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The Tudors: True Bollywood Stories

May 17, 2009

Today we went to Hampton Court Palace, as featured in The Tudors.  We again took the Tube, but we managed to account for route closures ahead of time today.  We then had to change to an overland train, and after a total of 45 minutes, we were walking into the palace.

I am not familiar with Tudor construction, so the use of red brick surprised me.  I always associate it with construction in the 1940s in the U.S.  The palace is rather large.  We spent six hours touring the different wings of the palace and the gardens.

While I was a bit disappointed that the real people were not as hot as the actors in The Tudors, it was still a fascinating place. The gardens were magnificent, and we got to see the oldest and largest grape vine in the world.  I do not know how people can show up and only spend an hour there.

After Hampton Court Palace, we came home and ate at the Curry Place/Palace.  They seem to use the two names interchangeably.  We had a very good meal there, though.  I love lamb vindaloo, and even though it could have been a touch hotter, I figure they might have not wanted to kill the white American.  They had some Bollywood movie playing, and we found ourselves hypnotized by it a few times.  We have no idea what the plot (if there was one) was, but all that synchronized gyrating is mesmerizing.  Speaking of movie-like things, the first table when we walked in was populated by an Asian woman with funky hair and a sleeve and her table-mate, who had a shaved head and tattoos on his skull. I felt like I was walking into a set of Blade.

Oh, it is between the Queensway and Bayswater stops, if you want to eat there.

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Heaven and Hell

May 17, 2009

Our first day in London, we hit a couple of major tourist spots.  Of course, our day started in normal fashion for this trip: the quickest underground line to Westminster Abbey was closed for repairs.  The second most convenient route was also blocked due to repairs.  That left us the third best route.

Westminster Abbey was beautiful.  To get there we had to get off at the Embankment stop, which let us see the London Eye from across the Thames and took us right by the Houses of Parliament.  The movies do not do the Houses justice.  They are HUGE.

As I said, the abbey itself was gorgeous.  I am a sucker for gothic architecture, and the abbey has it in spades.  It is hard for me to decide on what part was my favorite, but I think I liked Poet’s Corner best.  If you are in London and have not seen it, see Westminster Abbey.

From there we went to the War Cabinet Rooms and Winston Churchill museum.  The cabinet rooms were pretty interesting, but the WC museum left me a little bored.  They had some neat interactive displays, but I was still left a little cold.

Then we ended up walking through the exercise grounds for the calvary.  We got some pictures of mounted guards and walked pass the entrance to Downing Street, since they do not let you get near #10 any more.

We walked by Trafalger square.  Neither one of us really wanted to spend time there, although Nelson has an impressive column.

We then mosied on through St. James Park and avoided both wildfowl and canoodling couples.  The park is beautiful.  I would not have minded wasting an entire afternoon there, but we had to soldier on to see Buckingham Palace.

We missed the changing of the guard by quite a bit, so the palace itself was kind of boring.  We did not stay there long.

Finally we ran an errand for one of my wife’s co-workers and hiked to Harrod’s to pick up a bag.  Harrod’s is my own special kind of hell.  It was full of people and over-priced, over-designed… stuff.  We got out of there as fast as we could.  We even asked the girl that rang up our purchase what the fastest way out was!

That left us with a tube ride home, a quick dinner of salad, bread and cheese, and an early bed time.

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What A Crazy Trip So Far!

May 15, 2009

This is one of the worst flights we have had on a trip, all for reasons of our own making.  Allow me to recount all of these for you:

1. I left my contacts and contact solution with my sister-in-law.  This actually is not too bad since she will be meeting us in Scotland in a few days.  (We are also sans deodorant.  Sorry, London.)

2. Then I proceeded to spill my full water glass all over my lap and a little into my wife’s lap.  Thankfully I did not hit the guy sitting on the other side of me.  I spent the next six hours of the flight with a damp lap.  There may or may not have been chafing.

3. Next, I sprayed my wife with salad dressing while opening the over-pressurized container.

4. Then it came time to fill out our landing cards for passport control, and I could not find my passport.  I figured it must have been in the backpack in overhead storage.  When the flight landed, I opened up my backpack before disembarking, and the passport was not there.  Begin minor meltdown.  It turns out the passport had gotten stuck in the pages of a book in a different bag.  Disaster averted.

Other than those four things, the trip has been good so far.  The Heathrow Connection was clean and quick, and Paddington station is large and is pretty awesome in the daylight, I imagine.

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Starting Another Trip

May 15, 2009

This time we are off to Jolly Olde England.  Well, we will be in London for three days, and then the bulk of the trip will be in Scotland.  So, hopefully I will have lots of great pictures for you all and some witty commentary.  The only problem so far is leaving my contacts at home.  Thankfully, my sister-in-law will be meeting us in Scotland, and she can bring my contacts wit her.

So long for now.

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My Birthday List 2009

April 17, 2009

So, instead of trying to email my list to everyone, I have decided to just post my list to my blog. So, here we go:

  1. Kiva credit. That way I can loan your money to people in poor countries.
  2. Something off of my Amazon.com wish list.
  3. iTunes gift cards.  I seem to always want more music.
  4. Macy’s and Old Navy gift cards.  You know, so I can clothe myself.
  5. Borders gift cards.  For the reading.

It’s a small list, but if you want to get me something and can’t think of anything, this should give you some ideas.

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I Am Not Really Shocked

April 6, 2009

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20090403/NEWS/90403010

The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously rules that marriage in Iowa is open to any combination of gender. They affirmed that churches are free to only marry people of different genders, but the State itself cannot deny gay couples marriage licenses.  They basically said, “Your religion my not support gay marriage, but the Constitution of the State of Iowa is not subject to your religion.”

Iowa has a strong history of independence, liberty and fairness.   Let me quote some passages from the state constitution:

"Sec. 1.   All men  are,  by nature, free  and equal, and  have certain
          inalienable rights  among which  are those  of enjoying  and
          defending life and  liberty, acquiring, possessing  and pro-
          tecting  property,  and  pursuing  and  obtaining safety and
          happiness."

I think it is safe to say that most people consider marriage part of the "pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness."

"
Sec. 4.   No religious  test shall be required as a  qualification for
          any office, or public trust, and no person shall be deprived
          of any of his rights, privileges, or capacities, or disqual-
          ified from the performance of  any of his public or  private
          duties,  or  rendered  incompetent  to  give evidence in any
          court of law  or equity, in  consequence of his  opinions on
          the subject of religion; and any party to any judicial  pro-
          ceeding shall have  the right to  use as a  witness, or take
          the testimony of, any  other person not disqualified  on ac-
          count of interest, who may be cognizant of any fact material
          to the case; and parties to suits may be witnesses, as  pro-
          vided by law."

Which lays out all the ways in which religion is not allowed to affect the state government.  Iowa has a strong list of protections from religion.

I am also glad the Iowa Supreme Court ruled against civil unions.  They smack of "separate but equal," which was ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.

So, yeah for liberty in Iowa!
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I Am Tired

March 30, 2009

I am tired of all the hyperbolic histrionics that get bandied around in politics and especially political commentary.  Four (and eight) years ago, I got tired of hearing how Bush was a facist and was going to turn the U.S.A. into a police state.  I got tired of hearing about how all these liberals were going to leave the country if Bush was (re-)elected.

I am now tired of hearing about how Obama is a socialist and is going to turn the U.S.A. into a socialist state.  In four years, I do not want to hear about how if Obama is re-elected all these conservatives are going to leave the country (or create compounds out in the wilderness.)

Anyone who actually believes that a president can turn the U.S.A. into either extreme of facism or socialism has basically given up on the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. in general.  In order to conver the entire nation to one thing or the other would require incredibly massive changes to happen in less than a year.

Why a year?  Because there are elecitions (local, county, state and/or federal) occur every single year.  That gives the people the chance to change their government some every year.

What a lot of pundits seem to forget is that most voters fall closer to the middle of the political spectrum, not the extremes.  This means that if the government swings far right or far left, the large number of middle-voters are going to vote the government back away from that extreme.

Frankly, I find the idea that the U.S.A. will become either a facist or socialist state ridiculous.