|Issue 17||May 1997||Volume 2 - Number 6|
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
The following was received from Jim Steeves:
April 1, 1997
I fully agree with the comments made by Paul Nugnes about the health stuff, which, as he says, is available all over the place. I walk two vigorous miles a day but I know many people only walk briskly from the TV to the refrigerator and neither they or I want to read that stuff. I don't need it and they don't care. But, again as Paul says, that's my two cents worth.
Having said all that, I thunk about the health issue articles some more and would like to add a positive slant to the reason for the articles. As I mentioned, many people don't give a hoot about bad health or, rather, doing anything about it until they fall apart and then yell for Medicare or whatever. I think it might be a good idea to print articles from people who participate in a healthy activity and get their views about how much better they feel; the people they meet doing it, etc. Perhaps, if more people were persuaded that walking, running, swimming, or whatever gets them out to meet people, lose weight, lower cholesterol, etc. and they feel darned good about it too. A positive attitude is one real benefit of exercise as well as all the other obvious stuff. Guess that makes it four cents worth now, right?
Editorial Comment: I would like to hear from more of you, in writing, about your experiences with exercise, both good and bad.
Some of you have already been the subject of my REMINDER notices. Please, understand, I am not singling out only certain people. As part of my record keeping, I keep track of the last time each member donated money to the CANDOER News and memorial funds. I assume not everyone is going to keep track of, or remember, the last time they gave to these funds. Each anniversary of your donation, I will automatically send you a REMINDER notice. If you donated money for the news fund, after the date I include in my REMINDER notice, please, let me know. My records are not perfect. Usually where the record keeping problem occurs for me is when you give me money at a luncheon while I am flapping my lips with someone or collecting money for the lunch. If I do not write down immediately who gave me money and how much they gave, by the time I get home my CRS kicks in and I forget who gave the money to me. I then end up recording it under the "anonymous" giver category.
Circa 400 B.C., Hippocrates said, "Food alone will not keep a man well; he must also take exercise."
Steven N. Blair, P.E.D, Director of Research, The Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research, Dallas, Texas, does not agree with the present thinking that a person is in a health crisis, just because they are moderately overweight.
Steven Blair's research shows that a lack of regular exercise is the major health hazard and is even more of a health hazard than being moderately overweight. His study shows that being moderately overweight, is not as important as being sedentary. Even overweight people show a vast improvement in their health if they exercise regularly.
In addition, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported in February, 1995, that a person who is not physically active, regardless of their weight, has an increased risk of coronary heart disease that is 1.5 to 2.5 times higher than that of someone who exercises regularly.
How much exercise is enough?
In his research Steven Blair found that you should accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity, a minimum of six days a week. (Moderate physical activity is described as "any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure.") Moderate physical activity is equivalent to walking at three to four mph for most healthy adults. The key is not necessarily hard exercise; rather, every adult should accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity physical activities, some of which are walking up stairs, gardening, dancing and walking two or more miles. The 30 minutes can also be gained from regular structured exercise, such as running, swimming, and tennis, just to name a few.
The Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health, issued in July 1996, is the most comprehensive review on this subject ever undertaken. Some 180 scientists, researchers and authorities, including Steven Blair, worked two years to review and summarize important research that has been conducted over the years.
The key finding of this comprehensive review was that people of all ages can improve their quality of life through a program of moderate exercise. More specifically, a sedentary person who weighs 150 pounds should burn 150 additional calories a day--or about 1,000 a week-- through activity of moderate intensity. By doing this, a person:
Will reduce the risk of premature death, dying from heart disease, developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and colon cancer.
Will reduce blood pressure, control weight, and build healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
Will promote psychological well being and reduce tension and anxiety.
The Surgeon General's Report also makes these important points about physical activity:
Increases in duration or intensity will deliver additional health benefits.
The activity can be broken into smaller time increments. You may walk or exercise twice a day, for example, and still get the same health benefits as someone who walks or exercises in one thirty minute session.
For a completely sedentary individual, almost any level of increased activity---even less than burning 1,000 calories a week --- delivers health benefits.
Steven Blair states "It is also ok to accumulate activity --- you can burn 300 extra calories today and take tomorrow off, the point is to burn 1,000 extra calories a week."
Blair's study found that exercise is so important to health that even smokers with high blood pressure and high cholesterol who are in good aerobic shape tend to live longer than nonsmoking couch potatoes.
His report was based on a study of 25,341 men and 7,080 women over a 20 year period from 1970-1989. It found that people who were most fit, even though they smoked, had high blood pressure and high cholesterol, had a 15 per cent survival advantage over the least fit who did not have those risk factors.
Low fitness was an extremely strong predictor of all causes of death. The least fit men were 1.5 times more likely to die prematurely than those most fit; women in the least fit category were twice as likely to die a premature death.
Behind the Headlines
Don't become discouraged by all the headlines about Americans becoming less fit. There is of evidence that the opposite is true. It is true that the lack of exercise is a major health problem in America. But habits are changing and in the right direction.
A surveys taken in 1995 shows that 54.4 million Americans participated frequently in at least one of 14 fitness activities, compared to 39.6 million in 1987. During that period the population expanded by 10 percent but the number of people who exercised expanded by 37 per cent.
There are many advantages to low-intensity exercise, but greater fat-burning is not one of them. While it is true that your body draws predominately on its fat stores for energy at low intensity (and more on carbohydrate stores at greater intensity), high-intensity exercise will burn more calories overall and more fat calories. Burning more calories means you can eat more complex carbohydrates at your next meal without gaining weight.
Exercise a National Priority
The Surgeon General's Report states that physical activity now "joins the front ranks of essential health objectives, such as sound nutrition, the use of seat belts and the prevention of the adverse health effects of tobacco." It goes on to state, "because physical activity is so directly related to preventing disease and premature death and to maintaining a high quality of life, we must accord it the same level of attention that we give other important public health practices that affect the entire nation."
What is the Best Exercise?
There is no "best exercise." No one activity is better than another. What works is that you find something you enjoy.
All benefits of exercise - from better health to less stress, from improved sleep to lower weight - can be yours only if the activities themselves connect with something deep inside you.
The best exercise is to do what you like and in the end it will be more rewarding because you will like what you are doing.
Forget about the "rules" and begin enjoying the process instead of thinking about the results. You can achieve a goal of being healthier and more fit by not setting a goal that you cannot attain. You are 100 times more less likely to stick to an exercise program if you do it for you instead of someone else or because "society" expects it. Take your focus off the scale and the tape measure and shift it to enjoying the experience. When you enjoy the experience of being active, all else will follow.
Finally, the Surgeon General's report used the following examples of activity that would expend 150 calories in a 150-pound adult.
|INTENSITY||ACTIVITY||DURATION - In Minutes|
* 3 mph/20 minute mile
** 4 mph/15 minute mile
*** 5 mph/12 minute mile
**** 6 mph/10 minute mile
The bottom line is this --- exercise is the key to a longer, healthier and more enjoyable life, regardless of your age.
Our April luncheon was our biggest yet, with a total of 36 people in attendance. Included in the list, you will note, for one of the first times, were several wives and one of our retired female communicators. I would like to encourage more wives and female retirees to attend our luncheons.
The following people were in attendance at the April luncheon: Carmen Bevacqua, Dick Boyd, Bob Campopiano, Jim Casey, Ralph Crain, Bob Catlin, Paul Del Giudice, Charlie Dietmeyer, Leo Duncan, Leroy Farris, Al Giovetti, Charlie Hoffman, Boyd Koffman, Harry Laury, Mel Maples, Millie Muchoney, Will Naeher, Ed Peters, Nate Reynolds, Bob Scheller, Doc Sloan, Don Stewart, Val Taylor, Dan Ullrich, and Norris Watts.
Also in attendance were the following first-timers: John Channel, Al Debnar, Ed Ferry, Dorothy Hoffman (and a guest), Rick Humphrey, Dave Jacks, Jerry John, Harry Kaklikian, Janine Liebau, and Delores Stewart. A big CANDOER WELCOME to you all. I hope we see you all at many more luncheons.
It is with deep regret that I wish to inform you of the death of William A. Sobien, at his home in Scotland on March 17, 1997.
A card and a note of condolences has been sent to Yvonne in the name of the CANDOER Luncheon Group.
It is with deep regret that I wish to inform you of the death of Donald L. Brown, on April 7, 1997.
Don is survived by his wife, Verlene, daughter Nicola and a host of relatives and friends. A wake was held on Saturday April 12, beginning at 9:30 a.m., with services beginning at 11:00 a.m., at the National Church of God, 6700 Bock Road, Fort Washington, MD
A card and a note of condolence has been sent to his family in the name of the CANDOER Luncheon Group. In addition, a $45 donation from the CANDOER memorial fund has been sent to the American Cancer Society in Don's name.
Congratulations to the following recent retirees: Barbara Arnette, Betty Bates, Luci Betts, Dave Borter, John Boyle, Judy Chidester, Al Debnar, Ken Erney, Richard Gibson, Dixie Goodrich, James Griffin, Rod Hallen, Phil Hartmann, Rick Humphrey, Carl McNamee, Rich Modrak, Tom Murphy, Ollie Oliver, Joe O'Neill, Pat Poyma, Yasuko Riggs, Karl Sanger, and Steve Shogi.
A total of $85 was donated to the Lower Cape Fear Hospice on March 25, 1997, in Ed Fenstermacher's name. $45 was taken from the memorial fund and a total of $40 was received from various CANDOERs.
In an E-mail received on March 23, Gerry Gendron indicated that he wished to start receiving the News via snail-mail. Gerry stated that he is working two days a week with the TDY/VIP group at State. Gerry's Bio Data has been furnished in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On March 25, Richard Grimes, in an E-mail message, indicated that he wished to become a member of the CANDOERs. Richard's Bio Data is furnished in the Pen and Ink Section of this issue.
On March 27, in a conversation with Ken Loff, I learned that he will retire on July 3, 1997. Ken has entered the three-month job search program. His last day in IM was Friday, March 28, 1997. He will be in this area for a short time and then will be moving to Fredericksburg, where he bought a house built in the early 1800s and is fixing it up. His present address and Bio Data have been furnished in this issue of the News.
Congratulations to Richard and Marie Grimes. They became grandparents for the first time. Their daughter gave birth to a beautiful bouncing baby girl, Molly Katherine Flannery, on March 28th. Richard indicated that mother and daughter are doing fine.
On March 31, Joe Lea furnished a new E-Mail address. His previous E-mail address may be used as a backup. His new address may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the last page of this issue.
On March 31, I received the following E-Mail message from Alouise Fenstermacher:
Thanks for your nice tribute to Ed. One correction, in that we have not scattered any ashes yet. The ashes were divided so that Arlington Cemetery could provide a resting place in the Columbarium - which was done on March 21st - and the rest of the ashes will be spread on the Currituck Sound in Duck. We rented a beach house from May 24-31 for the family to gather and fulfill Ed's wishes.
On April 3rd Babe called from Levant. He said all was well with him. They missed the "April Fools" storm of 1997. He said they got between 4-6 inches and it was already pretty much melted. By the time you read this he will have been back in the area, April 15, and returned to Maine, May 1.
On April 6, Wayne Cashwell, in an E-mail message, furnished his Bio Data. Wayne retired on 31 March. Wayne's Bio Data may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On April 7, Wayne Cashwell furnished an address for Mike Carson. Mike expressed a wish to receive the CANDOER and become a member of the luncheon group. Mike's Bio Data is furnished in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
At the April 8 luncheon we had two new CANDOERs join the Luncheon Group, Al Debnar and Ed Ferry. Their Bio Data may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On April 9, in an E-mail received from Ralph Girdner, he furnishing his E-mail address. This info may be found on the last page of this issue.
On April 9, in the mail, I received a Personal Data Form and a donation to the CANDOER funds from Rush Lantz. Rush is working in the Customer Center of IM. His Bio Data may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On April 9, Dick Geary called and requested information about the luncheons and the newsletter. His Bio Data may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On April 11, in a letter received from Phil Blanchard, he indicated he is one of several retirees in Albuquerque receiving distribution of the CANDOER News from Jim Steeves. Phil furnished his Bio Data to be included in the Directory of Members and sent a donation to the CANDOER memorial fund. Phil's Bio Data may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
Phil wrote, "Except for a six month period, I have been working with JAYCOR since I retired. The division I am with is currently under sub-contract with Raytheon through Rust Caterpillar (locally). Rust is providing logistical support for this project. As for myself, I am part of a team (three people) that is developing the Technical Manuals for these systems. Needless to say it is different from communications work - but it keeps me busy."
On April 12, in a discussion with Mel Bladen, at Don Brown's funeral, I learned that Mel is now working as the customer service representative for a swimming pool company in Calvert County.
In addition, at Don's funeral services I talked with Earl Penn. Earl is working for DDD Company in Landover, Maryland. Earl furnished his Bio Data and is now a member. His Bio Data may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
In an E-mail message received on April 18, Jim Norton furnished a new, temporary, E-mail address. This address will be good for about two months and then Jim is being reassigned to Bonn. He will furnish a new E-mail address as soon as he obtains a new Internet provider. His new temporary E-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue as well as on the last page.
On April 23, the following letter was received from Janine Liebau:
I wanted to write a short note to thank you for your donation to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). I am told that your donation will be used to help send kids to a FCA summer camp. All of the donated money has been set aside into a summer camp scholarship fund.
The April FSRA luncheon was held on April 18, at the Fort Lauderdale Country Club (FLCC). The menu choices were London broil or broiled dolphin.
The FLCC has two 18-hole par 72 golf courses and I regret that I did not play either. The South course dates back to the late 1920's but was completely rebuilt and re-opened in 1992. On the North course, all the greens were rebuilt and re-opened just recently.
In the club house the main dining room can seat up to 300 people. Originally scheduled to address our gathering was Steve Nielsen, vice-president of Caribbean Affairs and Operations for Princess Cruises. We did not hear any explanation as to why he was not there. Instead we had two speakers, one of whom extolled the economic features of Florida and the other was Tex Harris who came down from Washington to brief us on some of the drastic proposals being bandied about in the Congress for cutting down our COLA's, health benefits, etc.
Kate Levine, whom some of you probably know (she did a tour in the Department) invited Clytuce and myself to come down to her home in Delray Beach on Thursday and spend Thursday and Friday nights with her in addition to attending the luncheon on Friday. It was a most enjoyable time.
Attendance at the luncheon was only 112 people, with many of our old standbys absent. In attendance were the following: Robert & Aida Bell, Isabel Cumming, Tex & Jeanie Harris, Charles & Dorothy Hoffman, Joe & Clytuce Lea, Kate Levine, Dorothy Parisi, Robert & Daisy Richardson, and Monica Schmitt.
In my youth, a handshake between two people was often the only agreement, nothing on paper, nothing to be signed and notarized. A person's word was always good.
People helped one another when it was needed. There were fires--the farm houses, barns, and other outbuildings were all made of wood. Interior lighting of the house was by oil lamps and caution was absolutely necessary. But out around the barns with a kerosene lantern in the midst of hay and straw, even extreme caution sometimes was not enough.
If a barn caught fire, it simply burned to the ground; no way to get enough water there quickly. When this happened, neighbors got together, provided most of the funds and the labor necessary to get a new building erected, usually in less than a week.
No one had any fire insurance on the house or outbuildings; this was an expense we chose to do without.
Juvenile delinquency was so rare that it wasn't known by that name. We gave the teachers few problems, not so much because we were afraid of the teachers, but because were afraid of our fathers.
One particular thing stands out in my memory: In our river valley pasture, marijuana grew wild, quite a bit of it. We teenagers all knew what it was, what it was supposed to do, how it was said to affect a person. I never, ever, knew of, or hear of, anyone trying this stuff.
Murphy's law No. 10 (If something can go wrong, it will.) certainly applies when dealing with inches, centimeters, and carpenters.
Back in the early 1970's when the United States and the Soviet Union were holding Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), the site of them rotated twice a year between Helsinki and Vienna. The U.S. SALT Delegation had its own communications center in each city. When a session recessed for about six weeks for a move, regional communications technicians had to disassemble the entire communications center, pack all the equipment, and have it couriered to Vienna for quick reinstallation. It always was a monumental job because tons of equipment was involved.
For one of the moves from Helsinki to Vienna, only four weeks was allowed from shut down to turn on. A lot of frenetic work was to be done. So Ken Forrest, the RCO in Bonn, decided he would assist his men in Helsinki to help them save some time.
There were quite a number of secure telephone units which had to be packed in crates. Ken measured the outside dimensions (30H X 30D X 28W) and then rushed drawings and orders over to the Finnish carpenters. He stressed the urgency of the order and that under each crate there had to be two 2 X 4 pieces of wood so the heavy items could be moved by fork lift trucks or dollies.
The next day the Finnish carpenters delivered the required number of wooden crates, all made precisely to Ken's dimensions including the 2 X 4s beneath each, but in centimeters! What a hilarious sight it was to see those very small crates. The Finns had to be completely befuddled as to what possibly would be put in them that weighed so much! After the embarrassment wore off and a good laugh had by all, the Finns had to go back to their shop and build them again, this time with the inches converted to centimeters.
- Monday, July 15 -
During the dead of night, the train made an extended stop at the city of Tyumen. It is the oldest city in Siberia, having been founded in 1586 on the river Nitsa. The population is 487,000. Industries include oil refining, machine tools, and chemicals.
I went outside to watch what they described as an enormous freight and passenger train switching operation. I climbed up a nearby aerial crosswalk and estimated there had to be at least 30 tracks side-by-side. From there I also spotted the nearby yard where there were dozens of locomotives parked.
At 0600 I awoke just as the train was pulling in to Ishim for a 15 minute stop.
It was another glorious day. Before washing up, I dashed out on to the platform to get some provisions for breakfast. With Valentina holding fast to opening the dining car at 0900 Moscow time, that was just about noon here. So I obtained some bananas, biscuits, oranges, New Zealand gala apples(!) and was all set for breakfast in my compartment. I was really disappointed there weren't any fresh strawberries available. Life can really be tough sometimes! Larissa would provide all the chai we wanted.
When I was bringing the empty chai pot and glasses back to Larissa, she was behind the samovar at the end of the car frying on a burner potatoes sauteed in garlic butter with rosemary spices! She gave me a taste and I told her in my most expressive Russian sign language how good they were! Where upon, she took some for herself, and put the remainder on a plate for me to take back to the compartment!
About noon sun time, the train arrived at Omsk. Here I hit the platform for 15 minutes of frenetic shopping amongst the fruit, bakery and morozhnoye vendors. I had sufficient food for breakfast tomorrow in case there wasn't a convenient early morning stop. Here I decided not to eat lunch in the dining car, but to obtain a bunch of piroshkis which are similar to samosas found in southern Asia and east Africa. They are pastries which have been stuffed with either cabbage and onions, meat and onions, cheese and onions, or vegetables and yes, onions. They are delicious.
Omsk is the capital of the Omsk Oblast in the southwest part of Russian Siberia. With a population of 1,169,000, it is Siberia's second-largest city. Omsk is situated at the junction of the Irtysh River and the Trans-Siberian Railroad. It is named for the Om River, which enters the Irtysh there. The city has a number of research institutes. It was long limited to the processing of local farm products, but in the 1950s and 1960s it acquired a large petroleum-refining and petrochemical industry, whose significance was enhanced by the development of the West Siberian petroleum fields. The city arose as a fort in 1716. Its modern industrial development and rapid population growth date from World War II.
The train departed Omsk more than one hour late. Sasha, the mechanic now sweaty and very dirty, reported "catastrophe!" - the dining car air conditioning and refrigeration had given out! That was the cause of the delay while repairs were being made. I noticed a lot of tinkering under that car while stopped in Omsk, but didn't think anything serious was wrong. Anyway, all was righted again. Sasha was very dirty, but happy.
I headed for the dining car in hopes of getting some beer. Valentina sternly reminded me the car would open at 0900 Moscow time, or, in another 45 minutes. Protestations that I did not want breakfast, only some beer, did not receive much sympathy. I noticed Valentina and the cook very concerned about the covered merchandise still stacked everywhere. Some sort of inventory operation periodically took place. There was a lot of counting and verifying. All was covered up again. I still had no idea of what this was all about. The dining car remains a mystery.
Again I was looking at vast fields of grain and other farm products almost as far as the eye could see. They looked in very good condition as rainfall has been normal. The private potato patches along the tracks continued almost unabated.
I could now see several herds of dairy cows and sheep, some of them quite large. It was interesting that the birch forest here was thin enough so grass grows abundantly beneath the trees and you see the animals browsing through the forest.
In the afternoon, I was sitting in the compartment writing notes for this journal. The number of oncoming trains passing us caused me to start keeping a count for one hour. I recalled once reading in an encyclopedia that the Russian railroad had the greatest number of locomotives, passenger, and freight cars. The combined assets of all north American railroads came in a distant second. I won't dispute that claim. By the end of our journey we would have seen most of them! In 60 minutes this afternoon I recorded 23 trains, four of which were passenger.
Russian freight trains undoubtedly operate under self-imposed limits of weight, and especially length. When I counted the cars on freight trains, they usually were at least 55 and never over 80 in number. Mixed freight trains were the most common, but unit trains of oil, coal, and other types of ore were common. Occasionally a train of all sea containers passed.
At Barabinsk we were supposed to have a 15 minute stop, but the train left after only about 10 minutes. When you have an addiction to morozhnoye, it can get you into trouble. Even Larissa was caught off guard. I had to hop on to the moving train, again!
As the train rolled along, the forests were now about 100 percent white birch. Beautiful. And cows everywhere in and out of the forest. The terrain was flat, and I noticed a lot of water everywhere, for this was now becoming marsh. Lots of ducks and other waterfowl. I was reminded of reading of the terrible problems encountered when building the Trans-Siberian, not only in summer, but also winter. One can now appreciate them firsthand.
Around 2100 the train arrived in Novosibirsk. This is the city where the famous "Kitchen Debate" took place in 1957 between Vice President Richard Nixon and Premier Nikita Khrushchev.
Novosibirsk is the largest city in Russian Siberia. It is situated at the junction of the Trans-Siberian Railroad and the Ob River in southwestern Siberia. The population is 1,446,300.
Novosibirsk is a major manufacturing center, with a wide range of machinery plants (machine tools, farm equipment, instruments), electronics factories, a tin smelter, and perfumeries. It is also an important educational and scientific research center, with a university and the headquarters of the Siberian division of the Academy of Sciences. Russia's largest opera house is located there. Nearby, on the Ob, is the Novosibirsk hydroelectric station. The town was founded in 1896 in connection with construction of the Trans-Siberian Railroad and was originally called Novonikolayevsk (for Emperor Nicholas II). The present name dates from 1925 and means "new Siberia" in Russian. Novosibirsk grew rapidly during the Soviet period because of its favorable location near the Kuznetsk Basin, the largest coal source in Russia, and on major transportation lines.
The Novosibirsk railway station is one of classical architecture presently undergoing major renovations of the facade and interior. When it is finished in about a year, it will be restored to its former glory.
I had another very good, albeit late, meal in the dining car, the "chef's choice" I might as well call it. I just motioned to Valentina and she automatically brought out whatever was prepared.
Sitting around after eating, I was soon joined by the trainee provodnitsas Olga and Elena. Then Sasha the mechanic showed up all smiles that everything was working well. It turned out today was Elena's birthday but she wouldn't be home to celebrate with her husband and daughter. So a party was beginning to shape up. Now Victor and Larissa joined the scene which was becoming a mob. A bottle of Russian champagne appeared from the kitchen along with a box of Belgian chocolates! Happy birthday Elena! Someone started video recording the festivities and this only egged on Sasha who tried to do a little dance with Larissa, of all people!
Now entering the diner was Sergei, the football referee who joined our car at Yekaterinburg. Sergei had some vodka and wine. Valentina brought out a lot of small glasses. I was now having flash-backs to similar parties in Russian homes and restaurants 24 years ago and never liked the way they usually ended up. So I advised them all I was very tired (it was true) and would go to bed.
A few hours after leaving Novosibirsk the Trans-Siberian railroad passed the large city of Tomsk, perhaps only about 50 kms to the south. In one of the anomalies concerning the building of the railroad, when the engineers were laying out the plans for the route, they demanded a bribe from the mayor to have the tracks routed through the city. The mayor snubbed the bribery request and that is why citizens today must ride a bus 50 kms to Taiga to catch the Trans-Siberian in either direction. We stopped there for ten minutes.
- Tuesday, July 16 -
I slept like a brick again. The weather outside was beautiful and cool again. I was not sure just where we were yet, but the scenery was still lush green, marshy at times, with birch and pine forest, and potato patches still alongside the tracks where there wasn't water.
The train stopped at Bogotol for ten minutes to replenish water. This enabled me to purchase some more fresh strawberries, blueberries and bananas for breakfast which I shared with the others. The thought occurred to me more than once: what do the vendors have to offer during the winter?
An hour later the train stopped again at Achinsk. Here the Russian lady and her two young children I enjoyed so much the past three days disembarked. I was sorry to see them leave, but they leaped into the arms of their father who was on the platform awaiting them.
At about 1020 we approached Krasnoyarsk and crossed the very wide Yenisei River. It has a visibly strong current and is navigable from the Arctic Ocean to this point.
Krasnoyarsk is a city in the central part of Russian Siberia, east of Novosibirsk. The city's population is 924,400. It is situated at the junction of the Trans-Siberian Railroad and the Yenisei River. One of Siberia's largest cities, Krasnoyarsk produces heavy mining equipment and truck trailers, synthetic rubber, chemicals, and tires, as well as aluminum. The Krasnoyarsk hydroelectric station, on the Yenisei, is one of the largest in the world. The city is the seat of Krasnoyarsk State University (1970).
Founded in 1628 as a fortified outpost during the Russian advance through Siberia, Krasnoyarsk became an administrative center in 1822. Its growth accelerated when gold was discovered nearby in the 19th century, when the railroad arrived in 1895, and again after World War II.
Our scheduled 20 minute stop developed into about 30 minutes. I had plenty of time to purchase piroshkis, fruit and morozhnoye. Here the local time was four hours ahead of Moscow. The dining car now opened at 1300 local time for breakfast - which was no longer served!
An awful lot of railroad activity was observed at this major junction and classification yard. There were several petroleum unit trains standing in the yard with locomotives attached awaiting their green signal. Many of the oil tank cars were rated at 120 tons and had double trucks (bogeys) at each end of the car. Other oil tank cars were rated for 65 tons. I also saw ore unit trains. One could only guess what they contained. There is a lot of coal, iron ore, copper and gold in this area. Several hours passed and the train arrived at the very important junction of Tayshet. There is a huge locomotive yard and repair facility along with a massive railroad construction yard.
At Tayshet the Trans-Siberian turns to a southeasterly direction. It is the western terminus of the relatively new Baikal-Amur -Mainline (BAM). It goes straight east to Bratsk on the Angara River (major hydroelectric dam), then passes the north end of Lake Baikal and heads directly to the Pacific Ocean port of Vanino. The BAM was constructed to reduce the vast amount of freight traffic on the Trans-Siberian line and open up more northern areas of Siberia to development by providing access to rail.
The farms adjacent to the train are gigantic. They are mostly wheat and appear to be in beautiful condition. The farms are interspersed with birch and pine forests. It is quite desolate for we rarely saw anyone.
Out in Siberia, the Russians have monkeyed with the shape of the time zones. The result here was that at 2230 the sun was just beginning to set.
Television is democracy at its ugliest.
I read the article about the pouches that had been locked in the reefer and was reminded of another story about pouches, an experience few have had but will never forget.
During the early '70's the Embassy in Madrid received several boxes repeat boxes of social security checks each month from the U.S. The Embassy received these boxes of checks and affixed Spanish postage to the envelopes, then sent them on their way via the Spanish post. There were, if memory serves, about twenty thousand of these checks which were addressed to Spaniards living all over Spain. These were people who, in their younger years, had gone to the western part of the U.S. to work as sheep herders - way out in the remote mountains of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, etc., work, which for the most part, Americans didn't want. After many years of this work, contributing to the social security system all the while, these Spaniards retired and returned to Espana to live out their days. And each month, on a certain day, they expected to find in their mailbox that social security check from Uncle Sam. Usually it was there but on at least one occasion, it was somewhere else.
Perhaps Tim Taylor remembers the time that we received an urgent cable from somewhere in the world telling us that two cartons of checks had been received in a pouch mislabeled to that other Embassy and that it was being forwarded to Madrid via the fastest means possible. Clearly they realized that hell was either about to break out at the Embassy in Madrid or was already under way because of the misrouted pouch.
I cannot remember a lot about that specific case but, a few years later, at another post, I experienced it again. The Department, in it's wisdom and in consideration of the big picture, which I seldom ever viewed, made me pay for three delightful years in Spain, by sending me to the cloudy skies of Ireland. Well, I suppose someone had to do it - I recall wanting to go to Nigeria or Upper Volta where frog legs were cheap, but orders are orders.
Now, while there are many U.S. citizens retired and living in Spain and, as mentioned above, there are twenty-odd thousand Spaniards retired from shepherding in the great American West, their numbers are fairly well dwarfed by those Irishmen who went to the U.S. years before; worked all their lives paying into social security or working on the railroad, and who returned to Ireland to live out their days. I believe there were well in excess of forty thousand of them. We received two air pouches a month, each containing two cases of SSA and Railroad Retirement checks. As in Madrid, the Embassy in Dublin affixed local postage and sent the checks out to the addressees all over Ireland.
Then one day, when we should have received the two bags of checks, we got, instead, an immediate precedence cable from Kabul or Rawalpindi telling us they got our bags, mislabeled, and were sending them to us pronto. Not fast enough for the retirees though. The switchboard was swamped; the half dozen people in the Consular section were going nuts with telephone calls and walk-ins - people who didn't give a hoot about pouches going astray - they wanted their bloody checks!
It took a couple of days but the checks finally arrived but those poor folks in the Consular section and we communicators, even though thousands of miles from where the mistake was made, were just as responsible from the viewpoint of the retired community.
I doubt if there are many posts around the world where there are such numbers of retired people receiving pension checks from the U.S. and it was just my "misfortune" to get two of them, back to back.