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Duncan Butts posted a message.
May 19, 2024 at 10:55 AM

Hello Robert:

Hope your B-Day anniversary is a good one. Hope you have many more good ones.

Best regards,

Chuck Brechbill has a birthday today.
May 19, 2024 at 4:33 AM
Apr 20, 2024 at 9:12 PM

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHERYL! You need to patent your Youth Potent!

Mar 08, 2024 at 1:06 PM

Happy birthday dear friend. Love to you and your whole family. And sdriano says hi to sean!

Patrick Dua has left an In Memory comment for his Profile.
Jan 31, 2024 at 10:01 AM

Except for running into Chris by accident a few times at the Heidelberg Office, I didn’t know Chris much during his time in the European Division.

However, way back in the course of the second half of the 1990s, my dear friend and area director Jane McHan - whom I knew to be very interested in the study of native cultures, thought it necessary to plead with me to share whatever African folkloric stories I knew with her. I had told Jane at some point previously that my grandmother’s favorite pastime was narrating tales to me as a way of sending me off to sleep while I was a child. To prevent me from having to hide constantly from Jane’s ‘obsessive’ requests dealing with this issue whenever we met, I settled down during one term break with a view to satisfy Jane’s appetite for stories. I managed to recall from memory and compose a total of seven tales. Not only that.  Also, on account of Jane’s suggestion, I toyed with the idea of publishing my tales as far back as the late 1990s. But that objective failed to materialize when I realized that publishers were asking upfront for the partial payment of publication costs from authors. Those costs sometimes amounted to several thousands – no exaggeration intended on my part!

So, here is the juncture where Chris Payne entered the scene as my publisher, also through the mediation of Jane. This occurred sometime in the summer of 2019.

Jane’s contact with Chris in the Philippines proved to be a very fast and propitious arrangement on behalf of my project. Not long after I passed on my manuscript to Chris and was fully docked in with him through email exchanges, he revealed himself to me as a seasoned, new-age version of tinker, tailor, soldier, spy in yonder territory; a Jack of all trade, and – above all, master of all. Particularly amazed was I, when I read his proposals defining his work process, expectations, costs, and my obligations as the author regarding the publication of my book by LIPA, Chris’s own publishing company. At first I thought: is Chris serious? The initial impression I gained was that either Jane and himself had ‘connived’ to have Chris publish my material almost free of charge, or that Chris had deliberately developed his low-cost company model to function merely as a hobby or a Salvation Army outlet...

In any case, the outcome of my few weeks of collaboration with Chris was an impressive book in terms of cover design, layout, and of course content, which we all admired in the end.

Throughout our exchanges, Chris, in spite of his advancing age, appeared to me to be doing very well health-wise. Sure, he complained occasionally about his fading eyesight, to which I reacted by using bold and large typeface in my emails to facilitate his reading capacity. He was also very outspoken regarding his sentiments on politics, global events as well as against members of the political class he deemed to be villains. As the ravages of the corona virus and other rather mundane scandals of society crowded the global headlines, he received the news of Brexit in particular with outrage, and wrote a lengthy response at the beginning of 2020 addressing that episode. His viewpoints here were directed to the far-flung circles on his address list including myself.

Based probably on his expertise in data processing and information management, Chris staunchly believed that technological invention and its social consequences have outstripped our powers of prediction. That email he wrote marked the last time I heard from Chris. It carried the title “How Big Data Swung The Election For Trump and Helped the British Exit Vote”. This was his own response to an article sent to him earlier by another UMUC ED colleague.

 (I have chosen to post an abridged excerpt of that mail below for your reading pleasure).


[[….A happy new year! Many thanks for sending me the link to Cambridge Analytics. I enjoyed reading it.

With more data, then political predictions are more focused and specific but, overall, some of the examples described are things which we have known for a while…………… I wonder if the system described is just a more precise way of getting better predictions.

In the UK, one could have guessed that Farage and UKIP would do well in the Brexit vote. Older, uneducated people are more likely to be racist. But it is those same people who have suffered most from job losses because of automation of their jobs. Farage had only to show a picture of a crowd of obvious immigrants to win the thousands of votes. Much of the referendum advertising was pure lies but the psycho-spin doctors who work for the politicos know well that a person's beliefs have little to do with rationality - people will believe what they have been told to believe……………

What I looked for in the article and it didn't answer my questions was why people's personal attitudes have changed so much in the last decade? It seems to me that people have become harder and nastier these last few years. I have been following the Brexit blogs. The language used there is often violent and abusive. Immigrants in the UK, especially Poles, all report that they have been attacked, mostly verbally but sometimes physically, in public. Is this bitterness, which now exists in all modern electorate, because people are somehow being subliminally manipulated by the likes of Cambridge Analytics and Facebook? Or is it a natural consequence of frustration caused by the freedom of big business to use those same algorithmic techniques to force down wages, foreclose on houses, privatize health care and increase inequalities generally etc. at a time when world GDP has increased by 20% in the last 20 years?

Actually I voted to Remain in the EU referendum. But the people were pissed off by the Cameron government and they had subconsciously all decided that someone needed a good kicking. Cameron was out by next morning. Same with Hillary - she gets half a million for making a speech; her friends are all billionaires and yet she pretends to be a champion of the dispossessed. If we are going to be ruled by a corrupt, wealthy war-mongering plutocrat, the US voters may have decided, why not go for the real thing?

We live in interesting times and I am sure the new right-wing world order - UKIP, Trump, Duterte, Le Pen, AfD and the rest will eventually come unstuck. We may be living through the birth pangs of a whole new phase of human history. The worry is what the new baby will look like.  

I am hoping that the sans-culottes have now got all their bitternesses and resentments out of their systems and they will come around to realizing that the Brexit result was turkeys voting for Thanksgiving. Dream on, I hear you say?

Good article if a little disjointed. Maybe that was the translation. I don't have enough German to read the original.

Very best wishes. Stay in touch.



When I heard on January 6 of this year from Jane that several emails addressed to Chris were bouncing back, I became curious and worried at the same time. But my initial observation conveyed to Jane assumed that Chris’s eyesight might have deteriorated to such a degree that he might no longer be engaged in reading and writing as before. This, indeed, was based on the fact that he had not responded to a few queries of mine since his email input quoted above. Unfortunately my assumption, to say the least, was overly optimistic. The pandemic, we are now well aware alas - did wreak a heavy toll on too many of the best of this world. And Chris fell, sadly, as another casualty.

May the kind and gentle soul of Chris Payne rest in peace!


PS. -- on a different matter:

Has anybody reading this been in contact with Jiri Brezina lately? Jiri is someone I used to visit quite often, whenever I was on my way in his vicinity of Waldhilsbach near Heidelberg. But some years ago he moved permanently back to his native Prague and continued to send me mails every now and then. The last time I saw Jiri was during our Heidelberg get-together of October 2019. In the interim, our exchanges have ceased, since he has not corresponded with me anymore for more than three years..

Jan 10, 2024 at 11:04 AM

To my friends and former colleagues: The link below2 is to a gofundme page for Adriano and myself. The Social Security Administration, in 2023, declared Adriano "cured" of his disabilities and has cut him off from the disability payments for which he worked his whole adult life. In addition, they have seized my social security to pay them the approximately $58,000 they say he has to pay back.

This has left us in rather straightened circumstances. Any donations will be most welcome but most important, any wider distribution of our predicament would be greatly appreciated.

I cannot express how humbling it is to know that this community, which pretty much took me from silly teenager to adulthood, gave me an education, and helped me raise Adriano, could also be there for us when our lives have taken such a horrifying turn.

Thank you all and everyone for any boost you give or your kind thoughts.



Jan 07, 2024 at 11:47 AM

Happy birthday, old bean!

Oct 05, 2023 at 1:08 PM

Hi Linda! I just found this site! Hope you are doing well! We've lived in San Francisco area for 23 yrs now. Just sent our oldest kid off to college and our youngest is a sophomore in HS. Time flies!

Ralph Capio posted a message.
Sep 19, 2023 at 12:46 AM

Colonel Ralph Capio is pleased to announce that he has successfully defended his dissertation and has been awarded the Doctor of Law and Policy degree by Northeastern University.

Belden Johnson posted a message.
Aug 01, 2023 at 5:05 PM

Hope you got my Happy Birthday call message...

Charles Brumfield has left an In Memory comment for Melanie Higgins.
Jul 03, 2023 at 1:38 AM

DIdn't know Melanie.  Never met her.  But now I feel like I know her at least a bit, and I like what I learned.  Very sorry for your loss.  Humanity feels it.



Penelope Roberts has left an In Memory comment for Melanie Higgins.
Jun 30, 2023 at 6:24 PM

In the 1980s, somebody asked me if I wanted to type a dissertation for an American woman who was living in Heidelberg.  I agreed, and I met Melanie.  After months of work, typing and retyping, the document was finished but the bond between us was strong and clear.

I was raising a critically ill child (he was 2 or 3 when he met Mel, or Dr. Mel as he has always called her), and she lived at the foot of the mountain in Ziegelhausen where we had a flat.  She began teaching at the University of Maryland, where I worked from 1980 to 1999, and we started hanging out.

When I say hanging out, we were running partners, dinner party buddies, movie actors, travel pals, and we rented hundreds of movies to watch at each other’s houses.  We had some arguments, we even broke up for a couple of years, but we were magnets for each other.  At one point, Melanie gave me the name of her therapist and told me to go see him, even though she had a rule not to share her work therapist with anyone…that’s how close we were.  She saved my life with that and gave Adriano a better mother.

Melanisia (my pet name for her), first and foremost, was just plain interesting.  She was funny, smart, and insightful.  And she was a 1000% caretaker.  Her relationship with my son, Adriano, was one of respect and care.  I have photos of Mel and Adriano taken all over Europe: my favorite being of the two of them at the turn out before the San Gottardo Tunnel in Switzerland around 1988.  She is hugging him from behind and they are beaming as if they just discovered gold in them thar hills!  But I actually have photos of her and various friends and family at border crossings, ferry docks, and even airport terminals.  Better than photographs was driving somewhere with her.  On our first visit to Adriano’s granny in Italy she taught us to play a travel game she called Stink Pink, or Stinky Pinky.  I can’t remember anything about the game but we laughed hysterically for miles and miles trying to figure out how to play it.

Once, when we had gone to Taormina she found a giant flower pot that looked exactly like my boyfriend of the time.  We didn’t have a way to purchase and get it back to Heidelberg so she took a photo of it and I still have that photo to laugh about.  She sketched a lot of the places we visited and I have those sketches too.  We laughed our butts off at the chaos at Al Italia Airlines and it took us months to get rid of the $3000 Hertz Italy charges for a 5 day car rental!  She was the absolute best companion one could ask for.

Melanie loved to sing.  We went to churches to hear choirs practice, and she tried to get me to join the choir in the church at the end of her street.  But I wasn’t as good as she was and I was still trying to finish my degree, so I settled for listening to her.  One time we got in a cab to go to dinner before a concert and she knew the driver because she knew his dog!  Dinner was with a bunch of art dealers and university professors, but she knew the cab driver’s dog.  That is eternally Melanie!

Mel was an artist practicing the art of loving people and trying to lift them up.  She loved life and her family and she refused to let the slings and arrows change her except for the better.  Like all of us, she made mistakes.  She tried to fix the hurts and make her mistakes count as opportunities rather than as sins.  She wasn’t capable of behaving badly or hurting even strangers.  At the end of her father’s life, every week she watched the Lawrence Welk show with him over Zoom!  That’s love on a massive scale!

It is so hard to try to sum up a long and beautiful friendship when you are grieving the loss of that person.  But I know that Melanie is always with me and with Adriano and I refuse to see her passing as a loss but as a transition to the future.  I could carry on for another 100 pages and not capture her essence, her intelligence, her heart.  But I know, when I think of her, all of that floods back to me on a wave of memories and mementos.  These are the things that will be in my future and in Adriano’s future as we travel our lives the rest of the way without her.  She can still make me laugh.  She can now make me cry.  Love and friendship endure, as  Melaisia will.


Duncan Butts posted a message. New comment added.
May 21, 2023 at 5:01 PM

Posted on: May 21, 2023 at 11:50 AM

Hello Robert:

Soon, you will have a birthday anniversary. You only have one birthday. I hope you have a good day. I also hope that you have many more good day anniversaries.


Duncan Butts posted a message.
May 02, 2023 at 4:55 PM

Hello Chris:
I hope that your B-Day anniversary is a good one. I also hope that you have many more. All is well here in Heideberg. I hope that all is well in the Phlippimes. Gae sends her regards. Give our regards to Loydz. .


Nick Zoa changed his "Then" picture.
Apr 29, 2023 at 12:16 AM