|Issue 31||July 1998||Volume 3 - 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
One trip my wife and I took while assigned to the Embassy in Madrid is memorable for an unusual reason. We had gone west about 150-200 miles from Madrid into Portugal and planned to explore the city of Porto and some of northern Portugal for a few days. We spent the first night in a small city whose name I forget and the next morning ate breakfast somewhere in that city but we did something that we normally didn't: we gave Samson breakfast too. Doesn't that sound terrible? Well, as it turned out, it was a BIG mistake.
On advice from some long lost dog lover, once Samson was on solid food, we fed him once a day. We were told there were good reasons for this, among them being it was good for the animal because being fed at the same time every day regulated their movements; was actually more than sufficient if the food was good and ample (wild dogs, after all, could go many days without a hot dog); and avoid providing tid-bits which was neither good for them nutritionally or for their weight over the years. In addition, we were advised, put down food at the same time every day and leave it there for no more than an hour. The dog will eat all it wants, then dump out anything left over and wash the dish to avoid attracting bugs, etc. Ok, that seemed simple and we did it. But on that trip to Portugal, for reasons long forgotten, we gave the little bugger some breakfast.
That might have been no more than a poor decision had it not been for one other thing. While still a pup, Samson loved to climb up behind my wife's neck - while I drove - and lodge there between her neck and the headrest. I don't remember if his tail was toward me or the other way around, and I don't know how she put up with it. I didn't let him do it with me. Sure, it was cute and the look from other people was amusing - he looked like a live fur around her neck. Well, on this day, that method of riding came to an end because, as we drove out of that small city, over very winding roads, Samson lost it. Down my wife's neck. We were only ten minutes out of the city, right out in the country, when she screeched. I stopped the car. She stepped into the bushes and I got some stuff from the trunk so she could clean off as much as possible. At the next town we went into a restaurant where she did a thorough job of cleaning and changed clothes.
In time Samson might have grown too big to fit between Mama's neck and the headrest. We never found out though because, after that incident, he never got the chance again. We never gave him breakfast again either. The poor thing!
The following was received from Joe Hazewski on June 1:
Enclosed is a check to renew my CANDOER membership, with a little extra for the memorial fund.
The black bass fishing has slowed a little during the day since we have been getting all those 100 degree days in a row. A black buzzbait or a jointed black jitterbug works well in the tree tops after about 10 p.m. Also, at night the sand bass and hybrids just want to jump in the boat. All you need is a few chrome and black rattle traps and you can limit out every night. The crappie fishing at the boathouse has slowed because the water has warmed up so much, but they are still plentiful in deep water in the trees. Channel cats and blue cats are banging cut bait all day and all night. One old timer got a 62 lb. flathead last week. Thirty and 40 pounders are pretty common.
We have had less than an inch of rain since April 1, so the lake is down about 10 inches now. I hope we don't go into another drought like we had when Bonnie and I first got to Texas. The lake dropped 7 foot 4 inches then.
Bonnie and I are thinking about a trip back east in October or November. If we do it, I'll plan to make one of the luncheons. Have a great summer and keep up the good work. Regards to all.
The following is an exact copy of SSA Pub 05-10007 and is being furnished courtesy of your friendly neighborhood publisher/editor.
Government Pension Offset
A Law That Affects Social Security Spouse's and Widow's Benefits
If you worked for a Federal, State, or local government where you did not pay Social Security taxes, the pension you receive from that agency may reduce any Social Security benefits you qualify for.
There are two laws that may reduce your benefits. One of them affects the way your Social Security retirement or disability benefits are figured. (SSA Pub. 05-10045 and CANDOER News, June 1998, Volume 3 - Number 7).
The second law affects Social Security benefits you receive as a spouse or widow.
Below you will find answers to questions you may have about this provision.
I Receive A Government Pension. Will I receive Any Social Security On My Spouse's Record?
Probably not. Some or all of your Social Security spouse's or widow's benefit may be offset if you receive a pension from a job where you did not pay Social Security taxes.
How Much Is The Offset?
The offset will reduce the amount of your Social Security spouse's or widow's benefits by two-thirds of the amount of your government pension. In other words, if you get $1200, two-thirds of that, or 800, must be used to offset your Social Security spouse's or widow's benefits. If you're eligible for a $500 widow's benefit, you will receive nothing from Social Security.
If you take your annuity as a lump sum, the offset is figured as if you chose to receive regular monthly benefits.
Why Is There An Offset?
Social Security spouse's benefits provide income to wives and husbands who have little or no Social Security benefits of their own. Since the beginning of the Social Security program, spouse's benefits were intended for women and men who were financially dependent of their husbands or wives who worked at jobs covered by Social Security.
Before the offset provisions were enacted, many government employees qualified for a pension from their agency and for a spouse's benefit from Social Security,. Even though they were not dependent on their husband or wife.
Here's an example that helps clarify why there is an offset:
Bill Smith collects a Social Security benefit of $600 per month. His wife, Mary, is potentially eligible for a wife's benefit up to 50 percent of Bill's, or $300. However, Mary also worked and paid into Social Security, qualifying for her own retirement benefit of $3400. She will not receive any wife's benefits because her $400 retirement benefit, in effect, "offsets" her $300 wife's benefit. (When you're eligible for two Social Security benefits, you generally get the higher of the two, not both.)
Bill's neighbor, Tom, also gets a Social Security benefit of $600 per month. But his wife, Nancy, worked for the Federal Government (instead of a job where she paid Social Security taxes) and earned a civil service pension of $800 per month. Before the government pension offset provisions were in place, Nancy would have been eligible for both her $800 civil service pension and a $300 wife's benefit on Tom's Social Security record. With the offset provisions in place, Nancy does not qualify for a wife's benefit from Social Security, so now she is treated the same as Mary.
Who Is Exempt?
Any State, local, or military service employee whose government pension is based on a job where he or she was paying Social Security taxes on the last day of employment. (Some government entities were not initially covered by Social Security, but chose to participate in Social Security at a later date.)
Anyone whose government pension is not based on his or her earnings.
Anyone who received or who was eligible to receive the government pension before December 1982 and who meets all the requirements for Social Security spouse's benefits in effect in January 1977. (Essentially, this provision applies to a divorced woman whose marriage must have lasted at least 20 years and to a husband or widower who must have received one-half of this support from his wife.)
Anyone who received or was eligible to receive the Federal, State or local government pension before July 1, 1983, and was receiving one-half support from her or his spouse.
Federal employees who are mandatorily covered under Social Security
Federal employees who chose to switch from the Civil Service Retirement System to the Social Security system on or before December 31, 1987. If the Office of Personnel Management allowed an employee to make a belated election to the Federal Employee Retirement System, the change could be made through June 30, 1988. Federal employees (such as legislative employees) who opt to switch to Social Security coverage after December 31, 1987, will need 5 years of Federal employment covered by Social Security to be exempt from government pension offset.
Even If I Do Not Get Cash Benefits, Can I Still Get Medicare At 65 On My Spouse's Record?
Can I Still Get Benefits On My Own Record?
The offset applies only to Social Security benefits as a spouse or widow. However, your own benefits may be reduced due to another provision of the law (See SSA Publication 05-10045 or the CANDOER News, June 1998, Volume 3 - Number 7).
For more information, write or visit any Social Security office or phone our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. You can speak to a representative any business day 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The best times to call are early in the morning and early in the evening. And if you can, it's best to call later in the week and later in the month.
When you call, have your Social Security number handy. If your question is about spouse's or widow's benefits on somebody else's record, we will need his or her Social Security number, too.
The Social Security Administration treats all calls confidentially --- whether they're made to our toll-free number or tone of our local offices. We also want to ensure that you receive accurate and courteous service. This is why we have a second Social Security representative listen to some incoming and outgoing telephone calls.
All telegrams while being processed were stored on very large magnetic Drums. I don't recall the access time, but I believe it was in nano seconds. Software was written to protect the drums from crashing due to overload. Therefore, it was necessary to monitor the volumes very closely. To do this, a journal was printed out each minute to a Model 28 Teletype Roll-Around located at the system supervisor's position. The journal reported the time, messages in process, and drum cells in use during that minute. If the drum cells in use exceeded certain levels (8000), service messages were sent to all units and circuits to hold traffic. If the drum cells continued to rise to a level of 8125, the system was set down for all but FLASH traffic to prevent loss of data. This action stressed the relay stations and required them to store the traffic for the Department, until the drum cells in use were reduced to what was considered a safe level (below 6000). Some of the supervisors were overly protective. The late Rod Bishop, a very competent supervisor on the evening shift, had a practice of setting down the internal operations, particularly the analysis section, as soon as he arrived, so that drum cells could be purged, regardless of the drum cells in use. The Communications Center had an extensive intercom system to coordinate the centers activities. One station was on my desk.
After several evenings of this action, I inquired of Rod as to why he stopped the Analysts from working. His rationale was that if he purged the system for about and hour, the Analysis could then work uninterrupted for perhaps the rest of the evening. I disagreed with this approach because not only did he stop the Analysts from working, but the reproduction center was also shut down and the traffic became backlogged in that section as the outgoing traffic was sent to the circuits. I believed it was a better approach to permit the Analysts to operate for short periods, as necessary, which permitted the reproduction center to keep up with traffic volumes.
The ATS was delicate in many respects and in time we became more experienced with it. Programs were also written to relive some of the sensitivity.
We had a good turn out (21 people) for the June luncheon at TGIF's. In attendance were the following CANDOER's: Bob Alexander, Cal Calisti, Bob Catlin, Paul Del Giudice, Charlie Ditmeyer, Tom Forbes, Charlie Hoffman, Ken Loff, Mel Maples, Will Naeher, Joe Pado, Tom Paolozzi, Nate Reynolds, Rob Robinson, Bob Rouleau, Bob Scheller, Don Stewart, and Val Taylor.
In attendance for the first time, were the following: Dave Borter, Bill Parker, and Jim Parker. A big CANDOER WELCOME to the three of you. May you be able to attend many, many more luncheons. Bill Parker advises that he will be in the area for approximately one year. He has temporarily given up the good life in Ocala for the hectic life of WashDC.
On May 27 Al Debnar asked me to send information about the CANDOER's to retiree, George Goldstein. I sent a CANDOER kit to him the following day.
On June 7, I received a letter and a generous donation from Joe Hazewski. Joe and Bonnie are doing well and enjoying life in Kerens. Joe's letter may be found in the Letters to the Editor section of this issue.
On June 8, I received a letter from Ed Melnick. Ed said he enjoys reading "about members adventures and learning about their current status."
On June 22, I received a letter and a donation to the CANDOER funds from Ann Clavette. Ann is now living in Maine and has become a member of the CANDOERs. You will find Ann's address and telephone number in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
Long before Marine Security Guards were generally assigned at many posts abroad (circa 1950), the Department of State hired civilians for those requiring guard service. They generally were personnel leaving the military service after World War II. Edmond Sarran was one of them.
Ed went to Canberra in 1950 on his first posting. He and his wife Olga were given living quarters on the Embassy compound. The Embassy told him as long as he was living on compound, he was to be the night watchman and remain available, but he could sleep. Ed was on call at all times as night watchman and answered the telephone. These restrictions didn't sit too well with him, but being at his first post abroad he was rather afraid to "rock the boat" or complain too much. Nevertheless, he was very astute in keeping copies of everything written which transpired between him, the Department of State and the Embassy in this matter.
During the next four years he was in Bonn and Munich (then as a code clerk), he conducted an exhaustive campaign to obtain reimbursement from the Department of State for all the time he was mandated to remain on the compound in Canberra and act as night watchman and telephone operator. All efforts for redress proved for naught. (There wasn't a Grievance Board then.)
In exasperation Ed turned over copies of all his records and correspondence to one of his Congressional representatives to see what could be done to obtain just compensation. The Senator or Congressman replied he would look into it.
Several weeks later, Ed received an "Operations Memorandum" (OM) in the pouch with a $10,000 check enclosed. The "OM" indicated this sum was offered in compensation for the time he had been directed to live on compound to serve as night watchman and telephone receptionist for four years in Canberra. It further stated his signature in cashing the check would be agreement no further claims would be made against the Department of State in this matter.
I had the pleasure of serving with Ed Sarran briefly in 1958 in Munich and believe he may have been one of the first to receive "standby pay" more than 20 years before it was officially sanctioned.
Do readers know of any earlier instances of a form of "standby pay" being given?
The following was sent to me by a high school colleague, Herb Walden.
A Senior Citizen's Lament
Thought I'd let my doctor check me,
‘cause I didn't feel quite right.
All those aches and pains annoyed me,
and I couldn't sleep at night.
He could find no real disorder,
but he wouldn't let it rest.
What with Medicare and Blue Cross
it wouldn't hurt to do some tests.
To the hospital he sent me,
though I didn't feel that bad.
He arranged for them to give me
every test that could be had.
I was fluoroscoped and cystoscoped,
my aging frame displayed,
stripped upon an ice-cold table
while my gizzards were X-rayed.
I was checked for worms and parasites,
for fungus and the crud.
While they pierced me with long needles
taking several samples of my blood.
Doctors came to check me over,
probed and pushed and poked around,
and to make sure I was living,
they wired me for sound.
They have finally concluded;
(their results have filled a full page)
what I have will someday kill me,
my affliction is OLD AGE.
My final months in Kabul were spent in Administration where I learned how a small Embassy operated in Central Asia. My boss was James D. Moffet, a fine Foreign Service Officer, who had served in Korea, during the earlier Occupation, before the Korean War began in 1950.
Jim and his wife Beverley made a contribution to the post. Bev established the first Commissary.
I traveled to Lahore, Pakistan, for a visit to the American dentist, Jack Sproul, a former U.S. Navy light heavyweight champion. Now he had a dental practice in Pakistan. Prior to that, in British India, he had fixed the teeth of rulers at their courts. He often received a gold watch for his labor.
In Rawalpindi, we learned that the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali, was assassinated. The Pakistani CID came to our respective hotel rooms and wanted to interview us. It seems the suspect was an Afghan and we had arrived in Moffett's car with Kabul plates! Jim produced his Diplomatic Passport and the police went away!
I received orders for London, assigned to the Classified Pouch Room.
A strike by the International carriers delayed my travel, but I said goodbye to my friends at Kabul, and went to Peshawar, then on Orient Airways to Karachi. Here I picked up PANAM back to Heathrow. After a few days in civilization, I returned to New York and Washington.
When I read Jim Prosser's article about the pouches that had been locked in the reefer (March 1997, Volume 2 - Number 4), I was reminded of another story about pouches, an experience few experienced 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 had already 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 sheep herding in the great American west, their numbers are fairly well dwarfed by those Irishmen who went to the U.S. Having worked all their lives paying into social security or working on the railroad in the U.S., the Irish who returned to Ireland, wanted to do exactly as those Spanish sheep herders did; live out their days in their original homeland. 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 (why couldn't it have been Oslo or Paris?) 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 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 in a row.
The following letter and poem were received from Herb Horacek:
Juan of Mexico is about why part one arrived late.
Billie worked for two airlines and two commercial companies and four U.S. Government departments.
She assured me, "Juan of Mexico" was not written about her co-workers at State --- although we did our share of gambling, like going to races at Laurel, before reporting to work and Saturday night poker games.
Billie still hasn't gotten around to sending a certain ex-Nebraska State Department employee and CANDOER member a letter about how Nebraska has changed since he left . . . when it could rain all night and the dust would blow the next day.
Now the center pivots keep the Nebraska plains green and productive and the farmer's pockets loaded with corn money.
ISN'T THIS A GREAT STATE!!!!!
Bob, If you use Billie's poem, you might want to use the above information for an explanation.
Juan of Mexico
Juan picked up the copy,
"Golly , what a mess!"
Slipped it on the bottom,
he really should confess.
Take the second one in the bunch,
skipping siesta, finished it by lunch.
Gallop little burro, Juan is taxiing to the track,
he is on overtime, so why hurry back.
Another little peon, just for fun,
drank a quart of Tequila, and started section one.
Out of tape, so what do you think
out to the barn, for another little drink.
Fones are ringing and Juan is back,
mucho pesos he lost at the track.
Its 5 p.m. and the number is in,
Senora has hit in La Casa of sin.
Tip-toe out, quiet as a mouse,
chilli tonight is on the house.
In the old corral, across the way
three buck-a-roos are buying hay.
And the nags all mooch away,
only 13-days until another pay day.
The sport page is open on tic-tac-toe
creative work for Tom, Dick, and Joe.
It's vespers time, by the Mexico sun,
and peon number two has just finished section one.
Now, if you see a teletype flying about,
it's just another peon - - - riding it out.
Are you Clear? War is c l e a r!
Time to go, Buenos Noches from Mexico.