Monthly Archives: July 2007

SW USA trip

our SW USA trip is shaping up! Here is a link to our updated route…

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finished Obama’s book – still thinking about great nations

Here are a couple of quotes from the last third of the book I found significant:

“The United States won the Cold War not simply because it outgunned the Soviet Union but because American Values held sway in the court of international public opinion, which included those who lived within the communist regimes.” (p. 307)

About a visit to a Ukrainian weapons disposal factory…
“…our group entered another building, where women wearing surgical masks stood at a table removing hexogen -a military-grade explosive- from various munitions and placing it into bags. In another room, I happened upon a pair of men in their undershirts, smoking next to a wheezing old boiler, flicking their ashes into an open gutter filled with orange-tinted water. One of your team called me over and showed me a yellowing poster taped to the wall. It was a relic of the Afgan war [1980s], we were told: instructions on how to hide explosives in toys, to be left in villages and carried home by unsuspecting children.
A testament, I thought, to the madness of men.
A record of how empires destroy themselves.” (p.314)

then he ends the book this way…
“And in that place, I think about America and those who built it. This nation’s founders, who somehow rose above petty ambitions and narrow calculations it imagine a nation unfurling across a continent. And those like Lincoln and King, who ultimately laid down their lives in the service of perfecting an imperfect union. And all the faceless, nameless men and women, slaves and soldiers and tailors and butchers, constructing lives for themselves and their children and grandchildren, brick by brick, rail by rail, calloused hand by calloused hand, to fill in the landscape of our collective dreams.
It is a process I wish to be a part of.
My heart is filled with love for this country.” (pp.361-2)

I may comment later…

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28 years

I have been travelling with sweet Anna for twenty – eight years today. Thank you Anna for loving me. Here’s to twenty-eight more!!!

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what makes a nation great?

Had lunch with some dear friends and this question was put forth…

What makes a nation great? Is it the government? the culture? or is it, as my friends put forth, ordinary people doing extrordinary things for the greater good…???

I am still reading Obama… currently in the chapter on foreign policy… America had been great before… “The Greatest Generation” is the generation dubed so because of their service in WW2…

Churchill was great.

Britain has been great. Wilberforce…

Is America in her current state great?

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a long trip home…

So, for the second Friday in a row I had a less than optimal travel experience…

but don’t worry, I had travel rule one in mind… rule 2 as well!

a 2.25 hour flight from Bp to London took six hours… six hours, in a middle seat! the crew on this BA flight was great… but six hours from boarding to getting off the plane at Heathrow… hey, no expectations here…

but, I made it to my flight to DC because it was an hour an a half late taking off… and much to my surprise, since I was late arriving at the second leg, I lost my assigned seat for another middle seat – great… its not better, its not worse, its just different…

SO we landed at 1205 Saturday morning… and guess what? my bags didn’t make it… I didn’t expect them to… but BA was great, instead of making us wait to come to them, they called us all over to the podium and told us our bags were delayed and took our addresses! I was blessed by this step!

Then sweet Anna and I headed home… at 0230 I thoughtlessly and hurriedly hit Ruckersville at 60 (a 45 zone), uh oh… Greene County turned on his lights and came and got me…

he asked me a few questions, I asked for some slack, he said wait in the car… 3 min later he gave me my licence and registration back and told me to slow down… yes, you heard right – a warning from Greene County… God blessed me. “Wow”, I said… “Thank you Jesus,” sweet Anna said…

at 0330 (that’s 0930 in Bp) I laid my head on my own pillow for the first time in six weeks and a day… it is good to be home.

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heat warnings

today was my last full day on this trip… on this leg of the journey… it has been a really valuable trip… the last few days it has been SO HOT that the city government has water stations set up… when you come to a major crossroads between a tram or subway or where people change busses or whatever, there are people there handing out water… back home (in air conditioned land) when a heat alert goes out, people are asking for fans for the elderly who don’t have air conditioning… the electric companies talk about how they have hit a new high for electric usage… here, many, but not most people do not have air conditioning… they are careful… they take steps to keep their home as cool as possible, but they are generally fine… why is it so different?? Yeah, there is WAY MORE humidity on the east coast but, we only feel it from the house to the car or from the car to the store or whatever… its all about perspective… tomorrow it is going to be 107 in Budapest… but by the time it crosses the century mark for the fifth time this week, I’ll be flying home… all you Budapestians, be careful out there, walk a little slower on the shady side of the street and drink plenty of that free water that’s being handed out… Peace and thanks to all my friends in the six countries I visited this summer!

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value isn’t all about financial cost or "The Ticket of Great Value"

Last week while in Ukraine, my friend Ruslan and I went to buy a train ticket from a suburb of Kyiv to Vinnytsya. We arrived at about 0825 and there were about seven people in line in front of us. There is a custom I have observed in Ukrainian lines… saving places. The day before we waited for about fifteen minutes to watch the woman close the window because the work day was over. While in that line, a girl asked someone behind us to save her spot. They did. To no avail, none of us in that part of the line got a ticket. So next morning, we’re back at it. So we get in line and there are two windows at this train station the one below for long distance tickets… then there is another one across the hall (behind the line) at which NO ONE waited. She was reading her magazine because she had no customers. It was Friday you see and lots of folks are travelling. So we waited…

and waited…

and people began to arrive who were not what you might call patient. Ruslan and i had a good conversation while in line… and while we waited I noticed those who have made an art of “cutting in line.” They would go over to the timetable (next to the ticket window) and then sort of hang out and wait for their chance (an unsuspecting slow mover in line perhaps) and then they would make their move. Another strategy seems to be going up to someone and starting a conversation and then acting like you have been with them all along… one woman did this and then when she finally got her turn and was ordering her tickets, her phone rang and she told the agent to ‘never mind’ – – – ‘STOP’ she says and then she bolts away, (huge groans erupt from the crowd behind her). Oh, by this time it is no loner a line, it is a crowd.

Behind us was this one woman who appointed her self as the one to yell at everybody who tried to practice the “art of line cutting.” By now it is after 0900 and there were a bunch of people trying to catch a 0930 to somewhere so when one guys busts in the agent (she’s safe behind bars and glass) says she will sell tickets to those catching that 0930 train to where-ever… well, this sat well with no one, some more shouting and a bit of shoving but those people who were lurking on the left, looking for their chance, jumped to the opportunity and in front they went… ‘yelling lady’ let loose big time and I saw the woman in the window pick up her phone and call someone. ‘Great’, I thought, ‘here come the cops.’ But no, the station manager came out and joined the shouting. He sort of calmed them down, but not really. By now we are almost there, two more people to go! and then finally, we get up there and find out the only ticket available is on the “Train of Increased Comfort” (sorry, I didn’t get a pic) so, I took it with no expectations of conditions. I know what I’ve gotten myself into. SO I pay the 11 hrivnas and 14 kopecs ($2.24) for the three and a half hour train ride. Yes, I said $2.24. Yes, for 3.5 hours fast train. (It’s about 300 km or so from Kyiv to Vinn.)

The ticket price does not reflect the time standing in the line… and this is my point. My friend is a really busy guy who has really important stuff to do. But he invested about an hour in line in getting me to a place that benefits him not. Therein lies the value of the ticket… the sacrifice of a friend. Here it is… we took a picture of it…

A “ticket of great value” for “the train of increased comfort.”

Oh, I found out later that the ‘increased comfort’ is not from the physical comfort (there was little of that) but the fact that you have a reserved seat. I will save the train ride itself for another post. Oh, when I got to Vinnytsya, we bought my ticket for the next day’s return train. It took five minutes.

Thanks Ruslan, you proved your friendship and lived Jesus for me.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

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