U.S. Symbol
Communicators AND Others Enjoying Retirement
Issue 19July 1997Volume 2 - Number 8

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


At the June luncheon, Tom Paolozzi proposed that we have a CANDOER/OC dinner/dance in the near future. Tom, Paul Del Giudice, and I will be working together to make this happen. Tom is going to get the initial stages going by determining where and how much it will cost. When he has some preliminary information available we will be sending out a questionnaire to all CANDOERs asking for input as to time of year, etc. Toward the end we will need to form a committee to get out the invitations, make up name tags, etc. At present we are looking for volunteers in the Washington Metropolitan area, to assist us in this endeavor. If you would like to help, or offer suggestions, please contact Tom at (703) 222-6030, Paul at (703) 278-8934, or me at (301) 283-6549.

Due to the increase in the cost of producing and mailing the Newsletter and Directory to subscribers, I am now asking for a yearly donation of $20 per year. You will note in last months issue I reported that I was taking the News to Staples to print and collate because it is taking too long to print and collate on my small printer. Because of this and other added expenses, I have experienced an increase in the cost of producing the News and the Directory. Each copy of the News, including supplies, printing, and mailing is now costing me $1.44 (That is, $.55 to mail, $.64 to print, $.10 for an envelope and $.15 in misc expenses.) In addition, the cost to produce the Directory, 22 pages, is $2.16 per copy. (That is $.88 to have it printed, $1.01 to mail, $.10 for the envelope and $.17 misc. expenses.) For 11 issues of the News a year and one copy of the Directory a year, the total cost to produce and mail them is $18.00. Asking for a donation of $20 will allow $2.00 to go to the Memorial Fund for each $20 donation.

High Blood Pressure Fact Sheet
by the American Heart Association

Final Part of II

High Blood Pressure Reference


- High blood pressure in adults is a consistently elevated blood pressure of 140 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) systolic and/or 90 mm Hg diastolic or higher.

- The first number in the 140/90 measurement is the systolic pressure--the pressure of the blood against the artery walls caused by the heart's contraction. The second measurement is the diastolic pressure. It is the pressure against the artery walls when the heart is resting between beats.


- As many as 50 million Americans aged six and above have high blood pressure.

- Besides claiming 38,130 American lives in 1994, high blood pressure is also indirectly responsible for many more deaths and cases of disability resulting from heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.

- According to recent estimates, one in four U.S. adults has high blood pressure.


- High blood pressure is more prevalent among the less educated and among lower socioeconomic groups.

- Both whites and blacks in the Southeastern United States are more likely to have high blood pressure than Americans from other regions; the death rate from stroke is higher there as well.


- High blood pressure is particularly prevalent in blacks, middle-aged and elderly people, obese people, heavy drinkers, women who take oral contraceptives, and people with diabetes mellitus, gout or kidney disease.

- Certain drugs (such as amphetamines, diet pills) tend to raise blood pressure.

General Information:

- High blood pressure adds to the workload of the heart and arteries, which may contribute to stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and congestive heart failure. Accumulating evidence shows that lowering blood pressure reduces the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.

- Americans consume 5-18 times more sodium than they need. The prevalence of high blood pressure probably could be reduced if people reduce the salt used to cook and season food and ate less fast food and processed food. Many over-the-counter remedies, such as analgesics, also contain large amounts of sodium.

Drugs for high blood pressure fall into five categories:

Diuretics lower blood pressure by eliminating excess fluid (salt and water) from the body.

Sympathetic (adrenergic) inhibitors (which include beta blockers) curb the nerve impulses to the heart, blood vessels or both, and cause the heart rate to decrease and/or the blood vessels to relax.

Vasodilators lessen the pressure on blood vessels by causing them to relax (and therefore expand).

Calcium channel blockers also can cause the blood vessels to relax.

Finally enzyme inhibitors prevent the formation of a hormone that can increase blood pressure.


The following article was sent to me by Graham Lobb, at the request of Jim Prosser. With the Government push to privatize or contract out a lot of services presently done by GS/FS personnel, this could be a headline about the Department of State communicators in the not so distant future.

May 7, 1997

The Associated Press

Paris --- French diplomacy was tongue-tied Tuesday with its encoders, responsible for sending sensitive information between embassies and government ministries, went on strike.

"Communications has been slowed down," said Jacques Rummelhardt, the Foreign Affairs spokesman. But he added that here was "no threat to communications security."

The encoders, who went on strike Monday, for three days, are protesting the changing status of their work brought about by the increasing use of sophisticated electronic communications.

"The work used to be as you imagine it to be in a John Le Carre novel," Mr. Rummelhardt said. "These days, there are computers and the Internet."

There are 270 encoders involved in the strike in France and in French embassies around the world.

The strike was blocking telegrams between Paris and its embassies, according to a group of strikers outside the Foreign Ministry.

by Jim (inabq) Steeves

Samson And The Parador

In the late fifties or early sixties the Spanish Government decided on a plan to solve a serious tourist problem. Even then, about twenty million tourists visited Spain, but Spanish Tourism officials realized that the great bulk of visitors went to Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga and half a dozen other cities. All that was fine but it was felt that there were dozens of other sites of great touristic interest which weren't on the tourist path. They thus implemented a clever program by which tourists would be drawn to the boonies and be greatly rewarded for their effort in doing so. The plan was to create a system of paradors. A parador is essentially, a hotel but it is firstly a Spanish Government owned hotel. These paradors/hotels were established in places where there were Roman ruins (an amphitheater, an aqueduct, a bridge or a combination of these things), a castle (there are hundreds spread across Spain) or some other outstanding attraction for tourists but one that wasn't great enough alone to draw a tourist 150 miles northwest of Madrid. The draw was this: Any parador is a place of luxury and has a restaurant that makes me weep just to think of it. Prices were dirt-cheap both for accommodations and meals. Some paradors were built new from the ground up and others were built into an existing castle or part of a castle ruin. The work to combine a new hotel into a castle was something to see - modern plumbing, wiring, etc. constituting perhaps 30% of the whole with a castle being the other 70%.

Tourists who knew of the parador system would plan on crossing Spain from, say Barcelona to San Sebastian, and then go southwest toward Portugal. They would plan to stay in three paradors on the way to San Sebastian and another two or three going toward Portugal. Very close to each parador was a significant tourist attraction. My wife and I visited many paradors in our few years in Spain and it's a wonder that we didn't expire from the quantity of excellent food found at all of them. One dish consisted of around 12 plates per person.

Well, this story is about one parador and Samson, our then poodle pup. We checked into the parador in San Sebastian (if memory serves correct) and noted that the front of the building was a castle. The lobby and hotel desk were built in one great room of the castle and from that point on, it was all brand new hotel. The lobby was huge with a floor covered by reed mats and contained dozens of very large potted palms.

Our routine was to make sure this pup had plenty of opportunities to do his business in the proper places and that meant I was responsible for getting him to such a place at whatever time of night he wanted. He always awoke my wife first who in turn rammed a thumb into my side. My response was automatic and lightening-quick. I jumped out of bed, often fell over something in my haste to pull on a pair of pants which I'd left hanging on the room door knob for quick action, jammed my feet into shoes and off we went. I knew we had literally seconds to spare on this maneuver.

On this occasion, my hair sticking straight up and my shirt on backwards and one of my wife's shoes on part of one foot I got his lease on and we headed toward the lobby. Samson was pulling me along so I knew this was going to be close. All was going pretty well until we got to the lobby when, satisfied that he'd made it outside, he lifted his leg and let go. Well hell, it looked like out doors to that little guy but I knew different so I kept pulling him along across the lobby toward the main entrance but when we got there he was done. There was a dark streak across twenty feet of reed mats that betrayed our awful deed. It was also about 3:30 in the morning and no one saw it. I couldn't blame Samson. Hell, they'd successfully disguised the lobby so well it looked like outdoors. My conscience bothered me all the way through a truly magnificent breakfast in the parador restaurant. Samson, of course, sat under our table while we ate, the Spanish being civilized about dogs, and children, who behave.


The following people attended the June luncheon at TGIF's in Alexandria: Bob Berger, Bob Campopiano, Ralph Crain, Bob Catlin, Paul Del Giudice, Charlie Ditmeyer, Al Giovetti, Charlie Hoffman, Joel Kleiman, Boyd Koffman, Ed Peters, Tom Paolozzi, Nate Reynolds, Robby Robinson, Bob Scheller, Doc Sloan, Dan Ullrich, Tom Warren, and Norris Watts.

In addition we had one new member attend, Dick Hoffer. Dick, a big CANDOER WELCOME to you. May we see you at many more CANDOER.

DEATH OF Melissa S. Tinney

It is with deep regret that I inform you of the death of Melissa S. Tinney, 33, RSO at The Hague, and daughter of Phillip and Suzanne Tinney. Phil, Suzy, and daughter, Jennifer were at Melissa's side at a hospital in Amsterdam when she died. Melissa died after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

A closed-casket viewing was held on Friday evening, June 13, from 6 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Colonial Funeral Home in Leesburg, VA.

Memorial Services were held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 14, at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Leesburg, VA, with interment immediately following at the Union Cemetery in Leesburg.

A wake was held at the Coctain Circle Leesburg Volunteer Fire Department immediately after interment.

Those of you who were not able to make the memorial services and would like to offer their condolences to Phil, Suzy and family, please mail to:

Mr. & Mrs. Phil Tinney
PSC 116
Room 213
APO AE 09777

While in the Washington area Phil and Suzy were guests of Steve Newberg, DS.

In lieu of flowers the family asked that donations be made to the following Foundation:

Susan G. Komen Foundation
505 LBJ Parkway
Suite 370
Dallas, TX 75244

In Melissa's name, $45 has been donated from the CANDOER Fund.


On May 30th, Rey Grammo furnished an address for Bob Sandberg. I wrote to Bob and informed him of the CANDOER activities. On June 9th I received a completed PERSONAL DATA FORM from Bob. His bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section.

On June 2, Dennis Sweigart returned the CANDOER Personal Data Form. His bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section. I would also like to extend belated condolences, on behalf of all the CANDOERs, to Dennis for the loss of his wife on August 25, 1995.

Also on June 2, Phil Hendrix returned the CANDOER Personal Data Form. His bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section. He indicated he is in the process of obtaining an Internet provider and would furnish his e-mail address as soon as known.

On June 3, Bill Harrison furnished an e-mail address and snail-mail address for Ed Melnick. On June 6, in response to an e-mail message from me, Ed furnished his bio. This information may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the last page. (Also see ALCAN 00030, dated 07 June 97.)

On June 4, Marvin Konopik notified me that he is changing Internet providers. He is dropping AccessNV and going with ATT. His new e-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the last page. (Also see ALCAN 00030, dated 07 Jun 97.)

On June 5, John Conner furnished his e-mail address and requested information on the CANDOERs. I sent John information about the CANDOER activities and invited him to join. As of the date of publication of this issue, I have not heard from John. (Also see ALCAN 00030, dated 07 Jun 97.)

On June 7, Paul Nugnes furnished an address for Ben Candellaria. I sent Ben information on the CANDOER activities and invited him to join. As of the date of publication of this issue I have not heard from Ben.

At the luncheon on June 10, Tom Warren gave me addresses for the following retirees: Jim Kelley, Gus and Alice Marty; Ed and Dorothy Moody; Earl and Thelma Newton; and Carl and Lizzette Obiden. I sent them all a letter on the same day explaining the activities of the CANDOER's. Their address and telephone numbers are in the Pen and Ink section. As of the date of publication of this issue I have not heard from any of these CANDOERs.

Also at the luncheon on June 10, Tom Paolozzi gave me an address for Joe Hazewski. I sent Joe a letter and invited him to join the CANDOERs. As of the date of publication of this issue I have not heard from Joe.

On June 13, at Melissa's viewing, I gave Phil Tinney, Chuck Scott and Roy Buckholz an application to join the CANDOERs and to begin receiving the newsletter. As of the date of publication of this issue I have not heard from these CANDOERs.

On June 14, I received a letter and a donation from Bob Bell. Bob started with the Department in 1954. In 1970 Bob took a deferred retirement and started working with major computer vendors and government contractors in California. He is now retired and living in Florida. Bob is also a member of the Florida FSRA. His bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section.

On June 14, Rey Grammo gave me the address for Marg Hoefler. I sent Marg a letter informing her of the CANDOER activities and invited her to join. As of the date of publication of this issue I have not heard from Marg.

On June 16, Mel Bladen furnished his e-mail address. It may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the last page. (Also see ALCAN 00034, dtd 17 June 97.)

On June 16, Chuck Rambo furnished his e-mail address. It may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the last page. (Also see ALCAN 00034, dtd 17 June 97.) On June 18, Babe Martin called from Maine. He said he is doing well and will be back in the area around July 25 for a week or so. He does not plan on attending any luncheons for a while. He said he is keeping busy and has fallen in love with Maine all over again.


For those of you who have been away from computers for a while and/or those of you who may be a little rusty on some of the new computer terms being used, the following information is being furnished to help you become an expert:

Bar code Rules at the local pub
BBS TV company in England
Bug An old VW
Bus Cheaper than an airplane
Byte What the dog did to the mail carrier
Cache No checks accepted
Chip A type of chocolate used in cookies
Client/Server Patron/ waitress or john/ hooker
Crash To attend a party uninvited
Default What a lot of people do on their mortgages
File What the government keeps on you
Hacker Cough drops help them
Hard Copy TV tabloid show
Hard drive Not an easy place to get to by car
Ink jet Similar to a Lear jet but slower
Interface What two or more people do after the party
Internet Small pieces of large fish net
Keyboard The most important board of your house
Laser jet Faster than an ink jet, still slower than a Lear jet
Macro Short for macaroni
Megahertz Take two tylenol
Modem Why the lawn looks good
Monitor Type of lizard
Mother board When your mom needs something to do
Mouse Things cats like to eat
Multi media More than one movie playing at the same time
Multitasking When your boss gives you more than one thing to do
Network Kind of job a net weaver looks for
On-line Sobriety test
Optic Fiber food that improves vision
Pentium Symbol devil worshipers use in their ceremonies
Pixels Tiny guy that lives in your computer and plays tricks on you
Printer buffer Aspirin for printers
Printer cable A Western Union message to a guy that prints
Program Tells you who the players are at a ball game
Programmer English teachers attitude
Protocol Rules for entertaining at the White House
Ram A male sheep
Serial Port breakfast wine
Silicon Valley Where breast implants are made
Subdirectory Directory on a sub
Tower Like in Paris
Video driver Guy who drives a car for TV stars
Web site Where a spider built a nest or where Jack Web used to live
Windows 95 A way for Bill Gates to make money until he gets it right

Pouch (Clerk) Abuse

by James F. Prosser

In my Foreign Service career, my most intractable problems seemed to revolve around the diplomatic pouch and/or personal mail. Whether messages were processed expeditiously or not really didn't matter if there were bags of mail to be opened and distributed. If you were in Africa or Eastern Europe, the problem was really much more acute. If PanAm was late, or, God forbid, overflew your post, there was hell to pay and it seemed the poor pouch clerk always got the brunt of it.

One day shortly after I had arrived in Brussels in 1965, the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) called me into his office. I had met him once or twice previously and was already keenly aware of his reputation for having a very short temper. He usually exploded with colorful language at the least provocation.

On this particular occasion, he was livid that a parcel he mailed in the pouch to the Ambassador in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) had been returned. No mention was made of the contents and I was not about to challenge him - yet. He asked what I had to say about that. Not having had any inkling of what this was all about, I said I would talk with his secretary, then Joe Sobol and Bill Fox in the pouch room to see what happened, and get back to him.

It turns out the secretary wrapped the parcel (which contained dry dog food!), registered it as official for the pouch, delivered it to the pouch room and it was unwittingly sent in our daily pouch dispatch to Paris, the center for unclassified air pouches for all African posts. When the parcel arrived in Paris, it was slightly crushed and some dry dog food spilled out. Fred Kadera, the Paris pouch room supervisor, correctly intercepted the improper shipment and returned it to Brussels, quoting the 5 FAM chapter and verse in an accompanying official memorandum stating this was absolutely forbidden.

So armed with the results of my investigation, I went back to the DCM's office and explained to him exactly what happened. My most grievous error was to tell the DCM, that actually the Paris pouch room supervisor's memorandum was 100 percent correct. This caused him to erupt into a memorable tirade, the expressions of which can't be printed in a scholarly journal like CANDOER. I should have been fearful of him, but wasn't, for I had all I could do to keep from laughing which would probably have caused him to physically throw me out of his office.

Still shouting he said: "Prosser, you tell that guy in Paris to take his 5 FAM and jam it up his a__ sideways! And Prosser, I want you to take this box of dog food, make a special air pouch to Leopoldville, personally take it to the airport for SABENA to send, and charge it to the Embassy!" To which I could only say, "Yes, sir!"

Strange, but I was even promoted later that year.

by Jim (inabq) Steeves

Bowkoo (that's French for "many") years ago a friend told me an interesting story related to his transfer to the post at which we met. This friend, whose name I don't remember (so I'll just call him Leroy), worked for an organization the name of which I don't remember either, but I do recall he never mentioned it. In his official capacity, he was a spooky character.

Anyway, the story took place on the actual flight which landed him ... wherever we met. It was an overnight flight and his wife had assigned him the task of looking after the son who had just, a day or two earlier, learned to walk. The wife was completely worn out just from taking care of 95% of all the preparations and packing for their onward assignment, in addition to the usual 95% of everything that got done in their home. So she declared that she was going to have one or two stiff drinks and then get some sleep and he, Leroy, was in 100% charge of the little one. So there!

No problemo Leroy thunk to his own self; he was highly trained and could handle much more difficult chores than that and the flight was only ... oh, ... six or seven hours. Piece of cake.

Well, it was a jumbo. Two aisles, right? It was also around 2 a.m. by the body clock of everyone on board. Leroy played a few games with the little Tyke but then the Tyke, who had just recently figured out how to work the legs, decided to go exploring. So he took off up the aisle. Leroy stood up and watched and a few seconds later the Tyke came walking back via the other aisle. He got to the rear of the plane and turned north ... or south ... whatever and commenced going toward the front of the plane again. On the third trip, Leroy watched the little one get almost as far forward as he could go, then he made a quick turn to the right. This took him between a row of seats adjacent to the windows. Leroy waited a few seconds then eased his own self up and slowly walked forward. When he got to where the son was he discovered a situation that made him blanch. Tyke had found an open satchel, a sort of brief case, and had pulled most of the papers out of it. Papers were helter-skelter all over the floor. The owner of the satchel snored peacefully in total ignorance of the situation.

Leroy didn't know whether to grab the son and head south ... north or whatever but had he done so Tyke might have squawked and awakened the sleeping businessman who appeared to be a native of the country to which they were flying. Given the nature of Leroy's business he realized that it could be an extremely sticky situation if he was discovered anywhere near the man's open satchel with paper's all over the place. Trained to act quickly, though, Leroy rapidly sized up the situation; bit the bullet; quickly grabbed the papers and stuffed them into the satchel and then said something very softly to Tyke and picked him up. They both managed to return to the correct row without being seen by anyone. Leroy wondered how close he had come to setting a new record. The record would have been being declared persona non grata (kicked out of the country by government officials) two hours after arrival at his new post of assignment.

I believe he said that this development caused a new chapter to be added to the book of traveling overseas.

Trans-Siberian Railroad Voyage Journal
July 1996

by Jim Prosser

Part 7 of 14

- Thursday, July 18 -

Dawn rose on another cloudless, cool and magnificent day in Irkutsk. As Intourist ruined my "Plan A" to visit Lake Baikal, I had to put "Plan B" into effect. My interpreter/guide Alexei was nowhere around, so I did it on my own!

After an early breakfast, I planned to take the 0900 country bus to Listvyanka where the Angara starts to flow out of Lake Baikal. However, the taxi driver did not heed my very clear instructions that I wanted to go to the bus station (including pointing to it on my city map). Somehow, he determined this American really wished to go to the airport, and took me there instead. I knew something was amiss when what should have been a ten minute ride now was a 20 minute ride.

By the time I arrived at the airport, it was too late to go to the bus station for the 0900 departure. Now "Plan C" had to be implemented in which I took the 1000 hydrofoil to Listvyanka and the last bus back to Irkutsk. I ordered the taxi driver to take me directly to the hydrofoil dock, again pointing to it on the city map. At this point he offered to drive me straight to Listvyanka for 100,000 rubles. I gave him a very firm "nyet!" Arriving at the hydrofoil dock, I paid him the previously agreed price from the hotel to the bus station and not all this extra travel which inconvenienced me somewhat. He wasn't happy, but had no cause for complaint.

The hydrofoil trip up the Angara River was marvelously smooth, taking just one hour. The boat was absolutely full with all 100 plus passengers seated in airplane type assigned seats. A majority of the people were on board strictly for transport to and from the two cities. I had the good fortune of being placed in the very front which provided a splendid video and photographic chances. Both sides of the river are forest covered mountains. Consequently there usually is a strong westerly breeze between them (the air conditioner for Irkutsk).

The most remarkable freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal is located in southeastern Siberia, west of the Yablonovyy Mountains. It covers 31,494 sq km, making it the largest freshwater lake by area in Eurasia. Baikal measures 636 km long and 29-81 km wide and is fed by more than 300 rivers and streams. Its only outlet, however, is the Angara River, which flows past Irkutsk.

Near the center of the lake is Olkhon Island, Baikal's largest, with a maximum length of about 73.6 km. Baikal is most notable because it lies in a deep rocky fault produced by a massive shift in the Earth's crust. It contains about 23,000 cu km of water. This is equivalent to the total volume of North America's Great Lakes and represents 20 percent of the world's liquid freshwater resources. Thus Baikal is the world's largest freshwater lake by volume.

It is also the deepest, reaching a maximum of 1,620 meters. Because it formed some 20 to 30 million years ago -- making Baikal the world's oldest freshwater lake as well -- the nearly 6.5 km of bottom sediment that has accumulated could be added to this depth. The region continues to be geologically active and shaken by earthquakes. Some geologists conjecture that the Asian continent is splitting apart at this site and that Baikal is an ocean in the making, a view supported in 1990 by the discovery of lake-bottom hydrothermal vents, which are usually found on mid-oceanic ridges.

Baikal's huge volume has a moderating effect on local weather, but the lake is buffeted by wind-generated storms. The water stays cold, with temperatures rising to no more than 14 degrees C in summer. From December to May the lake is frozen.

Baikal's exceptionally mineral-free waters support an unusual population of organisms, including many species endemic to the lake and its vents. The lake is a popular summer resort. Forest and mineral resources have been processed along its shore. In the 1960s, however, iron-ore production and forest exploitation began to present a serious threat to the ecology of the region, and by the 1980s the government of the former USSR had placed severe restrictions on activities that were polluting Baikal.

The lake is everything we have heard about it. With dry, clear weather and no wind, I could see forever over the azure surface.

Arriving at Listvyanka, I walked for a couple hours away from the town along the lake shore to enjoy the scenery. There are no roads along the lake at this point, nor any facilities which would draw tourists. On a day like today this is a perfect location for visitors, but the icy water precludes bathing beach or other water sport activities. Unfortunately, they probably have only 30 like today in a year's time.

But fishing is the sport here. Walking past some old houses on the side of the hill, I smelled what was most assuredly a smoke house in operation. Sure enough! On the way back, a young girl had set up a small stand and was selling smoked char.

The dockside bistro had plenty of mineral water (from Lake Baikal, of course), and beer to go along with the cold plates of salami, cheese, bread and garnished with sliced cucumbers.

Tied up at the dock was a launch about 15 meters long with the owner, his wife and young son sitting nearby. I enquired if they would be available to take me out on the lake for a few hours, to include a visit to Port Baikal on the opposite shore of the Angara River. After agreeing upon a price (dollars only please) I was off on another delightful cruise. The water besides being cold, was very clear.

The boat radio squawked a bit. The owner said he had to go someplace to pick up some people. I said, "no problem," as it was all new to me. It turned out there were three school teachers from Slovakia on vacation doing basically the same thing I was doing - cruising the lake. I found them most enjoyable and even ran into them a few times later in Irkutsk.

At Port Baikal, a spur off the Trans-Siberian railroad mainline ends for transfer of freight and passengers to lake boats as no rail service exists to Listvyanka on the north shore. It is a sleepy station, literally and figuratively. Cows, sheep and horses were grazing contentedly on and between the tracks. I identified the horses as percheron. They are beauties and physically built to do the work for which they are intended six months of the year - pull loaded sleds of goods on the ice along the lake shore to isolated communities.

Instead of returning to the Listvyanka dock, I convinced the boat owner to drop me off at the Baikal Museum of the Liminological Institute about 2 kms away. This saved me a lot of time to visit this very special museum about Lake Baikal. Everything you wish to know about the lake, its ecosystem and history is there.

The staff was very helpful. In front of the museum were several kiosks. As the bus back to Irkutsk wouldn't be by for another hour, I took the opportunity to shop for tourist items available. Across the road, way below the bus stop, I heard men screaming loudly. Looking down I saw two guys who had jumped into the lake swimming about for a few minutes in the 10C water! They must have been members of the local polar bear club.

About 1800 the bus to Irkutsk arrived. Riding it back, I was exhausted from walking, sun and wind burned, hungry, but very pleased at the fantastic day I had. I mentally thanked the taxi drivers who couldn't read maps and inadvertently caused me to have all the right things happen subsequently. My guardian angel took over again.

Arriving at the hotel about 1930, I cleaned up and decided to have a leisurely pizza dinner in the Italian restaurant on the top floor. I was the only customer, so had good service, plenty of cold beer and a great view of the Angara River.

Both my wife Mary and my sister Mary Prosser had visited Irkutsk 23 years previously. The thought ran through my mind about the possibility of them having "a leisurely pizza dinner" then.

As this is summer, performances of the Irkutsk opera, symphony and ballet are closed until September. Just as well, I was so tired in the evening.

After dinner, I adjourned to the riverside to bring my notes up-to-date on a park bench and watch another colorful sunset. Local artists were displaying their water color and oil paintings. Most of them were of high quality.

Returning to the hotel I came upon the arrival in the parking lot of a 1913 Vauxhall touring car! It was being driven, from London to Vladivostok by two Australians from Sydney, father and son! As they were quite tired and anxious to get it buttoned down and secured for the night, I didn't ply them with too many questions other than to ask how long they planned to stay so I could photograph their departure. That would be Sunday morning, same day as I leave.


See you next month.

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