Sunday, August 13, 2006

Traveling and Terrorism

We've done a bit of traveling this summer. Just recently, we returned from New Orleans. Cassie, my daughter, got to spend a week in New Orleans with my parents (thanks Mom). Elizabeth, my wife, and I went to London during that week. Traveling is a wonderful past time once you have arrived at your given destination. The means of transport available leave something to be desired.

Let me cover the important stuff first. Cassie is now using a sippy cup (thanks Mom). She is also speaking a few more words and seems to have thoroughly enjoyed her time in New Orleans, mostly spent in Metairie. Getting to spend time with cousins at the beach, and Grandma's adventure at the Children's museum were big hits. Grandma willing, she will be back for a week of Grandparent camp again in 2007.

Elizabeth and I went to London for a quick four-day trip. We met her parents and one of her brothers. Everyone else had gotten to Europe a bit ahead of us. The museums are amazing. The war cabinet rooms, where Prime Minister Churchill spent most of his time during WW II, are an amazing experience. The British museum has a wonderful collection of artifacts from numerous historic eras. Anyone interested in a more tactile experience should visit the British war museum there are numerous items to touch and see that have actually seen combat. You can talk about any one of these things, but to actually be in the museums brings a lot more reality to the experience. Reading a book does not nearly give you the same feeling.

My two favorites were the British Library, and the Tower of London. The tower was where numerous prisoners of high importance were kept. Sir Walter Raleigh's prison cell was enlarged for his comfort and to accommodate the needs of his wife and children. Yes, they allowed his family to move into his cell during his imprisonment. Another interesting tidbit, Lady Jane Grey was brought to the Tower, believing that she was about to be crowned Queen. Less than two weeks after her arrival she was beheaded. The Crown does not rest easy on a head that is in the wastebasket.

In the British Library, I saw a copy of the Magna Carta, as well as numerous other works that were over 500 years old. In one part of the main exhibit room, you will find a 13th century Torah, a 15th century Q'uran, and a copy of the New Testament from many years ago. The texts were sitting there peacefully next to one another. Unfortunately, the adherents of these religions, myself included, cannot seem to live in peace.

The food was amazing, Lebanese and Indian, were my favorites. We also saw the new theater production based on Queen music, "We will rock you", and I recommend it strongly.

It was a wonderful trip. It was very surprising in one respect; I was surprised at how much the city looked like I thought it would. A good bit of the city appears as if it's still in the 1960's. Heathrow was much less modern in the interior than I would have imagined. Most airports I've been in, almost all U.S. have a lot more carpeting, and more recent furnishings, than Heathrow appeared to have. Also, arrival and departure boards are not as easy to find. We left 6 hours before British Airways stopped their flights. We, thankfully, were blissfully ignorant of all the commotion.

Let me fast forward now to yesterday (August 12th). Elizabeth, Cassie and I left New Orleans to come home. I had heard what the new air travel restrictions were. You cannot carry gels or liquids on board for security reasons. I called Southwest airlines for clarification and was told bottles for a 19 month old were fine as long as the parent tasted it in the presence of a TSA agent at the checkpoint. That seems reasonable considering the circumstances.

We got to the airport about 2 and 1/2 hours prior to takeoff in case there were hassles getting on the flight. This proved to be part of the problem. We got to the security checkpoint, where we were instructed that the juice needed to be dumped. We were told that juice could be bought inside the gate at one of various vendors. O.K. We immediately went to the nearest store inside the security checkpoint and bought juice for Cassie. The salesperson per new regulation, had to put it in a Styrofoam cup with no top, rather than the plastic bottle it came in. This meant that we could not save any to give to Cassie later.

Cassie enjoys running around as any healthy 19 month old would. She has more energy than the Energizer bunny. She went through most of the juice very quickly. There was a little bit left when we boarded the plane, but the ticket agent told us it must be dumped. For those of you without kids a thirsty toddler is an unhappy toddler. When we got on the plane I went to the flight attendant and asked for apple juice for my daughter's bottle. I handed her the bottle. She had to call someone to ask if she could do this.

Now why did I tell you the Saga of the Juice Bottle? While we watch the news please keep in mind that the U.S., Israel and Britain get chastised if there are civilian casualties caused by their actions. Abu Ghraib is an abomination; the collateral damage in Lebanon is terrible. The desecration of a mosque at our hands is distressing as are any other civilian deaths or injuries. But realize that Hezbollah uses human shields, and targets Pizzerias or Discos. Al Qaeda considers it a success if a Delta, British Airways, or El Al flight is blown up. Fattah celebrates the death of Israeli school children.

Either we are the better more civilized side of this conflict, or we should stop worrying about civilian populations that support our destruction. I don't want to hear PM Fouad Siniora of Lebanon complain about collateral damage in his country. He has chosen to allow a terrorist organization harass Israel for 20 years from Lebanese soil. As the head of a country you are responsible for how the inhabitants of that country affect others.

We are the better, more humane, combatants. We don't target civilians and in that we should be proud. Now if only we could be safe and proud at the same time that would be a feat.


Anonymous New Orleans reader said...

The British museums are wonderful, but a reminder to other readers, there is the wonderful World War II Museum, formerly the D-Day Museum, closer to home, in good old New Orleans. The museum is back in great form since Katrina, and it also has lots of artifacts to touch and feel, as well as great videos and hi-tech displays. Veterans, history buffs and just plain regular folks all enjoy it!

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Mac said...

Travelling and Bed Bugs is also a problem.

7:28 PM  

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