As seen today, sitting on my computer monitor, keeping me company as I grade papers, and occasionally offering an opinion on content.

soldiers on a train

I left the DPRK (North Korea) by a slow train to China from Pyongyang, then once in China a fast train to Beijing. I took this shot of another passing train on the DPRK side of the boarder.


Outside a stadium in Pyongyang at night.

lone sentry

From this angle, the old lighthouse looks more like a sentry guarding the sky than a signal showing the way, but I suppose it is both really. Ships sail from here to far off oceans and back again; and the tower's forever flashing light relentlessly signals hello, goodbye, showing them the way. Dreamers come here too, imagining long forgotten pasts and futures yet untold; and the tower's forever flashing light matches their heartbeats, beat for beat, urging their dreams, as a sentinel of hope.

favorate lighthouse

dawn at the ship canal

Burlington Ship Canal at dawn.

birthday looks

Jasmine at her birthday last month

same field different thoughts

Another post from the archives on remembrance.

As a child in England I was taught the war poetry of writers like Wilfred Owen who challenged the folly of war. I was somewhat shocked to find that Canadian school children are taught the poetry of John McCrae whose thoughts on war are the exact opposite of Owen's. Both Owen and McCrae were soldiers; McCrea died of pneumonia on January 28, 1914, Owen died in battle on November 4, 1914 (just one-week before the war ended). Compare the two works below; it is almost as if Owen's words are a response to the way Canadian school children learn to recite McCrae's assertion that they should take up the quarrel with the foe. I am with the wisdom of Owen, not the folly of McCrae.

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae – 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

Dulce et decorum est
By Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues -
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori


remembering a desert rat

A photo from the archives for Remembrance Day (originally taken at Duxford Air Museum in 2008). The sign on the bench says “In Remembrance of Cliff Rees a Desert Rat.” I don’t know Cliff Rees, but the fact that he was a Desert Rat counts for something in my books; the Desert Rats (the British Army 7th Armored Division) scurried around North Africa in WWII trying to outwit the Desert Fox (Field Marshal Erwin Rommel), and after fighting in every major battle of the North African Campaign, they went on to fight in Sicily, Italy and Normandy. So a bench at the Military Museum is a fitting place to remember Cliff Rees - chances are people passing will stop for a few moments and although never knowing Cliff will know where he has been and the things he has done — Cliff Rees you (and your comrades) are well remembered.

bolshevik bastard

Believe it or not this beer is called "Bolshevik Bastard." Well I've been called the name, so of course I had to try the beer. It is really quite good!

grandma goes to hong kong

Grandma at the airport heading to Hong Kong last weekend - got to wait a little before I go too!

breakfast in cuba