Archive for the ‘The World is Flat’ Category

I was “away from home” ever so briefly a week or so back. The colleagues I was due to meet and work with my first full morning abroad had yet to arrive, and given the beauty of the spring morning, I went out for a brief walk.

As I often do when traveling, I was looking with great interest at all that surrounded me, and I was snapping pictures. “Toto was not in Kansas anymore”, so to speak, and I wanted to remember what was all around me. It was then that I noticed the odd looks, if not stares, from those who quickly passed by on the street all around me.

Touristen” was likely their thought. “I must look silly” was mine. Seeing the above captured “headless” reflection, I could not help recall that book from generations gone by “The Ugly American”.

As I looked up some summary info on the book, the following synopsis reminded me that lessons to learn, and awareness to maintain, is the same today as 30 or more years ago….and I’m glad I have the picture to prove it.

This is a book that is certain to deepen students’ understanding of the complexity of international affairs. Its terse, episodic style and its many portraits of individuals engaged in the process of diplomacy give readers an important sense of the dimensions of the problems which receive such cursory treatment on the nightly news. The Ugly American is mandatory reading for the citizens of a participatory democracy, in terms of understanding the mistake of the past and in order to prevent their repetition in the future.


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I’m reading Rick Steves’ book as I await my hop to Wien.   My favorite quote this far is from a Dutch couple:

“GOD created all the world.  It was.marvelous.  But France..it was just too perfect, so he put in the French to balance things out.

…and Canada could have had it all: British culture, French.cuisine, and American know how.   But they messed up and got British food, French know how, and American culture…

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Somewhere in a lonely hotel room
There’s a guy starting to realize
That eternal fate has turned it’s back on him.

It’s 2am….

It’s 2 am
The fear is gone
I’m sitting here waiting…

Maybe my connection
Is tired of taking chances

Yeah, there’s a storm on the loose
Sirens in my head
Wrapped up in silence
All circuits are dead
Cannot decode
My whole life spins into a frenzy

Help I’m steppin’ into the Twilight Zone
Place is a madhouse
Feels like being cloned

My becaon’s been moved
Under moon and star
Where am I to go 
Now that I’ve gone too far…

OK, so its not 2 AM here, but it is somewhere, and when I heard this old 80’s Golden Earring tune in the car today as I pulled into the airport, yet again, before 6 AM, the lyrics resonated with me a bit.

Don’t you judge me, Paul Blart.   I’m a bit sleep deprived, and it is about to get worse.   But, as I sit here in Virginia, going on Vienna, I can’t help but think on sojourns past, some even through this very airport.   Debit cards and “Rent A Wreck”, anyone?   Good times, good times…

And, just think, 48 hours after touching down on the old continent, I will turn around and do the whole thing over again.   At least the Westbound movie is different from its Easterly brother.

In the meantime, I can sit here (lay over, moreso) and contemplate trips past, and what needs to be accomplished on the trip about to come…

My becaon’s been moved
Under moon and star
Where am I to go 
Now that I’ve gone too far


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Did I mention that Daughter-chan returned last week? If I did, let me
add that she brought me some sand from various beaches on multiple Isles/continents.

Why would she carry little bags of sand all around the world, you might ask? Well, maybe because her father is strange, and she knew he cared.

You see, several years back, I began collecting bits of sand from each beach destination. The Texas Gulf Coast, Alabama, Oregon, and California each represented a layer, or Strata, within the jar. Each band is different in color and composition, and each reminds me of a different time and place in life.

I can now add to that a shell from Japan, the heavy black sand of New Zealand, the thick yellow sand of Australia, and the volcanic traced white/grey sands of Hawaii.

A couple of “mental strata moments” resonate from last night’s exercise of adding to the jar. First, just the very composition of the sand within the jar reflects life in the past. Rich bits of organic material are spread amongst the millions of grains of silica in my relatively small jar. Second, the layers are distinct in color and appearance, but once added to the “experience base” they are impossible to remove or separate from the others. Third, obviously, is the acknowledgement that sand is sticky and sometimes messy. The act of filling the jar always leaves bits of each experience scattered about to be tiny nuisances from then on: sand is very hard to clean out and eradicate.

And, finally, even the vessel, the jar, is a gift not of my own generation. This particular jar, etched with my name, was a gift over 30 years ago from a now deceased Great Uncle/Great Aunt Combination, and the collection of
Memories would not be the same
without their contribution.

Even the very jar is a product of sand. It is shaped by fire, hardened, and refined, and yet has imperfections likely known only to me. Should time continue, one day the jar will break, and all of the experiences, matter, and memories will blend into a mass of matter that few if any will recognize or remember, but the experiences will have happened, nonetheless.

I’m grateful for the sand, those who’ve helped me collect it, and for the lessons it helps me to remember. Each of us have a “survivor story” to tell.



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Elder daughter walked into the kitchen tonight holding a large box.

“Hey, Hank, what’s in the box?”, I wondered. Perhaps, a dead cat? Sorry, wrong story, and I digress.

No, her box contains money and momentos from days now past spent on the other side of the world. It was great to see her unpack the memories and unfold some more tales from the Pacific Rim.

Just a few nights ago over some good coffee, she listened with wide eyed wonder as I spoke of traversing the roofline of a youth hostel overlooking the Rhine River some 23 years ago in the nation formerly known as West Germany.

We both have our stories. One day in the not too distant future, say another 23 years, she may sit with a future generation Little B and regale him or her with tales of earthquakes and dining on fresh Octopus in the Far East.

In the meantime, we both have our momentos, and money we can no longer spend. Both are worth every penny.



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Take that, Hannah Bingham…


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Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Genesis 1:26-31

I had a long Skye conversation with Hannah-Chan early this morning, then woke Little Frau so she could join in the chat.

Eldest daughter and I talked about lots of stuff this morning: Shopping (everything is in Japanese, cause, it’s Japan…), earthquakes (I woke up and wondered why my feet were moving), and eating Sushi (raw is better than “lightly grilled”, apparently). We pretty much talked about everything, except maybe bouquets of newly sharpened pencils.


Her Japanese mom came into the room and said hello to us. It was late there, and Hannah had not come down to join the family in watching television, so she was just checking on her. It sounds like little-chan is embracing the culture, and they are definitely embracing her.

We talk and think so much about our differences, but in this instance, it has me celebrating the diversity that exists in this world. And, all this diversity was in the original DNA from the first creation of man. It makes me wonder what Heaven will truly be like when the whole strand of created DNA is back together and blended in Paradise.

I’m not much for sushi, and right now this all smells pretty fishy. And, may I add, fishy smells pretty good.

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