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Monthly Archives: June 2019

Michele Rigby Assad: Going Undercover in the CIA

Faith and vigilance empowered this CIA operative to carry out some of the nation’s most dangerous tasks. She never imagined herself working for the CIA, especially as an undercover spy. Far from being a tomboy seeking adventure in her back yard, she was a little princess pretending to be a ballerina prancing around the house in ballet shoes. She would dance and make up moves for her cheerleading squad in high school. Her aspirations did not include espionage or black-ops. Rather, she dreamed of being a pediatrician or showgirl. But as they say, if you want to make God laugh, show him your plans. Assad holds a master’s degree in Contemporary Arab Studies from Georgetown University. After graduation, the “almost ballerina” was in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Operations as an undercover officer. She worked in Iraq and other secret Middle Eastern locations as a counterterrorism specialist. No one could have imagined where this ballerina would find herself in adulthood. She would traverse 45 countries fighting terrorism. The Arab world would meet the cheerleader not tumbling about in a high

John Foley: From Pilot to High-Performance Speaker

This pilot turned speaker is making an impact to change the world in a very big way. John Foley’s dream of becoming a pilot for the Blue Angels started when his father took him to his first air show as a child. Little did he know his dream would eventually become a reality. After he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1982, he became a Marine Instructor pilot and was recognized as a Top Ten Carrier Pilot six times during his service in the Navy before fulfilling the dream of the most significant job of his life. Dreams Really Do Come True Shortly after earning his pilot status from the Navy, Foley became a lead solo pilot for the famous Blue Angels, the United States Navy’s flight demonstration squadron flown by America’s most qualified tactical aviators from the Navy and Marines. If you ever had the opportunity of going to an airshow, it’s likely that you’ve witnessed the beautiful precision of these powerful jets as they roar across the sky. During his career

Max Zorn: The Innovative Packing Tape Artist

This Dutch master takes to the streets lighting up cities with his works of tape art. Amsterdam’s old city center glows the brightest when darkness falls upon the winding canals lined with 17th century canal houses and historic cobblestone streets. This is especially true when a talented artist, using only a scalpel and packing tape, transforms the historic street lamps with his unique masterpieces. His name is Max Zorn, an innovative Dutch artist. Today, his work is illuminating Amsterdam, Europe, and the world, one light pole at a time. The jewel of Amsterdam is The Canal Belt with waters flowing through its ancient canals like the lifeblood in the city’s heart of art and romance. Many of the canal bridges are illuminated, creating reflections and ripples of twinkling lights in the water below. And on some of the lamps, if you look closely, a masterpiece adorns its glass. You can see an exquisitely detailed picture backlit by the light of a street lamp. Surely, this art, these beautiful images didn’t just appear. As the lamps glow ablaze and the sun sets, a

Mark Chauppetta: For the Love of His Kids

A man of many talents inspires those with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy to focus on ability, not disability. Every so often, a man is born with a spark that can’t be taught. Mark Chauppetta, 50, is one man who is helping to change the world’s perception of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) while making a name for himself in a variety of professions. He’s been a private investigator, an MMA fighter, a corrections officer, and a filmmaker. This February, he sat awe-struck in a crowded auditorium at the debut of the second rendition of his movie, A Father’s Fight. A decade in the making, the film details his life and fight to bring awareness to a disease that is inflicting considerable damage on his twin sons. For a man with many career pursuits, he has found his true calling by helping his sons and others face down this terrible disease. Powered by the love of his children, this film is a man’s work toward bringing dignity and joy to those afflicted with DMD. Destiny Calling Chauppetta is a private investigator who runs

Carl Sobocinski: Serial Restauranteur

Architect realizes his passion lies in hospitality and then builds a food empire. Traveling and eating are two of my favorite pastimes. I enjoy visiting new places, exploring local culture, and dining in what are some of the best local restaurants.  More often than not, I am pleasantly surprised. One of my favorite cities in America is Greenville, South Carolina, which you may have found in just about every article listing the most charming downtowns in America. In fact, I have enjoyed this city so much, I have returned on multiple occasions. Apparently, I am not alone in my assessment. As a matter of fact, the United States Census Bureau announced Greenville as one of the five fastest growing cities in America. In addition to a one-of-a-kind “floating” suspension bridge steps from Main Street, Greenville has a terrific array of restaurants, boutiques, art shops, and museums. On each of the three occasions I have visited the city, I’ve enjoyed the street fairs that are well-attended by visitors and locals alike. There’s the regular Thursday evening live music get-together near the

Terry Virts: Vantage Point from Space

Spaceflight is his passion but captivating us with a bigger picture of our blue planet is his latest mission. Looking down from the stars, it’s as if time stands still, and a catharsis, riddled with emotion and awareness envelopes the brain. Looking down at Earth — the pristine, fragile oasis, the island we’ve been gifted, and that has protected humanity from the harshness of space — awe and sadness comes over one, and then a hit in the gut with an undeniable, sobering contradiction that we need to protect it as well. Only a handful of humans have experienced this “overview effect.” Terry Virts is one of those rare individuals. A former Colonel in the United States Air Force, Virts is also a NASA veteran of two spaceflights aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2010 and the International Space Station in 2014-2015. In addition, he is an accomplished author, speaker, and thought leader. Virts spent seven months in space which included piloting the space shuttle, commanding the International Space Station, three spacewalks, and performing scientific experiments. All this was achieved

Teva Harrison: Living with Cancer

Confronting her terminal diagnosis, she boldly chronicles her new life, balancing crises with hope, inspiring others like her and their families. The taste of a fresh blueberry. The sweet songs of early morning bluebirds. The symphony of our ever-changing world. These are things we take for granted. The luscious magic of the world that so many victims of cancer are stripped of. With incurable cancer invading her entire being, one writer/artist has vividly portrayed the minutia of life that the healthy population rarely gets to experience. She is Teva Harrison, and she has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Purple eye shadow, a turquoise necklace and matching cardigan adorned her frame as she spoke. With a tender voice that hinted at innocence, sadness, and hope, she spoke. “I am a person who sees beauty in the world… knowing that I have a terminal illness has amplified that… it’s bittersweet, but it’s precious.” By sharing her personal story, she has shed a spotlight on those who battle cancer day-by-day and the difficulty of those supporting them. Her story is enlightening, helping individuals

Pamela Meyer: The Lie Spotter

Fraud examiners are learning the art of lie-spotting from the best in the business — the “human lie detector.” My wife has this relative who likes to tell stories.  Actually, they’re really good stories, but they’re the same ones we’ve been hearing for years, and he forgets that we’ve already heard them …  five or six times.  It’s as if we can fill in the blanks. Except for one thing.  The stories change each and every time!  I’m OK with that, it’s harmless and there’s no mal intent. But it makes me think.  What about those who lie for a reason — to deceive others for their own profit or advancement? What if you could tell if someone was lying to you? Think about it in the business world alone — unqualified job applicants, fraudsters seeking to victimize insurance companies, lowlifes like Bernie Madoff creating ways to victimize investors.  And, outside of the world of business — spies, criminals, and unfaithful spouses, to name a few. There are so many liars in our society, who can you possibly trust?  Lying

Bogart, Bromfield And A Farm For The Stars

I have a dim memory of a visit to my grandparents in Tullahoma, Tennessee, when I was a child. In the memory, incandescent lights deepen the yellow of the pine paneling, with its knots that at times looked like the face of Jesus to my grandmother, or so she claimed. The television is on: Humphrey Bogart’s face broods in silver and shadow. I can perceive that same dry-passion of a little but powerful man in the face of my grandfather. The scene simmers-fades-flickers in my mind like a film itself. I am not even sure if it ever happened. But the essential truth of it—of men capable and answerable to the hard decisions quintessential to the fighting of world war—looms and insists with staid and immovable presence. Another image invades. My grandfather again, this time outside in mid-spring at Morris Ferry Dock near Tullahoma, the water full of green reflection. His thin body merely makes a hanger for his coveralls and tweed fedora. He is lying on the boardwalk while my father (his son) and I fish. Radiation has made

24 HOURS OF EATING: HO CHI MINH CITY

If you read my introduction to Vietnam, you’ll know that we mistakenly booked only 48 hours in Ho Chi Minh City. And, one full day was dedicated to the Mekong Delta. So, here we were, challenged with consuming all our desired items in ONE DAY. Vietnamese food incorporates the freshest ingredients, with complex, complementary textures, yielding one of our all-time favorite cuisines. You’ll also come across many exotic dishes in Vietnam, like balut (fertilized duck egg with the embroyo still inside), silk worms and shark fins. The country does not waste anything when it comes to cooking, and if you dig deep enough, you’ll realize that many of your favorite dishes have some not-so-common ingredients within. Do NOT ask questions if this will ruin the experience for you. Also, in the North, dogs, cats and rats are commonly available at street-side stalls. We fortunately didn’t encounter this during our short time in the south; household pets (and rats) are so not our thing. Here’s how we maximized our consumption in a day – totaling 10 stops. And please note: this is