I found an olive-drab electric army battery near the B.O.Q. (Bachelor Officers Quarters) at Fort Gulick and my life-long interest in electric and electronic devices began.
One day we kids were going to the dentist and waiting for the elevator in Building 400. Suddenly the door opened and I was terrified to be faced with two Latino soldiers in uniform and holding submachine guns in the "Present arms!" position right in front of us. Somehow we still made it upstairs to the dentist. However, the School of the Americas became very controversial in later years, because anti-war activists claimed that the American Army was using the school to teach Latin-American dictatorships how to oppress and murder their own citizens. The school eventually changed its name and moved to an American Army fort, possibly Fort Benning, on the East Coast of the USA. One of my favorite teachers at Blanchet High School in Seattle, Sister Miriam, went on a personal crusade against the horrors of The School of the Americas and she would travel with other protestors to the stateside location of the school and illegally enter its boundary in order to get herself arrested and to draw attention to the U.S. support of military dictatorships. I would read about her quite often in the newspapers staging these personal protests, but I had no way to get in touch with her and tell her that I had had personal experience with La Escuela de las Americas when I was an army brat in Panama. I was fully sympathetic to Sister Miriam's cause, because I have done my own fair share of protesting against evildoing by the U.S. government. As I write these memoires, I am personally involved in a protest against having the headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet in the nightmarishly inhumane dictatorship of Bahrain. If we Americans stand for freedom and democracy, how can we base our Fifth Fleet in a country where a tiny minority ruthlessly rules a suffering majority with the help of that blasphemy against Allah, Saudi Arabia?
The international community should ostracize the Saudi government that likes to murder and dismember a truth-telling journalist. In ancient Greece, if people in the city of Athens wanted to get rid of a troublemaker, banning him was put to a vote in the form of an urn in which citizens were supposed to write the name of the unfortunate citizen on a shard of pottery, that is, an "ostrakon" like I found one day in the jungle, which is where the verb "to ostracize" comes from. Soon I was finding more and more of these shards of pottery, perhaps left over from the Incan or Mayan civilization of Central America. I made a collection of the shards of pottery on a table-top in the bedroom that I shared with my older brother Larry. I had no idea how old the shards of pottery were, or who had made them, or what the objects of pottery had been used for. But there I was, an amateur archeologist in the jungle of Panama, and a future protestor for truth, justice and the better-than-American way.