Sunday, February 24, 2013

Travel: Denver, Colorado to Pune, Maharashtra, India

As I write this blog post I am approximately 7332 miles from home in the Indian city of Pune.   I am only 600 miles away from being on the exact opposite side of the earth from Denver!  (The equitorial diameter of the Earth - distance from one side of the Earth to the other at the equator - is about 7,926 miles.  Of course neither Denver or Pune is at the equator so that calculation is a little bit off.)

It has been a whirlwind of a day getting from Denver to Pune.  I departed the house around 12:00PM Friday afternoon.  The first stop was at Zack's school as he had left some very important homework at home that was due for the last class of the day, so I was determined to drop that off at his school.  After that I headed over to Lisa's house as her youngest son would drive me to the airport so that I won't have to leave my car at the airport for the entire time that I was gone.

Picking up Lisa's son we headed out on E470 and made a quick trip to the airport.  Nothing amazing about that drive, but I really have to say that I am pleased at how quickly they are building the Denver to DIA railroad.  It seems like the work on the rail line began just yesterday but I guess it started well over a year ago.  It is just remarkable to see it taking shape and realize that in the not too distance future (2015) we will finally have a rail link to the airport! 

Arriving at the airport the real commute to India began.  My itinerary for this trip would take me on Lufthansa to Frankfurt and then from Frankfurt directly into Pune.  There was no line at the Lufthansa counter and the check-in process was quick and efficient.  Given my desire to travel lightly, I had only carry-on luggage so there was no need for me check anything.  I was pleasantly surprised to find my seat, though not great was not as bad as was indicated on my itinerary.  According to my itinerary my seat was assigned as 59B which is the absolute last row of a 747.  Instead I ended up with seat 28B, which was a bulkhead seat.  This was a much better seat than 59B!  With travel documents printed I was on my way across the bridge to concourse A.

The security checkpoint was a bit backed up but even still it only took me 10 minutes to clear security.  This gave me enough time to grab some food.  Nothing too healthy mind you, as I grabbed a McDonald's cheeseburger and a Coke.  It was the first food I had eaten all day so I was a tab bit hungry.  To make my trip easier I started the meal off with a half a sleeping pill so that I would sleep as soon as I got on the airplane.  The sleeping pill was very effective as I started to feel sleepy and groggy even before the airplane boarded!

Once on board the flight I was pleasantly surprised to find that the seat to my left, the window seat was empty.  Given the empty seat as soon as boarding was complete I moved over and took the window seat.  Even though I was flying coach having that extra space would make the difference between an annoying and a comfortable flight!

I really don't remember much of the flight to Frankfurt as I slept almost the whole time.  I woke for the serving of the first meal and I ate that.  After the meal I promptly went back to sleep and slept for the majority of the flight.  All the commotion of the flight attendants getting the cabin ready for landing woke me up as we approached Frankfurt.  Though it was almost 9:00AM in Frankfurt the skies were grey and sullen - it looked to be a foul day.  Despite the gray skies the landing was smooth.  The plane taxied around for a very long time before finally coming to a stop at a remote parking site.  Moveable stairs were brought up and we deplaned to the tarmac and waiting buses.

The bus ride to the terminal was interesting!  It seemed that the driver took us on a scenic tour of the whole airport.  The most interesting aspect of the drive is what I called "Big Airplane Row".  At one point we drove past a row of at least 8 Lufthansa jumbo jets.  The first 2 airplanes in the row were Airbus A380s the double deck behemoth of the airplane world.  The next 3 airplanes were 747's and the remaining 3 were 777's.  I don't know that I have ever seen such a gathering of jumbo jets all in a row before.  It was an amazing sight!

Once we finally got deposited at the terminal it was time to find someplace to hang out for the next several hours.  I contemplated going out through customs and leaving the airport, but based upon the extent of the crappy weather I decided against it.  Instead I went through the security that you must go through to get to the rest of the airport and found a place to get some food.  I ended up at a McDonald's that overlooks the main part of the Frankfurt International Terminal.  I got a sandwich and then settled down to read my book - "Kim" by Ruyard Kipling.  The wait in Frankfurt seemed pretty long but in fact it was only about 5 hours hours when you added it all up.  

The flight out of Frankfurt to Pune was going to be unusual as it was the first time I had ever flown a 737 on such a long flight.  The flight is a Lufthansa flight but it is operated by a much smaller airline that specializes in business jets, called PrivatAir.

Upon boarding the airplane it was quick to see why a company such as PrivatAir was operating the flight.  The 737 was configured with over half the airplane being business class seating.  The first 14 rows of the aircraft were all much larger seats and only 2 seats on each side of the aisle.  There were only 10 rows of "normal" 737 seating of 3 x 3 seats.  Of course I was in one of those 10 rows - in fact I was in the middle seat of the very last row.

Overall it was not a bad flight at all.  As soon as I sat down on the flight I took another Ambien and after a very short time I was sound asleep.  Due to the snow it was necessary for the aircraft to go through the deicing processing.  I remember the start of the deicing but then I was sound asleep until the flight attendants were coming around to hand out dinner.  Since I was in the last row we didn't get a choice of meals and I ended up with an Indian vegetarian meal.  It wasn't too bad at all!

The flight was a little bumpy but it was so nice to sleep through the vast majority of it.  Landing in Pune was a breeze due to the size of the airport.  It is small and as soon as we landed we were at the gate.  The customs and immigration were quite easy as ours was the only flight at the airport and before you knew it I was out on the street looking for my driver.   Once again due to the small size of the airport, I quickly found my driver and was on the way to the hotel.

The hotel is great!  It is nice, comfortable and very clean.  Last time I was in Pune I stayed in another hotel but for my next trip I won't consider any other place than this hotel - The Hyatt Regency Pune.

Though I am posting this blog on Sunday night Denver time, it is already Monday morning for me and I am just about to go into the office.  Sunday was a total and complete wastoid day for me as I slept a ton and just kept to myself.  I met with my boss and one of my colleagues for dinner but that was the only thing of significance I did all day.

If I have more time I will provide some more updates while I am here in India.  Hopefully, I'll get a chance to take a few pictures and post them here to the blog.

Hope you all have a great week a head.  And for those of you in Denver - stay warm and out of the snow!!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Living Beauty of Waterton Canyon

(Originally wrote this on Sunday but I am just getting a chance to post now.)

In a little under 4 weeks - March 16th,  I will be heading to Moab, Utah to run in the Canyonlands Half Marathon.  Since the beginning of the year I have been slowly and steadily preparing myself for the physical stress and challenge I will put my body through on March 16th. 

This morning I undertook one of the longest runs/walks I have undertaken as part of my training regime.  My original plan was to cover 7 miles on the High Line Canal trail near Waterton Canyon.  Arriving at the parking lot for the trail, I found it closed due to construction.  Quickly deciding upon a fall back plan, I headed to the Waterton Canyon trail head a short distance away.  Instead of covering the 7 miles on the High Line Canal Trail - I would instead cover that distance in Waterton Canyon.

The parking lot for Waterton Canyon was dramatically fuller than the last time I had been there on New Years Day.  There were probably close to 100 cars there along with half a dozen horse trailers for people who were riding their horses into Chatfield State Park.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous so I expected the trail to be full of walkers, runners and bikers.  Due to the Denver Water restrictions dogs and horses are not allowed into the canyon so I didn't expect to see any pups or people on horseback.

Moving as quickly as I could, as I wanted to get back home to Zack who was doing "puppy poop" cleaning duty in the back yard, I hurried though my run/hike preparations.  GPS turned on and satellites acquired - check.  MapMyRun app running on my cell phone - check.  Keys, wallet and camera securely in my backpack - check.  Car locked - check.  And I was off into the canyon.

There were quite a number of people for the first mile or two into the canyon.  Despite the numbers of people there was still a herd of mule deer contentedly grazing at the side of the trail about 1/3 of mile into the canyon.  They were totally undisturbed by the constant stream of people going by and I stopped to take a few pictures of them.

Briskly hiking into the canyon, I moved at a very good clip to mimic the approach that I will need to take to successfully complete the Canyonlands Half Marathon.  Before I knew it, I had put over 3.5 miles behind me in well under an hour.

Arriving at one of the bigger diversion dams in the canyon, I decided to turn back and head for the car.  Running a good portion of the way back out of the canyon, I quickly covered 2 miles before I spied some sort of commotion ahead of me.  There were a number of people congregated ahead of me blocking the entire trail.  I couldn't figure out what they were doing.

It took me about 10 seconds to come to understand that all these people were there observing a very large group of big horn sheep.  It was a very large group of big horns.  There were about 15 of them milling around in the middle of trail and then there were another 10 or more over the hill standing on the ice that covered the South Platte River.  The remarkable thing about these sheep is that they were letting people get very close to them.  In some cases the people were being reckless coming with 5 feet or less of the sheep.  This seemed a little too close to me as the horns on some of the big males looked particularly fearsome.  Even the smaller horns on the females did not look like something with which you wanted to tangle.

For the next 10 minutes I stood there with about a dozen other people in absolute awe of these magnificent animals.  They were amazing!  What was even more amazing about them was how calm and content they were even with so many people right next to them.  Even if I had wanted to move forward I couldn't as the large number of sheep pretty much blocked the entire trail.

Since the sheep were blocking the way, I stood there snapping away with my camera.  The following pictures are the best that I captured.  The light wasn't particularly good and it was hard to get a shot without another person in it, but I did my best to capture the best shots I could.

For all the times I have hiked or biked into Waterton Canyon this is the first time I have every had such an experience with these number of Big Horn Sheep.  It is something that I will remember for a long time - but I do hope that I will see a herd of sheep like this again.

It's late Sunday night and before you know it another work week will be starting.  Zack is off of school on Monday and Tuesday.  He is off Monday because of the holiday and Tuesday is a teacher work day with no students.  He is happy to have only a 3 day week ahead.

The weekend was a great weekend as we had some did some relaxing and fun things.  On Friday night, Lisa and I went out to Brooks Steakhouse which is an upscale steak joint.  We had an enjoyable time, ate some good food and shared some good conversation.  Saturday Zack and I spent most of the day around the house doing things, however we did get out an got pedicures!  I know that may seem a little odd for guys, but it was wonderful.  Lisa got me the pedicure as a Valentine gift - and it was so worthwhile!  On Saturday evening a friend of mine from back on the east coast and her family stopped by.  They are here in Colorado on a winter vacation and are staying at our condo in the mountains.  It was nice to see Lynne and meet her family.  I am glad that I was able to loan them my condo for the coming week.

Hope everyone had a great weekend and has a great start to the week tomorrow!

Thanks and peace to all ~ J.

(Originally wanted to post this on Sunday but I didn't get my photos "developed" in Lightroom in time.)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Onward to India Again

It's that time again.  Time for me to make another trip to India.  It's going to be another whirlwind trip to the subcontinent for me.

I'll depart Denver on February 22nd and be back in Denver the morning of March 2.  Elapsed time of this trip is about 7 hours short of 8 days.  Not too bad all-in-all I guess, though with the short amount of time I will spend in India, combined with the length of time it will take me to get there - I am will return to the US one exhausted person.

My itinerary will be different than my last trip.  During my travel in August I flew in and out of Dehli.  This time my travel will have me arriving in India at Pune.  This will be the first time I will fly an international flight into Pune and I am frankly surprised that it's airport is capable of handling international flights.  Let's just say that the Pune Airport isn't very big!  As a matter of fact I think the Centennial Airport - the small regional airport about 2 miles away from my home is bigger than the Pune Airport.  The landing infrastructure consists of exactly one run way!

Leaving Denver next Friday afternoon, I'll first fly to Frankfurt on a Lufthansa 747.  It's not going to be a pleasant trip as I am in the back of the airplane - row 59.  And I am in a middle seat to boot!

Arriving in Frankfurt at 8:40AM, I'll get to spend 7 hours hanging out there before my flight departs for Pune.  The unusual thing about this flight is that it is 8 hours long and it is on a 737!  I can't say I have ever flown for that long of a time or that far on a 737.  I am sure it will be an interesting experience.  It might be necessary for me to drink heavily on that flight to avoid going crazy.

I will finally reach Pune at 3:30AM on Sunday - India Time.  That means I will spend almost 24 hours in transit.  Getting to my hotel room on Sunday morning is going to be a joyous occasion for me.  Thankfully I'll have a full day to recover before I need to be in the office on Monday.

The trip to Pune will only involve Monday and Tuesday of the week and then I will be off to Dehli on Tuesday evening.  I'll spend the rest of the work week in Delhi before flying home very late in the day on Friday, March 1.  With another 22+ hours of travel time I will arrive back in Denver around 9:00AM on Saturday morning, March 2.  Needless to say by the end of this trip my body and mind will be exhausted.

Making all the arrangements for my travel is the easy part of a trip like this.  The more difficult part of the trip is getting every thing set for Zack while I am gone.  This takes a lot of coordination and effort to put everything together.  Thankfully Tim and Celinde and Nancy are close by and can manage getting him where he needs to be.  Additionally, Lisa has volunteered to help out, so that I feel that there is a pretty good support system in place for him while I am gone. 

It's hard to believe but the time will be coming in a little over a year that I will be able to leave Zack on his own while I go on business trips.  Perhaps it will be pushing the envelope a bit, but I figure once he turns 16 he will pretty much be able to handle most things that come up.  However, I will wait and see how mature he is at that point.

There will be some more tales coming of my time in India I am sure.  Due to the short duration of my trip I do not expect that I am going to be doing any kind of fun activity while I am there.  This will be another one of those see the inside of my hotel room and the office and that is about it.  Not sure when I will be returning to India after this trip, however I have been invited to attend a wedding there at the end of April.  If my work schedule happens to coincide with the wedding I will try and attend. 

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Denver's Big Blue Bronco

If controversy and conversation is the mark of a great artist's work than Luis Jimenez can rest in peace, as his last sculpture and the work that killed him has inspired lots of controversy and conversation.

Jimenez was the artist who created the great blue bronco that graces a large hill in front of the Denver International Airport.  The sculpture was commissioned in 1992 with Denver agreeing to pay Jimenez $300,000 for his work.  The statue was to be completed and in place by 1994.

The delivery date was never met and it would be another 14 years until it was finally installed in front of DIA.  While working on the final assembly of the sculpture in 2006, Jimenez was killed when a portion of the statue fell from a hoist, landed on him and sliced through an artery in his leg.  Trapped underneath the large metal section, Jimenez bled to death on the floor of his workshop.

The statue was finally installed and dedicated on June 12, 2008.  Immediately after that people started to complain about the statue and its garish blue color and blazing red eyes. Opinion on the statue has been divided ever since.  Many city residents want to do away with the statue.  What they would replace it with if anything makes me wonder.  Would they prefer a bland white statue of a horse like "Thunder" on the top of the football stadium in downtown Denver?.  That just sounds so incredibly tame to me!

Obviously I like the statue.  I think it adds a ton of character to the airport and by extension the city of Denver.  I have become very used to the statue since I first saw in it the summer of 2008 and now I would definitely be unhappy if it were to be removed!

Unfortunately, that may just happen.  When a Denver city commissioned piece of art is placed on display there is an ordinance that says it must remain on display for so many days or months or years - I really don't know the exact details of the code.  After that time is up, the art can be removed, placed somewhere else or simply left alone.  That default display time for "Sparky the Demon Horse" (as I call him) is coming to an end.  In the coming weeks the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs and City Art will make a determination as to what is to happen to the statue.  I hope that it is retained and can become a major symbol of our city.

Embedded at the top of this post is a wonderful, amazing, beautiful picture of the statue taken at night.  This picture was highlighted on a Facebook Page called "Visit Denver" today and I stole it from there.  (Actually - it was listed as shareable, so no stealing was necessary!)  I like the picture so much that I have updated my Facebook cover with this photo.  Even the picture is a truly remarkable work of art!

Well - that's it for a Monday night.  I hope everyone had a great weekend and has had a good start to the week.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

So Much Music... What to Pick From!!

 In the world of digital entertainment and digital content, it seems that the choices continue to grow at a pace with which is hard to keep up.  For me, I am continually amazed and befuddled by all the choices that continue to spring up in regard to where to get your music.  Every time I turn around there seems to be 10 or 20 more choices.  I really like to listen to music but I am starting to get confused as to what should be the place where I invest the time creating playlists, favorite artist lists, etc.

In the past it was easy.  You would either just turn on the radio or pop a CD in the CD player and listen to it.  Then things began to change - first you could start turning all of your CD's into MPegs and playing them on an iPod or other MPeg player.  Then Cable TV started adding music channels.  Then along come Sirius and XM Satellite Radio.  Then every radio station started streaming on net and along came Internet Radios and now we have a cornucopia of streaming services that allow you to personalize whatever you want to listen to.  Gees.....  which ones should I use???

Of course, I currently use just about every service I have listed above.  I still use my iPod and the numerous iPod speaker systems throughout my house to listen to music.  On my computer I have at least 4 or 5 different streaming services setup that I use.  These include but are definitely not limited to: Spotify, I Heart Radio, Pandora and 365 Radio.

What I would love to have is one central service that would allow me to stream my iTune library to any device I want and have one consolidated streaming service that offers a ton of good music.

Does anyone have any recommendations as to what is the best way to do all of this?  What services are you all using to listen to music?  Please drop me a line and let me know what you are using as I really want to set something up that will allow me to have a consolidated place for my music and that I can stream anywhere!  I need recommendations!!!

It's the weekend of course and there isn't a whole going on.  We are supposed to get some snow here in Colorado, but nothing like what has happened out east.  Our snow totals for the weekend are supposed to be on the order of 2 - 4 inches here in Denver and maybe a foot in the Mountains.

Zack and I were going to head to the mountains this weekend, but I decided to stay put because I have had a cold most of this week and going to the mountains will only make it worse.  So we are staying at home and just doing a bunch of work.  Zack has a big test on Monday that he needs to study for and I need to get somethings figured out as I have to go to India in the next 2 or 3 weeks and I need to get all the arrangements made for while I am gone.  As a result it is going to be low-key but busy weekend!

That's it for now, but please do drop me a comment with how you stream and listen to your music.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

An End-to-End Hike of Denver's High Line Canal Trail

Numerous times in the past I have mentioned what I consider to be one of Denver's hidden natural gems - The High Line Canal Trail.  This trail runs from the mountains to the plains and it winds its way through many of Denver's suburbs.

In the past, I have hiked, walked or run on about 1/2 of the distance of this trail.  My wandering has been mainly confined to that section of the trail that is to the west of Interstate 25.  For the last six or so months however, I have frequently driven past sections of the trail that are to the east of Interstate 25.  One of Zack's best friends lives a short distance off the trail on Quebec Street.  In the course of the many times Zack and I have driven to his friend's house we have had the occasion to drive across half a dozen or so street crossings of the trail.  Each time I have driven across the trail, I have thought how cool it would be to start and hike the entire trail from one end to another.

I am not proposing to do that hike all once as it is over approximately 66 miles in distance.  Though I consider myself to be a good hiker, I can't do 66+ miles in one day.  However I can break it up into manageable distances and knock out 10 - 20 miles of the trail per week.

With the beautiful weather we had in Denver today, I decided to start hiking the trail again.  This time my goal is to hike the entire trail from one end to another within the calendar year.  It really shouldn't be that hard of a goal and to be honest it really is not.  The only thing that makes it somewhat difficult is that I have to normally cover twice the distance.  My normal manner of hiking the trail is to take the car, drive to a trail head or a nearby park and then walk out 2 -3 miles.  Then I have to turn around and get back to the car.  Therefore, I have to cover double the distance.  Other than that, hiking the 66+ mile trail isn't that big of a deal.

As you can probably tell by the name of the trail, The Denver High Line Canal Trail, it follows the course of an irrigation canal.  The purpose of the canal is to provide the "plentiful" water of the mountains to the agricultural areas of what is now the Denver Metro area.  The canal was originally conceived a few short years after Denver got it's start as a city.  The idea was first floated in 1870, but construction on the canal didn't begin until 1880.  From start until finish, construction took 3 years, which to me, seems like a very short period of time for work that was done exclusively through manual labor - as there were no mechanical means to build the canal in those days.

From it's completion, the canal has provided a not so steady stream of water to the arid farm lands on the plains.  In it's earlier days, I am quite sure it ran on a much more consistent basis, however in the most recent years the flow of the water in the canal has been restricted quite often due to the extreme droughts that Colorado has faced.  In fact there are very few, if any agricultural customers who still utilize the High Line Canal.  Denver Water now owns and maintains the canal and so the use of the canal is all incorporated into the overall Denver Water management plan.  Additionally the canal, given it is simply an earthen ditch is a very inefficient means of delivering water as it is estimated that between 60 - 80% of the water is lost to evaporation or just drains out of the canal into the nearby ground.

The trail along the canal didn't open for recreational purposes until the 1970's as prior to that it was considered private property.  Even now, sections of the trail are sometimes closed by Denver Water for various reasons.  However, access to the trail is one of the governing principles that Denver Water uses in it's overall management plan.

Besides walking, hiking and running the trail is also used for biking and horseback riding.  Pretty much any non-motorized type of recreation is allowed along the trail.  Though due to the rough nature of the trail as it is primarily dirt and gravel - I won't recommend riding a high performance road bicycle on it nor would I recommend skate boarding or inline skating!

To keep track of my progress on the trail I am going to take pictures of each of the mile markers as I pass them.  It might get a little confusing for me at times as there are 4 or 5 different entities that work with Denver Water to maintain the trail.  And through each of their sections they use different mileage equations.  But as I pass each marker I am going to take a picture of it!

If you have any interest in learning more about the trail, here's a link to the Denver Water Website on the trail.  Additionally, you can check out the entire length of the trail on Google Earth.  Just go to Google Earth and type in Denver High Line Canal Trail in the Fly To Box and it will take you to the center point of the trail.

For those of you who read this and live in Denver, if you have interest in hiking this thing with me, please let me know.  As I always say for my hikes and bike rides - the more the merrier!

And here are the pictures of the first two mile markers I passed today!  Mile markers 42 and 43 are now officially complete!

(The hanging sunglasses are someone's attempt to get a lost article back to whom ever lost it.  I wonder if it ever works or if the lost item - sunglasses, hats, gloves, etc - just hang out for a really long time!)

Well that's about it for today.  Nothing else of significance to note!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Tuesday!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Rejuvenating A Despot from the Past

Each morning while getting the day started I perform a ritual that I have done almost non-stop for the last 17 years.  And for those of you thinking naughty things - get your minds out of the gutter!  The ritual is that I do a quick scan of news websites to catch up on the happenings of the world for the last day.  The list of websites has continued to evolve over the years and now included websites like Reddit that aggregate news stories that readers think are popular.

This morning in my rounds of the websites I came across articles on both NBCNews.Com and the Guardian (British news paper) that discussed the renaming of the Russian city of Volgograd to Stalingrad.  The city is being renamed Stalingrad in commemoration of the Soviet defeat of the Germans there in World War II.  The German defeat is viewed to be one of the major turning points of the War.

Please see the links below for the stories on NBCNews.Com and the Guardian.

For whatever reason I have always taken an interest in the Battle of Stalingrad.  Part of it has been driven by the book written in 1973 by William Craig called the Enemy at the Gates.  This book is a non-fiction account of the intense battle for the city and the one-on-one sniper dual between the Soviet Vasily Zaitsev and German Erwin Konig.  I read this book in the late 1990's shortly before it was turned into a major motion picture starring Jude Law and Rachel Weisz.

The other reason that I have been interested in this is for personal reasons.  My family background is of half German and half Polish heritage.  Given the comparatively recent time that the German side of the family came to the United States -1903, there remained close connections between my grand-parents and my father with members of the family in Germany.  In World War II like most families, all sides of the family were caught up in the war.  In Germany many of my fathers cousins fought for the German army in various battles around Europe and Northern Africa.  Two of my father's cousins, brothers, were in the German 6th Army that was surrounded, captured and destroyed at Stalingrad.  One of the brothers was a dentist and was part of the army support structure.  All that is known of him was that he was killed sometime during the course of the battle. 

The second brother, Erik was in the infantry and somehow managed to live through the hell of the battle and was marched off into captivity along with over 100,000 other German soldiers.  Most of those 100,000 soldiers were never heard from again.  Erik was different.  Despite the horrible conditions and the brutality he experienced he was one of the 5,000 soldiers of the German 6th Army that eventually made it home to Germany in 1949.  In 2005 I had the pleasure to spend some time with Erik in his home town of Boblingen, Germany.  We had an interesting discussion.  He didn't tell too many stories of all that happened during those horrible times.  But he did speak strongly against war as at the time the US was in the middle of its misadventures in Iraq.  He was a decided pacifist after his experiences fighting in one of the most brutal battles in the 20th century.

Therefore whenever I see something in the press that has to do with the Battle of Stalingrad it catches my attention.  The articles today really caught my attention due to the homage that was being paid of Stalin.  Even despite the fact that Stalin was fighting the most evil monster of all times - the Germany nation in the hands of Adolph Hitler, Stalin is a historical figure who should be consigned to the list of the most horrible despots of all time.  There is little that separates him from the ultimate evil of Hitler and Nazism.

Despite the fact that though his brutality he was able to save the Soviet Union from being conquered by the Nazis, the evil of his ways was so extreme he should be forever shunned and not celebrated.  This week a memorial was held in Germany on the 80th anniversary of Hitler's rise to power.  The memorial was to commemorate the millions of people who died because of the evil spawned by Hitler.  At no point will there be (or should there EVER be) any kind of celebration of anything that occurred while the Nazis were in power.  The same should be true of Stalin.  Nothing should be celebrated about his almost 30 year reign of terror upon the people of Russia and the many other countries that were dominated by the Soviet Union at the time.

Praising the acts of tyrants and despots should never be something that is acceptable.

Just a few words for an early Friday morning.

Hope you all have a great day and a wonderful weekend ahead!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.