|Issue 45||September 1999||Volume 4 - Number 10|
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
When I give credit to someone for furnishing one-liners or articles, like last month's article, Bounce Fabric Softener, and this months article, How to survive a heart attack when alone, I give credit to the first person who sends it to me. In a lot of cases, I have probably received it from more than one member but, the first person I receive it from gets the credit.
We have a new author this month, Marie Grimes. Marie, thanks for an outstanding story about your experience in Moscow/Helsinki.
We now have a CANDOER Web site. On July 28, I designed and installed a Web site at the following (URL) http://www.CANDOER.org.
I am open to suggestions on how to improve or add to the site.
The CANDOER home page is simple and fast loading. I designed it that way on purpose. To cut down on the load time to your screen, graphics are at a minimum.
At the present time, the site contains the following information:
1. CANDOER Home Page.
2. Introduction: What the organization is all about.
3. Information:How to join --- Including an application form.
4. Luncheon Information: What, when, where and how.
5. The current issue of the CANDOER News. This will be updated every month on or about the 27th.
6. Interesting Web sites. There URL is listed and some general information about the site. All you have to do is click on the URL and it will take you directly to that site. To return, just click BACK on your browser and it will return you to the CANDOER site.
7. Last months and the previous months issues of the CANDOER News.
NOTE: The current, last, and previous month's issues do not have graphics in them. The Web site is limited to five (5) meg of storage space --- graphics eat up a lot of bytes. In addition, the last two pages of every issue, containing the Treasury Report, the Luncheon Information and the e-mail list have been omitted. Also, I have removed assignments, birthdays, and dates of retirement from the Pen and Ink listings.
8. A list showing member's e-mail address is available, hyperlinked so that all you have to do is click on a member's address and an e-mail message form will pop up and allow you to send a message.
9. Pictures of CANDOERs at luncheons and other activities, both CANDOER and otherwise. If you have a picture you would like to have posted, send it to me and I will scan it, and include it in the Picture area. Please DO NOT expect to have the picture returned.
10. Directory of Members. This page is passworded. I do not want the directory, and I am sure you don't either, open to anyone with all the information that is contained therein. Therefor, I passworded this area only.
The password program is a complex one that has the main part of the program off-line, on my computer. I have to assign sign-on names, passwords, and the file name that contains the Directory of Members. This program then encrypts the password and the file name and I put that information (encrypted) on the Web page.does not allow just anyone to sign on.
The Web site is final as it is. The only changes will be to up-date addresses, e-mail addresses, etc., as they are received, unless you all have suggestions for changes and/or improvements.
Those of you who are presently getting hard copies and/or Envoy copies may elect to receive the CANDOERNewsletter from the Web. The choice will be yours. The WEB Site CANDOER News will be free. I only ask that you donate to the Memorial fund, when funds are needed and a small donation to maintain the Web domain.
Communications at the Port-au-Prince Embassy
There was no leased circuit between the Department and Port-au-Prince. Telegrams were sent and received via RCA Global or All American Cable.
Both carriers closed at 9:00 p.m., Monday - Friday, and reduced hours on the weekends and holidays. Telegrams were delivered by messenger from both cable companies, for the embassy had no TELEX.
Once the embassy closed, the Marine Security Guard received the telegrams and if a Priority, Immediate, or NIACT Immediate was received, contacted the embassy code clerk by Motorola radio. The local telephone service was limited and often inoperative, especially after tropical rain storms.
RCA would open the radio circuit to New York City after normal hours, in an emergency. RCA provided the best copy, garble free. All American Cable copy contained errors, and non-confirmation of numbers in Unclassified cables.
Once, for a visiting Congressman, the RCA circuit was held open after hours so his vote on an issue in the House could be recorded.
When I arrived, the supervisor, Ann Barker, had departed post. Maurice Brooks was awaiting orders and transfer. Finally, Conrad Wright arrived, but after a few weeks he resigned, and paid his way home. That left me the lone communicator, until Steve Nielsen arrived.
In August 1960, I was sent TDY to San Jose, Costa Rica, for an OAS Conference, which lasted over two weeks. Upon return to post, Maurice Brooks left on home leave.
Besides telegrams, there were also air, courier, and surface pouches to send and receive, then distribute. Finally, the diplomatic files had to be maintained.
The telephone service, provided by West Indies Telephone Company, was poor! In order to contact the Department of State, a call was booked, then the Ambassador went to a small center. He always took his secretary to take down the calls in short-hand, for record keeping.
Our small section also handled telegrams for AID, USIA, the Military Attache, and the U.S. Naval Mission (encrypted traffic).
Many times I used my own car to deliver outgoing embassy telegrams to RCA or All American Cable.
Air pouch service from the Department came on PANAM daily, as warranted. Diplomatic couriers visited the post en route to Caracas and Panama.
The NCOIC of the MSG met diplomatic couriers and exchanged the material.
The embassy communications also included Mr. Piere Louis, an elderly Haitian messenger, who kept the Unclassified mail room and distributed material.
The RCO office at Panama provided ComTech support. I recall John Feathers was a visitor on these matters.
There were frequent power failures, which meant the emergency generator had a good work out!
After two years, I was ready to depart with my family when I received transfer orders for Paris. As I departed there still had been no improvement in embassy communications.
It remained for the Cuban Missile Crisis to bring drastic change and create an Office of Communications in 1963.
During a political crisis, Ambassador Drew sent a CRITIC which was several pages in length. I advised him to send a much briefer CRITIC and follow up with an Immediate. Naturally, he did not follow my advice. DC/T did not appreciate the long telegram, which was encrypted in a rotor system.
"Honey, I just know the baby's coming --- you've got to find someone now!"
It was April 15, 1970, and we were in the maternity ward of a hospital in Helsinki, Finland. This was the second or third time I'd sent my husband, Richard, away from my bedside to look for someone to deliver our baby, which I just knew was coming any minute. The last few times he'd returned looking very bewildered and worried, reporting that the halls were empty and that he couldn't find anyone!
A month earlier, after one of my routine maternity check-ups at our small medical clinic on the grounds of the American Embassy compound in Moscow, our young, newly-arrived State Department doctor announced that ,"It now appears the baby is ready to come any day," not four or five weeks later! "You better get to Helsinki this evening. I'll start processing your evacuation."
Richard, our two and a half-year-old daughter, Theresa, and I had recently arrived from our first post in Bangkok, Thailand. A few months later, after settling into our new Embassy quarters in Moscow, we decided to have another child. I wanted to have the baby delivered at a local hospital but, unfortunately and inopportunely, State Department policy prohibited this, for security reasons. All expectant mothers had to be evacuated to a western country for the delivery. Finland being the closest non-communist country to the USSR, was the reason we were up there.
The doctor's forecast of "any day" turned out to be 29 long, never-ending days, and even then, my labor had to be induced! So, Theresa and I had spent the month installed in a small but very comfortable, staff-friendly, Finnish hotel, and had wiled away many a day walking, shopping, and touring. We also had entertained two separate family visitors, who had flown in from the States just to be with us during the big event. But alas, both, disappointedly, had lost the race between their return flights and the baby's arrival.
When I was finally admitted to the hospital, April 15, Richard flew up from Moscow to be with me during the delivery. We now had another problem --- who would watch Theresa while Richard was with me at the hospital. After learning from the hotel staff that there was no babysitting service, nor did they know of any to recommend, the hotel desk clerk kindly volunteered to watch her in the lobby.
Getting back to the urgency at hand, again, Richard set out to find someone to help us --- by now the situation was a bit tense, to say the least. He went further afield this time, and later retold how, at the end of a long, dark corridor, he finally heard some voices coming from a room that turned out to be the staff's break room. He said it was standing room only and all eyes were focused on a television set which was broadcasting the troubled Apollo 13 space mission. Only after the successful firing of the very critical reentry rocket boosters, did the doctor and his entourage tear themselves away and rush to my bedside. And lo and behold, immediately and frantically, within minutes, delivered our second baby girl, Christina, thereby for us, forever linking her birth date with the Apollo 13 space mission. (They also somehow managed to trap poor, almost-ready-to-pass-out Richard in the room, making him a very reluctant witness to our baby's entry!)
Five days later, Christina and I were released from the hospital and took a taxi directly to the airport to catch our Aeroflot flight back to Moscow. We had to go through no less than three Russian security checks, just to get on the airplane! On board, I discovered that Christina and I were the only westerners, which was a little intimidating, as my Russian was almost non-existent, and we were definitely getting lots of attention. Throughout the flight, several typical-looking Russian babushkas came over and babbled something, which I assumed was questions and curiosity over the newborn western baby. When we landed in Moscow, I had another concern to deal with because our plan taxied to a secluded area on the tarmac and was immediately surrounded by Russian soldiers aiming rifles at us! After two very officious-looking men boarded and checked all our passports and papers, we were ordered to disembark and were marched to the terminal. With great relief, I caught a glimpse of Richard, waiting in a crowd at the entrance door! So, we weren't being hi-jacked after all. (I later learned that this was just standard procedure for all Aeroflot flights coming back from a western country.)
By the way, after we left Moscow we heard that the wife of our State Department doctor gave birth to their first child in the clinic --- again, he had incorrectly figured the due date!
NOTE: The names of those who participated in this adventure have been cleverly disguised in his narrative since they refused to be associated with it.
My friends and I took the day off Thursday, May 14th. Actually, since we're retired, we've taken the whole year off. We wanted to see a few things upstream, which is south of here. (A surprising number of people think the Rhine flows south, i.e., from the ocean to the Alps but it doesn't.)
We were up at the crack of dawn but common sense prevailed so we got some more sleep and left Plittersdorf just after 8 a.m. We had lots of ground to cover so we needed the early start. We felt obligated to have a good time and see lots of things. Successful retirement isn't just sending your wife off to work or playing golf. There are things to do and places to go and we know we're going to be questioned about it later.
We headed south along the B9, taking it easy and enjoying the blue sky through the sun roof. I drove on this trip mostly so we wouldn't get lost again and the other guys could snooze along the way - it being a common "activity" for people our age. Actually, getting lost is monotonously common too.
Traffic was light. We got to Andernach around 8:45. One of us woke up and thought he was in Chicago. (Bear in mind that just waking up at our age is an exciting though occasionally disorienting experience.) One of us had not before seen the well-preserved old walls of the city and another one of us is kind of gimpy so we opted to drive along those streets that provide an excellent view of the walls. After we saw enough to last us a week I headed for a parking garage so that we could slowly amble along some of the many pedestrian streets. Our objective was to find caffeine and something sweet. Accordingly, (being nothing if not organized) we convened a meeting at which we programmed our noses for caffeine and the sweet smell of pastry. As luck would have it, our meeting took place directly in front of a bakery shop so it was a short search.
We were fortunate to find a retired German police officer who was also having a coffee. Conversation with him was pleasant - he spoke good English and excellent German. He confirmed that the directions to our principle objective for this day were correct however he felt obliged to tell us that Koblenz is downstream (from Andernach), not upstream! I gripped my table and said Koblenz was upstream! He was politely silent though he clearly thought we were daft. I asked why, when he saw objects float down the river, they floated north. He said something about low tides in Rotterdam and I fell off my stool. We then spent ten minutes trying to persuade him to visit Las Vegas since his sister lives there. She visits him every summer. We told him of the one-armed bandits everywhere in Nevada, in drugstores, even in McDonalds and abandoned mines and he, in turn, assured us that no McDonalds or drugstore in Germany has a slot-machine. We concluded he's either been retired too long or watches too much television.
We returned to the B9 and resumed course on a southerly heading. Just before the Mosel River we saw the sign that directed us off the ramp toward the Wehrtechnisches Museum - which is, excuse my German, the Technical War Museum. It was a little tricky finding the sign on the B9 (very heavy traffic) but after zipping down the ramp I took a right turn, headed west and missed the next sign that directed us to take a left. I alertly whipped into a narrow street intending to go round the block so I could circle around and take another shot at the sign but didn't observe in time that it was a dead-end street and that a beer truck followed me into it. An hour later we arrived at the museum.
If one expects to see a lot of war stuff in a military museum, this one certainly will not disappoint. The museum takes up about 5 floors of a building and includes everything from military pistols, machine guns, artillery guns, Gatling guns, military uniforms, naval guns, Russian and German tanks (one Russian T-55 cut away to display the interior), and aircraft including a MiG 23 and a MiG 25; a Mirage; an F-104 and others, plus a couple of helicopters. We spent most of two hours viewing the exhibits but tired old legs compelled us to call it quits with much yet unseen. The only unfortunate aspect of the museum is that everything is in German. In our case, one of us was able to translate the hard stuff but how much nicer for foreign visitors it would be if the exhibits were described in the big three languages. Still, it is quite a collection of military equipment and certainly well worth the two mark admission fee.
Actually, it wasn't just tired old legs that persuaded us to move along. It was also after the noon hour. Mr. A and I knew of a Chinese restaurant with which, on previous visits, we were well pleased. It was remarkably easy to convince Mr. B to head there for Chinese food. It was slightly confusing to find that the whole front of the restaurant had been opened up, exposing the interior to the street. It suits the warm weather.
Following the meal we wandered down some of the pedestrian streets and into a hat shop where I found a wonderful straw hat for just 9.5 marks!. Mr. A got one that covers his shiny head but got stuck with a 19.75 mark bill for much less quality and no class at all. Mr. B decided to buy a hat too but not until two hours after we left the store.
We wandered along the pedestrian streets for an hour, then, after only loosing Mr. B twice and Mr. A once, we headed for the Deutches Eck (this is the point where the Mosel River joins the Rhine) where Mr. B disappeared again. We're now calling him "Houdini." Lots of tourist buses were there but it's a large area and Houdini did get a photograph of the well-known Kaiser atop a borrowed horse. He emerged from the bushes (Mr. B, not the horse) near the monument swearing he only took a picture and I believe him though the strained look that had been on his face moments earlier was gone. Back at the car we woke Mr. A from a sound sleep. Mr. B couldn't resist the temptation to play a nasty trick on him by pointing to the Mosel River and saying that Lake Michigan looked nice at this time of year.
As we headed north toward Bonn, we kept to the schedule by pulling off into the commercial area which lies about five kilometers north of downtown Koblenz. We wandered into one very large store, Einkauf I think, and bought a few items but, weary myself from chasing after these guys, my mind wandered as we approached the B9 resulting in a turn south, back toward beautiful downtown Koblenz. I smartly took the next left turn into a one-way street quickly and followed it with a U-turn intending to get back on the B9 heading north. This street led to another and another until we found ourselves heading across the Rhein instead of the Mosel. Since we were now going in the direction of Limburg I asked the guys what they thought of going east 45 miles to Limburg instead of north back to Bonn. Since I had fallen asleep at the previous red light they lost some confidence in my ability to go anywhere and insisted we go back to Bonn which is what I had been trying to do for the past half hour. We eventually got back home where a tall Margarita and cool massaging hands were, regrettably, not available. We did agree that it was a fine outing, considering that we saw a lot more than we'd planned and we hadn't lost anyone on the trip.
The following was received from my brother-in-law, Ed Tregaskis.
1945 - The winning side used a US made .45 Caliber pistol, The losers used a European 9mm. Now - We use a European 9mm pistol. Nobody uses the .45. 1945 - If you smoked, you had an ashtray on your desk. Now - If you smoke, you are sent outside and are treated like a leper. 1945 - If you said "damn", people knew you were annoyed and avoided you. Now - If you say "damn" you better be talking about a hydroelectric plant. 1945 - NCO's had a typewriter on their desks for doing daily reports. Now - Everyone has an Internet computer, and they wonder why no work is getting done. 1945 - We painted pictures of pretty girls on airplanes to remind us of home. Now - We put the real thing in the cockpit. 1945 - Your girlfriend was at home, praying you would return alive. Now - She is in the same foxhole, praying your condom worked. 1945 - If you got drunk off duty, your buddies would take you back to the barracks to sleep it off. Now - If you get drunk any time they slap you in rehab and ruin your whole career. 1945 - Canteens were made out of steel. You could heat coffee or hot chocolate in them. Now - Canteens are made of plastic. You can't heat anything in them and they always taste like plastic. 1945 - Officers were professional soldiers first. They commanded respect. Now- Officers are politicians first. They beg not to be given a wedgie. 1945 - They collected enemy intelligence and analyzed it. Now - They collect our pee and analyze it. 1945 - If you don't act right, the commander might put you in the stockade till you straighten up. Now- If you don't act right, they start a paper trail that follows you forever. 1945 - Medals were awarded to heroes who saved lives at the risk of their own. Now - Medals are awarded to people who show up for work most of the time. 1945 - You slept in a barracks, like a soldier. Now - You sleep in a dormitory, like a college kid. 1945 - You ate in a Mess Hall. It was free and you could have all the food you wanted. Now - You eat in a dining facility. Every slice of bread or pat of butter costs, and you can only have one. 1945 - If you wanted to relax, you went to the Rec Center, played pool, smoked and drank beer. Now - You go to the Community Center and can still play pool. 1945 - If you wanted a beer and conversation you could go to the NCO or Officers Club. Now - The beer will cost you $1.75, membership is forced, and someone is watching how much you drink. 1945 - You could buy quartermaster gas tax free because it was on a military reservation. Now - AAFES charges you the tax but pockets the money themselves because it is on a military reservation. 1945 -The BX/PX had bargains for GI's who didn't make much money. Now - You can get better merchandise cheaper at Wal Mart. 1945 - We could recognize the enemy by their Nazi helmets. Now - We are wearing the Nazi helmets. 1945 - Victory was declared when the enemy was dead and all his things were broken. Now - Victory is declared when the enemy says he is sorry. 1945 - If you killed an enemy soldier, you could bring home his rifle as a trophy. Now - If you bring home anything at all as a trophy you get a court martial. 1945 - A commander would put his butt on the line to protect his people. Now - A commander will put his people on the line to protect his butt. 1945 - After the war, you could buy your own rifle off the government, cheap. Now - You can't be trusted with your own rifle, and you'll be jailed if you ever get one. 1945 - Wars were planned and run by generals with lots of important victories. Now - Wars are planned and run by politicians with lots of important panty raids. 1945 - We knew we were fighting for freedom. The country was committed to winning. Now - We don't know what we are fighting for. The government is committed to Socialism. 1945 - All you could think of was getting out and becoming a civilian again. Now - All you can think of is getting out and becoming a civilian again.
The August CANDOER Luncheon was well attended. The following CANDOERs attended: Bob Campopiano, Bob Catlin, Al Debnar, Paul Del Giudice, Charlie Ditmeyer, Ken French, Mel Maples, Will Naeher, Hank Reavey, Bob Rouleau, Bob Scheller, Val Taylor, John Tyburski, and Tom Warren.
In addition, three long-distance CANDOERs attended, Chuck Chesteen, all the way up from Nellysford,VA; Charlie Hoffman, all the way down from Danville, PA; and, Marv Frishman, all the way over from Toms River, NJ.
We also had a special guest, John Nave. John is presently attending John Hopkins University and has expressed an interest in joining the Foreign Service as a Information Resources Management specialist. John and I have been exchanging e-mail about working for the U.S. government, and I suggested he attend a luncheon and talk with some of the retirees about their careers and experiences. John was fortunate enough to be able to sit and talk with Bob Scheller and Ken French.
On July 26, I received an e-mail message from Jim Steeves. By the time you read this, he will be back in the States, on his way moving from Germany to San Diego, California. In the meantime, he has a new e-mail address, which may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue and on the last page of this and future issues.
On July 28, I received the following e-mail from Carmen Bevacqua:
To the Myrtle Beach Golf Gang of 1999
Tom Paolozzi was presented with a Callaway Staff Bag with his name embroidered on it. He was absolutely overwhelmed. We really hit the jackpot with this selection, as his bag had just given out a few days earlier. We did good. Thanks for the donations. Cheers!
On August 3, I received an e-mail message from Paul Nugnes. He and Debra have settled down in Florida and are back on the air. Their new telephone number and e-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section. For you web surfers, the e-mail address has been added to the web page.
On August 3, I received an e-mail message from Chuck Scott. Scottie is now at his summer home in Pennsylvania. While in PA he will be without e-mail. He reports he and his wife are going to Ireland and Wales the last of September and the first weeks of October. Remove his e-mail address from your data bases and address groups.
On August 5, I received an e-mail from Dennis Starr with his new snail-mail address. It may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On August 6, I received a post card from Bob and Sally Sandberg. They have a new summer address. It may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On August 8, I received an e-mail message from Floyd and Patti Hagopian. They are going to be off the air for approximately one month. They will advise when they have established a new e-mail address.
On August 10, I received a letter and a check from Leo Duncan. Leo reports all is fine with Linda and him.
On August 10, I received an e-mail message from Bill Weatherford. Bill said If anyone is interested he has found a local source for custom embroidery work that will put the DTS emblem on 100-percent jersey polo shirts for $22.00 each, on 100-percent pique polo shirts for $24.00 each, and on five-segment poplin ball caps for $11.00 each. The cap emblem would be approximately 2-1/2 inches tall, the shirt emblem about 4-1/2 inches. Prices shown are based on a minimum order of 12 of each item, and the shirts do NOT have pockets. The company isn't set up to handle individual item shipment, but he will take care of that at cost.
EDITOR'S NOTE: If you are interested, please contact Bill direct.
On August 12, I received a call from Babe Martin. Babe and Patti are getting settled at St Michaels, but are extremely busy. He said that they were to start school on August 23. He has been doing handy-man work. Patti is assisting the 1st grade teacher. There are 32 first graders. He is going to be the Athletic Director for the elementary school, plus a PE teacher. He has been working on scheduling basketball games for the upcoming year. He will be coaching two boys and two girls basketball teams. In addition, he hopes to revive a softball program. The equipment was donated by a school in New Mexico which closed. He said that the equipment should have went along with the school, it is in real bad shape.
He furnished his phone number which may be found in the Pen and Ink section of this issue.
On August 15, I received an e-mail message from Carl and Patricia Stout. Carl is still enjoying his job with Lowe's as a Marketing Price Auditor.
On the 21st, Nancy and I had breakfast with Rob Robinson in Asheville, NC. Rob asked I pass his greetings on to you all. Rob has picked a very beautiful city to call home. If you ever get the chance, drop down and say "Hi," to Rob. You will love the area and the people.
On August 23, I received a telephone call from Ed Wilson. Ed and Joan have settled in , Florida.
On the following day, August 24, I received an e-mail message from Ed confirming his new address and personal data. This information may be found in both the Pen and Ink Section of this issue and on the WWW site.
After some years of negotiating and agonizing, President Nixon sent Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to negotiate ways and means in which the U.S. could open diplomatic relations with China. Agreements were reached and a U.S. Embassy was constructed in Peking. At this time, many of our Far East posts were using HF radio Teletype and communicating through a relay station at Clark AFB in the Philippines. A station was installed in the new Embassy to join the Far East net. However, a program was emerging to convert many of the stations to satellite, using the military network. A large station was installed in Bangkok and was used to relay the radio signals to a satellite. As terminal satellite stations were installed, the HF stations were discontinued. We had hoped to covert Peking from HF RTTY to satellite.
After several months of negotiation and discussions with the Far East regional bureau, in an attempt to have the Chinese Government to "invite me to come to Peking to hold discussions," an invitation was finally received. I departed on Northwest Orient Airlines to Tokyo, where I met the CRO from Tokyo, Paul Del Giudice, and the RCO from Manila, Roy Hylaman. Roy was to accompany me to Peking, to join me in discussions. En route from Tokyo to Peking, on Japanese Airlines (JAL), our plane was diverted to Shanghai because of "an earthquake in Peking." After clearing Chinese formalities, we boarded buses for a harrowing ride to the center of the city.
The highway was wall-to-wall people in rickshaws, bicycles, walking, motor bikes, and vehicles of all descriptions, each vehicle blowing their horn incessantly to clear the way. As our bus proceeded through the crowd, it reminded me of a large shark going through a school of fish, as the people parted away and then closed in behind the bus. How they made the room, I will never know but no one was hit or injured. We finally reached our hotel, which had been arranged for us by the airlines. The hotel was about a block from the Yangtze river. The hotel was very clean and the service was excellent. A four star hotel by U.S. standards. After checking in, I placed a call to the Embassy in Peking. I was told it would take about two hours for the call to go through. We went to the roof of the hotel for a beer, where there was a restaurant. Several other passengers from our flight were there. I ordered a bottle of Chinese beer. I noticed a rather distinctive label on the bottle and proceeded to scrape the label off for my scrap book. I didn't realize it but some of the waiters were watching me do this and after removing a somewhat messed up label, they came to me with three or four brand new labels on a serving tray.
When I reached the Embassy Marine Guard to inform him that our plane was diverted to Shanghai because of an earthquake in Peking he said that there had been no earthquake. I guess he though I was very strange. He said he would inform the CRO, who was hosting a spaghetti and meat ball dinner party, in honor of our arrival.
We arrived in Peking the next day and were soon checked into a large first class hotel. I believe it was the Imperial. Peking is a very large city. Like Washington, there were no tall buildings. The city was very crowded. The polluted air hung like a haze over the city most of the day.
George Bush was the Ambassador. Because of respiratory illness, he was med. evacuated to some other city. However, his wife, Barbara, hosted a cocktail party at the Embassy residence. She is a very gracious and unassuming woman, with a wonderful sense of humor. She asked me if I was a connoisseur of the Arts, I told her, my extent of this was serving in the church choir and singing Barbershop quartet music. She explained that what she had in mind was art work, pictures. I told her I enjoyed landscapes and pictures of animals. She said she received a picture from the "Arts in Embassies" program which was hanging in their dinning room and she wanted my opinion of it. The picture was rather large, about 4 feet by 2 ½ feet and was a type of surrealism. It was of several colors, sort of peanut shaped, and each circle was of a different shade of green, red, orange, and yellow. I told her it reminded me of a peanut. She said, well, "George and I think it reminds us of a diseased vagina!"
A short time later, in Washington, Doris and I met George at a reception at the British Embassy. Barbara introduced me and said that this is the man who through the picture in our dinning room reminded him of peanuts. George replied, "He doesn't have much of imagination does he!"
After waiting in Peking for several days, attempting to establish a date and time for a meeting, we were informed that the Chinese had sent the Embassy a message saying, "It was not convenient to meet." The DCM, Mr. Holbrook, told me that what they were saying is that the U.S. took a long time to reestablish relations with them. The Germans, British, and Canadians had been there a long time. When the us arrived they placed certain demands upon the Chinese about the construction of the Embassy. They picked this issue to say no, to demonstrate to the other countries that they could say no to the U.S. Strange people!
So we visited the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Ming Tombs, prior to our departure. Before leaving, we had a dinner party at the "Peking Duck" restaurant. Eating duck at this restaurant is an all night ritual. After several toasts, using Mai Tai, a terrible tasting 120 proof liquor, waiters brought the duck and walked around the table for our approval before they took it to the kitchen for carving. Because Roy and I were the guest of honor we had the privilege of eating the ducks brains, which was placed on a fancy dish with a cracker.
We departed by train for Canton, where we were met by an In tourist guide. He made arrangements for dinner that night at a very nice restaurant. The next day we departed for Hong Kong. From there, Roy and I continued on our journey by visiting several Embassies in the Far East, including Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Saigon, Vientiane, and Singapore. We went to meet with the Communications Officer on the aircraft carrier Enterprise, to discuss signal plans with him concerning the communication between his vessel and the Embassies in the area. We had a net that was to be used with the Navy in case of emergencies which may require evacuation of their personal. It was a very interesting meeting. The carrier had approximately 5,000 sailors on board, and was like a floating city, with all its complications, cliques, and other problems.
We then left for Manila, where I met with the Ambassador about communications with CINCLANT. The Ambassador told me that he was not interested in having commnications with CINCLANT. I departed for Honolulu, where I met Doris. We stayed at a military cottage on Waikiki, awaiting a meeting with CINCLANT Admiral Moorer, which never happen. This was good, because I would not want to tell him that the Ambassador did not want to communicate with him. After several days of sunshine on the beach, we departed for home, via San Francisco. All in all, it was a very long and interesting trip, with a great ending.
All of a sudden you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that starts to radiate out into your arm and up into your jaw. You may not be too distant from a hospital, but you don't know if you'll be able to make it that far. What can you do? You may have been trained in CPR but whoever taught the course probably neglected to tell you how to perform it on yourself.
Without help, the person whose heart stops beating properly and who begins to feel faint, has only a few seconds left before losing consciousness.
However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously. A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest. A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without let up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again.
Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm. In this way, heart attack victims can get to a phone and, between breaths, call for help.
--- from Health Cares, Rochester General Hospital, Minnesota
The Embassy in Dublin had an agreement with the U.S. Naval Radio Station in Londonderry for a number of years which was of primary benefit to Embassy personnel. Though a very small installation the base had a superbly well-stocked commissary and BX - not so much in quantity as in quality. Someone there really did the job well. This was during the time when Foreign Service personnel could only use the unclassified pouch for letter correspondence. The Navy received our packages from the U.S. and held them for the next person who came from the Embassy. A trip was usually scheduled every other week in a van provided by the Embassy.
The British referred to the city as Londonderry but the Irish prefer the original name, "Derry." The trip for the mail and personal shopping was a real perk for it required a full day to get there and return. The established route was northwest from Dublin to a crossing point into Ulster (Northern Ireland) and more or less straight north for another 50 miles to Derry. Though I don't remember the name of the crossing point from one country to the other, it had very high wooden walls built up on both sides of the road which shielded the border guards from snipers hidden in the nearby hills. At night it was almost as spooky as going through Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin back in Cold War days.
On one trip my wife and I decided (actually, I suggested and she decided) to spend the night there and see the city, since the Navy Base was west of the city by a few miles. We made arrangements with the Embassy and Navy officials to rent one of their mobile homes for the night. We took care of our business as soon as we got there then relaxed for a while with a drink. When supper time rolled around we got in the car and headed for downtown Derry.
Downtown Derry was something that has to be seen to understand. Since car bombs and other bombs and shotgun blasts here and there which blew away anyone who answered the door bell had been part of the scene in Ulster for years, the local business people took all the precautions they could which included boarding up all the shop windows and locking all the doors. We tried to find a restaurant but couldn't tell a restaurant, if there were any, from any other type of establishment. I think I asked a soldier, who was one of many patrolling the streets, where we might find a pub. Anyway, somehow we got to a place where we thought it was a pub; knocked on the door and, after the peephole routine, were admitted. I can't remember anything about the interior of the pub but we had a very weird feeling and made an early night of it. Dinner that night, I remember, was a package of twinkies for each of us.
A few months later we made the trip on a purely personal basis, taking our car, a big BMW which my wife had bought before we married. On this trip we were going to chart a new course and go through a border town, Armagh (pronounced "Armaa") and a different route to Derry. Northern Ireland is a beautiful land and we wanted to see more than the one approved route we had taken several times already.
We arrived in Armagh at about lunch time, having had no difficulty whatsoever at the border crossing. It was a beautiful sunny Saturday morning. We found a pub and enjoyed a fine lunch. Then we proceeded northwest out of the city, through rolling hills and winding roads. Mama was at the wheel and, as usual, betrayed her reason for owning a car that could do 150 mph for anyone with a death wish. Fifteen minutes out of Armagh, at about 100 mph, she rounded a curve and overtook a line of British Army troopers who were moving along between the road and the forest. The approach of our car surprised them but by the time they realized we were there, we were gone. Everyone of those guys was armed with long ugly looking weapons of some sort and they were most definitely not out for a weekend stroll. There was constant trouble along the border between the Republic and British Ulster and we literally flew through the nest scaring the crap out of them and, most especially, me. Even by the time I noticed who they were it was too late as I yelled to my wife to slow down or even stop for armed patrols. My poor heart beat an irregular pattern for hours, until I found a couple of quarts of Guinness. Wonderful medicine, that Guinness. It was one of those occasions when a person ages ten years in ten seconds.
The following Monday morning I explained to a few friends at the Embassy the route by which we had gone to Derry but they didn't at first believe me. Some old timers asked if I had checked with security before going. No, I didn't but didn't think it would have been necessary. When Dick Olson, the RSO found out about it though, he came and confirmed what I'd told someone else. Dick explained it was one of the most dangerous places in Ulster for anyone to be; that he would have absolutely forbid going through that part of the country and asked what the hell did I think there was an established, safe, route for? Well, hell, "the safe route" didn't look so damned safe to me; a crossing point that was always swarming with police and Army troops and had big blinders for the border guards. Oh well. We were to have other similar experiences in Erie.
Mergers between well known companies have occurred this year. Several more are reported to be in the works, but have escaped the attention of all but an astute group of Internet users.
If it's true that Fairchild Electronics takes over Honeywell Computers, the new company would be called FAIRWELL HONEYCHILD.
Look for a three-way merger: Polygraph Records, Warner Brothers and Keebler. It would be called POLY-WARNER-CRACKER.
It has been long rumored that W.R. Grace Co. would buy the Fuller Brush Co. and Mary Kay Cosmetics and then merge with Hale Business Systems. This would result in the mega-corporation HALE MARY FULLER GRACE.
Don't forget the failed merge between Yahoo and Netscape = NET'N'YAHOO.
3M and Goodyear = mmmGOOD.
John Deere and Abitibi-Price = DEERE ABI.
Honeywell and Imasco & Home Oil = HONEY, I'M HOME.
Denison Mines and Alliance and Metal Mining = MINE, ALL MINE.
3M and JC Penney and Canadian Opera Company = 3 PENNEY OPERA.
Knott's Berry Farm and National Organization of Women = KNOTT NOW.
Zippo Manufacturing and Audi and Dofasco and Dakota Mining = ZIP AUDI DO DA.
Way back in the 1940s, I was employed as a kid. My parents, of course, were my employers, and they compensated me with room and board and ice cream. It was a full-time job, and I was good at it.
Part of my duties was to go fishing with my Dad. Sometimes we fished in the nearby lake, but more often we went to a few of our favorite spots along the big creek that meandered around town, But I was always anxious to go somewhere new --- some place I'd never been before.
Dad had told me many times about the good fishing at the railroad bridge when he was a kid. It was located about a mile from town and was a great place with tons of fish, easy to catch because almost no one ever went there. So, at about age 12, I was more than willing to go with Dad. He suggested we try out luck at the railroad bridge.
I remember asking about what we'd do if a train came along. Dad said we would be perfectly safe. Besides, a train was pretty unlikely because rail traffic on that line was fairly scarce. He'd never seen a train go through when he was fishing there.
But on the off-chance that one might come along, I wasn't to look at it. This was still the era of steam locomotives, and they had a habit of throwing cinders every which way. I've been told that getting hit in the eye with an airborne cinder is not a pleasant thing.
We parked the car at the coal yard beside the railroad and walked a little ways up the track to the bridge. "Little ways" were Dad's words. It seemed like five or six miles to me. Railroad ties are never spaced right for easy walking.
Eventually we got to the bridge, a big concrete structure about 100 feet above the creek. I wasn't sure I had enough line on my reel to even reach the water.
(Actually, it's probably more like 125 feet from the bridge to the water, but things look bigger when you're twelve).
Perched precariously on the bridge abutment, we had been fishing for a half-hour without the slightest hint of a bite. Of course, at that distance it was hard to see the bobbers, so we may have missed a twitch or two. But it was a nice place to be on a summer day. The area on both sides of the tracks was heavily wooded. Flowers were blooming, and birds were signing. It was just a lazy, comfortable place --- so calm, so serene.
Then I heard a train whistle in the distance!
I looked down the tracks, and way, way off I could see the glaring headlight growing larger by the second! And then I could make out the whole engine --- coming directly at us!
Dad reminded me to keep my face turned away. I said something clever, like "un-huh", and continued to stare at the approaching monster!
I hoped against hope that the thing would turn off on a side road before it got to us, but being very sharp-minded even at that young age, I realized that trains do not generally make right-angle turns.
Louder and louder and bigger and bigger it got! A great plume of black smoke billowed from the stack, and steam was issuing from various places! The engine must have been 30 feet high!
I could feel my blood pressure rising proportionately as the train grew closer! I was having difficulty breathing! Then I realized that Dad had a rather tight grip on the back of my shirt collar. I gasped at him, and he loosened up a little.
I'm not absolutely sure, but this particular locomotive may have been the biggest ever built! I'M pretty sure it was 50 feet high, and its speed was approaching 1,000 miles per hours! And it was going to pass within inches of us!
As the train got to us, the engineer blew the whistle! He Needn't have done that! My senses were pretty much overwhelmed by that time anyway!
The bridge shook frighteningly, probably registering 5.5 on the Richter Scale.
The noise was incredible, and ear-splitting, nerve-shattering roar way above the threshold of pain! Almost as loud as the stereos in some teenagers' cars!
In my mind's eye, I could see the bridge crumbling beneath us and the locomotive, (which was at least 80 feet high), toppling over on us! I briefly considered jumping off the bridge!
But the bridge didn't, and the locomotive didn't, and I didn't.
Now the foreign cars came rumbling by, nearly as loud as the engine itself! Have you ever had the experience of waiting for a train at a grade crossing when suddenly it seems as if the train is standing still and you are speeding down the tracks in the opposite direction? It's some sort of hypnosis, I think.
Well, this was a long train --- seven, maybe eight hundred cars --- and I was in a trance almost immediately. Dad and the bridge and I were nearly to the next town before the caboose came along and put an end to our trip.
The train passed safely and disappeared up the tracks at about the same place where the two rails come together.
Having lost interest in fishing, we sat there for a few minutes until we stopped vibrating. Then we pried our fingers out of the concrete, reeled in our lines, and stumbled back along the tracks to the car. Not a word was spoken. It would have been useless since we didn't regain our hearing for another hour or so.
I feel very fortunate in this experience. Today's amusement parks would charge an arm and a leg for a life-threatening attraction like that.
It didn't cost me a cent!
The following recipe was received from Herb Horacek. Herb said "While looking for a certain recipe, Billie found one from a Foreign Service wife that was given to her while they were in London. Billie often served it when the poker gang met at their flat."
Saute in olive oil
1/4 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1 large sliced onion
1 or 2 crushed garlic cloves
Add and brown 1 pound of hamburger
Add one can of tomato sauce plus enough water to keep chile from sticking
1 to 2 teaspoons of chile powder
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of basil
Add a pinch of marjoram
Add a pinch of thyme
Add salt as necessary
Simmer one to two hours.
One hour before serving add one can of kidney beans and one can of tomato sauce.
Last Thursday (8/5/99), Congress passed the tax bill, H.R. 2488, the "Financial Freedom Act of 1999."
The good news is that the AFSA-sponsored provision which would amend current law on the exclusion of capital gains on the sale of a principal residence, passed the House of Representatives and survived the House/Senate Conference to be part of the final bill. We are still alive and further along than we were in the last Congress.
The bad news is this $792 billion 10-year tax cutting measure is very much a part of partisan political battle and the President has promised to veto it if it comes to his desk.
If there is a scaled down tax-cutting bill following the veto, it will be AFSA's task to try and save our provision so it remains a part of a final compromise. This could be a tough fight.
Under the current tax law, passed in 1997, an individual must live in a principal residence for two years of a five year test period beginning with the sale of the principal residence in order to receive the exclusion on the capital gains tax. The allowable exclusion is up to $250,000 or $500,000 if married and filing a joint return. Under certain conditions, the amount of capital gains exclusion can be prorated to the proportion of time lived in the residence if under two years.
This year's successful provision was supported by AFSA and the Uniformed Services, and introduced again this year by Congressman Amo Houghton (R-NY). It provides that for the Foreign Service and the Uniformed Services, the time spent on official, extended duty at least 50 miles away from the principal residence or under orders to occupy official government housing would not be counted as part of the five-year test period for ownership and use. AFSA and the Military Coalition tried to have the provision retroactive to 1977, but we could not convince the House Ways and Means Committee to include that part. The Committee, in trying to determine where to draw the line in terms of exceptions to current law, expanded our initial provision so that other U.S. government and private sector employees could exclude up to 5 years for time posted abroad because of employment. Of the $792 billion tax bill, the section covering the Foreign and Uniformed Services had a tax consequence of $133 million over ten years. By including the other employees, the tax consequence was increased by $296 million for a total of $429 million over ten years.
Last year, our provision was part of a House-passed bill which died in the Senate. When a subsequent, smaller tax bill was developed between the House and the Senate, we were not included. While some other programs, such as accelerating a phase-in of health insurance deductions for the self-employed, were added, the bill essentially extended popular expiring tax credits including the tax credit for business research.
The bill, which eventually became law, had gone from an original $100 billion tax cut over 5-years to $9.2 billion over nine-years.
At one time, all sides seemed agreed that there should be some tax cuts. The disagreement was over the magnitude. The Administration, in its February budget request for FY2000, provided for a $32.6 billion targeted tax cutting measure. Since then they have said the President would likely support a $250 billion tax bill over 10-years. The House Republicans, which started out over $800 billion and the Senate Republicans which started out much lower agreed to the $792 billion. At one point, Senate moderates from both parties seemed to be coalescing around a $500 billion tax cut, but the President said that this amount was too expensive also, and that it would be subject to a veto.
There was a view among many that after a veto and political posturing, the Congressional Republicans and the President would negotiate a smaller bill that every one could claim credit for. In the end, this bill may or may not also have a settlement on Social Security and Medicare in it. The thinking was that this could be the last chance because next year is the election year and the closer you get to elections, the harder the positions get, and the need to show differences between the parties and the candidates becomes more essential.
The rhetoric is changing which makes it harder to determine whether we will have a tax bill this year, and if so, what size it will be. The fight is turning political and seems to be positioning for next year's Presidential race. While H.R. 2488 passed just before the August recess, the bill will not be sent to the White House and a certain veto until September, after the recess. The intent is to give Republicans a unified tax message for their time at home, and not give the President the opportunity to "rain on their parade" with a rose garden veto ceremony.
The arguments for or against the bill, and which are being tested over the August recess, vary. Some argue the surplus should be used to pay down the national debt, others state that providing such a large tax cut before Social Security/Medicare are fixed risks not having sufficient funds for the program. Others argue that a tax cut of the magnitude passed by Congress would not leave sufficient funds for needed programs in education, police, etc. Those supporting the tax cut argue that giving back the surplus while saving enough for the anticipated Social Security/Medicare fix, will help shrink the size of the government. It is a "if you leave the money in Washington, it will be spent by the government and not by those who earned it" type of argument.
However, the respected Congressional Quarterly weekly reports, "...even before members left for their districts and states, it was becoming increasingly clear that their [Republican] focus was not on pressuring President Clinton to sign the bill this fall but rather on planting the seeds and hoping that public interest in a large, surplus-financed tax cut would germinate nearer to the November 2000 presidential and congressional elections. While it once appeared that Republicans might try to pick up the pieces of their bill after Clinton's veto and use it as a wedge in negotiations on Medicare and Social Security, it now appears they have little interest in a deal on taxes this year, the pleas of moderates in both chambers notwithstanding."
If there ends up being some type of tax deal, it will probably be part of an omnibus package with various appropriations, and extraneous measures as it was last year. AFSA will have to continue making its case so that we stay on people's screens as something fair to do as opposed to something to cut in order to reach a reduced number.
As always, stay tuned!