Year in Review 1999


I had another exciting and interesting year and hope you did too. This year I used the new Ayn Rand stamp to send all of my Christmas cards. Ayn fled Russia after the communist takeover and came to America about 300 years after the Pilgrims. Her extraordinary life was captured in the Academy Award winning film, Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life. One poll rated her novel Atlas Shrugged second only to the Bible as the most influential book.

Here is the table of contents for my Year in Review:
Overall Home
Lucent Recommended Books
Circumnavigators Financial Conferences
Anderson Scholarship IOS Conference
Family Events Telecom
Family Tree Kaleidoscope
Famous People Y2K Projections
Ayn Rand Stamp Alexander Smyth
Ayn Rand Stamp


What a memorable year! Once again I traveled over 100,000 miles & spent over 2 months away from home including a month+ overseas. I made trips to Brazil, Hong Kong, Singapore/Malaysia, 3 to England, Switzerland, Las Vegas, New York, Connecticut, 2 to Atlanta, Vermont/Montreal, 2 to Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans, Houston and Salt Lake City.


I worked another year at Lucent and have enjoyed leveraging my experience working with an outstanding team contributing to the business.


I was elected Treasurer of the Chicago Chapter of the organization for people who have been around the world. Highlights: the talk on "Sue" the world's most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex, the architectural tour of Chicago, the talk on the trip around the world in a 2 person plane and selecting Alex Ortolani, a Northwestern student to be sent next year on a circumnavigation.

Anderson Scholarship

The Scholarship established in my mothers memory for her high school's class salutatorian was awarded for the 2nd time in 99. Luke Struve, this years winner, is a noted saxophone player and is now an Iowa State student (my father's alma mater) with plans for veterinarian school.

Family Events

My nephew PJ re-married this year. In September, he and his wife Amy, my brother and I took my father to dinner on his 85th birthday. On October 18th, PJ and Amy had their first child, a son, Cortlan Alexander Parrish. The hospital put his photo and his parents photo on the web. PJ e-mails us digital photos of Cort, who is a very handsome child!

Family Tree Work

In the New York Public Library, I discovered a book on Mohawk Indians that devoted the whole first chapter to Hilletie, my great (x8) grandmother. She was a remarkable woman and she translated the Bible into Mohawk. At Oxford University I verified that my ancestors graduated in the classes of 1581, 1614 and 1625. The last one had a Masters from Cambridge.

Photos with Famous People

This year I had my photo taken with a number of famous people including Louis Rukeyser, host of Wall Street week, Ted Turner of CNN fame, Jose Piñera, the father of the Social Security privatization movement, Barbara Branden, author of The Passion of Ayn Rand, made into a movie this year, and Margaret Thatcher. I remarked to Lady Thatcher that it was my birthday. She quipped: "They have arranged such a marvelous banquet for you." -- of course, the banquet was for her.

Ayn Rand Stamp

On April 22nd the U.S. Postal Service had a First Day of Issue ceremony in New York for the stamp honoring Ayn Rand. The room was packed to overflowing. There was electricity in the air. I was in the front row. Nathaniel Branden, once Rand's intellectual heir, came in 5 minutes before the ceremony and sat next to me. He recognized me because I have attended dozens of his lectures over the years. Leonard Peikoff, the heir to her will, gave the main address. I took a History of Philosophy course from him in New York in 1966. David Kelly, noted Objectivist Philosopher, was there. Alan Greenspan, another of Rand's protégés, didn't make it. Ayn Rand would have been pleased with the well designed 30 minute ceremony. The music and narration from the award winning film, Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life were used to set the stage. It stressed her love of individualism. Although Ayn Rand was honored for her enormous achievements as a philosopher and novelist, I learned that she had also collected 50,000 stamps.


My neighbor, Kay Porche, had to have her wonderful 150 year old Dutch Elm tree cut down after it got Dutch Elm disease. I replaced my outdoor shed and bedroom awning.

Recommended Books

I highly recommend: The First Immortal, a vision of how technology may extend our life spans indefinitely and Guns, Germs and Steel an analysis of pre-history which explains the distributions of history's winners and losers. People who have read these books on my recommendation have thanked me. Please consider reading them.

Financial Conferences

For the 4th time, I attended Louis Rukeyser's Investment Conference in Las Vegas. Saw another Cirque du Soliel show. Wow!! I attended the Money Show in San Francisco where I talked to Paul Kangas of the Nightly Business Report. I also attended the Jim Blanchard Financial Conference in New Orleans. Jim was the person who led the fight to legalize gold 20 years ago. He died this year. Main speakers were Steven Ambrose, who wrote Undaunted Courage, Charleton Heston, and over 50 financial experts. I learned that next year the Dow will close between 2000 and 14,000?! It's confusing to hear so many widely varying expert opinions?!

IOS Conference

I attended the intellectually thrilling week-long Objectivist conference held at the University of Vermont. One highlight was Jose Piñera's talk on the privatization of Social Security in Chile. He received a standing ovation. Thanks to Piñera, 7 countries have been privatized, prying the politician's hands off of people's retirement money. We need privatization in the US to avoid bankruptcy. Our Social Security system started in 1935 is a copy of the 1925 Chilean system which failed. The highlight after the conference was a hike up Mt. Washington, the tallest peak in the Eastern US. See my photos of the climb.


This is the largest exhibition in telecommunications and is held in Geneva, Switzerland every 4 years. This was my 5th visit. Since 300,000 attended I had to stay in a hotel in the French Alps and spend 4 hours a day on a bus. It was worth it. The revolution in telecommunications is gaining speed. This year the focus was on the intersection of wireless and the internet.


Mikhail Gorbachev gave a speech in Lisle, IL on his birthday. 3000 of us did the neighborly thing and sang "Happy Birthday". Times have changed since the Berlin Wall was torn down. Among the beautiful things I saw this year were the Getty Museum in LA, magnificent Blenheim Place in UK, where Winston Churchill was born (he is buried nearby), and the Morgan Library in NY with its superb collection of ancient books. I visited both tallest buildings in the world: the Petronas Towers in Malaysia and the Sears Tower in Chicago while entertaining friends, Jan Eilers and his girl friend Bianca, from Germany. The view is magnificent. They also enjoyed seeing the Museum of Science and Industry with the U505, the German submarine captured in WWII. Saw Tap Dogs, a tap dancing event, with them.


Well what's going to happen as the year rolls over to 2000? No one knows. Some argue that the Y2K event will not peak in January but in the second half of the year after an accumulation of problems from long supply chains and computers corrupting databases. The one certainty is: Clinton will take credit for the successes and blame failures on others. One hope is: the IRS will fail in converting the income tax and we'll get a simple flat tax.

Alexander Reginald Smyth, Phd. (1944 - 1999)

My best friend from college days was killed in a car accident on November 17 on his way to work. He left a wife and 3 children aged 21, 19 and 17. I attended his memorial trilogy on November 20, 21 and 22: an outdoor non-religious service in a forest clearing in Houston on a cloudless 75 degree day, an indoor non-religious service in Salt Lake City during a snow storm and the scattering of his ashes on Snowbird at 11,000 feet as the sun was starting to break thru the clouds. These were all very emotional events. We'll all remember Alex.