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Look what Tommy Hutton had to say about my reply to this

Question Posed at!

January 1, 2022

Here’s the multifaceted question about Ireland and Irish people that I couldn’t help but jump into responding to:

“Did the Irish feel British by 1900? Was Dublin more unionist than parts of Ulster? How did the people. React to the Easter Rising? Did Ireland finally feel like an integral part of the UK? Or still simply a colony of Britain?”

There were already some replies to these questions when first I came upon this dialogue and many of the answers, from my point of view, reflected less than perfect knowledge of the circumstances, events, issues and history of Ireland and the experiences of the Irish under British rule and occupation for 800 years which inflicted inhumane hardships on the people of Ireland. I hesitated before jumping into the fray because I didn’t wish to be, in the final days of 2021, which, combined with 2020, had presented enough stress and trauma of which I needed and desired no more! But I could not let the comments lie in the public online setting at without doing my small part to balance the scales and the information so I held my breath and, like Don Quixote, dallied forth to insert my two cents. . . or two euros. . . into the dialogue.

Within hours of the posting of my comments, Tommy Hutton replied and I sighed in relief that I was not about to get lambasted as, generally speaking, my experience has been that ‘no good deed will go unpunished,’ as Clare Booth Luce was quick to inform future generations. Tommy Hutton was kind enough to post his reaction to my remarks regarding the proposed questions related to Irish/British events and wrote, in part,:

Wow! That was a most thoughtful and enlightening piece Stephanie, and I sincerely thank you for it. It is like a worthy hymn to Ireland and the Irish, so you must be commended for it. . . Anyway, a big thank you again, and I sincerely hope a great deal of people get to read your tribute to Ireland.”

To read my reply that brought on this high praise, please click here to go to our “Little Bit of Ireland” page. I look forward to your comments.

At Least Messages in Bottles are Traveling in Northern Ireland!

Co. Down man’s message in a bottle shows up almost 23 year later… in Co. Down, Northern Ireland

The message in a bottle.

The message in a bottle.

Niamh Campbell

Niamh Campbell  Belfast Telegraph

December 20 2021 03:49 PM

Nearly 23 years ago, before the era of social media and dating apps, a Rostrevor native shipped off a message in a bottle, hoping it would reach a woman yet unknown to him, in a faraway land of exoticism and mystery.

Alas, the bottle has been found in Dundrum, another Co Down village around 18 miles up the road from Stephen Caulfield’s home place. 

Mr Caulfield sent his bottled letter on January 5, 1999. 

In it, he had written the date, his name and then-address, ending with: “I am 22 years old. Please write to me if you are a girl. Thanks!”

A Twitter user posted a photo of the note on Sunday evening, writing: “Anyone know this fella? Someone found this in a bottle in Dundrum.”ADVERTISING

Mr Caulfield no longer lives in Rostrevor, but jokes that he been “exiled to Warrenpoint”, which is less than a ten-minute drive away.

The 44-year-old told the Belfast Telegraph he “was hoping for the bottle to reach a bit further.”

“I threw it in at the docks beside Campbell’s garage [in 1999] and absolutely had forgotten about it. It was done just to see how far it would go (it was a bit tongue-in-cheek). I had previously thrown one in when I was a teenager.”

He added his surprise that the bottle didn’t make a farther voyage, given that there are “so many currents in that particular area”. 

Rostrevor is located at the foot of Slieve Martin, one of the southern Mourne mountains, on the coast of Carlingford Lough, which is an inlet of the Irish Sea.

Although no girls ever did reply to his letter, Mr Caulfield, who is now married with children, said his family and friends have had a great time poking fun at his new revelation. 

“My wife and kids are having a laugh about it. My daughter said I’m viral. I collected my boy from school training this morning and as I did, the vice principal said, ‘There’s message in a bottle’!

“It’s provided a bit of light relief for a few. I’m getting a bit of stick off my friends,” the St Bronagh’s GAA fan continued.

He also joked online that it’s “something different to talk about other than Covid”.

And for those who may be wondering, the father-of-three did further confirm, that despite people’s hopes, he didn’t meet his wife via any correspondence in a drinks container.

September 2, 2021

Death-By-Covid Takes Four Conservative Radio Talk Show Anti-Vaxer-Anti-Mask Hosts: A story I stimulated CNN to cover

I knew about one Conservative radio show host, an avid fan of not getting vaccinated against Covid and not wearing masks, who contracted Covid in early August and died from it two weeks later. It seemed to me there was a Grimm’s fairytale moral in that story; a true learning experience that could come from the retelling. The family did not want the memory or reputation of the deceased or his family to be besmirched or shamed or humiliated by what had to be clear to them: Richard Pearl was wrong, his advice was wrong and he paid for his error with his life being taken by the very disease he gave bad advice about to others and himself. He was based in Florida, a state where even the governor agreed with him.

I got the story for a very reliable source who knew the man well. His obituary only said, “Cause of Death was not made public.” Only a precious few knew how and why he died. The story was confided to me and I thought it was wrong to cover-up the reason for his death because, done properly, getting that story out could be a turning point for others to re-examine their own position on getting vaccinated, wearing masks, not immersing themselves into super-spreader crowds. So I sent a message to Rachel Maddow through her productions staff 3 days ago telling her that there’s a vital story in the death of a broadcaster who took his own advice and died from it . . . .but got no reply.

So, two days ago, I called CNN’s new hotline number which their website tells you will get you to a newsroom person but, alas, all I got was a recorded message asking me to leave a message. And I left a message but I didn’t want to leave Richard Pearl’s name on a recording device. I wanted to explain some things and speak to a live news person or Rachel Maddow to do that. But I left a message that said that a Conservative radio broadcaster who promoted non-vaxing and non-masking has died from Covid and there’s a story and a message to non-vaxers/non-maskers that could be the turning point for that sector of Americans who are part of the problem of the spread of the disease.

No one from CNN reached out to any of the contacts, both telephone and email, that I left in that message.

Yesterday, there was a short news report on CNN about three Conservative talk show hosts, 2 in Florida and 1 in Tennessee, who have recently taken their own advice about not dealing with Covid and have died from the disease. I had no idea! This was news to me and further proof that the approach of “Let’s just ignore Covid and we’ll be fine” was not working. But they didn’t pick up on Richard Pearl because nowhere in the news of his death reported in Florida, and nowhere in any of the reprinted and some rewritten obituaries that the family had provided to media was there even a hint that he had died of Covid. All reports said that the, “Cause of Death was not made public,” so CNN’s research did not pick up this stealth, under the radar, death of Richard Pearl.

When I learned late yesterday that the radio station group that Richard Pearl was primarily heard on had opted to release a story about his untimely and tragic death, complete with a truthful cause of death, I felt released from my promise to my source that I would not mention his name. But the Covid was now out of the bag. I don’t know if CNN will now run an ever-growing list of Conservative anit-vaccination media folks who are dropping like flies following their own advice, but I suspect that my bringing this story to their attention might generate a valuable object lesson for those whose non-vaccinations are a source of pride they may literally take to their graves.

The list now consists of (4) Conservative Talk radio hosts who told listeners not to get vaccinated & not to wear masks for voodoo reasons and recently died within 1-3 weeks of getting Covid:

Phil Valenitne:Nashville, Tennesse; Dick Farrel:Florida; Marc; Bernie:Daytona Beach,Florida; and Richard Pearl:Boca Raton, FL. Can you still believe the rubbish they spewed urging their listeners to follow their lead as non-vaccinated/non-masking free spirits? They are no longer free but  they are spirits which is such a pity because their lives were cut short by a non-political  equal opportunity killer disease who takes life liberally and in a truly unprejudiced way, not discriminating by gender,  color, religion, age, or political persuasion. 

The only value that can come from these untimely deaths is that Americans wake up and evaluate the facts herein.  Yes, there are people who have been vaccinated and then got a case of Covid but reports show that most were not hospitalized and, from what I have heard and read, none of those vaccinated Covid-infected folks died!  If these four (4) deaths don’t open previously closed minds I don’t know what will! 

When I hear people say, “If it’s time for me to go, I’m ready to go. If I have to die, I’ll die.”

I suppose there are people who don’t see life as a daily gift and blessing, who neither love nor  are loved, who do nothing from which they derive the kind of fulfillment that makes them want to go on living forever. I suppose there are people who don’t care about anybody else so they have no concern about  the hole they will leave in the lives of those around them so if they live or die is meaningless. For those people, I have nothing but pity as they don’t know, haven’t experienced, what my life is filled with and I would love to package that and mail it to them in a package with a ribbon wrapped around it so that, when they opened that package, they would inhale a healthy dose of zest for living.

I understand the concept of deep depression and hopelessness that fills the lives of those whose unhappiness and despair is so overwhelming that  they take their own lives. Those who take that exit strategy can’t see past themselves to those who will never get over their selfish act of taking their own lives and never knew or understood how their demise by their own choice affects those who remain.  But I do see a recklessness in those who say, “If I die, I die,” when it is shown that death from Covid can be avoided which, from my point of view, is not much different from those who choose death over life in the war against Covid by playing the lethal game of Covid-Roulette and run headlong and unprotected into a world where this invisible enemy awaits with microscopic ammunition designed to first cause misery and then shut down the body for good.

It’s hard to understand, except in the case of those who are true believers of particular religions where taking medication or having surgery is forbidden as the expectation is that the Lord will sort it all out, why anyone would equate taking precautions based on scientific evidence to avoid disease and possible death with having one’s liberties infringed upon. It seems to me that, when travel is restricted, when freedom of assembly is curtailed to control spread of disease, when retail store operations are limited, when places designed for people to sit close to  one another must follow regulations to keep everyone healthy which includes arenas, theaters and schools, when all of these things must be imposed for the general good, then the essentials of daily life and our overriding freedoms and liberties are impinged, how does one ignore the greater situation by focusing on masking and vaccinations as infringements on our liberties.  If the disease continues to spread and mutate through that spreading, the real liberties of daily life will continue to be shut down.  The real curtailment of human liberty is death. Something as simple as wearing a mask in public, crowded places seems quite logical and is quite like the common courtesy like coving your face when you sneeze.   It costs nothing to do and protects the health of those around you. As Marisa Tomei said to Joe Pesci at the end of the film, “My  Cousin Vinny,” ‘So what’s your problem?”  But I learned two important lessons in my childhood: (1) Some people will argue about anything; and (2) Don’t argue with a fool or a drunk. The problem here is that, as the four dead Conservative talk show hosts’ families know too well, getting Covid wrong is a deadly matter and death is terminal and permanent with no return ticket in sight.

August 31, 2021

Save a Life from a Covid Death

One of the tenets of education is that you are not learning when you are getting everything right; when you make an error and correct the mistake making change for future tasks and responses, you are learning and improving. So, if that’s the case, making errors should be seen as more valuable than getting things right since errors are the path to learning. Sometimes, the things we learn from mistakes are critical to life’s continuation and, one would think, there would be value in sharing life-saving information as the moral thing to do to make sure others don’t succumb to life-threatening situations. This is the logic behind product recalls; if a company knows that their product or service misfires in a way that can cause injury or death to the user, we expect that they will share that information with the world and we scorn companies that implement cover-ups when they could have saved lives. But there’s a cover-up in play related to “Death By Covid” in, of all places, the broadcast industry that is walking a thin line between doing what is right and moral and protecting the family of a radio show host from the embarrassment of the public learning that the host took his own advice which he liberally poured out to his radio audience which resulted in his death from Covid-19.  But following his own Covid-related advice not to get vaccinated and not to wear a mask, which led to his tragic, untimely and short terminal illness, has not been reported as his cause of death in at least a dozen obituaries, clearly supplied by the deceased’s family and available at many different websites online, all indicate: “Cause of Death was not made public.” But perhaps the ‘cause of death’ in this case needs to be made public as I have learned from an extremely reliable source that this radio show host died from the very disease he instructed listeners to ignore as they went about life as ‘business as usual.’

While it is common courtesy to respect the wishes of a grieving family, this is a unique case which should be publicized because there are millions of families grieving from the untimely and tragic loss of family and friends whose lives were cut short by Covid-19. The cause of death of this highly vocal show host should reveal the Covid connection and should not be listed as, “was not made public,” as there are, regrettably, potentially millions of people who may yet lose their lives to this ghastly illness who might be saved by taking precautions urged by the CDC and the medical community based on scientific evidence, data and global statistics. My reliable source knew this show host well and had frequent contact with this person. I am told that the show host was coughing robustly during his last live broadcast and, the next day, a fill-in host appeared on his show for the next two weeks with no communication with the broadcaster or the audience to explain the reason for the host’s absence. An announcement was made by the family, after his two week absence, that the show host had passed away.  My reliable source learned directly that the host had died from a terminal case of Covid-19. And because there was  a personal relationship with the show host, while my source did not agree with the anti-vaccination and anti-mask wearing content spewed on this show, my source was deeply touched by the death of the host and mourns his loss deeply as my source was both a fan and a friend.

In spite of the show host’s position on how to deal, or not deal, with Covid prevention, in spite of the family not wanting his death to place the departed in a position of scorn or besmirch his memory by pointing out that his views on Covid disease control were ‘dead wrong’ and led to his death, it seems to me that covering up the fact that he died from Covid only compounds the error from which much can be learned.  So rather than worrying that his memory and his family will be scorned for the misinformation emitted from his microphone to his listeners reinforcing a lack of proper Covid-fighting protocol, rather than focusing on publicizing that this show host made the mistake of being wrong and paid for that mistake with his own life, perhaps using the evidence of the relationship between non-vaccination and non-masking ending his life within two weeks of his on-air coughing episode could be a significant contributor to changing minds and behavior of those who think that they are invincible and somehow being asked to take precautions is an attack on their rugged individualism. Funny that conformity to wearing seat belts, not smoking in public places, getting other disease-controlling vaccines for such diseases as small pox, measles, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and more have been seen as life-saving measures but, somehow, a significant number of people are taking their instructions for dealing with Covid from people who earn a living broadcasting chatter about a variety of subjects and dispensing opinions about subjects for which they have no expertise, education, background or experience while ignoring those whose opinions are based on science and fact. This a life-threatening situation as there is no cure for death and it is final, permanent and terminal. Telling people how to avoid being protected from disease is just irresponsible. And the irony of the Covid-induced deaths of those who have opposed the vaccination that could have saved them from the point of no return does not escape me.

The American Cancer Society enlisted individuals and celebrities who were in various stages of terminal lung cancer, contracted from years of smoking, to make public service announcements in which each admitted that smoking  was a big mistake and was taking their life, imploring television viewers and radio listeners to quit smoking before it was too late. This radio show host’s life and tragic death could be seen as contributing to the common good, a mind-changing event aimed at saving lives by example in keeping with the decades-old Edward R.  Murrow anti-smoking campaign and that of others who, during their terminal periods, humbly admitted that they were wrong and made a mistake by smoking and not quitting early enough to reverse the damage to their lungs. I can only hope that the family of this radio show host, a person, I am told, who had no contributing health factors leading to his death, steps up to make a public statement noting the host’s cause of death with, perhaps, an indication that he might still be here if he had taken a more precautionary approach to avoid contracting Covid-19.  It is my hope that reporting the truth of this radio show host’s death will come from the point of view that is not meant to scorn or humiliate the family or the host’s memory but to position the reporting on his death as an example of the truth associated with the science of vaccinations and wearing masks noting that, “Don’t learn the hard way. No one wants to be dead wrong. Choose life!”  This tragic death could be a life-saver.

Out of respect for this family in mourning, I have not divulged the state, city, or radio stations associated with this show host. However, it won’t take much to find the story online. I hope that his death becomes long remembered as the pivotal point in turning the tide of the unvaccinated and unmasked so that lives of individuals and everyone they come in contact with are saved because of the story of this radio show host’s death. May he rest in peace.

From South Georgia Island Penguins to the Malvina Islands & the Falkland Islands War. . .

April 26, 2021

I saw a wonderful little video that I’ve posted on my page of two penguins out for a walk on South Georgia Island. I wanted to dive into the video and join their little parade that was only missing a couple of balloons to complete the joyous image. South Georgia Island, for those who are geography impaired, is not off the coast of Georgia in the US but is in the South Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Argentina.

When I think of islands off the coast of Argentina, as the penguin video reminds me, I remember in the spring of 1982 and the start of the Malvina Islands (Islas Malvinas. . .Falkland Islands as named by the Brits) War. There was a failing military government in Argentina and the chief-general-in-charge needed to get the people to support him. Every school child in Argentina grows up, from kindergarten age onward, learning that the Islas Malvinas belong to Argentina even though they are heavily populated with Brits and a lot of sheep, and that the Brits don’t have a right to this Argentinian land deep into the South Atlantic off the coast of Argentina. So the President/General of Argentina declared war on Britain which did save his government for a while as citizens of Argentina rallied around their country, their flag and their military government. The British Naval Fleet commandeered two of Cunard Cruise Lines ships: The QEII, considered a very fast ship, and the Cunard Princess, removing normal bedding in cabins and turning both ships into troop ships for the Brits and delivering too many young sailors to shoot at one another and get killed over absolutely nothing in the bigger scheme of things. When all was said and done, the Brits have retained ownership of the Malvina Islands and a lot of mothers lost a lot of sons from two countries. Tragic. As usual, I found myself as the only picket in the fence that did not stand straight up but leaned off at an angle. The US, the Organization of American States, and any other organization with an opinion sided with the Brits. All of South America was against Argentina but that’s normal because of the jealousies between countries in that continent speared on by the aloofness of Argentinians who see themselves as Europeans of Spanish and Italian decent living in South America and are perceived as feeling themselves to be superior to others in South America who, for the most part, are descendants of native tribes on the continent. Argentina was upset that the OAS, which is supposed to come together to protect any country in the Americas being attacked, didn’t lift a rifle to help them. At the time, I was perfecting my French and the women I got together with, as my abilities to be conversational in French soared within three months, asked if we could include some women of other nations they met in their High School Adult Education English as a Second Language classes. One of those women who joined us, among the two from Japan and one from Spain, was Cira “Betty” Salvatori whose husband was the head of International Banking for Citibank, who were from Argentina. As the war broke out in the Malvinas, I learned, first hand, the Argentinian point of view of what was being fought over so I was probably the only American in the Americas who wasn’t Argentinian but was on the side of Argentina reminiscent of my being on the side of the British Museum in London giving back to Greece the statues they absconded with from the Parthenon! When it’s not yours to take, you really need to give it back! And bravo to the folks in Italy for giving back to Ethiopia the obelisk that Mussolini stole during WWII which was flown back to Ethiopia by my good friends at SkyLink Aviation for helping to complete a good deed. Bravo to Surjit Babra and Walter Habib who owned SkyLink at the time. But I digress: The amazing Las Vegas and Broadway Show-Stopping entertainment on the QEII and the Cunard Princess were ALL put onto Cunard Countess when the Falkland/Malvinas Islands war broke out as they had nowhere else to entertain and, as my ridiculously beyond-coincidence life circumstances rolled out, I had my family, including my husband 2 children, book into two (2) adjacent cabins on the Cunard Countess during this period. As a result the shows onboard, while they would have been very good, were dazzling as we were overdosed with amazing talent, amazing costumes and amazing scenery on steroids from the combination of the entertainment planned for all 3 ships. My son was six years old at the time and this was his first cruise and his first introduction to foods he fell in love which included lobster and what her called Fill-it Mig-non. . .also referred to by him as, “very good meat.” That voyage made it very difficult to take him into any restaurant after that as his culinary taste buds had become quite refined and expensive!!

April 24, 2021

Will British Scandals Heighten or Lessen Interest in Tourism to UK?

There are many around the world who have strong feelings related to the acceptance, or lack of acceptance, of Meghan Markel, in “Royal Circles” and too many who have lopsided/one-sided views of who did what to whom without all of the facts surrounding so much that has gone on. Even the reporting on why the men attending Prince Phillip’s funeral wearing morning suits with their military medals pinned on rather than their military uniforms, which Prince Phillip had requested, is reported in a manner filled with only half-truths. Reports generally only mention that those attending were denied their right to wear their military garb because Prince Harry had been stripped of his military commission associated with his removing himself as a ‘Senior Royal’ and the Queen did not want him to stand out of walking in the presence of his father, Prince Charles, and Prince William who would have been attired in uniform.
The truth of the matter is that Harry was not the only one who had his military commission removed recently. The other, Prince Edward, Prince Charles’ younger brother, was stripped of his commission because of the scandal that hit worldwide press related to what appears to be involvement with sex trafficker, Jeffrey Epstein. So there would have been two ‘Royals’ without military uniform from those high up in the food chain of the Royal Family with the accusations lodged at Prince Edward being far more heinous than Harry losing his military connections for bowing out of ‘Royal Duties’ and stepping away from being a ‘Senior Royal.’

Video #1:

In the now infamous Oprah interview with Meghan and Harry, Meghan commented, in the discussion about the abuse she took from the British press, that ‘The Firm,’ the commonly applied name for the institution that surrounds the royal family, was asked by the pair to intercede to help put a stop to the barrage of aspersions cast on Meghan but they would not speak to the press to ask them to cease and desist. Meghan pointed out that what was being printed about her were lies but The Firm would not do anything to stop the printing of these lies when, in fact, there were cases in the Royal Family where The Firm stepped in and commanded the press not to print stories that were TRUE as they would besmirch members of the Royal Family.
It seems like a fair observation to point out that if The Firm could get the press NOT to print the truth, they should have at least been willing to ask the press not to print lies. . . but that didn’t happen.
The result of Meghan’s remarks is that royal-watchers and media in places in, and far from, the UK were interested in knowing and reporting on the “other cases” of situations that were buried and not widely reported and knowing about whom those stories referred. (In Video #2, pay attention from about 4:00 into this feature!)
Video #2
Some of the stories were buried by more reputable media outlets while some of the seedier tabloids in the UK and some major sources in other parts of the world released stories and photos to illustrate the kinds of scandalous stories that sell newspapers and magazines. One of the stories was about Prince Andrew’s connection to Jeffrey Epstein while the other scandalous behavior revolved around Prince William’s roving eye, his dalliances with women during his marriage to Kate Middleton, particularly his documented affair with a friend of Kate’s that makes the reports appear to be more than just allegations, and his drunken behavior that led to his breaking a front tooth when he attended a wedding that Kate didn’t attend because she was very close to giving birth to their third child, Louis. None of the above is very pretty. . . AND YET, it’s always Harry, the military hero and creator of the Invictus Games, who is always characterized as the “undisciplined” prince and the one with bad judgment.
To much comes down to the power of PR!
Because of my global travels and the “fancy-pants” circles I often travel in, none of the above stories, which are about to come out in a planned televised interview with Prince William is news to me. I have known about these stories for years now. But there was no point in discussing them as the average American who pays attention to royal skullduggery didn’t know a thing about much of the above. But at this point, as a preemptive strike, like the person who is about to be blackmailed making their sins public to pull the rug out from under the blackmailer, Prince William is scheduling an interview with a well-respected broadcast journalist in the UK which will be a dialogue similar to the Meghan-Harry-Oprah interview and reminiscent of Prince Charles admitting to his affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles during his marriage to Diana. Like the Prince Charles story about how, about five years into his marriage, at the point that it was starting to fall apart, he took up with what Diana used to call “The Rottweiler,” Camilla Parker-Bowles. The fact of the matter is that the relationship with Camilla was there before Diana, during the engagement to Diana, and from the very start of the marriage forward as is evidenced by Charles wearing cufflinks to their honeymoon first-night dinner that were crafted in a design of two entangled “C” letters standing for Charles and Camilla which were a gift to Charles from his mistress. So when Diana said, “Well, there were three of us in this marriage so it was a bit crowded,” she knew exactly what she was talking about. And my knowledge of how Camilla and her girlfriends were placed in Buckingham Palace from the time Diana moved there six months before her wedding to Charles to be attended to by Camilla and her friends and so that Camilla could be conveniently nearby to Charles goes into some depth from very reliable sources. One day I’ll write all about that too.
Video #3: (Pay particular attention from 4:47-7:16.)
But if this information was just a hideous secret, I wouldn’t be focused on it now. At this point, it’s about to come out into the open with lots of spin designed to make William look very royal, regal, princely and a human fellow who has made some youthful mistakes of “boyhood” on his way to becoming King. So spin from The Palace is essential to repositioning and reimagining William’s reputation, especially so that UK taxpayers don’t feel that their money is misspent on payments to support palaces galore and lavish lifestyle on the backs of the working class. The rationale given to the Brits for why they should feel good about supporting the royals in their midst is that the Royal Family contributes to keeping donations flowing into a variety of UK charities AND that tourists and travelers from around the globe are fascinated by the monarchy and flock to the UK to see things like Changing of the Guard and to visit the various castles they own when the Queen is not in residence and with all of the castles in their list of properties, she can’t be everywhere at once so there are always several to tour. But if travelers identify, in any significant numbers, with Harry & Meghan and choose, when Covid-19 and its mutant strains no longer bar global travel, and those travelers who might have gone to UK destinations choose to visit other places instead as their own way of voting for destinations they like by sending their money elsewhere, then there’s a chance that the tide will turn against support for the royals coming from tax coffers.
So I’m wondering if your potential plans to visit the UK might be negatively affected by the wounds resulting from Harry and Meghan being on the receiving end of slings and arrows of outrageous behavior toward them from which Harry seems to have been taking incredibly seriously given the abuse his mother experienced which he doesn’t want to see result in tragedy as it did with Diana.
I’ve searched for and found a few videos online that I share with you here to give you some insights into what has largely not been reported in the UK or in most of the mainstream media that provides you with information that I’ve knows from the onset. Even within at least one of these there’s some minor inaccuracies related to William and Kate meeting but the portions of Williams bad behavior during his marriage to Kate lines up with everything I learned from extremely reliable sources when all of this was hushed-up news.
Would any of this have impact on your decision to go, or not go, to the UK and , perhaps, decide to choose some other destination having been influenced by the above?

April 21, 2021

Paying Our Respects to US Capitol Police Officer William Evans

Yesterday, April 20, 2021, my husband and I drove a couple of miles northeast of where we live to the Town of Adams with plans to wend our way through Bellevue Cemetery in hopes of finding the gravesite of US Capitol Police Officer William Evans. The cemetery is well maintained and, clearly, oft-visited by friends and relatives of those interred there as evidenced by the massive number of bouquets and potted plants that have been left by visitors
After make two full circuits on the serpentine roads looking for the new grave with some wreaths or other symbols that would indicate we had found the right place, I spotted a grave that was blanketed with red and white flowers and small US flags. On closer inspection, the newly disturbed earth and fresh flowers were just beside the grave whose monument indicated that this was the resting place of Howard Evans, Officer Williams Evans’ father, beside whom William is interred. The head stone tells a story that indicates that the spot beside Howard, where the flowers mark William’s fresh grave, had be destined to be the final resting place of William’s mother, Howard’s wife, Janice Evans so, for the moment, the Evans family tombstone is a reminder that we should not believe everything that we read.
I placed a small US flag on Officer Evans’ grave, said a prayer and saluted him noticing while placing the little flag that one of the floral displays had a note that said, “Thank you for your service.” Somehow, those words, given his sacrifice, seemed so inadequate.
My husband took photos of our visit to Officer Evans grave so that I could share this moving experience with you. With such places as the Susan B. Anthony family home, the new statue of Susan B. Anthony planned to be unveiled in a local park in the center of town, the McKinley statue representing the visit by the former President of the United States, the marvelous bicycle path and other out door experiences for visitors that abound in the Town of Adams, being able to visit the gravesite of Officer Evans to pay one’s respects adds to the historic value of a visit to this Berkshire County town in western Massachusetts.

The Power of Divine Happenstance in the Travels of

Broadcast Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams:

The Story of Meeting Joanne Brams

April 20, 2021

I’ve mentioned that too many things happen in my life that can’t just be chalked up to coincidence as the statistical probability of the circumstances are beyond imaginable. Things that “just can’t happen,” happen to me all the time. . .as in ALL THE TIME! It’s the story of my life and people in my family, close friends and those in my professional life, when I tell them of yet another impossible thing happened to me, they answer with one voice: “Of course it happened to you! We know you! This is all normal for you!” And I thought of this bazaar aspect of my life today when I was glancing down the April 16, 2021 entry on my facebook page and saw the name that appears with some regularity: Joanne Brams. Now there’s yet another story of Divine Happenstance in my life that’s worth sharing.

On May 4, 2001, my husband and I flew to Lisbon, Portugal, two days before the sailing of Holland America’s (HAL) new ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam, for a 12-day Mediterranean cruise as part of a group of 50 Top Producers, and their guests, in the travel industry being recognized for their support of HAL. At the time, I was second in command of a $1.5 billion travel company which gave tens of millions of dollars in business to HAL. We arrived in Lisbon on Saturday for the Sunday sailing and caught up on sleep to get over jetlag on the arrival day. I chose the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel & Spa to stay at because it was across from a shopping mall that I wanted to visit before we sailed on Sunday.

After breakfast at our hotel on Sunday, we checked out, left our bountiful luggage, stuffed with gowns for me and three different tuxedos for my husband for the three scheduled formal nights planned for this Recognition Cruise to honor top producers for the line, with the bell captain at the hotel so we could do some shopping before going back to connect with the luggage and head for the port.

I remember buying a unique necklace that was quite modern but with a Victorian flair in a small jewelry shop. Since my daughter’s birthday was just a couple of weeks away, I bought her the necklace, handmade in Israel I later noted, thinking it was something she would love as its design was quite delicate, and thinking it was such a bargain to boot. While I don’t regret buying it, the bargain was not such a bargain as I misplaced the decimal point when converting how much the necklace was in dollars so the final price, when it arrived charged to a credit card, was ten times the price I thought it was! But I’m certain she thinks loving thoughts of us whenever she has a birthday and remembers this precious item we took time to find, buy, wrap and carry through Europe before flying home.

I got a special surprise, too. It turns out that the first Sunday in May is Mothers’ Day in Europe and in this mall, on May 6, 2001, everyone who made a purchase in any shop in the mall was given a long stemmed pink rose. By the time we were ready to leave the mall, I had been given three roses. And now it was time to leave the mall with our purchases; but I didn’t want to take the roses with me. I didn’t think that customs at the port was going to let me take the roses on board and I didn’t want to carry them to the airport and then find out that I couldn’t board the ship with them. So I looked for a likely “victim” to gift my roses upon.

I looked around the mall and spotted a blond-haired lady holding a rose or two and decided that she was the one I wanted to give my roses to. From her complexion and hair color, I thought she  might be German or Dutch or Scandinavian or even northern Italian where there are many fair-haired people. But when I approached her, to my amazement, she was American.

I told her I’d like to give her my roses. She said something like, “Thank you, I’d love to accept them.” Please remember that this scene long precedes the TV shows, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette! And she asked me why I’m not keeping them. I told her that I didn’t think I’d be able to take them where we were going but didn’t go into detail. She smiled and told me she thought that was a very sweet thing for me to do. And that was that. . . or so I thought.

We fetched our luggage and, armed with my new acquisition at one of the many malls in Lisbon, proceeded to go through the process of embarkation. And there, in the big boarding area filled with hundreds and hundreds of people, I spotted  a woman with a bouquet of pink roses and realized that that was “the lady from the mall!” Who was she? Why was she here in my path. . .again?

Over the 12 days of the cruise, I got to know, and love, Joanne Brams, who was then associated with a travel agency in Florida that gave HAL a lot of business so, for that reason, she was not only on the  same cruise with us, but she was among those being honored in this special group on board. However, were it not for the incident in mall where I singled her out, of all of the hundreds of women in the mall that Sunday, to give her my roses and, of all of the American tourists in Lisbon that day, she is not only the ship I am sailing on but she is a member of the group I am sailing with.

I can’t tell you the name of one other person who sailed on that voyage even though some of them were well known to me in the industry and we spent time with them throughout the journey.  But, as I told Joanne Brams two decades ago, our meeting was no mere accident and I was supposed to know her or she would not have been put in my path by some Divine manipulation. That whole set of circumstances of my choosing her for my roses in the mall is just a bit too freaky for me to say it’s just ‘coincidence’ at work.

In essence, I don’t believe in accidents and coincidences. I only believe in miracles and fate. And the story of being at the front of the civilian line of cars behind US Capitol Police Officer William Evans funeral cortege, a matter of happenstance challenged by at least one of my facebook visitors, is just one more in a lifetime of events that defy the concept of statistically probable events.

Joanne Brams, center, visiting the Ballygally Castle Hotel in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland, with group gathered up by travel expert Stephanie Abrams, w in October 2002 joining Stephanie, wearing star-emblazoned sweater, Nancy Linares, then Chair of ARTA, and Nancy’s husband Manny, leader in the travel industry, seventeen months after Stephanie & Joanne’s friendship began in May 2001.

And the best part is that Joanne Brams and I, who will celebrate our meeting 20 years ago on the first Sunday in May 2021, consider ourselves great friends for life even though she still hasn’t taken advantage of our invitation to come and visit us in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. There’s a bit of an excuse for the last year with Covid-19 dampening most people’s wanderlust, but I’m hoping the vaccinations and proper protocol will get us past those challenges and that sometime in  2021 or 2022, we will reunite.

And for those skeptical wing-nuts, who think I knew Joanne all along and manipulated a meeting in a mall in Portugal to exchange some roses prior to reuniting on a cruise ship in the port of Lisbon, let me share a bit of Oscar Wilde with you: “There is no sin except stupidity.”

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams Unexpectedly in Funeral Cortege of Capitol Police Officer William “Billy” Evans

April 15, 2021

My life is a series of events that are impossible to be merely coincidences.  I have been in so many places and have had so experiences that defy explanation including having been on an flight on 9/11 on which two terrorists equipped with box cutters were passengers with intention of bringing down the flight from Newark, NJ to St. Louis, MO. But today, April 15, 2021, presented yet again another beyond-coincidence experience when I found myself in the first car behind the lengthy cortege accompanying the hearse carrying Capitol Police Officer William Evans, known as Billy, killed by a domestic terrorist at the US Capitol on April 2, 2021, taking him to his final resting place beside his father in a cemetery in Adams, Massachusetts in Berkshire County.

My husband and I were on our way back from North Adams with plans to make one stop in Adams before continuing  home in Berkshire County, Massachusetts,  just a few miles and a few towns away when, in the Town of Adams, the car in front of ours was allowed to continue on his way southward on Route 8 and we were signaled to stop. An Adams’ police officer stepped out of the middle of the road as a local police department vehicle pulled out of the side street, quickly pulled directly in front of our car and blocked Route 8 in both directions, parking the vehicle across both north and southbound traffic lanes.

We sat there for about 5 minutes. I noticed that there were people lining both sides of Route 8 for the couple of blocks ahead that I could see from my passenger seat.  Many of those lining Route 8 were holding American flags, some very small and some the size one would hang on a building. I had no clue as to why we were stopped and why there was a turnout of people as I thought about the potential that today might have been a unique Massachusetts holiday called Patriots Day. But this year, Patriots Day falls on April 19th, so it couldn’t be that, I thought.

I suggested to my husband that maybe, since there were no cars turning into the side street to the left of us, he might want to make a left turn into that street and we could bypass the hold-up. The words were barely out of my mouth when lines of police officers on motorcycles appeared at the junction on our left and they were almost immediately signaled to turn into the southbound lane on Route 8 in front of us. Rows and rows of motorcycles with blue lights flashing turned just in front of our car.

It occurred to me that, although I didn’t know why they were here, it just might be a good idea to take a photo of more on my iPhone. The motorcycle police were followed by police vehicles, a local ambulance, black cars, SUVs, and a hearse. But it wasn’t until I saw a small bus, the size of vehicles at airports that shuttle people to hotels, that I put the pieces together.  The small white bus had, in very large letters painted on its side the words, “United States Capitol Police.”

And then I knew. The honor and recognition was for Capitol Police Officer William “Billy” Evans who grew up in Berkshire County in the City of North Adams and the Town of Clarksburg, Massachusetts.  His flag-covered casket was carried in the rain from St. Stanislaus Kostka Church and taken to Bellevue Cemetery in Adams, MA for burial beside his father.

When the last vehicle in the funeral process, an Adam’s Ambulance, turned in front of our car, we were waved onward  by the Adams’ police officer to continue southbound on Route 8 putting us in place as the first car following the last official vehicle in Capitol Police Officer William Evans’ cortege.  We passed the throng lining the sidewalks on both sides of Route 8 and continued to on our way to pay a visit in Adams before heading home. We passed the still-covered new statue, yet to be unveiled in the little park across from the Bart Charter School, of Susan B. Anthony whose family’s home is a museum in Adams and we continued to follow the cortege to the street we planned to turn on to make that stop before we headed home. But every street we might have turned on was blocked by a police officer standing at attention saluting the cortege while standing in front of his police vehicle. There was no unblocked street to turn on and no way to make a u-turn so we continued driving along behind the last vehicle while noticing that there were cars behind us who were now, also, part of a moment in American history, Berkshire County history, and  Adams’ history.

I can’t adequately explain the sense of pain and sadness for the young, courageous life of Capitol Police Officer William Evans, snuffed out far too soon, having been killed by a domestic terrorist, the sorrow I felt for his wife, his children, his family and his friends who would forever be deprived of memorable future moments with him.  But I was also aware of the awe I felt by, yet again, being swept up into another event, another moment in time in my life, that defies the statistics of coincidence. What are the odds that we might be driving through the Town of Adams on April 15, 2021 at just the right moment to be the first car stopped from continuing our southbound journey on Route 8 and detained while the funeral cortege for Officer Evans entered Route 8 right in front of us, allowing us to be the very closest spectators to the entire motorcade and the hundreds of people lining the route in this rural community. 

Anyone who knows me well knows that my life is filled with experiences that defy the concept of coincidence and the laws of statistical probability.  I’ve met too many people, had too many experiences, been in too many places at a moment that defied probability and being on Route 8 on April 15, 2021 at the moment when we’d be stopped to give the right-of-way to the Evans cortege was one more incident where I felt that some Divine Presence was at work.  Had we tried to plan this intersection of time to be in Berkshire County on Route 8 in the southbound lane just at the right moment to be just behind Evans’ funeral cortege would have been impossible to sort out, and yet, there we were in a spot that allowed me to feel that we had, in our own way, participated in a moment in history honoring Officer Evans and feeling a part in the respectful send-off provided by Massachusetts State Police, Adams Police, police representing other parts of Berkshire County, and the United States Capitol Police who made the trip from Washington, DC to Berkshire County, Massachusetts, presumably, in their while  shuttle bus that was a prominent part of the many, many vehicles in the funeral cortege that was also made up of family, close friends and dignitaries. 

I was not aware until that moment that Capitol Police Officer Evans was killed by a lunatic driving a car into him, and another officer who was injured, on April 2, 2021, and that he grew up in North Adams. I wasn’t aware that he graduated from North Adams’ Drury High School, a school I fought for to help achieve grants to support their drama program and their Head Start/After-School Program .  I wasn’t aware that that he lived in Clarksburg where I’ve visited their library to watch a storyteller engaging local children in their Children’s Summer Program made possible by a grant I supported as a member of the Massachusetts Cultural Council network. And while I never knew Officer Evans, I felt a kinship with his service at the Capitol and his life growing up in North Adams and Clarksburg, two places, among many in Berkshire County that I feel woven into.

It drizzled and then rained throughout the funeral procession’s drive through Adams from the church, through the historic Town of Adams, to Bellevue Cemetery.  It occurred to me that even the angels were weeping. And later that night, starting just before midnight, I noticed, looking out our kitchen windows as I was turning out lights to go to bed, that angels had returned to northern Berkshire County on the night of April 15, 2021, at this late date in spring when we thought that winter was behind us having had days, of late, where the temperature has ranged from 40° to 74°, to lay a blanket of snow over the gravesite of William “Billy” Evans and the surrounding region, I think, to remind us not to forget that he had come home to rest.

Rest in peace, Officer Evans. Rest in peace, Billy. We will visit to let you know that you are not forgotten and that your sacrifice will be remembered.

This System May Be the Answer to Reopening Travel, Tourism & Hospitality. . . Have a Look!

I interviewed the CEO of a group of companies that has what looks like a very good answer to jump-starting tourism and hospitality venues. Have a quick look at the 3-minute video to see how the Miami Heat have applied this technology which could be used by terminals of all kinds, hotels, restaurants and certainly at festivals, concerts and events of all kinds in addition to being a better answer to the police roadblocks set up at border crossings. Imagine using this unique system to clear those who are deemed healthy to enter and using an APP on their mobile phone that clears them, like a ‘health/wellness passport’ for entry into hotels, bars, clubs, airports, and other venues that visitors are interested in entering. If you want to chat about the above, drop me a note at with your telephone info and I’ll get back to you to bring you up to date and introduce you to people at the company directly. Have a look. . .

Can We Talk About the Elephant in the Room Without Anyone Getting their Knickers in a Knot?

Can you identify the photo on the left?

How about the photo on the right?

If you don’t know the fellow on the right, he and his relationship to Princess Di and his relationship to Harry just might hold the answers to why William’s children beat the system of not giving royal titles to the great-grandchildren and Harry’s son didn’t get such Queenly Dispensation. He might hold the key to why the Queen didn’t have a photo of Harry and his wife and son on the table behind her when she gave her Christmas televised message but William and his family and Charles and the Rottweiler, as Princess Di referred to Camilla, were featured in, and might be the reason for the unrest in the family that has dominated the news in so often and most recently due to the exposé better known as the “Oprah Interview.”

I mentioned this on radio sometime ago but I’ve only heard one TV talk show host, Joyce Behar, say about a week or two ago, that it’s “rumored” that just maybe Prince Harry is not a descendant of the Royal Family in the UK and that just maybe the ginger-haired prince gets the ‘different’ treatment from his brother or other ‘royals’ because, in inner circles, they can’t ignore the dots that connect Diana to James Hewitt to Prince Harry, who by the way, I think is a very special lad with his heart and mind and values in the right places which are demonstrated by his philanthropic actions.

I’ll have more for you on this subject so please check back in as it seems to me that so many of the smears of Harry and Meghan that I have heard of late need a bit of an accuracy fine-tuning and so many bit of relevant information have been left out. . . especially about the “magical” appearance of Camilla when things were unhappy in Charles’ marriage because Camilla was there before, during, throughout and after and it’s a convenient bit of fluff to hear that he found again when his marriage was going south! Not so, my dears! Diana told it as it was: “There were three in this marriage and it was a bit crowded!”

But for the moment, have a close look at James Hewitt and Harry, above, and tell me that there’s no resemblance and, as someone at a Question and Answer website tried to tell the world today, that you can clearly see the resemblance of Charles and Harry. Really? Maybe the resemblance is that they are both tall, have 2 arms and 2 legs, and economically haven’t really had to worry about getting laid off or downsized, furloughed or fired, during this Covid-thing!

Moe to come. . .

My Contribution of a Woman of Valor to Honor During Black History Month: The Impact of Dr. Deborah Wolfe

February 12, 2021

For more than a year I have malingered over contactating the producers at The View to bring to their attention, for Black History Month, a truly amazing, brilliant and impactful African-American woman who was one of my professors at Queens College of the City University of NY during my graduate studies for my Master of Science degree. She was an incredible women who achieved so much; a dynamo of non-stop motion. Her name was Dr. Deborah Wolfe and she was a remarkable human being. I’m hoping I can get their attention yet, even though I’m sure they’ve chosen their roster of women to feature this month. But let me share her with you. One of the things I remember she was so proud of was that she was in Alaska on their Statehood Day and in Hawaii on their Statehood Day. She served in the US Department of Education, was instrumental in bringing about Head Start and educational financial aid and served on every board you can think of that has an influence on education. And she was a real person. . .one who kept an electric teapot to boil water in her office and the bottom drawer of her desk held instant coffee, tea bags and foil packets of instant hot chocolate. Hospitality and Warmth were her middle names. She left this planet in 2004 and I’m so sorry that I didn’t track her down before then. There is so much more I could have learned from her and should have asked. I got an amazing education at Queens College of the City University of NY with the most amazing faculty for whom buildings are named on educational campuses, awards and medals are named for, and there was no tuition and a per-semester fee under $20.00. When politicians talk about free college educations for qualified students, not only can it be done, but it was done for decades in NYC at Hunter, Brooklyn, City and Queens College and several community colleges that offered 2-year associates degrees and a chance, with good grades, to transfer to a 4-year degree at one of the city’s colleges. It’s not a fantasy. Delivering super-high-quality educational programs with amazing professors teaching intense courses has been done and can be done again. The people who are coming up with the vaccines for Covid are not those who felt the best path was to drop out of school. Nurturing the academically talented is a public service not an impractical idea. There are brilliant people whose economic condition bars them from the step-up they need to accomplish things that can save the world. Deborah Wolfe’s privilege in life was being born to people of modest means who understood the bigger picture and kept her focused in the right direction. Please read about her to raise your awareness during this special month of Black History Month when Brotherhood Month takes on an expanded meaning that, as Mark Twain alluded to, our people sorely need. . . and now. When I hear people refer to ‘those people’ and use terms that denegrate people of color, I feel so sorry for them never having known the people of color I have known who are nothing short of amazing. . . and not all of them were college professors! One day I’ll tell you about Pinky, my grandfather’s right-hand-man who is the inspiration for a character in the sequel to my novel RUMORS called SECRET. In SECRET, he is the character who drives the pick-up truck to pick up an antique table. You’ll remember this when you read SECRET (hopefully by summer) when the family stops to eat at The Maryland House, a place I’d associate with infamy on the road between Baltimore and Washington. But you’ll need to wait for that one! Please click here to learn more about Dr. Deborah Wolfe and catch a little inspiration along the way.:

Deborah Wolfe - Wikipedia

Mike Spinelli: The Quintessential Gentleman Who Believed, “Travel First Class or Your Heirs Will!”

February 9, 2021

Yesterday, Mike Spinelli died.

He was 88.

If you were in the travel industry over the last 60 years, you’d have had to have been operating under a rock not to have known, or known of, Mike Spinelli.

Mike started a travel agency in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1959. He understood the value of the travel agent and the challenges of dealing with clients and with vendors in the travel industry. He started before computers and well before the internet integrated into the operation of travel agencies, even before deregulation of airlines and the creation of travel wholesalers. Mike was a pioneer clearing roads to more efficient and more profitable travel agencies.

While Mike was notorious for having a sign on the wall behind his desk that read, “If you don’t travel First Class or your heirs will,” his focus on encouraging travelers to travel well, pamper themselves and travel richly was coupled with focus on how to give individual travel agents working in  independent travel agencies the power that comes from uniting with others to level the playing field when working with huge companies including airlines, cruise lines, car rental companies, tour operators  cruise lines and travel wholesalers to get better treatment in for  their clients and their travel agency. Mike’s agency entered the field when so many travel industry suppliers were in their infancy.

Seeing that the road to success for travel agencies required competing agencies to band  together as buying groups motivated Mike to create Action6, a consortium that started with barely 100 agencies which Mike and his team grew to over 2000 aimed  at achieving higher commissions by directing the groups’ business to a stable of well-vetted companies to leverage the cumulative business into rewards from the vendors including everything from upgrades, special promotions, educational trips for agents, and special  help desk representatives at the vendors headquarters as well as teams of representatives who would visit the agencies and work with their agents in the field to keep them up to date with information on destinations and programs available for travelers and agents. Key to the consortium-agency-vendor relationship was base commissions higher than the then-traditional 10%, or 8% in the earliest stages of development.  Assistance from vendors with programs for clients held at the agency level  providing guest speakers and materials for cruise nights, tour nights, destinations programs, honeymoon shows and more grew through the relationship between consortia, agencies and travel industry vendors and Mike’s creative vision played a key role in all of the above.

I knew Mike well. He was one of those very busy people with always enough time to return a call or do a good deed. Prior to Mike becoming President of ASTA, the American Society of Travel Agents, an association name ending in recent years with the word “Advisors,” he served with me and about 18 others on ACTMO, the ASTA Council of Travel Marketing Organizations. Together, we  represented over 20,000 travel agencies and worked with ASTA for the good of the travel agency distribution system during some very challenging times including when airlines reduced commissions to travel agents to ZERO, encouraging travelers to call the airlines directly. Ironically, airlines learned that dealing with the needs of travelers is very time consuming and ultimately added service fees to all reservations done by telephone since those transactions proved to be an inefficient use of time for the airline compared to the professionally efficient reservations made by travel agents.

Mike played a key role in every critical and challenging development in the travel industry. He was funny and insightful and cut through the mire of politics,  bullies and egos. We used to find seats at the long ACTMO board room table across from one another and had a running commentary during meetings entirely through our glances and facial expressions as we reacted to the discussion of the moment. There were meetings when I didn’t think I’d make it through to the end without Mike’s smiles, eye movements and nods of his head that validated for me that my reaction to comments being made by some at industry leaders weren’t right off the wall!  It was good having someone who also recognized, in so many two-sided discussions, that there was a third side to the coin under consideration.

Mike kept in touch for years after his retirement.  I could count on weekly updates on how to stay healthy and the value of including flax in your diet. Doing “good” was his mission. He was a warm, kind, humorous, optimistic man who cared deeply about the travel industry and everybody in it. He was one of those people who fit the lyrics of  the song, “To know him is to love him.”

Mike Spinelli will be sorely missed.  He was one in a million.

Can History Eradicate Racism. . . or Will Travel Do It?

I saw Ibram X. Kendi’s interview on The View today. He is clearly well educated, well versed in African-American studies, and, in his young life has established himself as an educator and author of importance. I enjoyed feeling like I was getting to know him through that interview to the point that I’ve already put into motion connecting with him to organize having him do an interview with me for my radio shows. His writings attack the underlying causes and nature of racism which is at the root of so much that is evil.

A last question was posed on The View asking Ibram Kendi what path would lead humanity to eliminating racism. . . at least that was the underlying meaning of the question. Ibram’s answer referred to the learning of history. While he isn’t wrong, I think there is a different, and better, approach. Given his foundation in academics, I understand why he would take an academic approach through understanding history to broaden outlooks and give insights into the underpinnings of how racism starts, grows, marginalizes and destroys whole cultures.

I can’t help but see things differently given my groundings in the travel industry and my life’s experiences interacting with people of diverse backgrounds and diverse cultures who have woven unique and colorful threads into the tapestry of my life.  For me, I see two clear responses to Ibram’s focus on learning history to overcome racism:

  1. History is written from diverse points of view. An explicit example of that diversity of thought can be found in reading about the history of the American Revolution in materials written by Americans and comparing that explanation of that period in American history with explanations of what is called “The Colonial Uprising,” as presented in encyclopedias and writings about the period written by Brits! I did such an investigation on my very first trip to the United Kingdom since I had studied American History in depth and I taught American history to New York State elementary school students when Colonial America was a key part of the social studies curriculum. Nowhere in our teaching of the American Revolution do we indicate anything other than that WE WON!  We explain that George Washington did not have much of an army and had nothing that could be compared to the British forces. He relied on part-time soldiers dubbed The Minutemen who were, for the most part, farmers who dropped their shovels and rakes and buckets to grab their muskets when the need arose to fight the Brits. Washington’s strategy was cloned from a unique form of guerrilla warfare he learned from Native Americans which included ambush and the art of surprise jumping out of trees and bushes to make progress against the invading British soldiers.  The red uniforms and European style of fighting in lines of soldiers made the Brits prime targets in the woodlands of America but in spite of their progress, the Brits had the advantage of having trained soldiers and sturdy weapons. Washington, on the other hand, could not afford to lose soldiers so he would often call for a retreat in order to have his men live to fight another day if the skirmish was not going in favor of the Americans being victorious in that battle.

It took me hours to find any reference to the American Revolution and that’s because that’s not the way that era is categorized. But, under The Colonial Uprising, I was able to find the British interpretation which categorically stated:

  • The Colonists were poorly trained, poorly clad, poorly armed.
  • George Washington was a terrible strategist and his prime strategy was ‘retreat.’
  • The American forces, such as they were, did not know how to fight and performed badly as noted by their jumping out trees and from behind shrubs rather than creating a formation for proper  engagement in battle.

The most important part is that we are quite clear that WE WON, whereas the British history books tell us that Britain was consumed with dealing with European challenges and didn’t  need the drain of funds to keep their troops occupying this New World that had little more than wilderness to offer. Their interpretation indicates that it really wasn’t worth the effort to fight to  keep this wasteland so if the colonists really wanted this territory, they could keep it. . . and the Brits pulled out to attend to more important European issues.

At NO POINT is there an admission that the Brits lost the American Revolution but it’s explained as the Brits not wanting to waste time and funds in a place with not much more than trees to offer that was too far away to be useful so they just decided to leave the American colonies.

         So much for the value of history. In essence, history is the notation and remembrances of events by one person, or more collaborators, telling a story the way they saw it, much like eye witness reports at an accident scene where people viewing events from different angles have entirely different stories to tell.

And when you say, to the majority of people who are so glad that their school years are behind them, you should learn something, anything, from history, you’ve already lost the interest of all those who promised, after graduation, that they’d never read another book, or at least a serious book, even if they desperately need to learn a bit. It’s something like telling someone who has come to visit you that you’re taking them to a museum today.  For some, they’re already thinking of a good excuse not to go because the word “museum” conjures up dusty, uninteresting rotting displays lodged in a huge building that requires so much slow walking about that it will leave the visitor exhausted for days.

Worst of all is the situation of people who have irrefutable evidence of historic events shoved under their noses about subjects which are accompanied by photographs, artifacts, documents, film and books and scholarly writings, like the materials that are in libraries, museums, and actual sites associated with The Holocaust, only to have some do their very best to refute and deny that such events ever took place. So much from learning/teaching from history.

I am convinced that Mark Twain had the beginnings of the answer to an end of racism when he said, in his book, “Innocents Abroad,” that, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”  And it is true that the best way to ward off prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness is to be immersed in the diversity of cultures one meets in ones’ travels, too meet people who are not just like the traveler and to learn about them, learn from them and learn to like and, indeed, love them for their different views and approaches to meeting the same challenges placed before all humans on the planet Earth.

The best answer to eradicating racism, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, from my point of view, is not just to meet “others,” but to bond with individuals from diverse cultures and have friends whose color, religion, traditions and culture are different from oneself. The problem with understanding “others” is that, even when we find people of diverse backgrounds in our neighborhoods, schools, churches, and jobs, too often, even where there seems to be respect and tolerance of differences, too often, there is no real socializing. Like kindergarteners in a sandbox digging next to one another, it’s a case of parallel play, playing next to each other without playing together.

The solution, had someone on The View asked me, to overcoming racism, lies in having a friend, someone you truly appreciate, laugh with, celebrate joyous occasions with, cry with, support one another, and truly care about and for one another, whose background and culture is not exactly like your own. In short, it’s hard to hate “them” when “they” are part of your inner circle. Bonding doesn’t happen when communities are divided by background, faith, and color.

A concluding anecdote comes to mind related to travel, social studies textbooks which are the modern answer to “history books,” and misinformation taught as fact in schoolrooms. When my son was in fifth grade, a school level of 10 and 11 year olds, in general, the class was reading a chapter about some destination in the world. The description gave an impression that was completely wrong about the place and the people who live there. Since my children traveled wherever I went from the time they were infants, by the time fifth grade rolled around, my children had been to many places in the US, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia and had seen so much diversity in lifestyles, learning to appreciate differences without taking a “we do it better” approach.

As the teacher began to talk with the students about the destination in the textbook as described by the authors, my son could no longer remain silent. When he came home from school that day, he was bursting at the seams trying to tell of his experience in class that day. “I just couldn’t take it anymore,” he told me. “I had to tell my teacher and the class that whoever wrote that had probably never been there and I was there and I met the people there and we went everywhere there and it’s nothing like that description.” I asked what he told the class and he said,” I let them know it’s a great place with wonderful, friendly people and great places to see and things to do that are more fun than an amusement park and you just can’t believe everything you read in a book because what’s in that book is just not the way it was there and I know because I was there.”

Ah, the power of travel: the classroom without walls.

Travel more. Travel often. Travel widely. And take your kids with you!

Be ready to do all of the above as soon as it’s safe to travel everywhere again!

I look forward to reading Ibram X. Kendi’s books and seeing the films Netflix is producing of his works! But I need to get him traveling more, too!

Will the Last One Out, Please Burn Down the Nation!

April 16, 2021 will mark the 50th anniversary of the posting of a sardonic outdoor billboard near Sea-Tac Airport (Seattle-Tacoma) in the state of Washington that read: “Will the last person leaving SEATTLE turn out the lights?” The billboard was posted by two real estate agents as a reaction to the pessimism generated by the national aerospace industry tanking in what was known as the Boeing Bust. People were pouring out of Seattle and prospects for the region did not look good. Those who know Seattle today know that it has recovered from that grim period handsomely although the region is dealing with the same challenges all Americans are facing today. But it seems like a new banner is attempting to be erected on a national level that reads: “Will the last one out of Washington DC please burn down the nation?”

I tend to have very optimistic views on just about everything including the ability to turn bad dreams into happy endings even in a deep sleep. But I have been literally sick to my stomach for the last hour from the moment I saw the Reuters news report that outgoing President Donald J. Trump had signed an order designating January 26, 2021 as the date when flights from Brazil and from Europe, two of the most highly Covid-infected areas in the world, after the US, will recommence.  If ever there was a clear cut gift of evil designed to burn the nation to the ground and kill everyone in its path as a farewell departing gift to Republicans, Democrats, Independents, supporters and non-supporters, this act was it! What comes to mind is the ending scene in the Peter Sellers’ film, Dr. Strangelove, when Major “King” Kong rides a bomb down from a US military aircraft. Both that act depicted in that film and attempting to unleash the “Wrath of Covid” on the US by inviting disastrous levels of disease into America by opening our doors to horribly infected parts of the world as his parting gift to all Americans should be a wakeup call for those on the fence trying to interpret the intentions of the departing POTUS.  There is no explanation whatsoever that could assign good intentions to this heinous and incomprehensible act.

For those who will inevitably find a way to assign the semblance of a “good deed” upon this truly evil move, let me hasten to point out that Covid-19 is NOT a hoax and is killing massive numbers of people in the US every single day taking us from POTUS’ projecting of 5 to 15 cases of Covid in the US, to hovering at 400,000 deaths on US soil from this ghastly disease. Equally factual is that Covid-19 is an ‘equal opportunity disease.” Covid-19 is just as happy to kill Republicans as it is to kill Democrats, people of all religions and no religion, people of every skin tone imaginable and people of all ages.  The act of inviting travelers from two of the regions of the world with the highest levels of  infection, of  all places on the globe, to roll out the welcome mat to, it’s clear that this was a message similar to the horse’s head hanging on the bed post in, “The Godfather.”  This “screw you” message wasn’t, however, aimed at one ‘you-done-me-wrong’ individual but was meant to unleash an uncontrollable escalating plague on the entire country. Only the head of Russia could get any joy out of that act and other recent Washington, DC events.

Europe is in complete lockdown trying to get this disease under control. I have no clue how successful Brazil is being given the economics of the country. But, happily, within an hour of the news story on the party favor Trump chose to leave Americans as his farewell gift, Presiden- Elect Joe Biden issued a news release indicating that we need not worry because he will rescind Trump’s order once he has taken the oath of office. May I add, “. . . not a second too soon!”

My mother was a “Rosie the Riveter” and built military airplanes in WWII at Glenn L. Martin in Baltimore, Maryland. My father was a highly decorated US Infantry soldier who earned, among many, many other medals, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart for being injured in action, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Sharp Shooters Medal, and on and on and on and his reward for his valiant performance in European theaters of war was an early death at 32 years of age from what my mother was always convinced was a service related episode labeled a heart attack. My grandfather served with Teddy Roosevelt in the Spanish American War for which he was awarded malaria which flashed back again and again with episodes of malaria’s symptoms throughout the rest of his life. I cannot describe to you the depth of the pain they would be feeling today given the events of January 6th in Washington, DC and this vengeful flare-up designed to trash the nation with an irresponsible executive order that would, inevitably, add to the challenges of trying to get Covid-19 under control and saving lives of Americans.

While my first thought was that Trump’s latest action, something akin to the “I’m-gonna-getcha” actions of a schoolyard bully delivering a last blow, might be translated into an outdoor billboard that said, “Will the last one out please burn down the nation,” even though President-Elect Biden has already notified the country he’ll correct this evil-intentioned act, my mind comes back, ironically, to the lunatic riding the bomb from the military aircraft to the ground, blowing himself up in the process which you can see at this link:

So I offer my own message for that imaginary billboard that needs to be put up in Washington, DC:

“Will someone at the White House please disconnect the line on that red telephone in the oval office and burn up the secret codes before we are presented with a parting gift that wipes out humanity?”

 If you’re one of those people who still think, after all the evidence we have witnessed, that the outgoing president can do no wrong, this is your wake-up call! 

From a strictly travel and tourism point of view, there will be a time when it will be appropriate to fling open the doors and roll out red carpet welcome mats to people in Europe, in Brazil, and everywhere else in the world. but that time, regrettably, is not now. And, frankly, it wouldn’t matter if we opened our doors to Europe as they currently have their doors locked in their very stringent lockdown that they are enduring for the third time since this mess started. At least some governments are taking a parental role in doing their best to take care of those they serve. We could take some lessons in that regard.

January 12, 2021:

Why Would Anyone Want to Visit the US from Another Country?

We must not forget the lessons of history or we are doomed to repeat them and we see that adage blazingly enveloping us as America heads down a terrible road.

If you haven’t seen Arnold Schwarzenegger’s YouTube message, please watch it now.

If you have watched Arnold Schwarzenegger’s YouTube message, it’s worth watching again.

I have listened to people speak, who don’t know the first thing about French people, about how the French don’t like Americans, don’t appreciate what our soldiers did to liberate France in WWII, are just a hateful and nasty lot . . . people who, for the most part, have never been to France, don’t know one French person and, at most, have visited Paris, maybe, and met some shop clerks, taxi drivers and guards in museums in brief encounters. It’s funny that my French friends tell me that they find the shop clerks and taxi drivers in Paris a bit abrupt and even rude. While I have had encounters with truly warm and friends and helpful people all over France, when you get into big cities, whether it’s NYC, London, Paris, or Tokyo, just to name a few, people are more stressed for time and stretched in too many directions at once trying to do their jobs that they just  don’t have time to struggle with communications and other cultural obstacles to progress and are in a hurry to move on. That’s truly life in the big city. But get out of the big cities, anywhere in the world, and meet the people in the countryside. It’s a whole different story and as it relates to France, I have had many interactions with people who lived in France during the Nazi occupation and their stories of American soldiers liberating them, one of whom was my father who received the Silver Star for heroism in Rupt-sur-Moselle in Alsace, France, and the Bronze Star and so many other medals for his military service in Europe during WWII, but we harbor, as a nation, misconceptions about “foreigners,’ even though, unless you are a 100% Native American descendant, your ancestors came from somewhere else. Do you think we look like people ready to welcome anyone, to visit or live, to the US? And if we look unwelcoming and people from other lands think they are unsafe in the US because of the disease of Covid-19 or the disease of prejudice and bigotry, how do you think that will translate into loss of revenue in the US for the travel/tourism/hospitality industry which is currently shriveling up and dying in so many corners of America? Tourism is a multi-multi-multi-billion dollar industry. . . dying a bit more every day and if travelers for business choose to “meetup” online instead of visit the US because we are drenched in Covid-19 and its mutations and leisure travelers and groups choose to take their business elsewhere because we are anything but a warm-and-fuzzy welcoming nation where they can feel safe and secure, the end results will be disastrous. We are already in a catastrophic place as it relates to the rest of the world. The most we can hope for is that hotels and attractions will continue to do  their due diligence to maintain deeply cleansed environments so that staff are motivated to come to work and guests are safe to visit and that people feel comfortable to travel in their own cars or rental cars in order to avoid crowds until the disease is being beaten back. But the subject of rhetoric and actions that are anti-minority groups and filled with hate is one that must be addressed in the light of day and disinfected, like Covid-19, to eradicate that evil as it can be as infectious as Covid-19. The domestic terrorism  that took place in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021, a day, like Pearl Harbor Day, will live in infamy, must be addressed before it swells like the rise of Nazism in 1933 in Germany.

October 29, 2020:

How to Respond at Interview for a New Job or Review to Keep Your Job

A teachable moment: It’s the educator who lives in my bones bursting to get free who needs to share this information with my fb friends so that, if in these changing times, you need to go, online or in person, to interview for a new job OR if your company is making downsizing decisions and, as many companies do, interview each employee in a department or among those who are being considered for layoff, furlough or termination so they can choose the strongest in the company’s staff pool to keep on payroll. Clearly, the Human Resources department in a larger company, or the “boss,” in a smaller company, will pose questions to determine knowledge, skill set, positive attitude, creative solution skills, especially in these times where we will continue to need to find answers for as-yet unimaginable questions. While it may put you in an uneasy position when you know the future of your job is on the line, you need to keep your wits about you and be prepared to be asked anything about your abilities, your past performance and your future ability to keep the part of the company you contribute to on track for a healthy future. Do not be surprised if the boss or the HR head says something to prepare you to focus your attention and get your adrenalin drive pumping so they get the best results from which is bound to be a stressful conversation since your job is riding on the outcome and you might hear a question something like this (good answers are provided below to put you in the best position for consideration of job retention. . . and BTW: I hope this helps you in your future employment: ‘HR/Boss: ” Welcome. I need you to help me know what makes you the best person for this job (or to retain your position) so I will be asking some pretty tough questions so I can differentiate you from others in your department/other job applicants.’ Your reply should be something like one of the following:

I’m up for the challenge.

In the job I do here/jobs I’ve done in the past, I’m always facing tough questions and challenges.

I have the skill, knowledge, background and experience, sir/ma’am, to deal with it so bring it on!

While I’m not accustomed to having this kind of job review, my work record truly speaks for itself so I’m looking forward to giving you the opportunity to learn more about my accomplishments and my contribution to moving this company forward. Thank you for giving me the chance to share my work achievements and value to this company with you.”

NOTE: The boss/HR person will let you know when this conversation has come to an end so dig in your feet into the floor and stay on top of your game until the person questioning you says something or stands up indicating this session is over. DO NOT WALK OUT BEFORE IT’S OVER as that is a clear sign that you’re not up to the challenge of doing the job you were hired for! Nobody wants to hire or keep a quitter or someone who is afraid to see whatever the task at hand is to the end.

In other words, get into the fray and battle it out to the end putting your best foot forward and Give ’em hell. . . don’t run like hell!

Good luck in this tough environment and stay healthy!

Your Personal Travel Expert

Rated one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Travel

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