Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Tree Shopping, 2012

DSC00238a by acraigwalker
It was a bit wet this year, but here is the crew that went to the Furrow Farm yesterday.


Delicious hot chocolate!
The stockings hung with care.


Expert tree decoration.

And a few videos of the experience:


Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Agony of Spinning

Friday morning I got up at 7:30, and remarked to my still sleeping wife "I'm going to go suffer for 45 minutes".  I was heading to a spinning class at Sunset Athletic Club.

For those who don't know what "spinning" is, it is an exercise class where you work out on a stationary bicycle, varying the resistance and pedaling pace according to the commands of the instructor, and with accompanying energetic music.  You'll do intervals, sustained "climbing", high RPM pedaling, in and out of the saddle--until the sweat is dripping onto the floor all around you.  When the instructor barks "30 more seconds, come on, push it!", the clock seems to stand still as you push hard and try to hang on for what seems like eternity.

Normally, I will ride a real bike in the real world, up into the hills near my house, for a fantastic and invigorating workout in the great outdoors.  But when it is wet or stormy outside, I head for SAC on Friday morning for my torture session.  One way or another, it seems I need to get my exercise "fix" in order to feel good about myself and enjoy the day.  Why else would I get up early just to go torture myself?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Perspective on 9/11

It has been over a decade since Sept. 11, 2001, an event that changed so much in our world.  I have read a number of books about the Middle East, Islam, al-Qaeda, and the war against terrorism.  I'm currently reading "Manhunt:  The Ten Year Search for Bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad", by Peter Bergen.  It has caused me to reflect on bin Laden's imprint on our world and upon history.

Those of us in the West would be inclined to view the tragedy of 9/11 as not unlike that of Pearl Harbor in 1941.  The Japanese experienced a profound victory, but at the cost of awakening a giant that ultimately destroyed their war machine and brought down their government.  We brought down the Taliban in Afghanistan, the safe haven for al-Qaeda and militant Islam.  We dismantled and neutralized al-Qaeda, eventually finding and killing bin Laden himself, as well as many of his lieutenants.

Bin Laden didn't achieve his stated objectives in his war on the United States and the 9/11 attacks, namely the removal of American troops from Muslim lands, the fall of American puppet states in various Arab countries, and the destruction of the U.S. economy and power in the world.  On the contrary, Americans are awakened and united against the militant Islamic threat, there are many more American soldiers in the Middle East, and al-Qaeda itself has been decimated.

Yet, I'm sure that in the minds of many, especially in the poorer Islamic world, bin Laden is viewed as a great martyr, someone who stood up to the great Satan and struck with success.  He has inspired many thousands, perhaps millions, to take up his cause to one extent or another.

I myself have a great distaste for bin Laden, and those like him.  I place him in the same ranks with Hitler and Stalin, who has brought untold misery and hate into the world.  I fail to see how the world, or anyone in it, is better off for his being here.  I grant that he has made an imprint upon history, but a very ugly one indeed.