Wednesday, June 22

Finding a running mate for Hillary

Clinton’s running mate

It seems like America’s favorite guessing game at this time is “the running mate.” It would be a stretch to out-source this important selection to “America’s Got Talent,” but it might come down to that. 

It has also been suggested that we should take a monkey up in a plane and throw him out at 10,000 feet somewhere over the country and whoever he lands on is the next Vice-President. (Not a scientific approach.) 

Today, I am concerned enough with helping to find Hillary Clinton’s perfect, complementary running mate, that I am making my nominee public.  

Names currently bouncing off the walls in newsrooms across the country include such luminaries as Elizabeth Warren, John Warner, and a number of other senators, cabinet officials, sitting and former governors, hispanics, African-Americans, etc. etc. 

Also being mentioned are Southern bail bondsmen, men who wear shoes and those who don’t. Southern California candidates have declined consideration outright because the job entails living outside of Southern California. 

All of these prospects, from the highly likely to the more outrageous (who would be better on Trump’s ticket), are subject to the chemistry test and vetting by Hillary’s lawyers and political advisors, including, I am sure, The Big Dog himself who plans to host a five-figure dinner for donors to meet the next vice-president of the United States. 

I have given this some thought and offer for consideration the ideal, well-rounded, candidate.

He is a white, male, Irish descent, raised Catholic, native of Lexington, Massachusetts; lived his early years in the former home of a Revolutionary War patriot. Decently educated: has a Masters in International Relations. Served in the United States Air Force for eight years. Worked through most of the Cold War as a security director for the Navy. Volunteered as a civilian security chief to go to Vietnam in the early seventies. 

He has been an elected state legislator in his adopted state of South Carolina and a senior executive of that state’s Department of Corrections. Also a Vice President (see brings experience) in the S.C. Chamber of Commerce. 

He is tough on national defense and limited government. Complements Hillary’s early support in Chicago for Barry Goldwater who, in the 1960s, summed up the role of government as: “defend the shores, deliver the mail and get the hell off my back.” (My nominee would respect Hillary’s feelings and suppress his joy when the Boston Red Sox beat the Chicago Cubs for the World Series title.)

Over his lifetime, the nominee, in addition to helping to rise five children (kids’ mother deserves most of the credit), has modulated his views and believes government is essential to the well-being of all. Not as a provider of all things to all people, but as a helping hand to those who truly need it. In world affairs, the United States must be a strong leader, looking to build bridges and not walls. 

So what more could be asked for? Who is this miracle worker who touches all bases around the diamond of political life?

It’s me, your humble (?) servant, Francis. Despite my humility, however, I am too busy to stay hone waiting by the phone to ring, so just leave a message. I’ll return the call.

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Wednesday, June 15

Afternoon rain

I was on the sofa with my back to the three large windows in the living room finishing a copy of Time
when I noticed the pages were getting a little darker. I am acutely sensitive to this since cataract surgery on both eyes during the last month. I finished reading the interview with the female CEO of GM on the last page, closed the magazine, and initialed the front cover as my sign I have finished it. This was a signal to my late wife she could throw the magazine in the recyclable box when she straightened up the coffee table in front of the three-seat leather sofa. My wife died last August but old habits die hard, 

I took up the Book Review section from Sunday’s Times (June 12, 2016) and that was when I heard the first patter of rain. I got up, turned around and looked out the window. A hatless man, dressed in shorts and sport shirt, hurried by on the walking path parallel to the golf course dragging his golf bag on a two wheel cart behind him. I walked to a glass door in the dining room but the rain was hitting it directly and it obscured the view. 

I went from the back of the house to the front. Rain was hitting the road and bouncing into the air. It was soaking the front lawn throughly. For several days I’ve been fighting the lawn sprinkler control box to regulate watering the lawns in front and back. The box was, alas, beyond me. I enlisted the aid of a neighbor and after a couple of trial and error efforts she succeeded. The water now comes on in the morning around 5:30, first in the front and then in the back yard. The lawns will be watered tomorrow by the sprinklers despite today’s rain. This might be wasteful but I will not alter the operation of the control box. Off in the distance I hear thunder rumbling. It is just barely raining at present at my house and the sky is clearing and it is becoming brighter. Perhaps this was all just a late afternoon summer shower we can expect in South Carolina along the coast.  I can see drops hitting small puddles on the street. It is getting brighter, the sky is clearing. The thunder is further and further away. My neighbor and her young daughter are walking their dogs in front of the house.

Back to the Book Review section of Sunday’s Times

Tuesday, June 14

Standing in line

Standing in line

In Dear Abby today (The Island Packet, June 14, 2016) a woman said she was standing in line waiting for a store to open for a big sale. A friend joined her and she asked if it was OK for the friend to join her in the line ahead of others behind her. Abby suggested asking permission, and quoted Emily Post to the effect that courteous people do not jump lines.

I had a similar experience several years ago. I was in the line to enter the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam  with a few people ahead of me and a longer line behind me. A bus drove up and a Dutch guide got out with many Japanese tourists. They came directly to the line, and without as much as a by-your-leave, started to jump in ahead of me. I said, “Wait a minute. What are you doing?” 

The guide explained they always did this for people on the tour bus. My reaction was: ‘Not today. These people’s (referring to the Japanese tourists) ancestors were part of the original problem. Get thee behind me.”

Several people behind me in the line stood firm and then someone let them jump the line. 

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Sunday, June 12

D-day story touches the heart

Letters to the Editor (As published.) 
The Island Packet - The Beaufort Gazette
June 12, 2016

D-Day story touches the heart

Your story on D-Day about the 82nd Airborne Division soldier, Ralph Ticcioni of New Berlin, Wis., -  shown at the American Cemetery in Normandy, being hosted and celebrated by the people of Ste. Mere-Eglise on the anniversary of D-Day -  touched my heart and called to memory what I did on that day so long ago. 

On that day in 1944, I was a 7th grade student in St. Patrick's Boys School in Lowell, MA. Shortly after school opened, we were marched over to the Church where Pastor Father Meehan led prayers for the men storming the beaches in Normandy, France. After the prayers, he declared a school holiday and we all went home. 

We hung by the radio throughout the day for news of the men of the Allied Forces who were fighting for their lives and gaining a foothold on the continent of Europe. They would not be tossed back into the sea. 

Today, we honor those gallant men, the few still alive and the 9,000 who rest in the American cemetery in Normandy. We will not see their like again. 

In Memory.

Francis X. Archibald
Hilton Head Island

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Friday, June 3

New bicycle, new eyes

Dreams do come true. In May I bought a new bicycle. Actually it is a recumbent bicycle. I’ve walked for years, sometimes every day;  then I would slack off and have to re-motivate myself to get going again. As I got older walking became less pleasurable. Every time I put my right leg forward on the asphalt or concrete it sent a sharp pain up my leg and when I returned home I would have to take a pain medication. I looked into riding a bicycle. A regular two-wheel bicycle created balance problems (I am in my eighties) and I did not want to fall.

I looked around and found a recumbent bicycle. I tested a couple and rented one for a week. I throughly enjoyed it. I went out each morning, did about four miles round-trip and had no leg pain. I noticed when I was pumping my legs and knees were being exercised along with my upper leg muscles and hip joints as well.  

So I bought the recumbent bicycle and will continue to use it for regular exercise and enjoyment. 

In between all of this I was visiting Dr. Mark Goulas, an ophthalmologist in Bluffton, S.C., for my annual eye checkup. I had been put on notice a couple of years ago that cataracts were developing in both eyes. (See my note above about being in my eighties.) This year, Dr. Goulas said it was time to do something. I was a little nervous at first. Blindness is a disease that frightens the hell out of me and is right at the top of my list of conditions I do not want to experience. There are too many natural sights to enjoy, too many beautiful women to gaze upon, too many books to read, movies to watch and…well, you get the point.

There were two options presented to me. Regular lenses Medicare will cover and TECNIS Multifocal lenses which Medicare does not cover and cost more. The latter lenses were what my late wife, Joyce, had and she never needed glasses for anything, reading, computer, sewing, etc. Nothing. Dr. Goulas had put her in TECNIS several years ago, I opted for the TECNIS and had my right eye operated on May 19. Within a couple of days I was looking at the walls in my house with left eye closed and through my right eye. And then I did the reverse. Looking through my right eye I was looking at a white wall. Through the left eye the walls looked beige. 

After a few days my sight got better and better. I started reading and working at the computer without glasses. Dr. Goulas took the lens out of the right side of my glass's  frame when I saw him a week later. He has a great sense of humor and excellent skills. He was voted Best of Bluffton in January this year and will get my vote in January 2017.

I had the left eye done yesterday (June 2, 2016) and saw the good doctor today. All is progressing as expected and my sight is getting better by the hour. 

Dr. Goulas put the lens back in my old glasses so I could donate them and four other pair to the eye bank. Off they go this weekend. 

I am so happy I had this done and wish everyone the best of eyesight throughout their life. It is like a new lease on better terms. 

My May/June 2016 have been memorable. May yours be also in some pleasurable way. 

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Thursday, May 12

Remembering George Carlin

Two stories in the local paper (The Island Packet, Hilton Head, SC) this morning reminded me of things George Carlin, he of the acerbic wit, said. Carlin had to be taken with a grain of salt; after all he was a great comedian who had mastered the English language, sometimes putting academics to shame. 

Thieves stole a trailer full of tools from the Habitat for Humanity property. They are still unknown. These are the kind of people Carlin said should be tied to a gurney and beaten with a piece of heavy mining equipment.

A second story quoted a South Carolina legislator who introduced a bill that lets bankrupt residents hold on to $5,000 worth of guns as referring in his remarks to “my daddy” and “my granddaddy.” Carlin had distain for such terms he said were “favored by rebel a**holes.”
(Full disclosure: When I was in the state legislature back in the early eighties, I spoke and voted against allowing people to hold on to expensive TVs in bankruptcy proceedings. I was referred to in the debate as a scrooge.)

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Monday, May 2

Reunion in Spartanburg

There are so many impressive things to talk about after a visit to the BMW assembly plant in Spartanburg, S.C., one does not quite know how to highlight just a couple. I’ll try.

When the body of a car goes to the paint chamber it has doors on it. After the painting the car moves along the assembly line and a robot removes the doors so work on the interior can be done. Much later along the line these doors will be mated to the exact auto body they came from by another robot. 

A different robot installs the sun roof, when one is called for, and 37 screws are tightened simultaneously by this robot. I’ve never had a screwdriver that would do 37 screws simultaneously. 

This visit to the BMW facility was part of the weekend at the Carolina’s-Georgia CIRA (Central Intelligence Retirees Association) Chapter. I am an honorary member of the chapter, and certainly appreciate the status. 

We had walking tours of Spartanburg and it was enlightening to learn of the efforts in dressing up the city, making it attractive to young people and families. Music in Morgan Park was highlighted on Thursday and Friday nights. Families sat on the grass, children ran around barefooted, and on Friday night an African-American woman carrying a cane danced her feet off to the music. She was inspiring. Also amazing were the number of red-headed children. Is it the water in that part of the state?

We had a speaker at the Saturday night dinner from the CIA Publications Review Board. Former employees and contractors, in fact anyone who ever signed the secrecy oath at the Agency has to submit proposed publications for review prior to being sent to any publisher. She also said surviving family members are requested to submit obituaries of deceased CIA personnel to insure no classified information is being revealed. 

The speaker told us there is a 12-18 months backlog of work for the PRB to review; she candidly admitted later that not everyone proposing to write is a great writer. Non-fiction authors doing their life story probably do better than aspiring fiction writers. John le Carre, Philip Kerr and Alan Furst can rest easy 

It was a good time to meet and greet old friends, catch up on family affairs and just enjoy good fellowship. Am looking forward to the 2017 reunion to be held somewhere in North Carolina.

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