Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fiddling While Cairo Burns

A week ago, I returned from my vacation to the Caribbean. My dad continued on to New York, and then a trip to Egypt for a week-long cruise up the Nile.

At the worst possible time, apparently.

Yes, my dad landed in Cairo, about 1 day before the protests started.

He managed to make his way to the docks where he boarded his cruise ship. And blithely sailed on, ignoring the growing protests.

The ship set sail up the Nile river, despite everything that was happening in Egypt.

He spent 3 days sailing. Meanwhile, both my sister and I continuously tried to get a hold of him. Of course, cellphones were cut off, so all we got was voice-mail.

And then he contacted us using ship's phones. And stated his intention to continue sailing. This AFTER we learned that both America and the European countries have advised their citizens to leave Egypt for their own safety.

Meanwhile, the rioting got worse.

Finally today, we learned that the ship had been stopped in Luxor, Egypt. All passengers were debarked, and flights were chartered out of the Luxor airport. At approximately 3 PM EDST today, my dad boarded a flight for Milan, Italy. The distance from Luxor to Milan is approximately the same as the distance from my home city of Toledo, Ohio to Florida. So about a 3 hour flight, give or take a few minutes. So presumably he is, as I write this, about an hour or so from landing safely in Italy. Thank God.

I'm sure he is disappointed about not being able to complete his trip. And he'll probably schedule another trip to Egypt as soon as possible. Possibly followed by a trip to Tunisia, and then maybe Somalia.

Every time my dad goes off on a trip somewhere, I fear for his safety a bit. And then I thank God that he sends my Mom to look after him every time. And that she does a great job. Thanks to you both. And mom, if you manage to read this somehow, please keep up the good work. I know you miss him, but we'd like to keep him around here for a few more years.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I'm Back

Well, folks, I recently spent a week sailing through the Carribbean on a ship that is designed to make people feel like they aren't actually on a ship. Seriously. This ship (The MS Westerdam--Holland America Lines) is not so much a ship as it is a 900-foot long, 12-story high floating building.

Not having a laptop, and not wanting to pay the OUTRAGEOUS fees for internet access ($80 for 100 minutes!), I was forced to hold my thoughts.

I took some notes of my journey each day using pen and paper (yes, it does occasionally still happen!). Over the course of the next few days, I hope to translate and augment those notes--and thoughts--into this forum, hopefully augmented by pictures and links.

With any luck, you the three readers of this blog will be treated to a Magnum Opus on par with last year's blog entries on my reflections on my trip to Hawaii. Or at least a fairly normal travelogue.

But give me a day or two. Last week at a few hours before this time I was warming myself in tropical sunshine. Today I am walking around wearing 3 layers and feeling a sub-zero wind chill. It will take me a while to recover.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The President's Speech

To heck with The King!

Peace out, people. I'm goin' on vacay!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

It Was Inevitable

I'm sure all 3 of my readers by now have heard the tragic news about yesterday's fatal shooting incident. A single suspect, apparently targeting Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords, shot and killed 6 people, including both a Federal judge and a nine-year-old girl. The congresswoman herself was seriously wounded, as were 12 others. As of this writing, the congresswoman, who was shot in the head, is in critical condition.

While I am shocked at the incident, I'm really not surprised.

The tone of political rhetoric in this country, not exactly calm before the 2008 election of Barack Obama, exploded after his election. The most extreme conservatives began screaming for the violent overthrow of the government, for states to secede from the union, and for people to take matters into their own hands by killing their political representatives.

Yesterday, one troubled individual apparently decided to act on that last suggestion. And, while the congresswoman herself was not killed (hopefully), all reports indicate that she was the target of the attack.

Also worth noting is that the congresswoman was one of the ones "targeted" by Sarah Palin by her infamous "crosshairs". Today, Ms. Palin has removed the crosshairs from Gifford's district. The cynical part of me can't help thinking that the only reason she removed them was that they were no longer necessary. This thinking will continue unless and until she removes them all. How do you feel now, Sarah?

To anyone else out there who thinks this incident was a good thing, and that more shootings are called for, I sincerely invite you to go fuck yourselves. YOU, and, by extension, your cohort in Arizona, Jared Loughner, are symbolic of everything that is currently wrong in this country.

I close with this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
""Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

My prayers are with you and your family, Congresswoman Giffords.