They say it's your birthday...

I want to thank the many dozens of facebook friends who have extended best birthday wishes to me on this fine January day. I had hoped by being in Vietnam to minimize the publicity and hooplah attending my inexorable slide deeper into middle age, but thanks to the magic of the internets, so very many fond wishes have found me here on the edge of an 8,000 hectare lowland tropical forest at the beachfront crossroads of Ho Coc, Cochinchina. Greetings have poured in by email, voicemail and facemail, or whatever that's called.

I'm expressing my gratitude here rather than on the faceplant because the prescient communist Vietnamese government, well aware that facebook is a Big-Brother-like information-gathering surveillance and affiliation-tracking operation, and therefore a direct competitive threat to all other authoritarian systems, has blocked access to the website throughout their country. (Thankfully my facebook messages are delivered directly, via normal email).

Many, many Thank Yous for your thoughts and greetings, highlights of which included a link, from Dairo in Barranquilla, of Prince Nico Mbarga singing Happy Birthday, and, from Wolfgang in Manhattan, spectacular self-portraits of his face after a recent bicycling pothole-faceplant injury on New Year's Day.

And thanks to Laura for failing to inform me that I had suncream all over my nose.

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