Friday, October 27, 2006


2,973 people killed in 9/11 attacks.
2,809 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.
44,779 U.S. soldiers wounded in Iraq.
655,000 civilians killed in Iraq.
Cost of War in Iraq: $377,500,000,000 and counting.

It's time for a change.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Should I apologize?

I recently went to an event called "Dark Nights" at the Minnesota Historical Society that Lori helped to organize. She introduced me to her Canadian co-worker and said that I work for a large, international, for-profit company. It's true, I do. But it just sounded to so evil. It made me want to apologize. Her friend, being Canadian, was very polite, of course.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Death's opposite

I recently read an excerpt from a memoir by one of the survivors of the soccer team plane crash in the Andes -- you know, the one where they ate the dead to survive. The author is actually one of the two people who hiked out to get help and save the rest of them. It was surprisingly poignant and life affirming and the following passage really spoke to me:

"In that moment, all my dreams, assumptions, and expectations evaporated into the thin Andean air. I had always thought death was the constant, and life was only a short, fragile dream. I felt a sharp and sudden longing for my mother and sister [who died in the crash], and for my father, whom I was sure I would never see again. But despite the hopelessness of my situation, the memory of him filled me with joy. It staggered me--the mountains could not crush my ability to love. In that moment, I discovered a simple, astounding secret: Death has an opposite, but it is not mere living. It is not courage or faith or will. The opposite of death is love. How had I missed that? How does anyone miss that? My fears lifted, and I knew that I would not let death control me. I would walk through that godforsaken country with love and hope in my heart. I would walk until I'd walked all the life out of me, and when I fell, I would die that much closer to home."

Miracle in the Andes
Nando Parrado

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Recommendations on London

A co-worker of mine is planning a trip to London. Since I've been there a few times, she asked for my recommendations. If anyone is looking for recommendations, read on for my suggestions . . .

Eat pub food anywhere. It's pretty reliable and hearty. Also, there's a chain of restaurants called Pret a Manger. Good fresh, healthy food that's reasonably priced and they're all over. Don't be afraid to take the tube. It's a great system and very safe; but keep in mind that if you'’re staying in mostly in the city, it's very walkable. A 30-40 minute walk in London will get you a very long way and of course, you'll see more of the city that way. Maybe plan your days by trying to walk to where you want to go and then take the tube back to where you're staying, because you'll be tired by then.

Since you've never been there before, there are a couple of things that I'll recommend that are common tourist things, but are definitely worth doing anyway. You won't be sorry.

Planes usually arrive early in the morning. Get to your hotel and check in (or leave your bags with the front desk). Get on one of the double-decker tourist buses and go for the whole tour around the city. Don't get off anywhere, just ride. This will give you a good sense of the city's layout, and you'll see all kinds of wonderful London things on your very first day, when you will be tired anyway.

You have to see the Tower of London. It's old, it's full of history, it's on the river, it's got those funny looking Beefeater guys. Yes, a big tourist thing, but if it's the only touristy thing you do, do this. You will like it. Buckingham Palace is also worth it if you’re interested, but it's not open year round, so check first. Between the two, though, I would definitely recommend the Tower.

If you like Shakespeare plays (or even feel like you should), go see one at the Globe theater no matter which one it is. There is nothing else like it.

One place that I've been that I haven'’t heard many people talk about is the Cabinet War rooms ( During WWII, this was a basement bunker/office where Churchill and his generals ran the war during the blitzes on London. It's remarkably small and simple, but so much history happened there – it is really overwhelming. They still have the bed he slept in, the maps on the walls with pins, and the conference tables he sat at with his generals. There is a secret room that actually contains a phone that was the first direct "hotline" to the White House so that Churchill could talk to President Roosevelt. I highly recommend this. And it's walking distance from Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey.

There are a million museums and art galleries. You could easily spend a whole day at any one of them. The British Museum is probably the most comprehensive. That's the one with all the old mummies, friezes from ancient Greece, etc., as well as tons of artwork and sculpture. The important thing is to pick one that looks interesting to you and stay as long as you want.

Another not-so-common place is the Royal Observatory in Greenwich ( You'll have to take a boat ride on the river down to Greenwich, but that's a lot of fun, too. The observatory is the official spot where Greenwich Mean Time is marked. There's a lot of interesting stuff about how the whole GMT thing came about and how it works. And if you get bored here, it's right next door to the Old Royal Naval College.