Sunday, 10 August 2008

South Ossetia

Up until Friday, I don't ever remember hearing South Ossetia ever. So now we have a little Russian invasion.

There are several curious things which I point out in my observations.

First, Jimmy Carter hasn't said a public word over the entire episode yet. You would think that he'd announce his support toward Georgia....but then that would go against his strategy of always picking the anti-US position. I'm pretty sure he's trying real hard to find a position to defend the poor South Ossetia dudes, and support the Russian invasion.

Second, its curious that they'd pick the day of the Olympic ceremony to run this military invasion. There are 365 days in a year....and this was the one they choose? They've got two weeks while world attention is focused on China....to run this episode, and then back off.

Third, no central European country can say a word here....because their oil and gas comes from Russia. The Nordic countries....can say alot....if they want....because there isn't an ounce of Russian oil or natural gas going there.

Fourth, the basic invasion force consisted (by media numbers only) of 150 tanks. We can only estimate the foot solders brought into the country, but I'm doubt its more than 10,000. Would I classify this as a real invasion? Its enough to control the area that they are talking about, and little else.

Fifth, is the war already over? Well....here on Sunday morning....based on internet news....I'd say that the Russians control most of the intended area of South Ossetia. So what happens next? Well....the Russians will have to stay and guard the area....for decades, I'd guess. The South Ossetians? Well....I'm guessing the top twenty political guys are meeting today....drawing up a constitution, and probably calling for their own country (with Russian support, of course). The curious thing....this ethnic group....really has about some square mileage up across the Russian border as well....so it'll be interesting to see if Russia just hands them those lands too.

Sixth, the UN? Maybe a emergency meeting on Monday, but then what? Its summer....the bigwigs are on vacation or at the Olympics. No one really cares about little Georgia. So this showdown at the UN will consist of France, the US and the UK....and thats about it.

Seventh, if I opened the old Chechnya book and discussed the plight of those poor folks.....and how they were treated by the Russians in the end.....and then I was a South Ossetia dude....I might be scratching my head over what will happen in the end.

Eigth, I'm not exactly sure what Russia gains in this little episode....except there is a oil pipeline that goes about five miles past South Ossetia....out to the Black Sea. Its on undisputed Georgia property. If they could hinder or absorb that pipeline.....oil prices would have to change direction and had back up. Note lately of the oil per barrel price dropping. Whose losing besides the Saudis? The Russians. Is there there more to the picture? I'm thinking so.

My Ten Places

If someone walked up to me today and asked what ten places have impressed me in my life....that I've been to and seen....this would be the list....in no real order:

1. Meteor Crater....halfway between Flagstaff and Winslow. I originally saw it in 1981 and thought it was something extra special. Twenty years would pass before I'd see it the second time. The thrill hasn't gone away. The power of one meteor.....resulting in one enormous crater.

2. The Ring of Fire....on the western side of Ireland. It is the best drive that anyone could ever make...and hopefully its only a cloudy day when you visit. Test your fate....and drive at the edge of the speed limit, and just a wee bit more.

3. The Eagles Nest. Its probably over glorified and a product of the Nazis....without any doubt. I've been to the top twice. I'd do it a dozen more times if I could. It lays at the edge of Bavaria and the locals get their $25 out of you one way or another.

4. Highway One, West Coast. In 1981, I drove from a point just north of San Diego, all the way to Tacoma, up the highway. You need a good three days to make this enjoyable.

5. The wooden bridge at Luzern, Switzerland. I saw it originally in 1984. Its a wooden covered bridge, that spans the entire river there at Luzern. I sat on a bench about two hundred feet away and spent a good hour observing the work of wonder.

6. The beaches of Henne Strand, Denmark. As you park the car and walk over the top of the dune....you stand there in amazement....looking left and right....at least two miles in each direction that you can see. There are no cars, no hotels, no houses, ice cream stands, and barely a hundred people. It is the pure white sand that you used to dream about, without broken glass or garbage. And the billions of rocks? Well.....take one or two or a dozen.

7. Saint Peters Square, Rome. I spent several hours at the square, and likely would have spent the entire day, if possible. It is impressive, without any doubt.

8. New York City. The Bama in me must reflect upon this accidental delay and how I got to see the city. As much bad as I can say about the city for my 24-hour visit.....there is twice as much good to say.

9. Fort Morgan, Bama. Its a civil war structure which has some history but its not exactly on the top 500 things that folks would want to visit. But its on my list.

10. Rome. I could spend a year in Rome and never get enough of the city. I'd probably be robbed five or six times....and chased by Gypsies for something I said. Between the food, the people, and the history....it'll make you weep.

So those are my ten places that I've been to and regard as my ten.

Note: I didn't put down Stonehenge, because I felt it was a big cowfield with thirty or forty rocks (my Bama attitude prevails). I didn't put down the Golden Gate Bridge because you really have to stand at the right point, to enjoy the site. I didn't mention the Grand Canyon, but it would hav been number 11. I didn't mention the Arch at St. Louis although it is a true marvel to view. I didn't mention London although its worthy of a thousand-day visit. I didn't mention a word of Munich but its probably the most enjoyable European city to visit without the crime, hassle, or flood of tourists. I didn't mention a word on the Gardia Sea, although its one of the best places to drive in the world. I didn't mention a word on Mount Rainer, although its park highway is a scenic wonder. And finally, I didn't mention Vegas, although its got the best buffet spots on the face of the earth.

Utterly Shocking

Last night, I ended up at a outdoor German restaurant. There at some significant moment....I really had to relieve myself....so I went to the restroom.

I stood there for a fleeting second....going through all the motions....looking down....like a regular guy. Then there was this click.

Suddenly this flash occurred at the urinal....and I must have jumped back about a foot or so...pretty much missing the intended target for sure. My heart was racing and I might have been half-way to a heart attack.

I looked at this lighted area at the top of the urinal, and there was some type of advertisement lite up. Course, I had my everyday walking-around glasses on, and not my reading glasses...so I lifted my glasses and peered at this lit advertisement....and it was some local tire shop.

I stood there....recovering. I was thinking "damn", you don't see a advertisement on a urinal too often. And you sure don't see a urinal with a electrical socket built into the device to light up an advertisement.

Naturally, as a guy....I admired the set-up for about 30 seconds. Pretty nifty I thought....a guy sat there and designed a perfect advertising vehicle where a guy is going to pay attention one way or another.

My heart better as I exited and walked away. Yes, I have traveled thousands of miles in my life and seen alot of stuff....but this was pretty much in the top five things....a lit urinal.