Archive for October, 2006

I Got Married On Halloween One Time

October 31, 2006

By John E. Carey
October 31, 2006
Updated April 9, 2007

Many years ago, before Political Correctness, the Pentagon was one fun place to work. Every Friday in my little area of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we’d have a TGIF party with booze and food.

I was fond of a young gal who was the Secretary and Administrative Assistant to an Air Force two star general. She was very cute and proper and clean.

At one of our Friday night bashes, she got a little TOO drunk so I escorted her to her late bus. She lived way south of the Pentagon near interstate 95 but it was too far for me to drive. I lived close to the Pentagon. She was also married and I didn’t want to carry her into her own house passed her husband if she passed out.

On Saturday I wondered if she was OK but I feared I couldn’t phone her. Before cell phones, I might have gotten the husband. But on Monday I couldn’t wait to ask if she got home in one piece.

She said, “I hurled on the bus.”

Me: “All over the floor?”

She: “No. That would have been disgusting. I threw up into my purse.”

THAT’s neatness!

As we approached Halloween that gal asked her general if he thought the staff could have a Halloween party. She wanted to know if the generals and admirals would dress in costumes.

The general told her there was only one way to get an idea like this off the launch pad. The General said, “Get John Carey involved.”

I had briefed General Vessey the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff a few times and he treated me like a son. I also ran a football pool and on Monday’s during football season I’d go the Chairman’s “Stand Up” meeting for the Admirals and Generals. At the end of the meeting, General Vessey would introduce me and I’d announce the winner of the football pool.

One Monday I followed General Vessey back to his office and discussed the idea for the Halloween Party. I told him if he came to the party in a costume, it would be easy to persuade all the other admirals and generals to dress up in goofy costumes.

He opened an armoire in his office to reveal a complete sheik’s robes and headgear. “I was stationed in the Middle East one time,” he said.

PRESTO: The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had a costume and he agreed to wear it to our party!

So I scampered around to all the flag and general officers to invite them to the costume party on Halloween. Many predictably said, “Carey that is a damn fool idea” or something like that. Then I would fire back with this: “General Vessey thinks it is a great idea and he already has his costume.”

Each and every flag and general officer said: “Sign me up.”

On the day of the Halloween Party the gal I was fond of went to Georgetown and had all her beautiful long hair cut off. She had about one inch of hair left and she moosed it so it stood up! Then she had her eyes professionally made up. She looked like a cat. Then she put on purple shoes and purple panty hose. She wore a purple sweater that just barely covered her vitals. She said she was a punk-rock star like Cindy Lauper.

I came as Darth Vader. The helmet and mask cost me about $35.00. At that time we Navy officers wore black pants, black shirts and a black tie. All I needed was a cape.

At the party I saw Cindy Lauper and fell in love immediately. But I had no idea who she really was.

I went over to her and said, “Do you want to go home with Darth Vader tonight?”

She said “Sure.” Then I asked her name.

I was astounded.

A few years later we got married in Mississippi on Halloween. In a hurricane.  Only two guests made it to the wedding.  We couldn’t get home afterward due to flooding and downed trees so we hunkered down in a bar called the Tiki in Pascagoula, Ms.  I called it “The Yacht Club” but it was a dive with only a few bass boats close by!!

Just an aside: that year at Christmas time the Air Force had a party in the Pentagon that featured a band and a, let us say, “cabaret girl.”  My gal friend couldn’t see, so even though I was wearing my Dress Blues, I got her up on my shoulders.

A General walked past and said, “Hey, Navy. You’ve got that girl on backward!”

“Tailhook” and Political Correctness put an end to such fun.

Probably just as well. But we sure had fun “in the old days!”

http://peace-and-freedom.blogspot.com/

Leadership Ideas From The Movies: You’ll Never Guess Which One (Number Five)

October 31, 2006

By John E. Carey
October 31, 2006

”Thunderheart” is one of the better movies dealing with the differences in culture many of us encounter daily.

Val Kilmer plays Ray, a white guy FBI agent from Washington DC. His blood is 100% Native American but he cannot even identify a Pow-Wow when he sees one.

He is from suburbia and college. Not the Great Plains.

He gets sent by Washington to solve a mysterious murder on an Indian Reservation.

The Native Americans call him “The Washington Redskin.”

He sees only with his eyes and not his heart. He needs clues to guide him but without intuition he is not doing well.

He trades his expensive Ray Ban sun glasses to a tribe elder for a smooth stone. The chief wins. The FBI is losing. Clearly.

This is a movie with Ghost Dancing, Visions, Listening With The Heart and understanding nature and the signs God gives to us.

If you do not understand such things, at least a little, you will not get it.

Ray also has a love interest, Maggie. At one point, Ray says Maggie is really not involved. Maggie says, “Ray, I’ve been involved since Columbus landed!”

The movie is about the collision of cultures. Not crime solving.

The leading Native American, at one point, describes his anguish while attending the all White school. “They washed my mouth out with soap for speaking my own language, Ray.”

There is also a searching for meaning. Like “What is Power?”

“Power is a rainstorm. Power is a river. Right there.”

Ray gets a ticket from the Native American policeman who says he was speeding. “Fifty-seven in a fifty five zone.”

Ray says, “Show me the radar.”

The Native American policeman says, “I don’t need no radar. I listened to the wind as you passed. It said to me fifty-seven.”

Above: The Native American policeman played by Graham Greene

One cop needs technology. The other is using his senses and his head.

Val Kilmer is great in this film but so is everyone else.  Sam ShepardGraham GreeneFred Ward and Sheila Tousey star in supporting roles but the script gives them all great moments.

A central character that is discussed but never seen in this film is Thunderheart. Thunderheart is a kind of tribal icon that once led a confrontation with the White guys in the cavalry. “They called him Thunderheart. He was sent here to a troubled place to help his people.”

There is a small reference in this movie to the “Indians Who Walk The Steel.”

For some younger Americans this may be unknown. Native Americans have a history of working in the construction trades in high-rise buildings and bridge projects. According to legend, because they are in touch with nature they have no fear of heights or the wind.

“I don’t know if there’s any truth to Native Americans being better at walking the steel, but there’s history behind it,” says Russ Gschwin, apprentice coordinator for the Ironworkers Training Program for American Indians in Chicago.

Near the end of this movie the Native Americans start to “adopt” Ray. One says to him: “If you ever need a place to come back to…..To listen to the wind…..”

Also near the end of this movie, a vehicle collision looks imminent and the star says: “Put your seatbelt on!”

So rent, borrow of grab this flick and put on your seatbelt: you are in for a terrific ride.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunderheart

Steelworker

Above: “Indians who walk on steel.” Mohawk Indian ironworker Joe Regis, circa 1960.
Photo courtesy Bethlehem Steel.

Confessions of a “Mad Blogger”

October 29, 2006

By John E. Carey
October 29, 2006

I always considered “Bloggers” the catfish of the internet: bottom dwellers that fed on just about anything near the bottom.

On July 4, 2006, I decided to join them. When North Korea’s Half-Crazy “Dear Leader,” Kim Jong-Il decided to launch missiles in defiance of the United Nations, the United States and the world community, I felt it was time to speak out.

And I felt I had something valuable to add to the international dialogue. I am a recognized expert in Missile Defense, the science of Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).

On July 4, 2006, ironically, my wife and I saw published in The Washington Times a commentary we wrote about the new Communist Government in Vietnam, titled “Vietnam’s New Found Hopes” http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20060703-102900-2045r.htm.

We dedcided that our “blogs” should bring closer together the mainstream media and the internet readers. We are uniters and not dividers. But we have firm commitments that cannot be shaken. And we decided to use our own names, not “screen names.”

By the end of the day on the 4th of July, we had three blogs going: advocating for missile defense, a better understanding of our ageing population, an understanding of Communist Vietnam, the American Civil War, and other issues.

We chose, as a name for our Flagship: “Peace and Freedom.” All our blogs are on “Google’s” blogger system.

We found that postings to Free Republic were impossible from the blogger addresses so we started another Peace and Freedom outlet at: https://johnib.wordpress.com/.

By July 14, we were continuing to annoy Pyongyang with an essay in the Taipei Times about Missile Defense and North Korea. This essay, “Unity vital to counter N Korean aggression,” appeared Friday, July 14, 2006, on Page 8 of the Taipei Times.
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2006/07/14/2003318758

We proudly associated ourselves with Liz McCausland and Robert Ende, daughter and brother-in-law of Mrs. “Cuc” Foshee as soon as we knew about Mrs. Foshee’s wrongful imprisonment in Vietnam. This precipitated the essays in The Washington Times: “Vietnam Prisoner Release Imperative” on September 24, 2006
(http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20060923-084007-3324r.htm)
and “Vietnam Miracle?” on October 27, 2006. (http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20061026-090538-2780r.htm).

We have been proud of our commitments and our contributions.

We hope you have, in some small way, found benefit in our work.

http://peace-and-freedom.blogspot.com/

 http://extendedremarks.blogspot.com/

http://civil-war-story-inspiration.blogspot.com/

Relax, Enjoy a Little, And Don’t Believe Everything on the Internet

October 27, 2006

By John E. Carey
October 27, 2006

The smash sitcom Seinfeld was a TV show about nothing. Put another way, Seinfeld and his friends made a fun TV show just because they could and they loved entertaining the rest of us. I think mostly they made it because it was fun to do!

Life is like that sometimes. So this is an essay mostly about nothing because I was entertained by many things today and I thought you might appreciate some of them too.

In the grocery store I watched an old gentleman come in, buy a gallon of rich chocolate swirl ice cream, and head to the salad bar for a spoon. After he paid, I followed him outside.

He got into his car and opened the ice cream and started to eat it.

I gave him the internationally recognized sign language for “roll down your window.” He looked skeptical and only rolled it down an inch.

I told him I wanted to talk. I told him I write about ageing issues for The Washington Times (see: http://peace-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2006_07_12_peace-and-freedom_archive.html). I told him I sometimes write about American culture.

He asked what I meant by American culture. I told him like the stuff in yogurt: that’s French culture. American culture is like the NFL and the Word Series. (See essays on culture at:
http://peace-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2006_07_14_peace-and-freedom_archive.html)

He laughed and offered that he hates the French. I told him all good Americans do.

I asked him what he thought about the president and he went on a tear. He said he had been in both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy.

“So why the ice cream?”

He responded. “I am 88 years old. My doctor wants me to lower my blood pressure and my cholesterol. I told him to F___ himself. I’m doing what I want. If not at this age, when then?”

Good point.

I went back into the grocery to get the things I needed but stopped long enough to tell the pumpkin pie story to four Black people (see: https://johnib.wordpress.com/2006/10/19/in-washington-dc-your-neighbors-could-be-somebody-or-cultural-pitfalls-of-a-yankee-dog/).

A woman opined that I am lucky to have a Vietnamese wife (and I sure know it) that puts up with my stupid antics. She said a Black wife would have “whooped my butt” by now.

She was right in all her analysis.

Then I went my merry way distributing the newspaper article my wife and I crafted about Vietnam. If you are a regular reader you know we are steamed that the President of the United States cannot seem to get freedom for Mrs. “Cuc” Foshee, an American citizen, wrongly imprisoned in Vietnam for over a year.

A guy reminded me that we have an Ambassador in Hanoi, Vietnam now and he probably gets paid more than $100,000 along with a house and a limo and a staff that we taxpayers pay for. “What the hell is that Ambassador doing?”

What indeed?

I am clueless. For the essay on Vietnam and “Cuc,” see: http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20061026-090538-2780r.htm

In addition to giving the newspaper article my wife and I made for The Washington Times to all my pals and telling you about it, I took it to the 7/11 to the shopkeeper I call the Bangladeshi Virgin, I took it to the grocery store for Colin (his son has MS), I took it to Barbara that manages the gas station, I also gave one to Adonich (the Ethiopian clerk in the gas station) and I gave it to the gang at a sports bar and strip club!

I also met today one Petty Officer Second Class Mark Romo. He’s smart, sharp, polite and the kind of sailor that makes me proud to be an American. He’s a cryptologist so he is way smarter than me. I thank him for his service in wartime.

Finally, an irate relative sent me an email complaining that I exaggerated in a story (see: Leadership Ideas From the Movies: You’ll Never Guess Which One (Number Four) the essay below this on on: https://johnib.wordpress.com/).

I told him he may have missed a memo (see: http://news.com.com/2100-1023-204156.html?legacy=cnet). Great story tellers and some writers are not always encumbered by the facts.  Politicians have this trend too and do not provide us with a good example.  Maybe he’s heard that? And maybe on the internet there are some stories that are slightly exaggerated!

Geez.

Leadership Ideas From the Movies: You’ll Never Guess Which One (Number Four)

October 26, 2006

By John E. Carey
October 26, 2006

This is a story about “Secondhand Lions,” (2003) a largely forgotten movie. And my Dad and Ian Fleming (circa 1959).

Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond 007 stories. My Dad is nobody. Except to Ian and me he is a gigantic hero.

We first meet the film’s main protagonists when they fly a biplane under a freeway overpass and set off a trooper’s radar gun.

Then a long forgotten (and disrespected) female relative brings a nine year old over to dump him. One oldster says to the other: “You order a whore?” She disturbs them while they are trying to gun down a giant catfish with shotguns.

This is not a P.C. movie, ladies. Bill Clinton take cover. This is a movie about men. And old men: the worst kind.

When the young kid arrives, he is descended upon by dogs and pigs. He says “Good doggie” to a pig. He is a dweeb.

He overhears one of his “uncles” say to his Mom, “Your God Damn Son is a Weenie.”

Nobody wants the dweeb. He has to grow up or die.

I allowed Jim Beam to watch this movie with me: the first time he has been out of the kitchen in years.

My Vietnamese bride ran for cover. Save the children!

Jim loved it! Me too.

Michael Cain plays Garth and Robert Duval is Hub. They play older brothers just living life. They reside in what can only be called a shack in West Texas. A far away land.

But they were not always old nobodys.

They drive off hucksters with their shotguns. Shooting. And more then once. In suburbia you might think them menaces to society. Where they live: they are civilization.

The two oldsters took off a way back, and spent 40 years mostly in Africa in the French Foreign Legion. They have their life stories and experiences.

At one point, one of the oldsters says: “There were these two girls in Toulon, …. Twins”…..then he thinks better of the story and coughs. His audience is a nine year old lad.

You fill in the rest!

When Hub is challenged by some young punks, he introduces himself by saying: “I’m Hub McCann. I’ve fought in two World Wars and countless smaller ones on three continents. I led thousands of men into battle with everything from horses and swords to artillery and tanks. I’ve seen the headwaters of the Nile, and tribes of natives no white man had ever seen before. I’ve won and lost a dozen fortunes, killed many men and loved only one woman with a passion a flea like you could never begin to understand. That’s who I am. Now, go home, boy!”

Hub is a Real Man.

This movie is a hoot!

Oh, My Dad was a spy. Knew Ian Fleming during WWII. Ian came every summer for two glorious weeks. Every summer. My Dad was a bible beating Roman Catholic. But not during those two weeks every year!

I recall Ian Fleming from when I was about the age at SEVEN. AT BREAKFAST: These two are drinking booze, smoking (the only time my Dad smoked or drank was during “Ian weeks”) and the maid (Ian traveled with “help”) was making Eggs Benedict and Grilled Tomatoes! Real English breakfast.

And Bangers. My Dad drove six hours in Ohio to find the ones Ian liked!

At breakfast, in front of five Catholic Kids and my Sainted Mom (an only Child), Ian Belts out, “Folks, Your Dad and I FU—- every frisky woman in London during World War II!”

Yikes!

YeeeeHaaa, Children. Welcome to Ian Weeks.

Mom went to the bedroom, slammed the door loudly (the only time) and didn’t come out for fifteen days!

We kids stayed to watch. Ian and Dad were a great show.

Two weeks a year.

Back to the movie. They are in the French Foreign Legion. After being Shanghaied with “strong, strange drinks.”

One brother, Hub, finds Jasmine: “The Most Beautiful Woman He Has Ever Seen.” An Arab Princess.

Rent, buy, borrow or steal “Secondhand Lions,” a film about growing up, living life, and getting better.

Terrific! My Dad would have loved this. Ian Fleming as well.

I sure did.

Jim fell asleep.

The author wishes to thank Mr. John Eldridge, who recommended this film.  I think he is Hub.

On War and Love: From the 1860s — General John Reynolds and “Kate”

October 25, 2006

John Reynolds and “Kate” Many students of the Civil War and the battle of Gettysburg know the tragic tale of Major General John Reynolds. But not as many know that General Reynolds had a secret love named “Kate” that even the Reynolds family knew nothing about prior to John Reynolds’ death at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863.

GenJFRenyolds.jpg

 

In May, 1863, the Army of the Potomac suffered a stinging defeat at the battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia. President Lincoln was fed up with his eastern army commanders. He had already relieved Burnside after Fredericksburg and had tired of McClellan’s plodding pursuit of General Lee and the Rebel Army.

Lincoln’s advisors told him the most well regarded officer in the Union Army was John Fulton Reynolds, the 42 year old Pennsylvanian and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. A native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania (just fifty miles from the battlefield at Gettysburg),

Reynolds was frequently the subject of praise-filled words by his contemporaries.

McClellan wrote that Reynolds was “remarkably brave and intelligent, an honest, true gentleman.” Reynolds was quiet, efficient and dedicated to the Union cause. Reviews of contemporary letters and diaries can uncover no negative words about Reynolds. Frank Haskell called Reynolds “one of the soldier generals of the army, a man whose soul was in his country’s work.”

“General Reynolds obeys orders literally himself, and expects all under him to do the same,” wrote artilleryman Charles Wainwright.

“General Reynolds is very different from Hooker, in that he never expresses an opinion about other officers,” he wrote. “I can get nothing out of him.”

Lincoln invited Reynolds to the White House and, although they met privately, many historians believe that Lincoln offered command of the Army of the Potomac to the taciturn Reynolds.

Reynolds wanted unfettered control of the Army: a stipulation Lincoln would not allow. A few weeks later, President Lincoln ordered the relief of General Joseph Hooker.

On the night of June 27, 1863, General George Gordon Meade took command of the Army of the Potomac in Frederick, Maryland.

Meade had to immediately deal with General Lee’s invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania. He drew up a defense plan that included a line of troops known as the Pipe Creek Defense Line. This line stretched from Middleburg to Manchester, Maryland.

By July 30, Reynolds and his First Corps was in the middle of this line and nearing Emmitsburg, Maryland.

By the evening before the start of the Battle of Gettysburg, Reynolds was at Emmitsburg with 80,000 troops.

The Union Army campsite covered the grounds of what is now the Department of Homeland Security’s National Emergency Training Center (then the grounds of Saint Joseph’s Academy), through the property of what is now the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine, and reached almost to what is now the Post Office.

An Illinois officer wrote that the weary soldiers found themselves near a Catholic Convent. “The beauty and tranquility of this place, so strikingly in contrast with a military tumult which suddenly invested it, are vividly remembered,” he recorded.

The Sisters of Charity made bread for their new flock.

General Buford and his cavalry were the first to encounter Lee’s Confederate forces just outside of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. He hastily scribbled notes to Reynolds, the commander of the Union Army’s First Corps, urging his rapid march to the battle site. Buford was conducting a defense in depth – all the while slowing down the Confederates of General Henry Heath’s division but also executing a slow, organized withdrawal.

Buford was at the Seminary in Gettysburg when Reynolds and his forces came on the scene.

In a famous exchange, Reynolds called out, “What goes, John?” Buford characteristically replied, “The Devil’s to pay!”

Reynolds entered the fray, quickly assessed the situation and made a report to his commander, General Meade. Reynolds sent a member of his staff, Capt. Stephen Minot Weld, to Meade with this situation report: “Tell the General that we will hold the heights to the south of the town, and that I will barricade the streets of the town if necessary.”

Personally directing his men after arriving on the field, General Reynolds shouted out, “Forward men, forward for God’s sake, and drive those fellows out of the woods.”

But before long a Confederate sniper shot Reynolds who wheeled and fell from his horse. The characteristically quiet Reynolds was dead – a tragic loss to the Union cause.

The Union Army quietly removed the body of its First Corps commander from the field by ambulance. Then, because his family lived so close to the battlefield, Reynolds’ remains and personal effects were sent home to his family.

Among those effects, the Reynolds family discovered a previously unknown ring engraved with the words “Dear Kate.” The Reynolds family never knew that John Reynolds had a secret love.

General Reynolds had met and fallen in love with Catherine Hewitt in California in 1860. When General Reynolds was then transferred to West Point, Miss Hewitt traveled back east with him While Reynolds taught at West Point, Catherine attended the Sacred Heart Academy near Torresdale, Pennsylvania.

General Reynolds planned to marry his ‘Kate,’ but postponed the event as the war erupted.

 

Catharine Mary Hewitt, known as Kate. Photo courtesy of Franklin & Marshall College

Kate vowed to join the convent if anything happened to her John.

After John Reynolds death, Catherine Hewitt met the Reynolds family and became like a daughter to the surprised Reynolds family. Then she traveled to Emmitsburg and entered the Daughters of Charity community (convent).

Miss Hewitt became Sister Hildegardi. Kate kept in touch with the Reynolds family until 1868 when she left the convent. The sisters at Emmittsburg, according to Kate’s biographer and author of “Is She Kate?” Marian Latimer, found Kate “unsuitable for community life.”

Brooding, mourning for a man that was neither husband nor blood relative, Kate was alone in the world. She apparently gave up on her Catholic faith and returned to her first home in Stillwater, New York.

Catherine Mary Hewitt died of pneumonia in Stillwater, New York, in 1895.  She is not buried in a Catholic cemetery.

By John E. Carey
The Washington Times

Updated October 27, 2006

Image result for Reynolds monument, gettysburg

General John Reynolds Monument ~ Gettysburg National Military Park ~ Pennsylvania

Mr. Carey is a frequent contributor to The Washington Times.

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Hewitt&GSfn=Catharine&GSmn= Mary&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GRid=11784763

http://www.civilwarwomenblog.com/kate-hewitt/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_F._Reynolds

http://www.civilwarwomenblog.com/2008/12/catherine-mary-kate-hewitt.html

It’s National “Take Back Your Time Day”; No Kidding: It’s O.K. to SLOW DOWN!

October 24, 2006

 

Maybe We’re Going Too Fast

By John E. Carey
The Washington Times

For a long time I’ve suspected American society moved just too fast. Recently a kindergarten teacher confirmed my suspicion. When I recounted happy memories about my own kindergarten experience, including “nap time,” the teacher told me: “There isn’t time for a nap anymore. We are getting these kids ready for life.”

Now I understand why my generation is such a failure. Too much nap time.

The telephone may also be an indicator we are rushing toward unhappiness and stress. Ever hear anyone say, “Gotta get the other phone. Sorry. I’ll call you back”?

Another favorite conversation killer is, “We’re real busy here. Gotta go. Bye.” Not only are these communications rude and grammatically incorrect, they indicate a warp speed psychology in American life.

And cell phones, fortunately, are everywhere; allowing us to multiplex our minds and our lives. Cell phoning while driving. Cell phoning while eating. Talking on the cell phone at a wedding. I’ve even recently observed fast food restaurant guests talking to each other across the table on their cell phones. Do we really need to communicate this much? Are we discussing Plato or the meaning of life? Not usually. We are often scheduling more work, explaining why we are late, or just wasting time and space on the frequency band.

We drive way too fast. Even while going to work, people cut in and out of lanes at a breathtaking pace. Are they late or can’t they wait to get to work? One wonders. A recent survey reported the average American driver admits he takes dangerous risks behind the wheel to save precious time.

In suburbia the soccer Moms and Dads are notoriously overworked and on the run. The kids’ schedules drive everyday life and especially the weekends. Soccer, ballet, Girl Scouts, Little League, the amusement park, trips to the mall and other activities mean some families have more than one SUV to handle the workload of transporting preteens to everything and everywhere. Kids have even been known to suffer nervous breakdowns because they are so overscheduled.


My best suburban family of friends recently drove three hours to a one-hour wedding and then three hours back so they could get to the next scheduled event.

We are in such a hurry to pack more into life that TV sitcom writers have added many more pages of additional script for a single episode than ever before. Fortunately, the robotlike actors can speak faster than my VCR on fast forward. This, of course, also means our kids (not robots, these) now utter every sentence as if the house were on fire and they were making the 911 call. And the speed-talking on TV allows more life-enhancing commercials.

So if we didn’t go this fast what would we miss? Or stated another way – why are we doing this and is it sane, normal and healthy? Does this life at the speed of sound give us better “quality of life?” More “family time?” More vacation? More money? Time to read a book? In most families, none of the above.

Usually we are just competing with other speed demons. Psychological pressure grows when we fear we can’t keep pace and can’t compete. Experts say the average white-collar worker fears for his job if he takes more than a week or two off at one stretch. This results in speedy weekend vacations with lots of driving and not much rest. Suburban parents often tell me little Judy or Tommy won’t get into the best middle school if he doesn’t pack more into “the early grades.” No nap time for you slackers.

Statistics do not confirm that all this rushing into, during and after school is building a generation of American geniuses. On the contrary, the school systems and cultural ways of life in several other nations are beating our pants off. And one of the best compensated team of teachers and school officials is right here in our nation’s capital. They also have some of the most embarrassing statistics on educating students. But this may not be due to trying to pack more quality education into the day.

Family life isn’t much improved either, surveys and statistics tell us. Families are more fractured, and a generation of single parents has exploded onto the scene and become an acceptable part of the norm.

And working quickly is not the same as efficiency. My favorite lawyer takes on too much work then tries to work faster, harder, later. Then he’ll make a silly mistake in an easy correspondence. He’ll make up for it the next time by writing a skilled, research masterpiece. But trust me, there is another mistake out there soon.

Do we get more vacation time? Not compared to just about any European. The legally mandated vacation time in Sweden is 32 days per year. If you live in Denmark, France, Austria or Spain you get 30 days off by law. The Japanese get 25 vacation days annually. Even in China, the workers get a longer vacation than you: 21 days.

The Germans are the most widely traveled and well-compensated with vacation time of any people in the world. Most get 30 days off, but some get up to 48. And Paris shuts down and empties out for a month in the summer because everyone goes on vacation.. Well, Paris has more open stores and restaurants these days because lots of Americans are there for a few days in summer (maybe even a whopping week). The French keep Paris open on a limited basis during vacation season these days just to be rude to Americans and take their money.

Do we get longer vacations? The average Italian vacation is 42 days. How long was your last big one?

From a story first written by Mr. Carey and published by The Washington Times on August 3, 2003. We’ve gotten even faster since….

***************************
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Workers of America, take a break.

Born out of concern over the long hours U.S. workers put in on the job, Take Back Your Time Day, set for October 24, is an effort to remind hurried, harried people of what they’re missing.

Slow down, say organizers who range from academics to activists to volunteers. Turn off the cell phone, look at the falling leaves, sit down to a family dinner, take a nap or just take a deep breath.”Time is so important,” said organizer Bonnie Michaels, a work-life consultant based in Naples, Florida.

“What we’re offering is to help people pay attention to the fact there are little ways to take it back.”

This will be the fourth annual Take Back Your Time Day, marked by events ranging from panel discussions to potluck suppers, organizers said.And plenty of people may mark the occasion on their own, said national coordinator John de Graaf, who counts 10,000 members on the Take Back Your Time mailing list.

The idea is to persuade U.S. workers — who tend to work long hours, put in more work hours then their European counterparts and often fail to use their allotted vacation time — to work less, he said. Studies show working less improves productivity, employee health and morale and reduces absenteeism and on-the-job accidents, supporters say.

Having an annual Take Back Your Time Day helps get the simple message across, said Michaels.”It’s such a difficult chore to get people to pay attention,” she said. “We’re just trying to remind people that they have some choices and to set some limits in their lives. It’s like retraining yourself to have empty space.”

LABOR ACT

The date — October 24 — marks the day in 1940 that the 40-hour work week took effect under the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act. These days, organizers are asking U.S. workers to, at the very least, take a break.

“It could be as simple as just taking a walk with your family, sitting down to a meal, laughing, playing a game, reflecting,” said Michaels. “We’re not talking about big things here.”

Take Back Your Time volunteer organizer Jodi Allison-Bunnell of Missoula, Montana, says she limits herself to working less than 20 hours a week, and her husband keeps his weekly work hours to 35.

“The number of working hours is a big, big part of how we have decided to spend our time,” she said. “Some people look at me — I have a couple of graduate degrees — and say, ‘What are you doing?’ I could be doing some kind of high-powered thing, but I really don’t want to.

“I wouldn’t live any other way,” she said.

Organizers concede that working fewer hours is a luxury reserved for more affluent workers but argue that the effort needs to start somewhere.

“Maybe if people at the top levels choose to work shorter hours, maybe it will become stylish and work its way down,” said Sarah Ryan, a professor of labor studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.And they are quick to say it takes more than one day a year to make a change.

They advocate regulations and legislation that would guarantee paid sick leave, paid vacations, paid leave for parents of newborns or adopted children and limits on compulsory overtime.”In the sense of having changed society, we’re not successful at all,” said de Graaf. “But the interest is there. People care about this, so we want to keep it up.”We hear from people all the time about little changes they made in their lives. Those things all make me very happy,” he added.

“But we’ve got a long, long way to go.”

Leadership Ideas from the Movies: You’ll Never Guess Which One (Number Three)

October 23, 2006

By John E. Carey
October 23, 2006

O.K., this film is not much about leadership at all. But it is about rich people, middle class people and all the rest. It is about men and women and it came out before “gay” meant homosexual. It is not really quite a musical but it has a lot of terrific musical numbers.

Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Celest Holm and others including Louis Armstrong make this movie fun and eminently “watchable.”

The 1956 classic “High Society” is about love and life.

“Spy Magazine” dispatches reporters Mike Connor (Frank Sinatra) and Liz Imbrie (Celeste Holm) to the Newport, Rhode Island, Jazz Festival to cover the impending wedding of socialite ice goddess Tracy Lord (Grace Kelly).

Grace has decided to marry for the second time. Her “intended” is the rich, safe and boring George Kittredge (John Lund). Grace’s first husband is now also her next door neighbor: C.K. Dexter-Haven aka “Dex” (Bing Crosby). This is awkward as Bing still loves Grace and is one of the prime movers behind the Jazz Festival. Add to that, Grace’s family generally loves Bing and Bing strolls through Grace’s mansion and grounds as if he owns the place.

Once Frank Sinatra enters the scene he too decides he loves Grace. Fueled by copious amounts of party Champaign and other booze libations from the mansion’s hidden in the wall bar, Sinatra, Crosby and Kelly go on a romp memorable in the annuls of Hollywood’s great movies.

Frank gets blasted and encounters a stone cold sober Bing. Sinatra launches into a song called “Did you ever?” It turns into a delightful duet with Bing doing his share of the crooning and drinking. One of the lines is “I’ve never seen such gayity.”

Frank comically insults Bing by singing: “Don’t dig that kind of croonin’ chum.”

Bing fires back, “You must be one of the newer fellas.”

When Bing starts matching Frank drink for drink, the fun and the movie, takes off.

Frank and Grace, both under the influence, decide to escape the night before the wedding bash like two POWs making a break for it. But they don’t get far: first they dance, then they end up in the estate’s pool and then (gasp) in Grace’s bedroom.

Frank and Grace dance the rumba (not a drink I am told) while singing “Mind if I make love to you?” The movie heavily relies upon innuendo, a lost Hollywood art form.

Frank is a gentleman and he winds up carrying the inebriated Grace to her bedroom. He drops her off and returns to the party where Bing tries to gain a confession. But Frank passes out.

On Wedding Day Morning, everyone, it seems, is hung over. Grace is comical as the bride that cannot bear the light of the sun.

And then all concerned begin to sort out who really loves whom and who should logically be wed.

Veteran actor Louis Calhern might have stolen the movie as the heavy drinking Uncle Willie but he can’t quite shoulder past Bing, Frank and Grace.

The movie lacks much of the fabric of current Hollywood blockbusters. There is no noise in this soundtrack, no machine gun fire and little violence. There isn’t a car chase and no steamy sex scene.

But this movie is definitely about life and love.

And innuendo.

President’s Planned Trip To Vietnam: Encourage the Economic Miracle Along With Human Rights Improvements

October 20, 2006

By John E. Carey
October 20, 2006

President George Bush plans to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference November 17-19 in Vietnam. We applaud this effort by the president to make this historic trip to help foster what we call the “Vietnam Economic Miracle.”

Vietnam’s entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the granting of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) by the U.S. are virtually assured in the next month or two, or, for PNTR, sometime next year. We support the president and congratulate Vietnam on these successes in bringing the government of Vietnam into the greater world of economic cooperation and prosperity.

But we also urge the President of the United States and the American people to remain mindful of the human rights abuses in Communist Vietnam – abuses which have lessened somewhat in recent years but still paint a troubling picture.

The economy in Vietnam is starting to rumble and many want to participate in the anticipated new prosperity and wealth.Tourism is exploding in Vietnam along with the associated hotels, restaurants, and other businesses. Tourist arrivals to Vietnam have grown on average 20% per year over the past 15 years, shooting up from 250,000 in 1990 to 3.5 million last year. The first quarter of 2006 saw more than a million tourists visit Vietnam, on pace to hit the government’s target of hosting 4 million tourists this year. Some industry analysts optimistically estimate tourist arrivals will double to 8 million in Vietnam by 2010. The industry’s positive cash flow to Vietnam is estimated at two trillion dollars a year.

But there are many other industries and ventures that are currently thriving in Vietnam.

Vietnam’s textile industry is such a potent force that it threatens to destroy what is still remaining of clothing manufacturing in the United States. So the Bush administration promised Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in October that it would closely monitor textile and clothing imports from Vietnam after that country joins the World Trade Organization and the United States is required to drop import quotas.

This small promise by the president set off a fire storm among retailers anxious to sell inexpensive clothing from Vietnam without any restrictions.

There are at least 600 software companies in Vietnam. Computer chip manufacturing is huge and growing. Both Japan and China have recently announced huge investments in Vietnam’s computer industry.

Vietnam expects to be responsible for 10 per cent of Japan’s $3 Billion offshore software industry by 2010.

Bill Gates visited Vietnam earlier this year because he doesn’t want Microsoft to be left out of the “Vietnam Economic Miracle” many interested in the future of Vietnam have predicted.

Some other aspects of “Vietnam’s Economic Miracle” which have been trumpeted recently by the Communist government controlled media in Vietnam include:– Vietnam’s three major telecom companies are expected to be partly privatized next year with the majority of the stakes remaining under government control, officials said.

–Authorities in Vietnam have fined an affiliate of South Korea’s Daewoo Corp. for using pirated software, the first time a corporate user of illegal software has been targeted in the Southeast Asian country, officials said on October 11.

–Intel has a new $300 Million microchip assembly and test facility in Ho Chi Minh City. It will open later this year, with as much additional investment money expected in the next two years. Canon has three printer factories near Hanoi, Canon’s largest manufacturing facility in the world.

–Vietnam, Laos and China signed a border treaty last month; a breakthrough that will hopefully increase commerce and trade.

–Vietnam announced last month that it is firmly committed to “the promotion of gender equality and the advancement of women” and takes the enhancement of women’s roles and status a top priority in the national socio-economic development programs. This was a new and breathtaking announcement: just one month ago.

–Under a draft decree, Vietnam will permit transgender people to undergo gender reassignment surgery starting next January, according to local newspaper Saigon Liberation. This shows how eager Vietnam is to display openness and a liberalism in attitude.

In early September Vietnam released prominent dissident and pro-democracy activist Pham Hong Son. Son was originally sentenced to five years in prison. His crime? He translated articles from the U.S. State Department web site for an online journal in Vietnam. The articles were titled “What is democracy?”

Mr. Cong Do, an American citizen, was also falsely imprisoned by earlier this year Vietnam. He has now been released and is advocating the return from Vietnam of another U.S. Citizen: Thuong Nguyen “Cuc” Foshee.

Mrs. Foshee, a U.S. citizen, was taken into custody Sept. 8, 2005. She was not charged, not allowed to post bail, denied an attorney and put in a prison in Ho Chi Minh City. Her crime? While in the U.S. she did business with an organization the government of Vietnam terms “seditionist.”

The Vietnamese people have no free elections. In Vietnam, the Communists Party chooses all candidates prior to an election and no people excluded by the Communists system can run in an election. Since all candidates are nominated by the Party, there is no legitimate “voice of the people.”

The Communist government of Vietnam, like that of China and North Korea, controls and monitors all media including the internet and email. Along with the U.S. Department of State web site, the web site of The Washington Times is not available to readers in Vietnam. The Washington Times is also too “seditionist.”

Although Vietnam currently has more than 600 newspapers; all are owned and controlled by the Party. No private newspaper has ever been allowed to be published. Song lyrics are monitored and have to be approved by the government in Vietnam.

Vietnam has one of the strictest systems of control over public use of the Internet in the world. Many web sites with information on freedom and democracy are not available in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese people do not have freedom of religion and worship. In its annual report on religious freedom, the U.S. State Department listed Vietnam among its top eight “Countries of Particular Concern.”

So we applaud and thank the President of the United States on his planned trip to Vietnam. And we want the U.S. economy to share in all the benefits of Vietnam’s anticipated growth.

And Mister President: Please bring home Mrs. Foshee.

And let’s all remain mindful of our American commitment to human rights and our American values in the process of expanding the “Vietnam Economic Miracle.”

http://peace-and-freedom.blogspot.com/

U.S. Air Force Memorial: Spanning Generations, Wars

October 19, 2006

By John E. Carey
October 19, 2006

The breathtaking U.S. Air Force Memorial, on a promontory in Arlington, Virginia overlooking the troops at Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon, was just dedicated this last weekend.

Already, the Air Force Memorial has changed our landscape. This morning, in a deep fog, the tips of the three spires melted into the clouds and could not be seen. One could make out the graves of the fallen in the distance, and the shape of the pentagon, but the Washington Monument was invisible.

The U.S. Air Force Memorial reflects the diversity of Our Nation and our Air Force. It seems strikingly different in each different light, each different sky.

The three soaring spires remind all of the Air Force flight demonstration team, the famous Thunderbirds, and their uplifting “bomb burst” maneuver.

The three spires represent Integrity, Service and Excellence.

The Memorial is a tribute to the 54,000 United States airmen killed in action and the millions who have served or are serving Our Nation now.

Even early in the morning, fifty to one hundred people were milling about and marveling at the grace, the dignity and the excellence of this tribute to Our Nation’s airmen through the ages.

We spoke to Mr. James B. Young, visiting the Memorial from Georgia with his wife and daughter. He served in World War II as a nose gunner on B-24s. Recalled to active duty during the Korean War, he flew in B-50s.

“This is a fantastic tribute,” he said, a bit misty eyed.

Another man had a similar story. An Airman, he supported the 8th Air Force in England during World War II. After D-Day, he scouted ahead for abandoned German fighter bases so our boys could move to the front to support the Army troops on the ground. Recalled for Korea, he served as a reconnaissance photograph analyst.

All over the promenade or “runway” beneath the three soaring spires, one could hear stories of service, bravery and honor. No boasting; just fond memories of crewmates or others that shared one thing in common: service to Our Nation.

I asked several people if they had served and these are some of the replies:

“I just returned from Iraq. This is awesome.”

“I am a crew chief for F-16s. The Monument is fantastic.

A woman told me she was in the Military Police.

“Vietnam. I flew SPADS. Terrific Memorial. I am thinking of the boys that didn’t make it. This is an eternal prayer to them.

I never thought of a memorial as an “eternal prayer” before. But that is entirely appropriate.

The U.S. Air Force Memorial is Our Nation’s Eternal Prayer to the men and women of the U.S. Air Force. Yesterday. Today. And in the future.

http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20061013-085319-9921r.htm

http://peace-and-freedom.blogspot.com/