THE MAKING OF A RELATIONSHIP

A friend asked, “How do two strong-willed people—control freaks to boot—manage a successful relationship”?  I chuckled and replied, “That’s a good question.”

I’ve already described in a blog (7/15/15) how we each took responsibility for various elements of our living together.  This question seemed to require a more meaningful answer.

In business, we had each been the number one, the boss, and so we came together with very decided views on a number of things.

Perhaps the best illustration of our success occurred when we agreed to live together some 20 plus years ago.  We were thinking of maintaining our separate domiciles—Gabriele in Santa Monica, me in the Marina—and buying a condo somewhere in Orange County for weekends.  We were both still working so maybe a weekend place somewhere like San Juan Capistrano would be a workable plan.

On a flyer one Saturday afternoon, we went to take a look at a condo in a gated community here in the Marina.  The complex was nicely landscaped, had an attractive pool area and tennis courts.  The unit was on the top floor with two bedrooms and a loft.  It was quite spacious with 2,250 square feet and had lots of windows and light.

The one drawback was how the owner, the V.P. of Saudi American Airlines, had decorated the place.  The living room had pink and aluminum wallpaper floor to 20-foot ceiling with dull dark grey carpet.  The rest of the place was similarly decorated.

The next morning I casually asked Gabriele, “So you want to make an offer on that unit”?  She looked at me a little wild eyed and said, “You’re crazy, it’s horrible.”  I replied that I knew that.  We’d have to gut it down to the barest beginnings and start over.

Gabriele said one other, for her, major problem.  The unit’s kitchen had a right-handed layout and she’s left handed.  I said I didn’t know rooms were left or right handed.  She explained that the dishwasher was on the right side of the sink and she would have trouble reaching down to put the dishes in.  So we really gutted the whole place.

We made an offer, bought the unit, and started dealing with Frank, the contractor from hell.  We had a lot of help from Bonnie Sachs, who had helped me design my previous condo, as well as my office.

Long story, but here’s what I wanted to get to.  Gabriele and I agreed easily on wall colors, furniture, carpet, drapes, and everything Bonnie recommended.

We had one problem.  We didn’t agree on what to put on the walls.  We had very different tastes in that area.  My inclinations were to bold Native American and very modernistic expressions.  Gabriele had an accumulation of very conservative contemporary art.

Having accumulated our own stuff, we worked out an arrangement where we assigned walls to house our individual stuff.  It worked out pretty smoothly.  Over time we also began to acquire art and artifacts in our travels to South Africa, Mendocino, Thailand, Vietnam, Santa Fe and Sedona that we both agreed upon.

We easily agreed that I would do the travel planning and Gabriele would keep the community checkbook and the kitchen.  I got the chores she didn’t want; i.e., emptying the dishwasher and taking out the garbage.

So here was the answer to the friend’s question on how two very directed, opinionated people could make a relationship work.  Find an area of disagreement, like art, and assign walls.

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CURRENT EVENTS – AUGUST, 2018

Support for tariffs, but not trade wars

A UBS poll of 300 business owners shows that 88 percent believe that China engages in unfair trade practices, and 71 percent approve of additional tariffs being imposed on that nation.  But 49 percent think that a full-blown trade war with China will hurt America’s economy.

Another UBS poll of 501 high net worth investors shows that 92 percent think that China engages in unfair trade practices and that 59 percent approve of further tariffs, but 74 percent think a trade war would hurt the U.S. economy.

One way to parse those results:  Business owners and investors think that President Trump’s policies are justified, but require delicacy.

More trade:  Mr. Trump’s truce with Europe means he can double down on China, but Beijing says that pressure won’t work.  And Sono’s I.P.O. reveals a trade war is a new risk to going public.

Enough is enough, Mr. Mueller

The intense ongoing confrontation between Special Counsel Robert Mueller and President Trump is harming the entire country.  People are taking sides and are despising each other, the stock market is wary, and foreign governments are sensing potential weakness.

Mr. Mueller must understand that unless there is demonstrable evidence of serious coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian government agents during the 2016 election, the case is not worth pursuing.  Going after “obstruction” or other after-the-fact allegations is garbage.  Nitpicking or contriving criminal activity at this level does the nation grievous harm.

On the other side, it is only fair to let Mr. Mueller state his case.  To shut down this investigation would be a major mistake and would severely damage the country.  But Robert Mueller should understand that his staff is not a wrecking crew.  He has a responsibility to present strong evidence of serious wrongdoing or walk away with a detailed explanation of his investigation.

If Mr. Mueller is truly a patriot, he will wrap up his now 14-month probe before the midterm election.  If he cannot accomplish that, he should explain why.

Do the right thing.  Don’t hurt the country, Mr. Mueller.

Israel has more to worry about than Hamas

Tom Friedman of the N.Y. Times tells us that the Israeli situation is fraught with the consequences of a three-partner marriage.

Hamas has adopted an intractable, inflexible attitude of protest in the Gaza Strip and Israeli P.M. Bebe Netanyahu has taken the same approach to expanding settlements in the West Bank.

This is where that third person in the marriage comes in:  Mother Nature—i.e., demographics and ecosystem destruction.

In March, Reuters reported from Jerusalem:  “The number of Jews and Arabs between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River is at or near parity, figures cited by Israeli officials show, raising questions whether Israel can remain a democracy if it keeps territory where Palestinians seek a state.”

There are now about 2.7 million Palestinians in the West Bank, 2 million in Gaza, and 1.84 million Israeli Arabs, for a total of about 6.5 million.  That is roughly the same as the number of Jews living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.  If current birthrate trends continue, the Jews will likely become a minority, with all of the negative governing consequences that will entail.

And then there’s this:  Repeated Hamas rocket attacks that led to an Israeli blockade of building supplies, electricity shortages due to intra-Palestinian feuding, and Hamas’ regular use of building material to dig tunnels to penetrate Israel have led to a critical shortage of infrastructure in Gaza, particularly sewage treatment plants.  So Gazans now dump about 100 million liters of raw sewage into the Mediterranean  daily, explained Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli director of EcoPeace Middle East, which promotes peace through environmental collaboration.

Because of the prevailing current, most of that sewage flows northward to the Israeli beach town of Ashkelon, the site of Israeli’s second-biggest desalination plant.  Eighty percent of Israel’s drinking water comes from desalination, with 15 percent of the nation’s drinking water coming from the Ashkelon plant.  But now Gaza’s waste is floating into Ashkelon’s desalination plant, and the plant has had to close several times to clean Gaza’s gunk out of its filters.

“So this idea that we can just get out of Gaza, throw away the key and forget about it is a total illusion,” said Bromberg.

Moreover, the renewable extraction rate for Gaza’s underground aquifer is about 60 million cubic meters of rain water annually, noted Bromberg, but Gazans have been drawing about 200 million cubic meters a year for over a decade, “so the aquifer has gotten drained and seawater has seeped into it, and many people are now drinking water that is both salty and polluted with sewage.”

Gazans now spend 20 to 30 percent of their income trying to buy clean water, he said.

In a few years, the next protest from Gaza will not be organized by Hamas, but by mothers because typhoid and cholera will have spread through the fetid water and Gazans will all have had to stop drinking it.  “Then you could see two million coming to the border fence with Israel with empty buckets, begging for clean water,” said Bromberg.  “We’re heading in that direction.”

The plan to divide fails, now a plan to secede prepares

Tech millionaire Tom Steyer’s plan to divide California into three states got enough signatures for the ballot, but the coast said, “it doesn’t qualify.”

Now a group of Native American activists have been given the go ahead to gather signatures for a ballot measure that would have California secede from the U.S. and establish an independent nation of Native Americans in the central part of the state.

Anyone else have any ideas on what to do with California?

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HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY CRYING

This is an article written by Kenneth Best in UCONN Magazine.  He outlines why making it to the next management level may have a lot more to do with your EQ (emotional intelligence) than your IQ.

“Identifying your managers with the potential to steadily require the skills needed to take on new and increasingly greater job responsibilities is one of the keys to success in every organization.  But the path to acquiring such developmental job experience is paved with challenges that must be faced and overcome.  A new study indicates that whether a young manager is likely to succeed or fail at those challenges is determined less by their intelligence, knowledge, or schooling than by the strength of their emotional intelligence or EQ—the ability to manage one’s own emotions as well as read those of others.

“Taking on new responsibilities that require on-the-job learning can push young managers out of their comfort zones, which is when an individual’s EQ comes into play, says Yuntao Dong, assistant professor of management in the School of Business.  The question becomes whether the manager will find positive ways to meet challenges or fall into a negative mindset and a fear of failure.

“Dong, aided by University of Maryland management professors, studied 214 early-career managers enrolled in a part-time MBA program.  They found that those with high emotional intelligence were better able to cope with the struggles and challenges of new responsibilities, while the same struggles and challenges put those who demonstrated lower EQs at higher risk for leaving their jobs.  Dong recommends that organizations gradually increase the level of new challenges for young managers and also provide more support for them as they encounter difficulty in working through their new responsibilities.

“`If they want to maintain their high potential employees, companies need to have a flexible culture to show them to make mistakes and give them opportunities to make up for their mistakes,’ says Dong, who teaches classes in Managerial and Interpersonal Behavior at UCONN.

“She cites one young manager studied, who was given the responsibility for several elements of a major marketing campaign that required much travel and coordination of the project’s logistics.  The manager became frustrated by the amount of detail involved, said he felt underappreciated by supervisors, and subsequently left the company.

“Another manager studied was assigned to lead a task force team in a government agency with the goal of eliminating operational redundancy and increasing efficiency.  After some initial concerns about the scope of the assignment, this manager asked colleagues for advice and negotiated a change in some other responsibilities with her supervisor that allowed her to successfully complete the project.  She was promoted to a new position as a program director.

“`Young managers with the ability to recognize, understand, and manage their own emotions and the emotions of others handle challenges better,’ says Dong.  ‘If you are developing someone and you think they are promising, you want to develop their emotional intelligence.’

“Among the challenges faced by new managers are unfamiliar responsibilities, implementing change, higher levels of risk attached to new responsibilities, working across supervisory lines with little authority, and leading people across different cultural, racial, gender, or functional backgrounds.

“`We think training will be helpful, particularly for their emotional preparation,’ says Dong.  ‘Even with training, they still can get overwhelmed because they are getting more challenges.’

“This dynamic plays out in other arenas and in group situations, too.  Dong says she often sees examples of varied emotional intelligence in her students when they are assigned to work in small groups of four or five.

“`I’ve seen groups that can’t work together on the simplest tasks,’ she says.  ‘They have little experience solving problems.  I have to teach them that avoiding conflict is never a good way to deal with conflict.  You have to face it, talk about it, and solve it.  I also tell my students they have control over what will happen.  You are the person who appraises the situation.  When you are given autonomy you have to be able to deal with it and the challenges associated with that leadership—and always look for the unexpected outcome and be prepared for it.’”

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THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGING

  • Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.
  • Just think: Airplanes will have a crew of two…a pilot and a dog.  The pilot is there to feed the dog; the dog is there to bite the pilot if he tries to touch anything.
  • Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world.
  • Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world.  This year, a computer beat the best Go-player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected.
  • In the U.S., young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM’s Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans.  So if you study law, stop immediately.  There will be 90% less lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain.
  • Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.
  • Autonomous cars: This year, the first self-driving cars appeared for the public.  Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don’t want to own a car anymore.  You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination.  You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving.
  • Kids will never get a driver’s license and will never own a car.
  • 2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 60,000 miles; with autonomous driving, that will drop to one accident in six million miles.  That will save a million lives each year.
  • Most car companies will probably become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels.  Many engineers from Volkswagen and Audi are completely terrified of Tesla.
  • Insurance companies will have massive trouble, because without accidents, the insurance will become 100 times cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear.
  • Real estate will change, because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a nicer neighborhood.
  • Electric cars will become mainstream in about 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all new cars will run on electricity.
  • Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can now see the burgeoning impact.  Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil.  Energy companies are desperately trying to limit access to the grid to prevent competition from home solar installations, but that can’t last.  Technology will take care of that strategy.
  • With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination of salt water now only needs 2k per cubic meter (@ 0.25 cents).  We don’t have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water.  Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.
  • 3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years.  In the same time, it became 100 times faster.  All major shoe companies have already started 3D printing shoes.
  • Some spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminated the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to have in the past.
  • At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D-scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home.
  • In China, they already 3D printed and built a complete 6-story office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D printed.
  • Business opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to go in, first ask yourself:  “In the future, do I think we will have that?  And if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner?
  • Work: 70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years.  There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a short time.  This will require a rethink on wealth distribution.
  • Aeroponics will need much less water. The first Petri dish produced veal, is now available, and will be cheaper than veal in 2020.  Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces is used for cows.  Imagine if we don’t need that space anymore.

REMEMBER:  Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

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WATERY WONDERS OF THE WORLD

Traveling offers lots of opportunities to learn, to enjoy, to be awed and to welcome unexpected surprises.  One of the aspects of traveling that touches on almost all of the above reactions are wondrous bodies of water around the world that produce outstanding memories.  Here are some of the best of these watery wonders.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Zambia

When the calm flowing water of the Zembezi River enters the Victoria Falls gorge, it abruptly plunges 328 feet to the bottom. The impact generates soaring mists and thunderous sounds that can be seen and heard for miles. During the rainy season—mid-November through late April—the falls virtually disappear behind a thick wall of mist; at other times, the water volume noticeably eases.

Canals of Venice, Italy

Best enjoyed outside the heat of summer, the Venetian canals and their gondolas provide one of the world’s most romantic experiences: gliding slowly down narrow palazzo-lined canals on a moonlit night. Venice is a city built on water. The canals—some 150 of them—link nearly 700 tiny islands to make what seems a floating city. Visitors and natives alike must travel by foot or boat. The nearly two-mile-long Grand Canal, the main water thoroughfare, is lined by luxurious, centuries-old palazzos with ornate Renaissance-style facades and is spanned by the elaborately designed Rialto Bridge. When the distance is far, the swift vaporettos (water taxis) are handy.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef stretches 1,243 miles through the Coral Sea along Australia’s northeastern coast. The reef, which in actuality is a collection of thousands of distinct coral reefs, has been designated a World Heritage site for its sheer beauty and uniquely complex and delicate ecosystem. More than 1,500 types of fish and 200 kinds of birds live on the reef’s atolls, and islands. The beauty of this waterscape annually draws hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to see the spectacle by diving, snorkeling, and glass-bottom boating. Conservationists fear that the large influx of visitors and their collateral effect on pollution are damaging this natural wonder.

Li River, China

The 52-mile stretch of the Li River west of Guilin has inspired artists for thousands of years. Here the Li River snakes through a fairy-tale landscape of conical limestone peaks, its smooth waters exquisitely mirroring the magical scenery. The vistas are particularly enchanting when flowing mists weave themselves around the peaks, hiding then exposing them in moments of surprise. The cone-shaped mountains are vestiges of ancient eroded seabeds that support graceful bamboo groves and terraced rice paddies. Each bend of the river reveals something new and interesting, from lumbering water buffalo pulling carts or cooling off in the river to fishermen gliding on narrow bamboo rafts.

Suez Canal, Egypt

An idea born of the British Empire’s colonial interests, the 100-mile-long Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. Thousands of men labored ten years to build this shortcut. Without it, a cargo ship sailing from Italy to Singapore had to go around the southern tip of Africa, doubling the time and distance. Today, an endless parade of supertankers, container ships, and other large oceangoing vessels stream along this blue ribbon that cuts through barren desert.

Lake Como, Italy

Thousands of years ago, glaciers carved the peaks and valleys of the Alps. Those same glaciers formed the pre-Alpine lakes of the Lombard region some 30 miles north of Milan. Scenic Lake Como, with its deep blue waters, has long been known as “the looking glass of Venus.” Vistas of the lake reveal a serene scene surrounded by palatial villas, tree-clad mountains, and quaint villages. Lake Como covers 56 square miles and reaches a depth of 1,358 feet.

Nile River, Egypt

The storied past of the longest river in the world entices many people to cruise its length as it winds through Egypt. “Floating hotels” glide smoothly past timeless Egyptian life unfolding along the date-palm-tree-dotted riverbanks, as well as the unbelievable historic temples.

Bora-Bora, South Pacific

The Polynesian island of Bora-Bora in the South Pacific is widely suggested as the world’s most beautiful island. A tropical blue lagoon ringed by coral reefs encircles the island, which is crowned by a rugged 2,385-feet-high volcano core draped with tropical foliage. Snorkelers and skin divers love Bora-Bora for its warm waters and plentiful sea fauna. Sunbathers delight in the white-sand beaches.

Dead Sea, Israel

The Dead Sea, shared by Israel and Jordan, is the lowest spot on Earth. Its shoreline is about 1,312 feet below sea level. As the world’s saltiest large body of water, averaging a salt content six times higher than that of the ocean, it supports no life. With no outlet, the water that flows into the Dead Sea evaporates in the hot, humid air, leaving the minerals. The Jordan River is the chief source of the incoming water, but since the 1960s much of its water has been diverted for irrigation. Its length has already shrunk by more than a third, and, while the sea will never entirely disappear, because evaporation slows down as surface area decreases and saltiness increases, the Dead Sea as we know it could become a thing of the past.

…and there’s so much more.

Iguazu Falls

A spectacular waterfall in Argentina and even more so on the Brazil side.  It’s wide and deep and offers many opportunities to feel immersed in its power, its spray and strength.

Inle Lake, Burma

A whole different kind of place where people live and work on the lake.  There’s some large tomato farms and men who paddle boats with one foot.

Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada

It’s big and cold and a beautiful setting with all the water activities available for all ages.

Inside Passage, Alaska

What a great trip with spectacular scenery, wild life on land and water, and the not-t0-be-forgotten Glacier Bay, dotted with towns of yesterday still thriving today.

Colorado River, Grand Canyon

WOW!  A fabulous rafting trip of 3-7-10 days exposes all the thrills of a raging river with exciting rapids, splendid scenery, old Indian trails, and a few warm blue tributary streams.

Lake Titicaca, Peru and Bolivia

An unusual water providence of people living in villages and boats made of shaped bamboo-like palm prawns.  You can’t believe all the wondrous sights.

Mekong River Delta, Southeast Asia

2,700 miles meandering from China through Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Burma and Thailand, the river is a major trade route for six countries before it reaches the South China Sea.  Almost 20 million people live, work and sustain themselves on or adjacent to the river.

And last but not least

The Mighty Mississippi

It flows 2,300 miles from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico passing through 10 states.  It touches on Baton Rouge and New Orleans in Lousiana; St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; St. Paul and Minneapolis, and offers a wealth of American history, culture and southern charm.

Lots to see and enjoy!

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THE TIPPING ECONOMY

Here’s an interesting take on a subject I’m sure we all probably have some mixed feelings about.  The author is Rodney Johnson, a principal in Dent Research, an investment advisory firm.

“In this, my 50th year on the planet, I’m officially becoming a cranky old man.

“As I sat in the Atlanta airport recently on a layover, I decided to grab a bite at Jersey Mike’s Subs shop.  When I swiped my card, the first screen asked if I’d like to add a tip to the total.

“A tip?  For what?

“The young men and women behind the sneeze-guard glass were pleasant, but as far as I could tell they’d done nothing more than perform the service for which they were paid.

“I ordered a sandwich.  They made it.  That was it.

“The more I thought about it, I couldn’t think of a way that they might ever earn a tip.  The goal of the place is to make sandwiches quickly and accurately.  Making that happen is their job.

“How could they go above and beyond?  Maybe if I choked while eating and one of them leapt over the counter to perform the Heimlich maneuver, then I’d consider tipping (I’m not that cranky).  But that’s not exactly the normal course of business.

“This led me to a few other thoughts, and this writing.

“Why are there tip jars at Starbucks?  Don’t they get paid?  And why are tips a percentage of the bill?  Does it take more effort to pour a $200 bottle of wine than a $40 bottle?  Why should I tip $30 on the first one, but only $6 on the second?  Better yet, why am I tipping on that at all?

“I recognize that many restaurants and bars pay employees a tipping wage.  This includes a complicated formula for ensuring that employees make at least the minimum wage.

“But there are thousands of other service jobs where tipping is becoming common.  I don’t know why this is.

“Are their employers a bunch of Scrooges who don’t pay enough and it’s up to generous-hearted patrons to make up the difference?  Are we paying so that we get some level of service that other people won’t get?

“As far as I can tell (and social experiments back this up), we tip because…everyone else does.

“Bellmen, doormen, valets, the barista at Starbucks and the guy in the moving crew all are paid to do their jobs, and yet we typically feel compelled to supplement their income simply because other people do.

“What’s worse, as employment law and workplace regulations improve to protect workers against abuse, we’ve steadily increased our tipping, not reduced it.

“And this is completely on us as Americans.  Even though the practice can be traced to Continental Europe in the 1800s, by and large other societies have phased it out over time.

“But here we are, nudged by society—and the workers themselves—to add on a gratuity that feels more like an obligation.

“At some level, I’d love to do away with the entire practice, and apparently some people agree.

“Several restaurateurs in New York are experimenting with tip-free dining, although I think they are missing the point.  The owner of Fedora, a trendy West Village spot, and several others did away with tips.  But they also raised their prices 20%.

“The idea was to keep server income the same.  The restaurateurs were surprised when patrons reacted by ordering less expensive items, keeping their bills in line with their previous bills, before the tip was added.

“It comes down to, ‘Who keeps the money’?

“I don’t think the idea is that we should save diners and Starbucks drinkers the hassle of doing math.  Instead, we should rethink the notion of paying people on a variable scale for a known amount of work (back to the two bottles of wine for different prices, or two different meals).

“I wouldn’t pay people that way in my business, so why would I expect, and encourage, my customers to pay for things that way?

“Whatever my cranky-old-man thoughts are on the subject, as a nation we’d better figure this one out.

“We have the largest generation retiring en masse, modestly rising incomes, and a lot of new jobs created in the hospitality sector.

“We’re quickly morphing into a nation of service workers looking to retirees for a tip.  In a sense, it’s income redistribution through social protocol, instead of payment for services rendered..

“That doesn’t sound American at all.”

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YOU COULD HAVE HEARD A PIN DROP

It’s the 4th of July!  Let’s celebrate our independence and good fortune.

At a time when some people tend to apologize for America’s prior actions, here’s a refresher on how some of our officials and patriots adroitly handled negative comments about our country.

**********

JFK’s Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60’s when DeGaulle decided to pull out of NATO.  DeGaulle said he wanted all US military out of France as soon as possible.

Rusk responded, “Does that include those who are buried here?”

DeGaulle did not respond.  You could have heard a pin drop.

**********

There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American.  During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying, “Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done?  He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims.  What does he intend to do, bomb them?”

A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly:  “Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day; they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day; and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck.  We have eleven such ships.  How many does France have?”  You could have heard a pin drop.

**********

A U.S. Navy admiral was attending a naval conference that included admirals from the U.S., England, Canada, Australia and France navies.  At a cocktail reception,  he found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries.  Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English.  He then asked, “Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?”

Without hesitating, the American admiral replied, “Maybe it’s because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn’t have to speak German.”  You could have heard a pin drop.

**********

Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane.  At French customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on.

“You have been to France before, monsieur?”

Sarcastically, Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.

“Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.”

The American said, “The last time I was here, I didn’t have to show it.”

“Impossible…Americans always have to show their passports on arrival in France!”

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look.  Then he quietly explained, “Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn’t find a single Frenchman to show a passport to.”  You could have heard a pin drop.

**********

When in England, at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of ‘empire building’ by George Bush.

He answered by saying, “Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders.  The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.”  You could have heard a pin drop.

Not everyone has always been grateful for what the U.S. has done to contribute to the world’s problems.

Our thanks to old friend Ralph Edwards for this blog.

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