How I Met The President And Other Funny Stories



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Wednesday, February 13, 2002
 
Party in The Harz Mountains Part 2
The dinner was venison, and about 20 minutes before the main course the germans ran two deer (big bucks with nice antlers) through the room and scared everyone, including the Russians who had a very good vantage point from under the table- it was a riot. Anyway, after a couple of hours of being served venison, beer, wine and vodka we wished to sack the castles to the north; we sang songs and rocked our steins back and forth. We had a bunch of buses take us back down the mountain to Goslar, where we were all holed up in der Achterman hotel (which is haunted by the way).
On the way down I sat next to the president of a major American superconductor company, and we talked about the possible existence of UFOs and extra-terrestrials (it was a good party- and I kept asking him if superconductivity was reverse engineered from a crashed alien spacecraft- "come on, just admit it," I kept saying- he thought it was pretty funny but ended up being a devoted member of MUFON, which only fueled my theory). Anyway our bus broke down on the side of the mountain, in a scene from a 1950s Dracula movie. The guys from the major cellular phone company had no cell phones so we waited three hours before another bus came to pick us up.

 
Party in The Harz Mountains
The best party I ever attended was the 75th anniversary party for a major german company. The party was at a castle in the Harz mountains- an authentic castle. There were about 200 people who were invited from all over the world, and the party was in the grand room of the castle, which was lit by torchlight. There were actors dressed in Medieval garb- the waitresses were dressed as "wenches" and there were magicians roaming the floor doing fire tricks and the like. When we entered we were given ceramic jars (large jars) with large corks in the top. We noted the Japanese contingent drinking from the ceramic jars, so we did too. It was grog- real grog. I sat with the contingent from the USA, Russia and Thailand (who did seating I do not know). But the Russians drank so much Vodka that they got so drunk that they became lucid and sober again (very weird).

 
Shark Infested Waters Part Six
The only other interesting aspect about Walker's Cay is that there is a small secluded island a few miles away which is only accessible by boat. On that island is the former residence of president Richard M. Nixon, who apparently used to go there to unwind and collect his many thoughts. His former house is very small, but quite nice- a white box type of structure, but it sits atop this island in the middle of nowhere, with spectacular water views in every direction.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002
 
Shark Infested Waters Part Five
The problem is that you smell like fish after a while and the sharks move by scent, so you have to move real fast. If you have a spotter at the point (you really need one) he can yell out to you in the water "100 pounder coming past the point!" at which time you must get out of the water and climb back on the dead reef as fast as you can, which is when you cut your hands and legs and need antibiotics (which I tend to travel with just in case). The scariest sharks are the smaller blacktips, not the real big sharks. The smaller blacktips "turn-on" like a dolphin in the wake of a boat, and move extremely fast and violently. This type of activity boosts self-confidence and makes me better at what I do. Remember, some sharks where three piece suits back on the mainland.

 
Shark Infested Waters Part Four
Now for the real test- you cannot lift a 30 pound cobia or a 60 pound tarpon out of the water on a coral reef because the reef will cut the line (it is very sharp and dangerous)- so you need two people- one to get into the water with the fish and the other to watch for sharks. The way to do this is to walk the fish as far back from the point as possible (while still on the reef you must fight the fish and walk backward). If you can get the fish in the shallow grassy area toward the "farmers house" you jump off the reef into the water (which scares the scales off the fish and sends him/her back into a fighting mode) and fight the fish until you can grab and hold him still with your arms/hands.

 
Shark Infested Waters Part Three
When I indicate light tackle I mean 20 pound test on a three piece rod, or 40 pound test on a single five foot rod (you must have a good travel rod to withstand this environment- cheap stuff will crack and splinter- I've lost three rods at the point)- but my Penn Travel rod withstands the test as does my custom five foot rod. To sum up- you must balance on the coral; cast beyond the sharks, catch a tarpon or cobia (you must hit them on the head with the cast- no kidding), and reel the fish in without the sharks tearing it to pieces- a real sport people.

 
Shark Infested Waters Part Two
The point is extremely dangerous. The point itself is the tip of of dead coral reef. Exposed coral is sharp and poisonous, and you must not come in contact with it, which as I will explain is quite difficult. Surrounding the point at any given time is upwards of between 20 and 100 sharks. They work in teams up the shallow sides of the reef where the depth of the water is between two feet and five feet. The sharks are anywhere in size from 30 pounds to 700 pounds (tiger sharks). The nasty sharks, which are the most explosive and unpredictable, are the blacktip sharks. The interesting thing about the point is that just beyond the sharks, around them and with them are Cobia and Tarpon, two extremely exciting gamefish, which can be trully amazing to catch on light tackle.

 
Shark Infested Waters
The week before I was having a conversation with former Ambassador Stokely, who was also the Ambassador to Afganhastan in 1979 when the Russians invaded by the way- I made a joke about that with him, as if to say who did you anger to get such interesting assignments? I was in Walker's Cay in the Northern Abacos. I do not know if anyone will actually ever read this, but if you do, and I maintain my interest level, you will start to get an idea of who I am. Walker's is a great place for true rustic outback type of roughing it. There is a point on the north part of the island- you must hike there through the jungle, past the airstrip, and past the "farmer's house- a greenhouse," through the break in the brush you will find "the point." And there is only room for one at the point.

 
Former Ambassador Stokely Continues
That it was the American intention to go into Somalia and help the population, by making sure that food was delivered into the hands of the people; but then in one 24 hour period we ended up killing some 1,000 Somali's, which was not the intention of the mission. So we left. We did not get that impression from the movie, he said.

 
Meeting Another Hero:
As I was in Scottsdale just a few weeks ago I shall recount my meeting with another one of my personal heroes- Robert Stokely, the former ambassador to Somalia. One of my former congressman friends from the great state of Oklahoma knows how highly I think of the man; as he had appeared so absolutely intelligent on the CNN documentary about "Black Hawk Down." They rushed us together, and I began by telling him how much of genius I thought he was, which is always a good ice-breaker in any conversation, and guarantees at least 30 minutes of exchange between any two people as to give the proposed genius ample time to prove it. We talked in detail about Hollywood versions and book versions of the incident in Somalia in 1993 when 19 serviceman lost their lives. I had asked him why we had pulled out of the region after this incident and he said-

 
Meeting the President Part 2
The president was surprised by this question, obviously; but I myself was thinking that he was shorter than I had imagined. I then realized that the press pool was actually required to lay on the floor in front of the podium as the president spoke so my television and print version of the president was always from ground level, which would make anyone look larger than life. But to actually say this to the man was not in good taste, but he was very cool about it, turning and saying-"the tall gene does not run in my family," but the Japanese legal council persisted-" your father and your brother seem much taller then you are," which again I might add was true, but once again, a comment best kept to oneself. He turned back to me and smiled, as he could see that I was amused by all this. "We'll talk about bass fishing some other time," he said and disappeared behind a velvet curtain.


 
Meeting the President Part 1
The secret service agent leaned over my shoulder and whispered in my ear- "Would you like to meet him?" and I said very quietly back that I would make room at the table as the food was very good and I thought the president would enjoy a good meal; but the secret service agent informed me that that was not how it was done, and I would have to get up and walk over to him as he came down from the podium. When President GWB was done speaking, the secret service agent motioned to me and I got up and walked over to him. Two secret service agents moved on either side of the president and sort of leaned into my right and left side. He reached out and shook my hand and said "thank you for coming," to which I replied- "no- thank you sir!" I then asked him about bass fishing, a question he seemed interested in, but then this legal council for a large Japanese company leaned over and said- "I thought you were taller."