass tables with trees that had colored lights hanging from the branches. There were large reaching awnings that could be set nearby your table to give you cover if you needed it. Inside there were rooms with bright colors under dim light with couches set around central coffee tables. The stairs going up were zebra print. There were large screen TVs everywhere playing various asian and American movies. There was even a large TV outside where we were going and at first nobody was there to watch it.
We ordered dinner and I had a cocktail. The cocktails in Asia are never, ever as good as they are in America. Most aren't even close to the same taste, and sometimes they're flat out wrong. I had been making my way through the cocktail list trying to find anything that was made right, but this last night turned out to be no victorious climax as I was served a Sex on the Beach with a cherry, a pineapple and a little straw hat as garnish. Not even close. Fortunately it still tasted decent, whatever it was.
Tien and I talked about differences again, mostly differences in freedom. I explained again how Americans have rights that we believe that every person should have by default, not because of some exception or allowance in the law that says it's OK, but because it's a right that should never be taken away. Free speech, freedom of religion, the right to bare arms, etc.. The freedom of speech was a big point. She kept asking me if there was anything an American could say that would get them in trouble. I told her there really wasn't, we were free to say whatever we like. We could bad mouth the government, the police, the president, whoever we want that we disagree with. If you got in trouble it was because of the circumstances surrounding what you said or it was unjust. She thought this was amazing because, of course, she's from Vietnam where they say you can say what you want but then they don't let you say anything contrary to popular thought or anti-government or revolutionary. The VN government is even giving buddhist monks a hard time because they see even such a passive religion as competition to the leadership of the government.
We also talked a lot about gun ownership and how that is a dividing issue in America. Tien said she's really scared of guns and she thinks that Americans always want to shoot and kill each other because that's what's on TV and in the movies. Obviously she doesn't think American life is really like the movies, but to what extent it is different she does not know. I explained both sides of the argument and then went into detail about my perspective on the issue, that we should be allowed to own guns in order to protect ourselves from intruders and as principle to keep oppressors in check.
While we were chatting and eating I checked my phone and saw that my brother had posted a Facebook update. After 4 years in the Army, including two tours in Iraq as a combat medic, he was once again a civilian.