CANDOER News

U.S. Symbol

Communicators AND Others Enjoying Retirement
Issue 14February 1997Volume 2 - Number 3

Welcome to the CANDOER News. Suggestions as to what you would like to see in the CANDOER are welcome. Letters to the editor, articles consisting of general information, feature articles, G-rated jokes, or poems, written/submitted by retirees or OC/IM employees, past or present, will be published, unedited. Material may be submitted on a 3.5" floppy disk (disk will be returned) using WordPerfect Version 6.1 or earlier (if it contains graphics), on a plain sheet of paper (if it has no graphics) or via e-mail. The deadline for submitting material is no later than the 25th of each month. Material received after that date will be published in the next issue of the CANDOER, space allowing. Please, restrict articles/submissions to two single spaced, typed pages. No hand written submissions, please.

The snail-mail address for submissions or letters to the editor is:

Robert J. Catlin, Sr.
Publisher/Editor CANDOER News
2670 Dakota Street
Bryans Road, MD 20616-3062

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

The following letter was received from Tim Lawson. Tim is presently assigned to American ConsulateGeneral Hong Kong as the CPO. He recently spent several weeks at mother State on a special assignment and returned to post about two-three weeks ago.

Bob:

I've really enjoyed the CANDOER newsletter and look forward to receiving it each month. Although I'm a good ten (10) years away from retirement yet, I really do enjoy it. The articles of a "historic" flavor, from your contributing readers, are my favorites however. They are especially interesting. Jim Prosser's tales from early days in the service and the other pieces from the past, each having relation to information technology and the people who manage it, hold a treasure cove of information. I believe it might be of considerable interest--and certainly considerable value from a learning perspective--if you could coax some of your contributing authors into linking their past experiences with the challenges the IMer faces today. For example, how did all of the hard work growing up in a small farm community translate into a successful career with IM? Marv Konopik's piece on the shared, single line telephone system from his hometown would make an excellent case study for discussion of digital systems (and their limitations) in use today. There are several other examples. Such articles might then be appropriate material for publication in "Synergy" or via other dissemination channels to our current employees. Finally Bob, I recognize that the CANDOER is intended primarily for those who have moved onto greener pastures, but given the wealth of experience, expertise, and knowledge, it seems a shame that we can't share some of this stellar tradition from days gone by in order to perhaps give a sense of belonging and inspiration to IM's future leaders--and CANDOER's future members. Something to consider perhaps?

Best regards,

Tim Lawson

LUNCHEON LOG

The January luncheon at Phineas had a good turnout. In attendance at this luncheon were the following CANDOERs: Bob Berger, Ralph Crain, Bob Catlin, Don Denault, Paul Del Giudice, Charlie Ditmeyer, Leroy Farris, Al Giovetti, Harry Laury, Bob Liebau, Mel Maples, Will Naeher, Joe Pado, Ed Peters, Nate Reynolds, Bob Scheller, Doc Sloan, Don Stewart, and Norris Watts.

RETIREE'S REPORT

In a letter from Tim Taylor, and a follow-up call to the State magazine, I learned the following information. The State Magazine has had to make a policy change when it comes to publishing obituaries. Obituary information is no longer received from the retirement division. They only publish the obituary if a family member sends it to them. The retirement division is "no longer adequately staffed to provide the information" to the Editors of the State Magazine.

On December 24, my youngest son, brought home information furnished to him by Bob Surprise about another new retiree. Effective January 3, 1997, Jim Griffin retired with 37 years of service and moved to Clearwater, Florida. Jim was assigned as the CPO in Phnom Penh at the time of his retirement. His Bio is located in the Pen and Ink section of this month's newsletter.

On December 25, I received a call from Don Brown. Don said he is doing well. The chemotherapy is shrinking the tumor. He has had three treatments. Last Friday the Doctor told him the tumor had shrunk enough that he may be able to get rid of it with chemo treatments alone and may not have to have any radiation treatments. Don also said his weight dropped to 125 pounds, but he is putting the weight back on and is now up around 145. He sounded cheerful and optimistic. He asked me to thank the many CANDOERs who have called him and sent him cards. He wanted you all to know he is putting up a good fight against this terrible disease and sincerely appreciates the good wishes and prayers of each and every one of you.

On December 27, I received a call from John Turner. John said he is doing well. His daughter graduated on December 22 with a degree in law. She is living in the Atlanta area now. John asked that I pass his best onto everyone.

On December 28, at approximately 7:15 p.m., your friendly neighborhood Publisher/Editor suffered what my cardiologist described as a "cardiovascular incident." I was setting at home watching television with my wife, Nancy, when I started feeling sharp pains in my chest and left arm. I then almost immediately passed out. I was unconscious for about 10-15 seconds. When I came to, I was still experiencing chest pains. I was rushed to the nearest hospital where I received immediate attention. They discovered an increased level of enzymes in my blood and after making sure I was stable transferred me to the Southern Maryland Hospital Center, Telementary Care Unit in Clinton, Maryland. After three days and nights of bed rest and what felt like a hundred needle pokes and a several other tests, including a stress test, I was released from the hospital late on the evening of December 31. Before releasing me the doctor briefed me on what they found in all the tests. He said it could not be classified as a full heart attack because they could find no heart damage, with the tests they ran. The increased enzyme count indicated that I had a heart attack, but none of the other tests showed any heart damage so the cardiologist classified it as a "cardiovascular incident."

I would like to thank all of you who either called me at the hospital and/or called my family at home. In addition I would like to thank all you E-mailers for the many E-mail messages that flew around the Internet letting everyone know what was going on. Thanks to Mel Maples, who in response to a call from Bob Liebau started the ball rolling and thanks to Jim Prosser who sent several updates as to my condition and recovery progress. Both my family and I sincerely appreciate the support we received from so many of you during this anxious, trying period. Again, THANK YOU.

On January 7, 1997, I received an E-mail message from Bill Hempel. He furnished information on Joe Rinker. He indicated that if anyone wanted to contact Joe Rinker they may do so through him. Send an E-mail message to Bill's E-mail address with ATTN.: Joe Rinker.

On January 9, 1997, I received a telephone call from Babe. All is well in Levant, ME. He said it has been cold, but they have had relatively light snow so far this winter, although the worst months for snow are ahead. He did not indicate when he would be back in this area.

On January 10, I received word from Don Stewart that his wife had to go in the hospital for abdominal surgery. The surgery was performed on January 13 at Montgomery General Hospital in Olney, Maryland. Jean had an obstruction in her intestines. The biopsy showed it was not cancerous and she was released from the hospital on January 17 to convalesce at home. I talked to Don on the 14th and he said she was doing well. I talked to Don again on the 19th and although she was sore and weak, she was glad to be home and have it all over. I sent her a get well card in the name of the CANDOERs.

On January 10, I received word from Will Naeher that Ed Fenstermacher has cancer of the lungs, liver and spine. On the 16th of January, Will, Paul, and I traveled to Duck, North Carolina, to visit with Ed, his wife, Alouise, and their family and friends. Ed looks good but has lost weight. He, his family and friends all gathered at Duck for a week and invited Will, Paul and I to participate. We had a very enjoyable visit for three days and three nights. I am going to take this opportunity, and very public method, to thank Alouise for the invitation. It was sincerely appreciated by all three of us.

While at Duck, Ed received the final results of the tests that were ran on him prior to coming up for the week of rest and relaxation. His doctor has recommended that Ed start chemotherapy as soon as he returns to Wilmington, N.C. I will continue to keep all informed of Ed's progress in fighting the cancer, both through the CANDOER News and E-Mail information bulletins.

While at the January luncheon I received a call from Jim Carter, Jim is in the hospital due to complications from sugar diabetes. He called to express his regrets at not being able to attend and to let us know he was sending his prayers for Jean Stewart and Ed Fenstermacher. After I returned from Duck, visiting with Ed and his family, I called Jim at the hospital to see how he was doing. On the afternoon of January 21, Jim had surgery on his foot. The doctor had to remove part of the bone on one of his toes. Jim was still in the hospital as of the date I printed this issue of the CANDOER News. I sent Jim a get well card in the name of the CANDOERs.

On January 14, I received a generous contribution to the news fund and a note from Wardell Jenkins. Wardell express his regrets at not being able to make the December and January luncheons, his God daughter was in the hospital for surgery. I called him that evening, he said he had just returned from North Carolina, where he and Joan had been visiting with his sister, who has been diagnosed with colon cancer.

While in North Carolina visiting with Ed and his family, I received a long E-mail from Tim Taylor in response to the letter I wrote to retirees back in October. Tim said he is doing well and asked that I give his best regards to the CANDOER gang. Tim sent me a donation to the news fund and a letter containing his personal bio and E-mail address. Tim's Bio Data may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.

On January 21, I received a nice letter from Bill Sobien's wife, Yvonne. It is quoted below:

12 January 97

Dear Bob,

Bill has asked me to thank you all for your kind letter - it was thoughtful of you to write.

Bill is still in the hospital but I am happy to say that as of 1 January he started to get movement in his leg and can now, with support, walk a few steps. His arm and fingers are just beginning to move and his speech is almost normal. The physios work very hard and are pleased with his progress.

So he has made a good start to 97 and we can just hope that he will continue to improve.

With thanks again for writing to him.

Sincerely,

Yvonne Sobien

Bill is now receiving a copy of the CANDOER News.

On January 25, I received a generous contribution and a note from Al Giovetti. Al now has E-mail capabilities. His new E-mail address is included in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.

JOE's JOURNAL

Florida FSRA Luncheon

by Joe Lea

The January luncheon of the Florida, Foreign Service Retirement Association was held at "Michael's on East,: Sarasota, FL, on January 23, 1997. The guest speaker was Jerry Pubantz, Chair of the History and Political Science Department at Salem College, Winston Salem, N.C. His subject was "Foreign Policy Issues and the New Administration."

The meal was delicious. The service was most commendable, considering there were 240 of us in one room being served salad, main meal, rolls, dessert and beverages.

The down side of the day was that Pat Callihan was unable to attend, having come down with the flu the day before the luncheon. So Bill, Clytuce and myself went; but with Pat feeling so badly, we decided to skip the speaker and leave after the meal.

We always get to the luncheon at least an hour early to see and visit with old friends. CANDOER Ken French attended. I certainly enjoyed talking with him after more than 20 years. Charlie Hoffman was another I had not seen in many years. Met Chuck Scott, former DLO; couldn't figure out why I had never heard of him until finding out that he didn't come over to State until 1978 which is after I had retired.

I also had a good chat with Stu Branch, Norris Hammond, Jack Ryan, Grace Mentag, and Monica Schmidt.

A HORROR STORY - Y2K
by Your Friendly Neighborhood Editor/Publisher

The year 2000 is fast approaching and with it a very expensive horror story is developing for the millions of computer users throughout the world.

Date calculations in most computer applications do not take into account the first two digits of a year. When a large majority of programs calculate using a year, they use only the last two digits of the year and do a simple subtraction calculation. Example: It is the year 1997, the date used will be 97; a person was born in 1938, the date used will be 38; simple subtraction, 97 - 38 ' 59; when the year 2000 arrives, it will subtract 38 from 00 and the answer will be a negative 38, instead of 62.

Just about every computer system/network in the world is affected by this problem. It has been estimated that worldwide the cost to correct this problem could be as much as $400 billion (this figure does not include litigation costs). It was reported in the Washington Post that it cost Federal Express close to a half billion dollars to correct the problem in their computer networks. In addition, the Social Security Administration has reported that they have been working on the problem since 1989 and have yet to be able to reach a successful conclusion. The problem will affect better than 95 percent of all U.S. companies and networks. The costs too correct the problem could result in such a severe financial burden that it may result in some smaller companies having to enter into bankruptcy.

At a recent Year 2000 (Y2K) Summit Conference, everyone was given a Year 2000 coffee mug with three puzzle pieces inside. The idea was that each attendee had to add their three pieces to the puzzle to complete it. By the end of the day, all but 60 of the 500 pieces were in place. By the end of the three-day conference, 12 pieces were still missing. In some instances conferees put coffee in their cups without looking for the pieces, in other cases they just threw them aside. What was the purpose of the demonstration? The group holding the Conference wanted to impress on the conferees that this is how the Year 2000 problem will be handled. Some will immediately start working on the problem, others will take their time on working on the problem, others know it exists but if they just wait long enough it may disappear, and last, even with all the publicity, others will not know they have a problem until it hits them.

The correction for the problem, in a majority of the cases, will require a slow and methodical line-by-line analysis of all programming code in use by any given user, network or company. It is estimated that the cost for such an analysis will be between $1.10 and $8.75 per line of code (every line, not just the line referring to a date). Every time a line of code is changed it must be tested to see if it affects other areas. Therefore, numerous hours of testing must be done along with the numerous hours of program changes. And as most of you who have worked with programs in the telecommunications field know, regardless of how methodical the process is, there is always that instance where a line of code did not get corrected or if it was corrected, the code relating to the corrected line was not examined to see if it needed changing. The error may show up months or even years later because testing could not be done for every instance that may occur using that specific line of code. The old "day one bug" strikes again.

Many "experts" fear that some companies are sticking their corporate heads in the sand by hoping there will be a "magic" fix developed by someone, somewhere, and they will just have to do is wave a "magic" wand or sprinkle a little "fairy dust" and the problem will disappear. Those same experts believe that there will be no "magic" fix or "fairy dust" and companies/people with their head in the sand are going to add to the number of companies who will end up being forced into bankruptcy and to what they feel could be a worldwide depression that will make the stock market crash of 1929, look like a leisurely walk in the park.

Other "experts" say they are crying wolf. Although a problem exists, it is not as severe nor as potentially devastating as many people are trying to portray. Only time will tell which group is correct.

Here are some examples of how the Y2K problem affects systems:

A. Phoenix, Arizona handles all airport services on a long-term basis. A few years ago, they started having all contracts terminate in 12/99 because the system they use could not handle dates beyond that. Even today, it still can't.

B. Fire station locks in Phoenix have special controls for time-of-day and day-of-week, etc. This control's access to the equipment during times when most people don't need access. A study of the Y2K problem shows that on 01/01/00 all locks that are automatically opened on that day will not open and all locks that should lock will not.

C. Many court computer systems in tracking probation and dates to release convicted prisoners have crashed when trying to determine the end of probation dates and release dates, if the date was after 12/31/99.

The Social Security Administration has recognized the problem and report that even a few days of delay in fixing the problem could well affect the entire economy. SSA estimated that it will cost them 300 man-years of effort to correct the problem. Their plan calls for the fix to be in place by the first quarter of 1999. They estimate that they will have more than 200 people working on the conversions to meet their planned date.

In a discussion I had with an anonymous member of the YEAR 2000 TASK FORCE at the Department of State, they estimated the cost to fix the problem in their computer networks, both stateside and overseas, may run as high as $30-35 million. They have already been informed by Congress that they will probably have to "find" some, if not all, of the money in their present budget. This will represent a very large expense, at a time when money for Information Services is being cut or frozen.

The Washington Post stated that Congress is expected to take up the problem in this session and may allocate some money over-and-above agencies' present budgets to correct Year 2000 problems. But they will not, in their desire to balance the budget, allocate all the money needed. Agencies may have to absorb as much as 50 percent of the cost of correcting the problem.

You can tell a disaster is about to occur. Lawyers all over the country are signing up for advanced computer classes so they can become computer literate and be ready when the billions of dollars worth of litigations begins. The December issue of the Computer Law Observer states that this problem has the potential to result in more litigations than the courts may be able to handle and could eventually end up in the Supreme Court. The vultures are circling in the skies.

How is this going to affect you and me as occasional home computer users or those of you who do not have a computer? Probably not at all for those of us with a home computer, but you should be fully aware that it will affect every company and/or agency you do business with, from calculating your annuity, to paying your water bill. If after January 1, 2000, you receive a bill from you bank or credit card company showing you owe $2,000 dollars in interest on a Master Card with a balance of only $200, don't panic, it was just another organization that failed to properly correct or recognize the Y2K problem.

Will you own computer be affected? It's easy enough to check. Go to the DOS prompt. Type "DATE." Set the DATE to 12-31-99. Type "TIME." Set the TIME to 11:59:45p. Wait for about twenty seconds. Type "DATE." Did it show 01-01-1900 or 01-01-2000? If it shows 1900, you may have a problem. Will it affect your computer operations? Probably not, unless you have file dates set to expire after 30 days, have automatic dates put into word processing documents, etc.

Can this be corrected without buying a new computer? It all depends on your computer system. The culprit may be your BIOS (Basic Input Output System). In a majority of the newer IBM-compatible computers, the BIOS is on the motherboard in a socket that allows you to remove it and replace it with a newer version (usually at a cost of between $40 and $140). If this is the case, take it to your nearest computer dealer, if you feel it is not something you wish to tackle, and have a new BIOS chip inserted.

You can get new BIOS chips from your local friendly neighborhood computer dealer where you bought your computer, call the manufacturer, or a BIOS vendor such as Unicore at 1-800-800-2467.

Make sure you record your present BIOS settings, before you do anything at all, including taking it to your local dealer.

Are the so called "experts" crying wolf again like they did with the highly publicized virus that was going to wipe out every computer system in the world a few years ago and ended up affecting almost no one? Let's hope so.

Growing up in Nebraska
by Joe Lea

Chapter 10

Almost every town, no mater how small, had a grade school and a high school. The one I entered for my freshman year was a 2-story brick building with a coal furnace in the basement. Next to it was a square wooden building which housed grades 1 thru 8. (No kindergarten in those days).

Each high school fielded sports teams, baseball, basketball, track, and beginning in 1937, 6-man football. The latter was introduced to the Midwest because so many schools were very small. Naturally, we had a basketball team, but we had no gym; our games were played in the town's dance hall, low ceiling and all.

But things did get better, much better. In 1936, a new school was built, complete with a nice high-ceiling gym. This one building was for grades 1 thru 12. I really do not know how many students were in these 12 grades, but my class, which graduated in 1939, was at the time the largest class to graduate from that school. There were 22 of us.

Naturally our sports opponents were the other small schools in the area, and I still have box scores of numerous games in my scrap book. Among these are ones from basketball games against Amherst High, and on that school's roster was one Hubert Horacek, whom you all know better as Herb. He came to work in our Communications Center shortly after I did--we recognized each other immediately.

Graduation from high school for me was in the spring of 1939; war was imminent in Europe, and we were all uncertain of our future. I entered college that fall, hung on for two years, but had to leave for lack of funds, and went back to the farm. In December of that year Pearl Harbor brought the war closer to us. I could easily have gotten an agricultural deferment, but decided I couldn't live with myself if I did so.

In the summer of 1942 came my 20th birthday, registered for the draft, I decided I had better help my father through the end of the year. The Buffalo County draft board agreed, so I entered the Army on January 6, 1943 and was assigned to the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Some of the young men took advantage of the agricultural deferment and, ironically, most if not all were drafted shortly after the end of the war. Far more of us went ahead and did our service during wartime; our little community suffered three killed and several wounded during the course of the war.

HUMOR

Although a little late to bake for this holiday season, I though you might want to clip and save this recipe for fruit cake I received from Bill Hempel.

Fruit Cake Recipe
1 Cup Water  1 Cup Sugar
4 Large Eggs 2 Cups dried fruit
2 Cups Flour 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Salt 1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Cups Chopped Walnuts1 Bottle of WhiskyLemon Juice (to taste)

Sample the whiskey to check for quality. Get a large bowl. Check the whisky again, to be sure it is of the highest quality. Pour one level cup and drink. Turn on the electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar and beat again. Make sure the whisky is still okay. Cry another top. Turn off the mixer. Break two legs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of fried droit. Mix on the turner. If the fried droit gets stuck in the beaterers pry it loose with a drewscriver. Sample the shisky to check for tonsisticity. Next, shift two cups of salt, or something. Who cares? Check the whisky. Now juice the lemon shift and strain your nuts. Add one table. Spoon the sugar or something. Whatever you can find. Grease the oven. Turn the cake tin to 350 degrees. Don't forget to beat off the tuner. Throw the bowl out of the window, check the whisky again and go to bed.

JIM'S JOTTINGS

Building NATO Brussels

by James F. Prosser

In March 1967, President Charles de Gaulle of France preemptively directed the NATO alliance to remove its headquarters and military forces from France within six months. This set off a frantic chain reaction of events to comply while not diluting the effectiveness and military preparedness of the organization.

In incredibly fast order, Belgium agreed to have the NATO political and military headquarters (SHAPE) moved to Brussels and Mons respectively. New office buildings had to be designed, erected, and made ready for occupancy by October 13, 1967. There would be no slippage tolerated.

To get such a herculean task as this organized and executed required a leader and manager willing to aggressively take on all sorts of opposition and political pressures while dealing with architects, engineers, and builders. The U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Harlan Cleveland, recognized he had just the person on his staff to lead this effort. He had his economic adviser, Mary Carmichael, appointed the overall project director.

I had previously served with Mary in the Belgian Congo and knew that she was a tough, talented individual, who once her mind was made up, you had better get out of her way. She, in some respects, was like a bull in a china shop, with the forcefulness of a bulldozer. Everything on the project had to have her personal approval before construction could begin.

Design of the U.S. communications center was the responsibility of myself, Embassy communications officer Charles Roberts, and Regional Communications Officer Grant Shaw. Within the physical parameters given us by Mary, we three worked many long hours, racing against the clock to meet a fixed deadline.

Now Mary had a very special liking for communicators, and emphatically wanted certain amenities included in the design, even if it meant constricting operational requirements. Trying to fit 10 pounds of sand in a five-pound bag, we found we had to significantly reduce the size of the amenities Mary insisted upon.

The three of us eventually got our U.S. communications center plans down on a single three feet by four feet sheet of drafting paper, the only copy. The next step was to show them to Mary to get approval to have them made final. When she saw her original designs somewhat truncated for operational reasons, she flew into a rage, completely shredded them, threw them at us and all over the room and left in a huff.

Roberts, Shaw and Prosser, initially stunned at having our efforts ripped apart before our eyes, did the only thing we could do, we got down on our hands and knees, crawled all over the room collecting pieces of paper and taped them together.

Like it or not, this was the design which was executed, although Mary would have liked to execute the three of us.

Trans-Siberian Railroad Voyage Journal
July 1996
by James F. Prosser
Part 2 of 14

Checking in at the hotel was simple and similar to hotels in the rest of the world. The room was sweltering, for the hotel is not air conditioned.

Eating a meal in Moscow is no longer the exasperating ordeal it used to be 24 years ago. There are now plenty of restaurants available. The prices range from the very expensive too quite reasonable by American standards.

For my first meal, I went to the Patio Pizza. I was amazed at how well the staff was trained. They were service minded! They smiled and welcomed you to your seat! They provided a dual language menu and had everything listed!

The place had cold Danish Tuborg beer on draft! I thoroughly enjoyed my first meal in Moscow. Particularly so recalling what used to be standard previously.

After dinner, even though extremely tired and suffering jet-lag, I took a camera and walked over to splendidly colorful Red Square. While it was 2045, the sun was high enough in the sky to allow me to shoot pictures. The sun set just after 2200. I was amazed at the number of hawkers in the square selling everything imaginable: military service and commemorative medals, wooden matrushka dolls, post cards, fur hats, commemorative postage stamps, ice cream, soda pop, etc. There were even people just wanting to practice their English and speak with foreigners. This in front of the previously hallowed mausoleum of Vladimir Ilich Lenin (who is spending his last year in this location)!

In 1979 to prepare for the 1980 Olympics, the Russians had to do something about the extremely poor condition of the cobblestones laid decades ago in Red Square because the surface had been destroyed by years of heavy equipment parades. They did not have the wherewithal, so they had a Finnish company take up all the stones, lay a new foundation and replace them. They did an outstanding job, for 16 years later the surface is very even and smooth.

At this point it was time to reintroduce myself to morozhnoye (Russian ice cream), something which I had been looking forward to since arrival. It is some of the best one can ever find, and I will have it often during the remainder of my voyage across Russia. Almost as good as Hansen's back in Green Bay. It is as good as I remember it from 24 years previous.

Leaving Red Square after sundown, I walked back to the Hotel Intourist.

Just in front of it are a couple of sidewalk refreshment stands which on a hot day like today are a welcome oasis. I found them to be completely occupied by a large number of prostitutes. Their dress and makeup left no doubts in my mind as to their profession. What I didn't realize was their modus operandi.

Just as I was between the tables and the street, a couple of automobiles pulled up and in complete unison they left their seats and stormed past us to the cars to presumably make contact and eventual liaisons. This would have been unthinkable 24 years ago!

My room was on the rear side of the hotel, so I wasn't affected by street noises as I slept with the windows open.

Before going to bed, I arranged with Intourist to obtain tickets to attend the Old Circus tomorrow evening.

- Friday, July 12 -

Sleep last night was not very good because the room was so uncomfortably warm and humid. A shower before bed and again in the morning did nothing to help. The continental breakfast was good and enough to get me off to a good day of walking about the numerous nearby sightseeing spots. Of course, I opted for the Kremlin.

It was another sunny and very warm day (35C or 95F), but this time a fairly strong breeze was blowing which ameliorated the humidity discomfort and evaporated my copious perspiration.

Just as 24 years ago, the lawns of the Kremlin were perfectly manicured. Under a shade tree I saw three lawn mowers parked and knew that I was looking at 75 percent of the lawn mowers in Russia.

While standing next to the great bell (broken centuries ago) and tower of the Cathedral of The Assumption, who came driving by but none other than Boris Yeltsin. He was easily visible in his white Cadillac stretch limousine.

After much walking about the Kremlin, taking pictures, and visiting two of the four churches, the noon hour was approaching and the heat debilitating. I was becoming dehydrated. I had not gotten into the Armory or St. George's Hall. No matter, it was time for refreshment and lunch.

I walked about a mile along the Kremlin wall by the Moscow River to the boat dock just beyond the Rossiya Hotel. There I found a tourist boat tied up which was serving beverages and sandwiches. It was now my intention, in order, to drink, eat and then take the tour of the city by boat on the river. This was most enjoyable. The bar on the boat had Alsatian Kronenburg beer in .5 liter cans. It wasn't chilled, but that didn't make any difference to a VERY thirsty guy.

I was on the boat more than an hour drinking and eating when I finally asked the leader when it was going to depart on a river tour. She said I was on the wrong boat! I had to take the next boat which would arrive in about a half hour. I waited, I was too warm and exhausted to do anything else. Besides, I was thoroughly enjoying the beverages and nice breeze off the river.

The tour boat eventually arrived and I boarded it. Now I thought I had purchased round-trip tickets so I would end up back at the same point of departure, and within walking distance of my hotel. So I enjoyed the next two hours on the boat passing by many of the tourist sights of Moscow: St. Basil's, the Kremlin, Pushkin Museum, the new Orthodox church under construction to replace the one Stalin had destroyed, Gorky Park, Moscow University, Lushniki (formerly Lenin) Park and Stadium, eventually arriving at the Kiev railroad and metro station dock.

By now it was 1600. Here the boat mate advised "end of the line!" and asked me to leave. I said I had round-trip tickets, but upon examination, he firmly replied "nyet!". This event indeed was a blessing in disguise.

I thought there was no finer place to start my architectural tour of the Moscow metro system than right here at the Kiev railroad station. It is a huge transportation hub for there are the boat dock on the river, a large passenger train station, and three different metro stations below, each on a different level, the bottom of which is about 200 feet below the surface.

The Moscow metro system now has 140 stations operational. There were about 96 when we lived here 1972-74. Each station is an architectural wonder and totally different in design and decoration than any other. Strolling through each is like being in a palace or art gallery. When Stalin opened the metro in the late 1930's, the ride anywhere was fixed at five kopeks (0.05 rubles). It remained at that price until 1990 when it was increased to 1,500 rubles. That's hyper inflation!

I visited the three different metro stations at the Kiev station and then boarded a metro to go back to the hotel. It was late afternoon and the rush hour was in full swing. I was really impressed at the rapidity of service and the fact trains ran a minute and 15 seconds apart continually! With ridership of about 8,000,000 a day, the trains had better run without a hitch. And they are maintained in good condition. I can not recall ever being stuck or delayed on the metro in Moscow.

En route back to the hotel, I got off the metro train to examine each intervening station and then got back on the next one.

Arriving back at the hotel, I adjourned to the atrium bar (yes, in the Intourist Hotel!) to consume a liter of cold mineral water to overcome my dehydration. I quickly had something to eat at the Patio Pizza (salad bar and it was excellent) before dashing back down into the metro to go off to the Old Circus performance. I remember, l was very tired at this point.

Getting there was a circus itself. I had to make two changes of metro to arrive at the particular station which was just a few meters from the Old Circus. I had written (in Cyrillic) the name of the station on a piece of paper. On the first train, I showed the paper to a man and asked if I was heading in the right direction. In halting English, he said no and that the circus was not at the station written on my piece of paper but way across town.

I disagreed for I knew where I was going and had spotted the Old Circus on the Moscow map by the metro station written on my piece of paper.

So I hopped off the train and caught the oncoming train in the opposite direction. At the first change station I had to make, I asked a Russian lady to be sure I were heading in the right direction for the Old Circus destination. She was very friendly and a delight to meet, but said she wasn't exactly sure of the location but would lead me there. Trying to be helpful to a lost foreigner, she was flying all over the place asking people for correct directions, then grabbed me by the hand and lead me on to my second train. I went a couple of stations further and had to change again.

From my metro map I now knew I was heading in the right direction, but she insisted I was not going to the Old Circus and tried to stop me from boarding the third and final train to destination. Nevertheless I persisted, so she decided to accompany me. Sure enough, we arrived at the correct metro station for the Old Circus. I took her outside and pointed to the "Old Circus" sign just down the street and she was flabbergasted. We enjoyed a good laugh, I thanked her and departed. It seems sometimes tourists know more about Moscow than the Muscovites.

The circus performance was outstanding, as the Moscow Circus always is. When the performance was over, I walked back into the metro to return to the hotel for an uneventful ride, making all the correct changes - fortunately, because l was completely exhausted.

Arriving back at the hotel and successfully running the prostitute gauntlet I went to the atrium bar once more to consume another liter of mineral water.

I collapsed into bed at 2330.

ENJOY!

See you next month.

Issue Index    Issue 15