Year in Review 2006


I hope you had a good year in 2006, as I did, and are looking forward to 2007. Have some fun reading my Year in Review; there is extensive hyperlinking to aid your surfing.

                                Best wishes, Don.

  Here is the table of contents for my Year in Review:
This Year's Card Texas Trip
My Father Scholarships
Sons of American Revolution Family Tree
Circumnavigators Website
Bell Labs Middle East Trip
Financial Planning North Korea Talk
Theater New Technology
Objectivism Exercise Program
US Travel Other
  Trumbull Painting

This Year's Card

This year's e-card is the painting Surrender at Yorktown by John Trumbull, called the "Painter of the Revolution". Four of his large paintings dominate the walls of the Capitol rotunda and two appear on our currency. John is also one of my distant famous cousins. In the painting, George Washington, on the brown horse, is on the side because Cornwallis claimed illness and set a deputy to the surrender. 2006 marked the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Yorktown, where the American Revolution was won.

My Father


I visited my father at his nursing home in Dallas in late January and early February. His physical and mental decline were continuing. He still knew who I was, but it was almost impossible for him to stand even with help. He asked me the poignant question: "What's wrong with me?" I told him "Daddy, you are getting old." He died three weeks later. See my full report including photos of his funeral, a biographical sketch and links to other photos.

Even when you know a loved one is going to die, you are never really prepared for the finality of it. My father lived a long and full life. He lived independently until 89 driving his car, taking care of himself and his home. Then he had a period of two and a half years of decline where he needed increasing amounts of care. He died at almost 91 and a half. The photo above shows my parent's headstone. My brother is buried next to them.

I was back in Dallas in April to go to court to be named executor and receive my Letters Testamentary.

In September, I returned to Dallas to pass out 8x10 framed photos of my father, taken on his 87th birthday, to some of his friends and relatives.

Sons of the American Revolution

President General Sener Parrish Chuck Sener, former Head of the Bell System Center for Technical Education and Board Member of the Fox Valley Chapter, Judge Nathan White, President General of the Sons of the American Revolution, and myself, President of the Fox Valley discuss planning for the chapter's 25th Anniversary.

The Sons of the American Revolution is one of the oldest patriotic organizations in America. The requirement for membership is to prove that you had an ancestor who fought in the American Revolution.

In April, I was re-elected for a final two year term as President of the Fox Valley Chapter. We have a great Board of Managers that work as a team. Our membership continues to grow and we continue to add activities step by step. In the past 3 years the chapter which was in dire straits has staged an incredible comeback.

In May at the state SAR convention, I received the Silver Good Citizenship medal and the Color Guard medal.

I also serve as webmaster. The best way to learn about our activities is to review the home page of our website: In November, I reconstituted the site moving from scattered blocks of free space to paid hosting.

At the end of October, Dr. Ken Griswold, who was our outgoing President of the Illinois Society of the SAR died in his sleep. Per his request, the Color Guard of the SAR in our "resplendent uniforms", as Ken liked to say, participated in his funeral. We all miss Ken, and I was proud to be a member of the Color Guard.

I was the MC at our 25th anniversary Celebration on November 5, 2006. It was my privilege to introduce the main speaker, Judge Nathan E. White, Jr., the President General of the National Society at our banquet celebration. It is a rare achievement for a local chapter to host the top man in the organization. In December in the national SAR Magazine, he praised us: At the recent 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Fox Valley Chapter in suburban Chicago, an outstanding program highlighted the accomplishments of this excellent Chapter.


Flag Gift Dr Fisher I took this photo at the annual fundraiser of the Chicago chapter of the Circumnavigators Club. We raised money in order to send a very lucky Northwestern student on a round the world trip to research their chosen topic, be a goodwill ambassador for the USA and have their horizons permanently altered thru this life-changing adventure. Many go on to Fulbright scholarships.

This program is a cooperative arrangement between Northwestern University and our Chicago chapter. In the photo, Dr. Fisher of NU is receiving a Circumnavigators flag from Carol Narup, VP of the Circumnavigators Foundation while Dr. Braeutigam (l) of NU and Jim Arimond (r), President of the Chicago chapter, look on.

Taking a trip around the world is the requirement for being a member of the Circumnavigators Club.

I've been a Board Member for 8 years of the Chicago chapter and a member of the subcommittee that selects the annual winner of the around the world program between 3 outstanding students from NU.

I'm also the webmaster of This year I moved our site to professional hosting.

You can learn more about the students we have sponsored on our Scholars page. You can learn more about the program on the NU Travel-Study Grant page.

This year, for the first time, I was the speaker at one of the four dinner presentations that we host each year. My topic was My Visit to North Korea which is described in a separate section below.

Bell Labs


I started working at Bell Labs on June 10, 1966. In early 1996, I selected October 1, 1996 as my last day to work. By chance my last day of work was the first day of Lucent Technologies (which absorbed Bell Labs and Western Electric), and thus I became the very first person to retire from Lucent. Later I returned to work at Lucent as an outside contractor retiring for my second and final time June 30, 2001.

If you consider all of the people who have retired or been let go since I retired from Lucent in 1996, it is over 100,000 (one hundred thousand). I imagine a long line of people behind me over 50 miles long. On December 1, 2006, after ten years and 2 months of independent existence, Lucent was taken over by Alcatel, a French company headquartered in Paris where the new company, Alcatel-Lucent will be headquartered.

To be clear, I will now refer to friends who worked at Bell Labs as former Bell Labs, not former Lucent.

When I started my career at Bell Labs, it was the leading R&D company in the world. Bell Labs could, and did, hire the very best. New employees viewed being hired by Bell Labs as an honor. The expectation was a lifetime career at Bell Labs. People at Bell Labs were not only bright and motivated, but had solid values and exceptional talents.

Instead of lamenting the fading away of Bell Labs, I celebrate keeping in contact with so many former Bell Labs friends. This year I had lunch or dinner with 3 dozen friends who are former Bell Labs. Here are a few examples:

In July, I visited Vi Smith in Bakersfield, California. (See my report.) I had dinner with Fred & Barb Lax at their lovely home in Malibu high above the Pacific.

In August, Dr. HT Chen and Konstantin Livanos organized a reunion of former Bell Labs people who worked with me on the pioneering effort to establish our switching business in Japan. (See my report.) HT is now a special advisor to the U.S. Department of Agriculture working in Washington, D.C. on relations with Kazhakstan.

Financial Planning

Don Parrish Jim Weichel Retired Bell Labs friend Jim Weichel and I continued this year on financial planning. The photo shows an almost typical shot of us working on Jim's dining room table. Normally we have two laptops in operation. Last year, Jim and I developed an income portfolio following modern portfolio theory which is performing the way we expected.

This year we tackled the more complex task of developing an equity investment approach from ground zero. Basically, this required as much time as a half time job. We back tested various theories, checked investment recommendations from various sources and worked to develop a portfolio that would be an all-weather approach over the long term. It will take several years to evaluate our approach.

In May, I visited QuadraSpec in West Lafayette, IN for their annual investor conference. QuadraSpec is a start-up company with patented technology for large scale diagnostic testing of blood on BioCDs.

In November, I flew to New Orleans for the 5 day Financial Conference that I have attended for many years. The French Quarter is mainly back in business, but it is below sea level. As always, the conference is an intellectual feast with convincing arguments for contradictory investment advice. I met briefly Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House & architect of the Contract with America that gained Republican control of the House back in 1994 and Steve Forbes, publisher of the best business magazine in America & advocate of the flat income tax.

On a personal note, I would urge people starting their careers to open a Roth IRA (not a regular IRA) and fully fund it. For people in or near retirement, I would suggest investigating converting a regular to a Roth IRA. Why? The Roth IRA allows a person to invest without taxation and to remove funds from the Roth IRA without taxation. This is the Libertarian dream of investing your own money without taxation.


Delta Browns Parrish With retired Bell Labs friends Delta Greene, Mary & Don Brown (joined this time by his sister Emily), I have attended 5 plays at the wonderful Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. The theater seats several hundred people yet is very cozy with good views and great acoustics. The excellent productions have ranged from Greek tragedy (Hecuba) to Shakespeare (Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing) to farce (A Flea in Her Ear) to a musical (The Three Musketeers). If you attend, I recommend the Riva restaurant and a stroll thru the stained glass exhibit before the show.

In March, I attended a reading of John Enright's play Ready or Not at the Beverly Arts Center. John is the author of the novel Unholy Quest. Professional actors did a reading of the play without scenery or staging. I found this surprisingly effective. The power of the human voice coupled with the logic of the play and the ability of the audience to imagine the situation made for an enjoyable afternoon. I look forward to seeing the play produced.


Chapman Berlin Wall I attended the 17th annual summer seminar of the Objectivist Center. This year it was held at Chapman University in Orange county California. Pictured is a piece of the Berlin Wall on the modern campus. These are always intellectually stimulating, week-long conferences on philosophy and its application to today's world. They attract interesting, thoughtful people. So you are learning in the classroom and in informal conversations. This year we were treated to a 2 hour session with Howard & Karen Baldwin, who produced the movie Ray and who are producing the movie version of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand's masterpiece. See my trip report.

This year I presented a participant sponsored session for the first time. The summer seminar allows participants to present topics using the same facilities used by the professionals. My PowerPoint presentation on North Korea was based on my trip reports. It was very well received with the lively Q & A period lasting over an hour. Adding to the drama, during Q & A, someone in the audience reported that North Korea had just fired 7 missiles.

I frequently attend the monthly discussions of the New Intellectual Forum on Objectivism or current topics. These are great discussions conducted in a salon type of atmosphere. Marsha Enright, who heads the NIF, is working on a project to create the College of the United States thru the Reason Individualism Freedom Institute.

US Travel

Club Dave Fire Jan - Dallas
Feb - Dallas, Bloomington, IL
April - Dallas, Argonne, IL
May - Dallas, Springfield, IL and West Lafayette, IN
June - Argonne, IL
July - Southern California Aug - Chicago, Cumberland, WI (Club Dave) and Bloomington, IL
Sep - Texas (Dallas, Austin, Houston)
Nov - New Orleans (Financial Conference)

Much of the above summary is covered in 4 other sections of this review. Here I'll mention the other trips.

In April, I journeyed just 6 miles down the road to visit the Argonne National Lab to hear Mahdi Obeidi, the head of the Iraqi Nuclear Program under Saddam Hussein. Mahdi Obeidi is also author of the best-selling book The Bomb in My Garden -- The Secrets of Saddam's Nuclear Mastermind. Dr. Obeidi spoke for about 30 minutes and answered questions from the audience of 100 for about an hour. I found him credible, knowledgeable and informative. His how-to tale of studied duplicity (read an article from another Iraqi scientist) to get key secrets, machines and material from an unsuspecting Western world was jaw dropping.

He and his team of 120 scientists developed a centrifuge to process uranimum capable of operating at 63,000 RPM, as good as any country's. After the first Gulf War, Saddam decided secretly to get out of the nuclear business, but parts and drawings were hidden including a centrifuge under a tree in Dr. Obeidi's garden awaiting the command if Saddam ever wanted to restart the program. Dr. Obeidi explained that the major countries intelligence services after they learned of the years that Iraq had been fooling them couldn't believe that Iraq had actually gotten rid of their nuclear program. I found his explanations and insights the best information I have seen about nuclear WMD in Iraq. See my trip report on Iraq.

In June, as part of a group of University of Chicago alumni, I toured Argonne National Labs learning new terminology and about the dozens of experiments in progress. Argonne is open for tours by the general public. You will find them very educational and intellectually exciting.

In July, while I was in California, I journeyed to Simi Valley to see the Reagan Presidential Library and his final resting place. The library is located on 80 or 100 acres on top of a hill, and it has a real Air Force One on display (cost was $40 million to add that to the Library). I highly recommend a visit. See my report.

In August, I drove to Chicago to participate in part of the reunion of the Latimer Clan. (See my report.) I met Richard Latimer at Bell Labs back in 1966 and worked with him in the same group for several years. He and his wife Lynn are dear friends. They have 4 children and 7 grandchildren. This is a fun group to photograph.

The photograph of the hollow log ablaze a campfire was taken at Club Dave in August. Dave Wahlsted likes to find one of these hollow logs for Club Dave, a gathering of his friends, at his parents cottage on Pipe Lake near Cumberland, WI about 80 miles from Minneapolis. This year's attendance was down because his wife Gretchen was home awaiting the birth of their second child. Leo, their first son, was born in September.

Texas Trip

Jay Libby Troell In early September, I drove to Texas for 2 weeks visiting friends and relatives in Dallas, Austin and Houston. On the way, I stopped in Memphis to see Graceland. (See my report.) My late brother was a big fan of Elvis. One of the people that I hadn't seen in 30 years was my old college roommate, Jay Troell. Jay, his wife Libby and I had an enjoyable dinner in Houston.

Brenda Bearden Brenda Bearden, my brother's second wife, and I had a fun lunch at a favorite Lebanese restaurant of hers in Houston. It was good to get caught up with Brenda who I hadn't seen since my brother's death. Later I had dinner with her son, Brandon Bearden, a graduate of Texas A&M University.

I visited a number of people in the Dallas area including my nephew, PJ aka Philip C. Parrish, Jr. PJ, his wife Amy and son Cortlan are doing well. Cortlan, who turned 7 last October was learning to read. He was at the takeoff stage where he could read some words, and could sound out most words. Cortlan has more toys than any child I know. It's fun to watch him develop.

My activities in Austin are covered in the Scholarship and Family Tree sections below.

On the way home, I stopped in Oklahoma City to see the Memorial to the 168 bombing victims. See my report.


Grant Middendorff Grant Middendorff is the 9th winner of the Anderson Scholarship, set up to honor my mother. He was active in student government, the stock market team, school plays, student mentoring and tutoring, golf and basketball. Grant was a member of the National Honor Society and was listed in Who's Who Among American High School Students. He won a National Mathematicians Award, participated at the state level in the Physics Olympics and was a member of the All-Academic Team 2006. Grant won a first place award in the Space Settlement Design Competition in Houston. Grant will attend the University of Iowa as a pre-med major.

Don Parrish and Thomas Jack At the Texas Ex-Students Association's banquet in Austin in September, I congratulated Thomas Jack for being the 6th winner of the Parrish Computer Science Scholarship. Tom has perfect SAT scores: 800 in English & Math. Scholarship stakeholders Eleanor Moore, Judith Quinney and I were joined by Tiffany Grady at our annual luncheon at the Eastside Cafe.

Family Tree

Trina Boothe Mr McAndrew In May, I drove from the SAR convention in Springfield to St. Louis to get a flight to Dallas to attend the wedding reception of Jim McAndrew & Ashley Boothe, the daughter of my cousin, Trina Parrish Boothe. Ashley and Jim are an attractive, bright and energetic couple. See their wedding photos. Their looks can be seen in this photo of Ashley's mother and Jim's father.

Their wedding was a gathering of my cousins from my Uncle Kenneth Parrish. They are a very accomplished group. Later Tami Parrish Cowen and I had a good chat during her business trip to Chicago.

Cousin Reunion 2006 In September, I had a reunion with Ashley, her husband Jim, and all of my first cousins, one time removed who live in Austin. Jim and Ashley are standing behind me in this photo. This was a delightful lunch, and my chance to get to know more about this ambitious (and tall) group. You can learn more about the caliber of the family from my report.

Increase Mather Increase Mather, shown in a 1688 painting when he was President of Harvard, and his son Cotton are the 2 most famous Puritan ministers of early New England. Increase Mather is my first cousin, 11 times removed. He is the nephew of my 10 x great grandmother Elizabeth Mather. Increase Mather was the first person awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree in America. He was a major political force negotiating a new charter for Massachusetts from King William. His son, the equally famous Cotton Mather, was the first American made a fellow of the Royal Society in England. Cotton also obtained the Doctor of Divinity degree, and he had the largest private library in America. Read more about them in this article on Richard Mather.

The chance discovery of Increase Mather as a distant cousin, led me to more research that yielded 4 dozen more new distant cousins. Most are household names like the Wright Brothers, Marilyn Monroe, Norman Rockwell, J. P. Morgan, and sadly Benedict Arnold, who was the hero of the pivotal battle of Saratoga (See my report) before he because the best known American traitor. Check out my documented list of famous distant cousins.

Why do I have so many famous cousins? The newest immigrant to the Parrish branch of the family came before the American Revolution, and the first immigrants - 5 of them - came on the Mayflower. There are over 200 immigrants before 1640. Mathematically, there is a good probability of a common ancestor with anyone with deep roots in early New England. Good examples are the 11 US Presidents who are my distant cousins. The other key factor that leads to so many distant cousins is the early immigrants to New England could read & write and kept vital records.


Colin Powell Don Parrish My website is my way of communicating with old and new friends. It seems I manage to get some photos with famous people every year to liven up my home page. This year it was Steve Forbes, Newt Gingrich and Colin Powell. I'm quite pleased with this photo.

Most of my efforts go into the Trip reports section. There are 9 new domestic reports and 2 new international reports with 12 more pending.

There are always new winners of the Anderson and Parrish Computer Science scholarships.

I'm slowly accumulating favorite quotes. A new one this year is: "There may not be a good option, but there is a best option." from Captain Russ Corwin of the U.S. Army.

I added two eulogies in my Essay section. One to Princess Diana by her brother and one to President Ford by VP Dick Cheney. All 4 are my distant cousins. There is a link to a classic, reprinted WSJ editorial on the Pilgrims.

Yes, I added 4 dozen new famous distant cousins. It's fun to read thru the list.

Finally, there is now a web page to answer the question: How many countries have you visited?

Middle East Trip

TCC Group in Iraq This is a Travelers Century Club group inside northern Iraq. There are seven travelers, our tour leader, Herbert Goebels (directly behind me), and our Kurdish guide from Turkey. This was my most ambitious trip since my first trip around the world in 1971. Since my bags were lost for 4 days on the flights over, I decided to grow a beard. It's difficult to convey the impact of this trip.

This 30 day trip covered 13 countries from the Caucasus to the Himalayas. It required 27 flights totaling almost 25,000 miles, not to mention hundreds of miles traveled on the ground.

The 13 countries in order were: Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, UAE, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. See my overall trip report.

After reading the overall report, you can see my Iraq report. I plan a report on each of the other 12 countries, but it will take a lot of calendar time to reduce 3,000 photos and 100 pages of notes to reasonably sized reports.

North Korea Talk

TCC Group at Kim Statue Last year I was one of only 500 American tourists allowed to visit North Korea in the past 20 years. I prepared two trip reports. One on North Korea overall and one on the unique North Korea mass games called Arirang. The photo is our group from Travelers Century Club, an organization for people who have visited at least 100 countries, under the statue of Kim Il Sung.

This year I a developed a PowerPoint presentation of over 100 slides to explain North Korea and why it is the most totalitarian country on the planet. In April, I gave my presentation to about 40 people in the Circumnavigators Club in Chicago. In July, I gave the talk to 70 people in California at the summer seminar of The Objectivist Center. In September in Chicago, I presented the talk again to 60 people at the Ft. Dearborn chapter of the SAR, and to a smaller group at the Objectivist New Intellectual Forum. In December, I gave the talk to an Eagle Scout class in Lake Zurich, Illinois. I have received extremely positive feedback from these presentations.

New Technology

Lightbulbs I did not yet convert to HD TV although I know many people who are extremely pleased they did. However I did start a conversion to energy saving compact fluorescent light bulbs. They come in bright and natural daylight, which I prefer. They will fit in your lamps although as you can see they are larger than the standard one. These bulbs, thanks to recent improvements, require 85% less electricity than standard bulbs yet start up fast with unwavering silent light.

This summer I bought a new Intel Macintosh MacBookPro. I brought my 5 year old Mac Laptop to the Apple store in Oakbrook and 3 hours later Apple had moved everything - all of my applications, files, preferences, etc. to my new laptop. There was no fee for this service. I was impressed when I opened my new laptop and my old messy desktop appeared. This was a perfect conversion down to the smallest detail.

One totally new feature of the Intel MacBook Pro is a nifty built-in video camera. I have made a number of video calls, and they work well Mac to Mac, but Mac to PC has been rocky because PCs have a lot of security ports to reset. Send me an e-mail if you would like to try a video call with me. As usual, and you have seen the TV ads, Mac is just simpler to operate. I'm also using my .Mac account to backup some files to the Internet.

I bought a new digital camera. It is the wonderful Canon SD630. This is a small, thin 6 megapixel camera that I can wear on my belt like a cell phone. Because of its small size I can take it with me and get many more good photos that way. On my Middle East trip alone, I took 3,000 photos with it.

In November, after hearing the ads for years, I went to the Brite Smile location in Woodfield Mall and in less than an hour and a half had my teeth bleached. I was pleased with the results.

Exercise Program

Pedometer New Year's Resolution Idea: 27 months ago, I got an Omron HJ-112 pedometer and my (achieved) goal is to average 10,000 steps a day (about 5 miles or 8 kilometers). In 2006, I had another perfect year averaging over 10,000 steps a day each month. You can click the spreadsheet to read the numbers. This year I took more than 3.76 million steps!

The beauty of a pedometer is that it converts all exercise to a common unit. The Omron pedometer is a handy device that I clip on my belt in the morning and take off at night. It stores 7 days worth of step counts. You can buy it on the Internet or in your local drugstore. It is an easy way to motivate yourself to exercise.

While I'm walking, I frequently listen on my iPod to courses from the Teaching Company on different subjects like ancient Rome, ancient Greece, Alexander the Great, and Russian literature. This year Dr. Irwin Weil of Northwestern University gave a talk on changed conditions in Russia to the Circumnavigators Club so it was a natural that I buy and listen to his insightful course on Classics of Russian Literature.


TJ Newspaper I received a gift of the National Intelligencer newspaper from April 18, 1815. This specific copy was delivered to Thomas Jefferson. If you click the thumbnail, you will be able to read the articles on the front page. Please note the use of different fonts and the range of articles. The cost of an annual subscription was $5.00 paid in advance. This special gift came with a certificate of authenticity.

2006 got off to a great start with the University of Texas football team becoming National Champions.

In February, I attended an insightful, thoughtful presentation by Al Barshefsky entitled Forks in the Road: Deciding to be Extraordinary at Congregation Beth Shalom in Naperville, Illinois. Al is a Bell Labs Fellow.

In March, I saw Libertarian Party's Aaron Russo's new film American: From Freedom to Fascism. It's a gang-buster look at the impact of the Federal Reserve, and received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival.

In September, I learned to play sudoku. I'm slow, but my technical skills are improving.

In October after my 62nd birthday, I got my Golden Age Passport. For $10, you get a lifetime pass to all of the National Parks, etc. Click on link for info on an equivalent pass with a new name effective 1/1/07.

In October, I received in the mail a music CD and info on the previous owner of my house from his niece, who had seen my house during a high school reunion in Downers Grove. After an exchange of e-mails, the records verified that Ralph Campbell, who worked his career at Western Electric, owned my home from 1953 to 1962.

The best book I read this year was: Dealers of Lightning by Michael A. Hiltzik. It's the story of Xerox PARC and the dawn of the computer age. It's a thrilling story at many levels about the development of personal computers, laser printers, cut & paste, word processing, ethernet, etc. I highly recommend it.

All the best to you in 2007!