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Communicators AND Others Enjoying Retirement
Issue 53May 2000Volume 5 - Number 6

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

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

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

Cat's Corner

Web Page

At the present time, there are over 200CANDOERs who have e-mail capability. Out of that 200, approximately 125 of you have the capability to read the CANDOER News on the Web site. At the present time, only 43 of you are doing so. You can cut back on the number of hours a month I have to spend on the CANDOER News, (90-95) if you would elect to receive it on the Web. A good percentage of those hours, 20-24 are spent printing, collating, stuffing envelops, putting on address labels, and putting on postage for the snail-mail version. The remaining hours are spent just making up the Newsletter and the Web page. Once it is made it only takes me about two hours to convert it to the Web version. It is available for reading and downloading on the Web site. I realize that not everyone who has the capability to send and receive e-mail, has the computer with the speed and capability to access the Web site and download the Newsletter, but if you do, please, when your current subscription runs out this time, please think about switching to the Web version, in lieu of the snail-mail, hard copy version.

DEATH OF Robert W. White, Sr.

It is with sadness and regret, I inform you of the Death of Robert Wood White, Sr. Mr. White died on April 3, after a short, courageous fight against a very virulent form of lung cancer.

His son, Bob, Jr., informs us that a memorial service for friends may be held at a later date.

A card of condolences has been sent in the name of theCANDOERs and a donation has been made to the American Cancer Society in Mr. White's name.

DEATH OF Barbara Gregory

It is with sadness and regret, I inform you of the death of Barbara Gregory.

Barbara served with distinction from her first Foreign Service assignment in 1964 at Bonn, to her last assignment in 1990 at Dar es Salaam. She retired in September of 1990.

A memorial service was held at the Mount Dora Lawn Bowling clubhouse on Monday, April 24, at 2:00 p.m. with burial to follow at a later date in Connecticut.

A card of condolences has been sent to her family in the name of theCANDOERs and a donation has been made to her favorite charity, in her name.

Letter to the Editor

The following letter was received from Bob Sandberg.

Dear Bob,

You have a very useful periodical there and we enjoy it very much. Keep up the good work.

In another two weeks we will be departing Florida on our annual migration to the west coast, visiting family in Portland, Oregon and others on the way out. Our first purchase we made after returning to the USA for our retirement was a Motor home (RV), primarily for ease of moving our pets, but also to see the USA as we had spent our whole F.S. careers overseas. Our first unit was a 1988 Winnebago Chieftain bought from Reines RV in nearby Virginia. This served use well, many trips back and forth across the U.S., including a final trip to Alaska in 1998 - some 17,000 miles return from Florida. Age of the unit and over 121,000 miles caused us to update lat year to a 38' Mountain Aire by NUMAR which provides more space for ease of living while traveling. This lifestyle has sure provided us a closer insight into the people and how they live. This is sure one beautiful country. Any other RVers out there? Be glad to compare notes!

Although we will be on the west coast most of the time, we continue to use a mail forwarding service for convenience.

We plan on returning to Florida in late October.

All the best,


The following e-mail was received from Jim Steeves:


How about appealing to the membership, asking if they've ever had a horror story on the road, or fishing, or drinking or whatever. I remember it used to snow so much in Maine, when I was a kid the snow would be up to my butt. Of course, my butt was just a foot above the ground, as were most little kids' butts.

I also sent you "a California report" (Published in this issue.) with the idea that those who are happily living in other states might have good or not so good things to report about their locations. I, for one, need this input because we don't have a clue where we'll go when Carol's assignment to San Diego is over. Another assignment in the U.S.? Another one overseas? Retire and pick a place in the U.S.? All we can agree on is that when retirement comes, we will have no need whatsoever for either snow shovels or heavy clothes. We recently passed by massive colonies of "snow birds" in southern Arizona. It's a bit late in the season, Ida thought, but they are there by the miles. In Yuma there are communities of RVers, each of them far larger than my home town. Must be 40 or 50 thousand just in Yuma and I'll tell you, if you've never been to Yuma, other than being warm there's nothing to see. They have never done a thing to the Colorado River that flows right past the city. No street, no restaurants, walks, parks - nothing! We found a fantastic Mexican restaurant but other than that, just wall-to-wall snow birds.

OK, I'll end this with an observation that might interest. From time to time both Carol and I will wake up in the a.m. with a headache. It's almost always both of us and that headache will gradually get worse during the day. For some odd reason, I generally think it will go away so there's no need to take an aspirin. I'm usually wrong and by ten a.m. I pop three of the buggers.

Why's that? Well, I also recently started taking notes of the weather and lo and behold, I found it! It seems to be the barometric pressure! I never knew what kind of figure would represent the barometric pressure (244? 1.5?) Not a clue but now I do. Three times in the past three weeks the bp has dropped from ... oh, say 30.05 to 29.98 and we had headaches! So it seems that the high is 30 point something and if it drops to 29 point something, we get the headache. Thus the range is minor but the effect is like getting the head caught in a vise.

What to do about it? Well, if you're Navajo perhaps you could do a barometric pressure dance but otherwise there's diddly squat you can do other than leave the area. But wait, maybe there is something. I don't know about you but I love to talk to people who live or have spent a long time in certain parts of the country. One main reason for asking is that I'd like to know if ... wherever ... is humid. I hate high humidity but that's one item that is hard to find out about from reading retirement publications, literature, etc. Even lots of people can't tell you. I asked once, of friends who lived in Las Vegas if it gets humid out there. "Gee, I don't think it's too bad." was the response! In Albuquerque, you can hardly wash the car in the summer time because as soon as water hits the car it instantly evaporates! You have to do it in the shade and only when the car has been in the shade for half an hour.

Well, so another important weather factor, for some at least, is barometric pressure, if you don't like headaches that is. So, if there is a possible retirement location and (a) the humidity is high a lot or most of the time; (b) it often has low barometric pressure; and (c) if it is ever possible that the temperature will get anywhere near freezing, I will cross it right off the list.

Four seasons? Rubbish! I'll read stories about four seasons and let my friends tell me about the last time they had to dig the car out of a snow bank or shoveling the snow off someone else's car or getting chains on it with frozen fingers.



The 1998 Mighty Mississippi Bicycle Adventure
by Rey Grammo

Part II of IV

7/28 - DAY 3. 99.9 miles. Vertical climb 1360 feet. Had hoped to start a bit earlier today because of another lengthy ride ahead. However, didn't actually get on the road until 6:50. About 5 miles into the ride, we came upon the G. Heileman Brewery, "The World's Largest 6-Pack." (22,200 barrels of beer or 688,200 gallons of beer) - Enough beer to fill 7,340,796 cans - Placed end to end these cans would run 565 miles - Would provide one person a six pack a day for 3,351 years. I was impressed. We continued to ride after this short interlude continuing through several small Wisconsin towns. About 70 miles into the ride, we crossed the Wisconsin River and began mentally preparing ourselves for some climbing. We rode into the Wyalusing State Park and soon began our assent up the 1.1 mile hill. Not only was it long, but it was steep. I'm not sure if it is better to be surprised by the hills or know well in advance. I was thinking about this hill and the next that we will climb for quite some time before actually getting there. Once you reach the top and get your breath back again, you say "that wasn't so bad" but you aren't kidding anyone. I ride a 21 speed bike and was able to make the hill without actually getting off the bike. However, this was my own personal challenge to myself. It is not wimpy to get off and walk as many people did. We continued on for another 10 miles before coming upon our next hill which was 1.5 miles long, but not quite as steep. We finally entered Cassville, Wisconsin where we were to stay that night. We were supposed to stay in a school with air conditioning, clean showers etc. However, upon our arrival we were advised that the school was not ready for us and we would have to stay in the old school. No air conditioning, no showers and sleeping on the floor. Not a good way to end a long, hot day of riding. The tour organizer rented two motel rooms so that we could at least take showers. It turned out to be a miserable night fighting off mosquitos, and just plain being hot. There were to be a few more overnight stops where we were expected to sleep on the floor. Tom, the organizer advised that he would locate an inexpensive motel for anyone wishing to pay for it themselves since there were a specific number of motels included in the tour price. I wasn't quite ready to do this just yet. It seemed that everyones spirits were dampened at this point, but after showering, resting and an excellent evening meal, the moral improved. Have now ridden 267.5 miles and still feeling quite good. Wisconsin was not as bad as I had originally thought it was going to be. Am looking forward to the next days ride as it is relatively short in comparison.

7/29 - DAY 4 - 68.1 miles. Vertical climb unknown. Up early once again and find a little nip in the air. The ride will be short today, but lots of hills. So much for the thought that this ride would all be downhill from Minneapolis to New Orleans. We would be touching three states during our ride today. About 26 miles into the ride we stopped for a visit at the Dickeyville Grotto. This Grotto and Shrine was erected in the village of Dickeyville, Wisconsin on Holy Ghost Parish grounds by Father Matthias Werneus in 1918. His creation was built with stone, mortar, and bright colored objects collected from all over the world including colored glass, gems, antique heirlooms of pottery and porcelain. There were even several balls which used to be found on the top of a stick-shift in old cars. Quite an interesting sight and well worth the stop. We soon depart Wisconsin and enter E. Dubuque, Illinois. Prior to entering Illinois, we saw lots of corn fields and dairy farms. While in Illinois it was suggested that we visit historic Galena, a Victorian Tour de Force. However, since we had a deadline for reaching the river to catch the upcoming pontoon ride across the river, I didn't think I would have time for this side trip. Those that did said it was well worth it. Continuing on in Illinois for about 30 miles, we soon came to the river where we would be transported across the Mississippi by pontoon boat to the village of Bellevue, Iowa where we would spend the night. Staying in a school once again. However, tonight we would have showers and air conditioning. Dinner tonight was directly across the street and would consist of all the pizza you could eat and, of course, lots of beer. Need those carbohydrates!! Still feeling good but now looking forward to the upcoming layover day in Davenport, Iowa after the ride tomorrow. Have now ridden total of 335.6 miles.

7/30 - Day 5 - 77.5 miles - Vertical climb 1,680 feet. After another restless night of sleeping on the floor, I have now decided that it is the last time for me to sleep on the floor, that I would get a motel room on those days the tour was scheduled to sleep on the floor of a school or whatever. The only other person from Virginia and I decided that we would share a motel for the remainder of times when schools were scheduled. We are up at 5:00 a.m. to find another beautiful, overcast day. This type weather is ideal for riding. We had rolling hills all day long and was considered to be one of the best rides so far. Saw our share of corn fields and pig farms today. I saw the largest pigs I had ever seen. It was suggested that we stop at Del's Café in downtown Eldridge as we passed through the town. However, as several of us stopped, it really didn't look like a place we wanted to be. So, instead we found a place where we could get some ice cream and took a break. We were really feeling good because we were just about 10 miles from Davenport, Iowa, where we would be spending our layover day. It came just in time as we had now ridden 413.1 miles in 5 days and everyone was ready for the rest. We stayed in the Day's Inn which had an indoor pool and hot tub. I believe everyone took advantage of this treat. I actually arrived at the Inn at 1:30 so had lots of time to shower and relax. After another all you can eat buffet, several of us headed off to do our laundry which would free us up for the following day. Everyone was anticipating a good nights sleep and day off the following day. Have now ridden a total of 413.1 miles and ready for the layover.

7/31 - Day 6 - Layover day - The layover day serves two purposes. It gives the opportunity to rest and it allows those that are joining the tour to come in from the airport, get settled in and meet the staff and other riders. Two additional riders joined the tour in Davenport and one rider departed. The total trip is divided into four different segments. We will soon begin our second segment taking us to our next layover in St. Louis. This rest day offered me the opportunity to get rid of some of the things in my luggage that I wasn't using. One of the staff took a couple of us off to locate the UPS to send off our package. Later I would take a shuttle to the casino where I won about $30. To treat myself, I decided after dinner I would get a massage. We paid $20 for 20 minutes and it was well worth it. I didn't realize how many tight muscles I had until he started pressing them out of my legs. We had dinner at the Front Street Brewery. There special was steak soaked in beer and was very good. Of course, since they make their own beer, I had several of these drinks also. Remember those carbohydrates!! I must admit, there didn't appear to be much to do in Davenport so really did get rested up. In bed at 10 p.m. and anxious to get going on the next leg of the trip.

8/1 - Day 7 - 91.4 miles - Vertical climb 1,000 feet - We were able to get an early start for our long ride today because we ate breakfast right in the hotel where we staying. The terrain was basically flat most of the day with headwinds a good portion of the trip. (I rarely experience tail winds). We have had spectacular weather so far, in the mid 80's with a cloud cover most of the time. We expect it will get hotter as we move further south. Sort of a ho hum day today. The scenery was typical Iowa with country side consisting of many farm houses and surrounding farms. Corn, corn and more corn as we rode along the highway. It was quite impressive how immaculate the homesteads were kept. Obviously, they have great pride in their farms. While today was a long day, it was a rather pleasant ride, arriving in Burlington, Iowa about 2 p.m. After getting settled in, showering and a short rest, it was off to dinner. We ate at the Golden Coral, another all you can eat buffet. After a short rest after dinner, several folks, including myself, took in a movie. The soft seats in the theater were well worth the price of a movie ticket.

8/2 - Day 8 - 76.7 miles - Vertical climb 1,000 feet - Up with the birds again and with breakfast behind us we were once again on the road by 6:30. We would ride only a few miles in Iowa before crossing the bridge into Illinois where we would ride most of the remainder of the day. We continue to see lots of corn and soybean fields. About 30 miles into the ride today we would enter a town called Nauvoo. It is said that this was the second settlement of the Mormans. When they were forced to leave this settlement, Brigham Young led them to Utah where they settled. Several of the people refused to leave and remained the rest of their lives in Nauvoo.. Much of the town has been restored as it was in the old days. I would have remained longer, but since it was too early for anything to be open, I was unable to get more information on the place, I decided to move on. Prior to the end of the days ride, we will cross the Mississippi one more time into Missouri and enter Canton, Missouri almost immediately where we will stay for the night at Culver-Stockton College. We won't be sleeping on the floor this night. Canton is a very small town with very little to see and very limited places to eat. A fellow who owned the only Italian place in town fixed pizza for all of us. He was quite proud of his pizza and we probably gave him more business than he had had in a long time. He had a right to be pleased as the pizza was very good. However, as I recall, there was no beer to be had and pizza without beer just isn't the same. I did survive however. I suppose there were enough carbohydrates in the pizza to carry me to the next stop.


The following was received from Charles Christian.

DEATH OF Common Sense

Three yards of black fabric enshroud my computer terminal. I am mourning the passing of an old friend by the name of Common Sense. His obituary reads as follows:

Common Sense, a.k.a. C.S., lived a long life but died from heart failure at the brink of the millennium. No one really knows how old he was, his birth records were long ago entangled in miles and miles of bureaucratic red tape.

Known affectionately to close friends as Horse Sense and Sound Thinking, he selflessly devoted himself to a life of service in homes, schools, hospitals, and offices, helping folks get jobs done without a lot of fanfare, whooping, and hollering. Rules, regulations, and petty, frivolous lawsuits held no power over C.S. A most reliable sage, he was credited with cultivating the ability to know when to come in out of the rain, the discovery that the early bird gets the worm and how to take the bitter with the sweet. C.S. also developed sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn), reliable parenting strategies (the adult is in charge, not the kid), and prudent dietary plans (offset eggs and bacon with a little fiber and orange juice).

A veteran of the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, the Technological Revolution and the Smoking Crusades, C.S. survived Sundry cultural and educational trends including disco, the men's movement, body piercing, whole language, and new math.

C.S.'s health began declining in the late 1960s when he became infected with the If-It-Feels-Good, Do-It virus. In the following decades his waning strength proved no match for the ravages of overbearing federal and state rules and regulations and an oppressive tax code. C.S. was sapped of strength and the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, criminals received better treatment than victims and judges stuck their noses in everything from Boy Scouts to professional baseball and golf.

His deterioration accelerated as schools implemented zero-tolerance policies. Reports of 6-year-old boys charged with sexual harassment for kissing classmates, a teen suspended for taking a swig of Scope mouthwash after lunch, girls suspended for possessing Midol and an honor student expelled for having a table knife in her school lunch were more than his heart could endure.

As the end neared, doctors say C.S. drifted in and out of logic but was kept informed of developments regarding regulations of low-flow toilets, mandatory air bags and a government plan to ban inhalers from 14 million asthmatics due to a trace of a pollutant that may be harmful to the environment.

Finally, upon word that a North Carolina town council was attempting to restrict front porch furniture to lawn chairs and settees that are aesthetically attractive, C.S. breathed his last.

Services will be at Whispering Pines Cemetery. C.S. was preceded in death by his wife, Discretion; one daughter, Responsibility; and one son, Reason. He is survived by two stepbrothers, Half-wit and Dimwit. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Institute for Rational Thought.

Farewell, Common Sense. May you rest in peace. Hopefully, in a casket the state of North Carolina deems aesthetically attractive."

The article forgot to mention that a stepson, Morality, also pre-deceased C.S. as a result of wounds inflicted by Hollywood and modern arts (literature and lyrics).

Lori Borgman of The Indianapolis Star and News.

Luncheon Log

We had an outstanding turnout for the April luncheon. The following people were in attendance: Bill Bies, Bob Campopiano, Bob Catlin, Paul Del Giudice, Charlie Ditmeyer, Tom Forbes, Charlie Hoffman, Hal Hutson, Joel Kleiman, Boyd Koffman, Don and Louise Lachman, Ken Loff, Mel Maples, Millie Muchoney, Tom and Tina Paolozzi, Jim and Mary Prosser, Nate Reynolds, Bob Scheller, Ron and Linda Steenhoek, Don and Delores Stewart, Val Taylor, and John Tyburski.

In addition, attending for the first time, was Don Linderer. Don, a bigCANDOER WELCOME. May you be able to attend many more luncheons.

Retiree's Report

March 25, I received an application for membership from Ken and Maria Lampkins. Their bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the Web site. Their e-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section, on the last page of this and future issues, and on the Web site.

March 28, Barry Leonard notified me that he had purchased a new home computer and is now on-line with AOL. His new e-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section, one the last page of this and future issues, and on the Web site.

March 29, I received a membership form from Earl Newton. Earl's bio information may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the Web site.

April 5, I received an e-mail from Jake Kocher, who was forwarding an e-mail from Bill Markham.

Bill asked everyone to send their best wishes to Ned Paes and his family. Ned was scheduled to undergo brain surgery to remove a cyst/tumor on April 6.The day before surgery they discovered that Ned had a collapsed lung. They have postponed the brain surgery until they can correct the problem with the lung and determine what caused it.

A get well card has been sent in the name of theCANDOERs.

April 6, I received an e-mail message from Allan Friedbauer informing me that he has joined the ranks of theCANDOERs doing it on-line. Allan's e-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section, on this last page of this and future issues, and on the Web site.

At the AprilCANDOER luncheon, Millie Muchoney furnished her e-mail address. It may be found in the Pen and Ink section, on the last page of this and future issues, and on the Web site.

April 12, I received an e-mail application from Jimmy Lee Bevis. You may find Jimmy's bio information in the Pen and Ink section and his e-mail address on the last page of this and future issues. Both may be found on the Web site.

April 14, the following was received from Jake Kocher, who received it from Bill Markham and passed it on for your information/action: Good news on Ned Paes, his biopsy tests came back negative. The doctors have not yet decided for sure on what is causing the tumors. Will let you know more when the news becomes available.

April 15, the following was received via e-mail from Mike Lamberg:

Hello Bob,

I'm sorry to report that another OC'er and a very good friend of my family, is extremely sick. She has Leukemia and non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Her name is Audrey Schenk. Audrey and I became friends on my first tour in Paris (1976-1978).

I believe that she was hired by the Department in 1967.

We kept in touch throughout the years and our careers. Audrey retired in Geneva, Switzerland. She asks for your prayers.

Audrey's plans, for now, are to live in Geneva until she becomes too ill to take care of herself. She plans to go to her sister's place then in Rhode Island.

Best regards from South Florida,

Mike Lamberg

April 15, Dewey Holmes notified me that he is now on-line. His e-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section, on the last page of this and future issues, and on the Web site.

April 19. Jake Kocher forwarded the following from Bill Markham in reference to Ned Paes:

Just a note to let you know how Ned is doing.

Ned is still having problems, he has lost use of the right side of his body and doctors still say that until the lung problem clears up they will not operate on the brain tumor. Doesn't look good right now. PRAY FOR HIM!

April 20, Ken French furnished Bob Mason's e-mail address. I sent Bob my normal canned e-mail about theCANDOERs. Bob replied from Wellington with his bio. His e-mail address may be found on the last page of this and future issues and on the Web page. His bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the Web page.

April 21, I received an e-mail from Carl Obiden, requesting information about theCANDOERs. Approximately three hours later, I received an e-mail application form from Carl with his bio. His e-mail address may be found in the Pen and Ink section, on the last page of this and future issues and on the Web site. His bio may be found in the Pen and Ink section and on the Web site.

April 24, I received a new address for Bill Belk. He is now in Eustis, Florida. He said in a "Message to all" --- "Plenty of room so come on down." Golf -great from November thru April.

/s/ Bill

The California Report - Jan-Mar 2000
by Jim Steeves

The beginning of the last year of the millennium in Sunny southern California was what one might call "a dark and gloomy night." New Years' eve saw rain falling heavily all around San Diego County. Events everywhere were washed out. Up until that time we had seen nothing more than very light sprinkles in the four month period of Sept. to Dec. 31st. It was surprising that it could rain that hard.

The weather throughout January was as beautiful as I'd thought it might be in this part of the country but in the second week of February, things took on a new look, a dark and wet one. For a period of two weeks it rained at least part of every day, often heavily. I am informed that it may continue to rain on and off until mid-April when all possibility of precipitation ends until sometime in the autumn. Since it didn't rain last autumn, I don't know what to think. I do realize the vital importance of rain or imported water around these parts. Since so much housing is built on canyons, ground cover is essential to prevent massive soil erosion which would bring down houses and apartment buildings. Thus imported water is absolutely necessary until such time as people do not live on top of ridges, canyons, etc. I have to wonder what would happen if it didn't rain or snow in the Rocky Mountains for a season or two. Disaster!

We have been surprised by a number of things around here. Among them, until this month, there has been no recycling of household waste! We just got new big blue containers with instructions to put all recyclables in it and the contents will be collected every other week. Six months ago, in Germany, we had a blue container, a black container, a yellow container, a green container and three other containers for green glass, brown glass and clear glass. There was a list of what went into those containers and anyone who did it wrong got flogged. Here, nothing until now and everything goes into the one container! Is this some form of greater efficiency or an example of going through the motions?

We've had our primary season. On the 7th of March twenty propositions or initiatives were voted on. Some good choices, to my mind, were made and some really awful ones. Those who sought to change the number of votes required to raise school and other bonds were defeated, narrowly. The idea was to go to a simple majority instead of a two-thirds required. While it's impossible to learn whether only property owners would get stuck with the bill (most people live in apartments) it's easy to suspect that in any given district, ten thousand could vote not to raise bonds while ten thousand and one non-property owners, could obligate everyone or just the property owners to pay for them. In the absence of solid information, I voted in favor of no change.

This issue hits at the very heart of what's wrong with the election process in this country. We have little or no hard information and yet we vote, often passionately, for one candidate or the other. We watch the so-called debates on TV and learn nothing from them. Savvy political types speak of one candidate's policy for this or that and it's all pure rubbish. What a president can or will do will not be known until he gets into office. The Congress may tell him to stuff it. He cannot pass a law and if the Congress is opposed to him, they won't pass it and send it to him for signature. It's all rubbish but people say such idiotic things like AI like George F. Bush because I liked his idiot father or "He has a plan for this or that" or "He cut taxes in Texas." Well, did he? What was the result? Teachers well paid?

California schools, fire stations, streets. well, you name it, are all in terrible shape. Two weeks ago a sewer pipe broke and it is estimated (How do they?) that 36,000,000 gallons of raw sewage ran into a canyon that empties into the ocean. This same pipe ruptured 9 years ago. It seems they have the village idiot from many villages here and in charge of city services. Every day the San Diego Union-Tribune lists the beaches that are closed because of pollution. As I write this, March 19, the following beaches are polluted: (1) San Mateo outlet at Trestles; (2) Imperial Beach, from Carnation Ave. to the U.S./Mexican border; (3) Ocean Beach, at the S.D. River outlet at Dog Beach; (4) Oceanside, at Buccaneer Beach; (5) Mission Bay, the eastern side of the bay and Bahia Point; and (6) in La Jolla, the Children's pool. Since several billion dollars are spent by tourists each year in San Diego, many of them wanting to get to the beaches, you might think they would take this issue more seriously than they do. Any day you go to any beach, however, you will see half a dozen surfers to dozens of them. I don't understand it.

It has been noted that, while we home owners (I like that phrase: I own 20% of this house but I get to pay 100% of the property taxes!) pay through the nose for water, construction companies are suppose to install water meters so they can be charged for the massive apartment and other developments that are going up everywhere. Someone recently noted that some construction sites have no water meter. If they did, their own people bypassed the meter. They use more water in one minute than I use in a year, including my lawn sprinklers and they pay nothing for it. Here and there you see water running down streets like it's flood season because water pipes broke. There's a lake in the canyon down behind us that, I swear, is filled totally by runoff from lawn sprinklers. We walk down into the canyon and cross over two streams. The only source of water anywhere around here is the same as I see running down the street in front of our house: lawn runoff. There are frogs and ducks in the pond and it is pretty well surrounded by marshes but I have to wonder how much fertilizer and weed killer is mixed in that water.

Among the surprises we've experienced in our now nearly six months in San Diego is that this is a really hilly area. There are mini-mountains (400-800' in height) everywhere and canyons! While most Californians live in apartment complexes, there are thousands of houses built along the top of ridges or canyons. Our house, for example, looks out over a mini-canyon to the west. Lots of trails to walk out there and, during most of the year, lots of rattle-snakes to be cautious of. The front view from our house takes in a high incline right across the street, covered with bougainvillea and other shrubs that reaches up about 70' to the back yards of other houses to the east of us. We see the sun light the hills off to the west before it gets above the ridge to the east and warms the interior of our garage. When I'm out there messing around with something the change from being in the shadow of the east ridge to when the sun gets above it is as dramatic as turning on a heat lamp. In just 30 seconds, in January, it can go from about 45 in the garage to 60. I know it sounds ridiculous but swear it's true. San Diego spreads out way beyond downtown. We live in a community known as Rancho Bernardo and it is around 25 miles from ground zero, i.e., the established, built-up, tall building part of San Diego. And we're part of the city as is Rancho Peñesquitos, just to the south of us, Miramar, Mira Mesa, Scripps Ranch, La Jolla and lots and lots of other discreet communities. It seems kind of nuts but it's a fact. There's a lot of open space between these communities.

We didn't realize those of us who have lawns will also have to get them mowed every week with no time off for winter. The grass grows sufficiently fast all year round that it needs a weekly mow. For those who like to put the old mower away for 4 or 5 months, at least, a year, well you'd better forget living around here unless you can get rid of grass and let nature take it's course. My dear spouse says "phooey with MN; grass is good enough for Hurley, Wisconsin, it's good enough for us here!" Groan.

Outdoor malls. They have shopping malls here. Big time. Most are the outdoor variety. The closest to our house is an older mall which the traditional indoor type but all others I know of here are outdoor ones. For most of the year they are as comfortable as indoor ones, with the added attraction of sunshine but there are some cool days and some rainy days and at such times the business in the food courts has to be a trickle and, in the Spring and Fall, after the sun goes down the temperature drops quite a bit so one needs to remember to have a sweater or light jacket if going somewhere in the late afternoon or early evening. Most outdoor restaurants have the large gas-heater things which are positioned near tables which do a great job of heating a large area, but I don't like eating in such circumstances because food cools too quickly. It does work very nicely for beer though. Real beer should not be cold; cool is perfect but not cold and to get one that takes, oh, twenty-thirty minutes to drink and it gets a degree or two cooler as you work on it, is perfectly acceptable.

Finally, the freeways. My gosh do they have freeways. You can't tell, except from the number designations, a freeway from a state highway. They're all 4 or 5 lanes. There's I-5, I-8, I-15, I-805 and S-52, and S-78 and a couple others I forget just now but they are loaded with very fast moving traffic except during rush hours (0500 to 2100 weekdays). No, it really isn't quite that bad. Traffic does thin out after 0930 but it's still pretty brisk and moves awfully fast. Traffic reports on KPBS regularly tell of hazards on the freeways (I include all 4 and 5-lane roads as "freeways") such as, mentioned in the last few days (a) an auto transmission on the fast lane of I-15 near Carmel Mountain southbound; (b) a car hood between two lanes on another highway; (c) various garden tools; (d) a very large wooden box ... I can't remember many things but every day there are things that find their way on to the highway. One early morning just before New Years we took our daughter to the airport at o'dark in the morning. Just as I entered traffic, in the "slow" lane on I-15, too late I noticed a tire in my lane when I was up to around 45 mph. Couldn't go left because of heavy traffic and couldn't get back to the shoulder because of large concrete barriers put there for construction work. I drove over the, thank God, empty tire with no damage to anything. At the speed traffic moves here and the congestion I can't imagine how many crashes there are because of debris on the highways and there's no way anyone could remove the stuff. You can't pull off and it would be suicide if you did and tried to get out and remove either something that fell off your vehicle or some one else's.

Finally, our mayor, Susan Golding, is finishing up her last year in office. She abandoned her quest to become a U.S. Representative soon after announcing because you can't run for higher office I suppose when covered with tar and feathers. She led the city council in an effort to guarantee the San Diego Chargers (known locally as "the bolts") ticket guarantee deal. In that deal, any ticket to a bolt game was bought automatically by the city! In yet another losing season, there could easily be ten thousand empty seats. At around $45 a seat --- well, you do the numbers. Can't afford to repair the streets but we can buy empty football stadium seats. And we pay these people to do this stuff!

Too many people here. Beautiful weather but way too many people and approved building permits now in place for thousands and thousands of homes in San Diego County alone. I sure don't want to stay here longer than a couple of years.

from Joe Lea

This was in the FSRA News of Florida, March 2000 issue; it is not really accredited to anyone but footnote is "Our compliments to the AFSA communications Coordinator."


Investigators at a major research institution recently discovered the heaviest element known to science and have tentatively named it Administratium.

Administratium has no protons or electrons, thus it has an atomic number of 0. It has, however, 1 neutron, 125 deputy neutrons, 75 assistant neutrons and 111 deputy assistant neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

The 312 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons. It is also surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since it has no electrons, Administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically, as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.

According to the discoverers, a minute amount of Administratium causes one reaction to take more than four days to complete, when it normally would have occurred in less than a second. Administratium has a normal half-life of three years; it does not decay but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the deputy neutrons, assistant neutrons and deputy assistant neutrons exchange places.

In fact, an Administratium's sample mass will actually INCREASE over time, since with each reorganization some of the morons inevitably become neutrons, forming new isotopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads scientists to speculate that Administratium is spontaneously formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as the "critical morass." You will recognize it when it occurs.

In Charge
by Marvin Konopik

When I was in Embassy Dakar our Ambassador was responsible for both Senegal and The Gambia. John Loughran was Acting Ambassador (I forget his exact title) in Bathurst, The Gambia and was going on vacation. Our Ambassador decided to go to Bathurst for a few days to "Show the Flag". He needed support staff, so I was selected to accompany him. Senegal was totally French but Bathurst was English speaking and a real delight. It was my chance to brush up on my skills at the good old OTP, which I could have gone through my career without knowing. Anyway the big thing in our life was an incoming USIS telegram with a transcript of a United Nations statement and vote. The Ambassador had discussed this subject with the President of the Gambia, and the President was interested in it and wanted to read it, when it, if it existed, came in. In the meantime the Ambassador and his wife decided to take a boat ride up the River Gambia and left me in charge.

Finally the text of the telegram started coming in garbled piece by piece through London and the PTT wireless system. I put it together and typed a clean copy. By the end of the day it was all in, but the Ambassador would not be back for another day, so how to get it to the President. The Chief Local informed me that it would have to go over as an attachment to a Note and I would have to take it over. So he did the Note, put me down as the Charge and rustled up a driver for me. I got to the door of the Presidential "White House", and rang the doorbell repeatedly, but there was no answer. So what to do now! The driver said to try the back door. I walked around to the back and there was a set of doors like you would find on the kitchen of an old southern house. I knocked on the door with my knuckles repeatedly but it was apparent that if I could hear the doorbell in the front and they couldn't then they surely wouldn't hear my scrawny knuckles against the door. Then I remembered how we did it back in Nebraska when I was a kid. I grabbed the screen door and whapped it closed a couple of times, whap, whap, whap, and out comes Mama President to accept the note for the President.

Life was still not relaxed, I had neglected to take my malaria tablets and there my wife and I were in the heart of the mosquito belt. We took cans of spray with us which we sprayed the room and hallways and restaurant thoroughly. In the morning the hallway had about a quarter inch of dead mosquitoes swirling in the breeze of our feet as we walked through.

The Ambassadors driver took the car up country to retrieve the Ambassador and bring the party back by road so that left me in the hotel out on the edge of town. The only taxi in town was busy so I'd have to walk to town to the Embassy. I got out to the main street and decided to hitchhike a ride in. Very shortly a well dressed guy in an old Mercedes stopped to pick me up. I got in the car and he started interrogating me, question after question of who I was, and why was I there and finally just as we got to the Embassy I asked him what he did. Foreign Minister he said! I never did find out what Miss Manners had to say about tipping when you hitchhike rides, especially if the car owner is the Foreign Minister trying to make a few bucks on the side.

Oh, I did get a meeting with a Brit who was the head of PTT and asked about a dedicated circuit. Oh, that wouldn't be profitable, he said. That sounded like as good as logic as I would hear in Bathurst.

We used to visit Bathurst quite often to do our grocery shopping. The British groceries were always in demand to fill our pantry with items not obtainable in Dakar. To get to Bathurst we had to take the ferry across the mouth of the raging, as in really raging, river. The boat was more like a small makeshift Ark. To get on the boat the Captain went full power into the shore and we had to drive into the water, up to the fan before going up onto the boat. Go slowly, then full power, then lock brakes and pray in as many faiths as possible. This was before Prozac.

John Loughran instructed everybody in Dakar to come at precise times to make one of the two boat trips per day but we would arrive in Bathurst at odd hours. John would always scratch his head over why the boat was on a punctual schedule day after day, but yet we came at odd times. I always told him, I didn't know, we just arrived and got on the boat. In reality we had been very heavy tippers and had become good friends of the crew. Anybody who tipped was their friend for life. The Captain told us to just call when we got to the Senegal side and tell them that the 'Red Cougar' was there and they would make an extra trip to come and get us. The Ambassadors cheap friends could sit it out over night on the far side, but not us.

Dedicated Communicators
by James F. Prosser

When we joined the Foreign Service, it was a requirement (and still is), that we agree to the first principle of service discipline of "anywhere, anytime."

Asking that of someone up front, you'll always get dedicated people. And Foreign Service communications throughout the years have received so many good people, quite a number of whom, I have had the pleasure to know and serve with.

But amongst them, a couple of instances stand out, where first-term communicators, showing exceptional dedication, stood up and volunteered, almost for the unknown.

In 1962, the Department of State decided to open a new consulate in the Congo city of Bukavu, on the shores of Lake Kivu in the extreme east of the country, about a thousand miles from the capital, Leopoldville. A communicator would have to be found and assigned there who knew Morse code, for the post was to use "CW" exclusively for all messages.

At the time, one could probably count on two hands the number of Foreign Service communicators who actually had CW experience. Elsie Crim recalled she had just posted a former Navy radioman to Buenos Aires who had used CW previously in his military service. So, a telegram was sent to Buenos Aires directing the transfer of Fred Charlton to Bukavu. In those days, the Department didn't ask where/if you wanted to go, they just gave you a direct transfer.

To the credit of Fred Charlton, Buenos Aires amusingly replied back to Washington with words to the effect: "Mr. Charlton gladly accepts his direct transfer to Bukavu, but where is it?" Fred helped open the post and served, perhaps almost continuously, without vacation or relief handling large volumes of traffic in CW, only then to have to decipher them on one-time-pad! Truly a commo hero.

But the story doesn't end here. Eventually Fred was replaced. Elsie Crim came through again by finding, and sending another hero, Bryon Hallman, to Bukavu to take up after Fred. Bryon also was a new communicator to the Foreign Service. He brought the same enthusiastic "can do" attitude to the post, working with an equal volume of traffic, as his predecessor.

Both Fred and Bryon lived in the consulate building. The radio room was in the spare bedroom of the apartment. Commuting certainly was never a problem. The proximity to work was. It was impossible to get away from it.

In my opinion Fred and Bryon would be in a group of the best communicators the service had. They both added luster to the meaning of dedication.

Do You Remember?
by Herb Walden

It seems that whenever I get together with old friends, a lot of our sentences begin with, "Do you remember?" Considering that you are at least a potential friend, I wonder . . . .

Do you remember when guys who were really hep, (and the word was "hep" back then), wore zoot suits? The coats were very long and had broad, heavily-padded shoulders, and the trousers were full at the hips and tapered to narrow cuffs. I wasn't old enough to have a zoot suit when they were the fad. I probably wouldn't have anyway, because my favorite things to wear were dungarees.

Do you remember dungarees? They're still around, but they've gone with a lot of name changes, like denims, blue jeans, and Levi's, but they're still dungarees to me!

Do you remember when we wore 4-buckle arctics in winter and canvas sneakers in summer? The arctics were a pain to get on and off, and usually the heels of our shoes would rip through the rubber before winter was over. No problem. We'd just take them to the gas station and have them vulcanized. Do you remember "vulcanized"?

Almost every summer spawned a new pair of sneakers. You felt like you could fly when you ran wearing a new pair of sneakers. It was almost as good as going barefoot. Almost.

P. F. Flyers and Keds were popular brands around my neck of the woods. Do you remember how quickly they became odoriferous? It seems they started getting pungent about an hour out of the box.

Do you remember the old Walt Disney comic books of the 1940s? They were among my favorites. Mickey Mouse had two nephews back then. One of them disappeared. Mysteriously. A couple other Disney characters have disappeared since then, too. Do you remember Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow? I wonder whatever happened to them.

My favorite comic book super hero was Captain Marvel. Do you remember how Billy Batson, (boy reported), would utter the word "SHAZAM", and a big bolt of lightening would appear, and he would be magically transformed into Captain Marvel, ready to do battle with some diabolical enemy? Like Mr. Mind, who was a very smart worm.

I used to get caught up in the stories and would sometimes sneak out back where no one was around and quietly say, "SHAZAM". I didn't want to say it in front of anyone because if it didn't work, I'd be embarrassed. And if it did work, I didn't want to scare my mother, what with the lightning bold and all. Maybe I didn't say "SHAZAM" loud enough, because nothing ever happened.

Speaking of comics, I made a list a while back of all the newspaper comics that have disappeared since I was a kid. There are at least fifty.

Do you remember some of the adventure strips like "Buz Sawyer" and "Smiling Jack"? And detective strips like "Kerry Drake and "Mickey Finn"? The strips I liked best were the funny ones. Do you remember "Smoky Stover" and "Snuffy Smith" and "Gordo"? There was "Our Boarding House" with Major Hoople and "Bringing Up Father" with Maggie and Jiggs. One of the funniest single panels was "Out Our Way".

Do you remember "flip pictures"? They were a series of pictures of maybe nothing more than a guy walking. But when you flipped through them, the character was set in motion. I remember some Big Little Books having these moving pictures in the corners of the pages. In grade school, some of us used to try to draw our own in our school tablets. The effect was close to magic.

I doubt that there are any of these moving cartoons around anymore, but recently I discovered something close. I found that if I stacked all my old photo drivers licenses in order and "flipped" them, I could actually watch my hairline recede.

Do you remember when Nabisco Shredded Wheat was packed with gray cardboard separators between layers? The separators were printed with pictures of various things. During World War II, there were lots of pictures of airplanes and ships and other military hardware. I seem to have lost my collection. Too bad. I really need some more clutter.

Do you remember LS/MFT? We used to hear it during every commercial on radio's "Hit Parade" each Saturday night. About the same time, "Johnny" used to "call for Philip Morris" while strains of "On the Trail" played in the background. I don't think Philip Morris ever answered. Until recently. Now he's answering for quite a lot!

Do you remember running boards on cars? Oh, I know. We have those pretty little add-ons for trucks and vans, but I'm talking about REAL running boards --- the kind wide enough for two or three people to stand on and go for a ride. That was fun, but then I'm pretty easily amused anyway.

Do you remember when you could actually understand song lyrics? Back in the 40s, there was a novelty song called "Rose O'Day" and the chorus was:

Rose O'Day, Rose O'Day
You're my filigadusha
Balda ralda
Boon toodie ay

No, I don't know what it means either. But the point is I could make out every syllable. As for today's pop singers, well, I haven't understood a word since Bing Crosby died.

You know, I just got to thinking a little more about some of the things I've written. So a few minutes ago, I went out in the backyard and looked around to make sure I was alone. Then in a loud, strong voice, I said, "HAZAM!"

And what do you know?

It still didn't work!


See you next month.

Issue Index   Issue 54