Tuesday, October 2

My Outlook at 87

Today, Oct. 2, 2018, is the first time I experienced being 87.  I share my birthday (Oct. 2, 1931) with, among others,  Mahatma Gandhi, born October 2, 1869, Groucho Marx, born October 2, 1890, and Graham Greene, born October 2, 1904.

While on a visit to South Africa I visited Pietermaritzburg, where Gandhi was unceremoniously thrown out of a first-class railway compartment and left shivering and brooding at the rail station, and where they later erected a statue in the town square to honor him. I asked my guide to take my picture in front of the statue. When I later developed the film the guide had a great shot of me but only Gandhi’s feet and ankles. So much for amateur photographers.

Throughout my life, I enjoyed both Groucho Marx for his wit and humor and Graham Greene for his novels, many of which served as stories for successful films.

Looking back over 86 years there are some regrets but too few to mention. Going forward I am optimistic there are new adventures to play out and new acquaintances to enjoy. I am blessed in many ways and trust in the Lord to continue to bless and keep me.

Everyone else should be so lucky. 

Monday, September 24

Why do we remember?

Why do we remember?

Today our local paper (The Post & Courier, Charleston, SC) reprinted a column from The Washington Post headlined “Helping kids deal with being let down.” This revived memories from my early teen years.  It was around Thanksgiving when my older sister tipped me off that a couple who were friends with our mother was going to buy me a baseball glove for Christmas. All through December, I waited anxiously for the big day. When it arrived it brought no baseball glove. Instead, the couple gave me a damn tie. My sister told me later that the man had gotten drunk on the day he was to buy the glove and forgot all about it.

Why is it, after all these years, this, the Christmas gift I never got, is my only memory of all the Christmases of my youth? 

The author of the column, Meghan Leahy, wrote: “As long as humans have walked the Earth, there has been disappointment and unfairness, and we know that despite our big brains and strong will, life happens in ways we never saw coming….Disappointment is a certainty for every one, including children.” 

A couple of years later, an uncle on my mother’s side of the family bought me a baseball glove. I cared for it through the years, kept it oiled and flexible, and sometime in the 1960's gave it to my wife’s nephew. 

Why do  I remember this? 

Saturday, September 15

A week with Florence

Sept. 15, 2018

It would be a better story if this was about spending a week with a beautiful woman named Florence, but, alas, it is about a hurricane which has done infinitely more damage in North Carolina than in the Charleston/Mt. Pleasant area of South Carolina where I live.

The week began on a serious note on Tuesday, Sept. 11, when notices were posted that the elevators in my apartment house and three other apartment houses at 1201 Midtown were shut down. I live on the 4th floor and walking up and down the stairs is a burden. 

Even under the worst estimates hurricane Florence was three to four days from the coastline. The manager cited “protocols” as the reason for shutting down the elevators. I urged her to reconsider but to no avail as she closed the office and the employees went home to hunker down or evacuate the area. I have e-mailed the corporate headquarters recommending a second look at the “protocols.”

The governor of South Carolina ordered an evacuation from the coastal regions and it is estimated that 300,000 out of approximately 720,000 heeded his order. I was not one of them, although on Wednesday I made a hotel reservation at Hilton Head, two hours away by car. I canceled it on Thursday night as the storm decreased in strength and my area was in the outer fringe of the anticipated wind and rain.

I spent much time over the next four days watching the Weather Channel and logging into the National Hurricane Center. I topped off the fuel tank in my car and bought some groceries. Major restaurants were closed and I had a couple of meals in a Peruvian chicken shop and a sports bar. The latter was surprisingly filled with parents and dozens of small children scurrying around like they did not know the purpose of chairs.  This made for an interesting lunch, however, service was good and the food was excellent. 

The rain started in my area on Friday night and the wind picked up. Small trees were bent slightly, only the tops of bigger trees were moving in the wind. Electricity has stayed on.  On Friday, the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm, but the people and property in North Carolina and on the border between the two states have suffered. Five people in North Carolina are reported dead from the hurricane. 

This morning, Saturday, slight rain, almost a drizzle continues. The negligible wind cannot be heard indoors. Out-of-doors is similar to rainy summer days in the South. 

A worrisome week in Charleston/Mt. Pleasant has come to an end. The Charleston International Airport will open at noon today. 

Monday, September 3

AFOSISA Convention September 5-8, 2018

There will be a large number of criminal investigators and counterintelligence specialists in Charleston from Sept. 5-8, when the Association of Former OSI Special Agents (AFOSISA) holds its annual convention.

The Association brings together former USAF service members and civilian employees of the USAF Office of Special Investigations in friendship, and common effort between former and present AFOSI Special Agents in the common interest of promoting the security of the U.S. Air Force.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations has been the Air Force’s major investigative service since Aug. 1, 1948. The agency reports to the Inspector General, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. AFOSI provides professional criminal investigations and counterintelligence services to commanders of all Air Force activities. 

Seventy years ago the AFOSI was the creation of one man, Joseph F. Carroll, a special assistant to J. Edgar Hoover. He conducted a study of the newly established Air Force and presented a plan to Secretary Stuart Symington for an Air Force version of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Congress commissioned Carroll a Colonel in the Air Force and he came on active duty as a Brigadier General. 

He was initially disdained as “that cop” by other Air Force generals, but after his personal investigation proved to the House Armed Services Committee, that a lengthy anonymous letter attacking Secretary Symington and the first Chief of Staff, Hoyt S. Vandenburg’s “integrity, patriotism, and morality,” was the scurrilous and fabricated work of a public relations officer in the U. S. Navy hierarchy, he and OSI could do no wrong. 

I was a Special Agent with OSI from 1953 to 1959. This service played a major role in developing my post-1959 professional career and I am indebted to the service for the training and experience gained in this vital work helping to protect the Air Force.

The convention will offer golf excursions, tours of Charleston, a dinner cruise and closing banquet, program and dance, as well as a business meeting.

Friday, August 24

School starts and a new AG is coming

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL: Last Monday (Aug. 20) was the first day of classes at a neighborhood elementary school. While driving slowly (due to construction) toward an intersection where the school is located I noticed a couple of mothers walking small children with knapsacks on their backs away from the school. Probably toward home. These mothers were smiling at the children talking fast and animatedly about probably their first day in school. In my first days of school, I walked one block straight up the street with other kids from the neighborhood. Parents did not walk us to school in the late thirties or early forties. Doing so today is both an expression of parental love and a safety measure for the little ones. I also smiled and drove on to Costco.

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL: South Carolina Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, who golfs with President Trump, tells us that the President will likely replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the mid-terms in November. Trump wants an AG who will weaken or shut down Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller”s investigation. Sen. Graham should make it clear right up front that the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which he is a member and potentially Chairman in the next session, will extract a promise from any AG nominee that he will not interfere, slow down, or put an end to the Mueller investigation, regardless of the cost or time it takes to complete it. The goal is the preservation of Democracy, not playing golf with the President. 

Saturday, August 11

The value of newspapers

 The value of a free (no government control or censorship) press is to individuals as it is to society as a whole. In August I shared a healthy exchange of views with another writer and the readers of the Letters to the Editor of The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC).

This letter started the exchange:

(Published August 3, 2018)

Trade War
  Farmers helped elect Donald Trump to be president, As president, Mr. Trump initiated a trade war that hurt farmers. Now, he is spending $12 billion taken from taxpayers to help the farmers.
  Exactly which drawer in the lunacy bin should this be filed under?

  Francis x. Archibald
  Central Haven Drive
  Mt. Pleasant, SC

Another reader/writer chimed in:

(Published August 7, 2018)

Making Deals

 In response to the article in the Aug. 3 paper titled "Trade war," how about filing it under the luxury bin next to the move by President Barack Obama to send two planeloads of cash to Iran for the release of one Army deserter.
  President Donald Trump, however, was able to get three men released from North Korea without spending a dime. Who was the smart one in these deals?

Perry Jones
Pimmit Place

I countered with this:

(Published August 10, 2018)  

  The claim in the Aug. 7 letter to the editor, "Making Deals," that President Obama sent planeloads of cash to Iran for one Army deserter is inaccurate.
  CNN reported at the time (January 2016) that five men were released, including an American journalist in a prisoner swap. The money coincidentally sent to Iran was theirs and had been held by the United States since the Reagan administration.
  It was publicly announced in the United States and only became part of anti-Obama conspiracy theories six months later when Iranians started the rumor. This was covered by fact checker Snopes.com.

Francis X. Archibald
Central Haven Drive
Mount Pleasant

Wednesday, August 1

Random Things

After dressing I came out of the bedroom and into the living room and thence to the kitchen where I heard a hard loud noise. I thought the refrigerator was coming apart and then I thought it was the air conditioning.  After checking each of these I was baffled for a few moments until I remembered I had started the dishwasher before I went into the bedroom to put on my clothes, and a couple of pots were being banged around

On the second day of the Paul Manafort trial in Virginia, The Washington Post reported: “President Trump’s former campaign chairman spent more than a million dollars on suits and luxury clothes over a five year period, using foreign bank accounts to pay for cars, renovations, and real estate in what prosecutors say was a tax-dodging scheme.” Manafort is said to have bought a $15,000 Ostrich jacket. I feel embarrassed for being a cheapskate. A couple of weeks ago I would not pay $175.00 for an end of the season seersucker jacket.

Via Amazon Prime, I am watching NYPD Blue the gritty cop show set in the fictional 15th precinct which kept viewers coming back week after week during its twelve-year run (1993 to 2005). Each season had 21 or 22 weekly shows. Surprisingly these shows, unlike many others of the same period, retain a contemporary appeal. Each week’s offering could be taken right out of today’s daily news. I am into year three. These shows were (are) much better than what is on TV today, and won Dennis Franz, four Emmys.